The Fundamentals of Speaking

Speaking is not only a skill, it is an art. It is a tool of communication that allows us to express our feelings and thoughts in a clear and concise fashion. However, we must be careful with what we say, for words can either cause harm as well as bring benefits. We must stay away from harmful speech and convey only the beneficial.

When speaking, we must exercise restraint. We must know what to say and when to say it. We must know our place and never speak out of line. We must not say what should not be said, thereby creating trouble for ourselves. We must stay away from slander, gossip, and lies in order to avoid shame and embarrassment. We should not engage in idle talk and cause others to look down upon us. Therefore, it is imperative for us to learn how to speak properly.

Others can judge our character and knowledge by observing our verbal communication skills. From our words, they can see our personality and opinion. Once our thoughts are verbalized, they can be understood by others. Therefore, it is imperative for us to think before we speak. That way, we can minimize careless mistakes.

Our interpersonal relationships are closely related to the way we speak. A word of praise will bring happiness to others and turn them into loyal friends. On the other hand, a word spoken with harmful intent can end a longtime friendship. It is imperative for us to speak kind words and avoid disparaging remarks.

When we speak, we must be sincere and gentle. We must use kind words and avoid hurting other people’s feelings. We must not be arrogant or rude. It is better to be positive and affirmative rather than negative and disapproving. We should often use words like “of course,” “very well,” and “no problem.” We should learn to speak with affection and avoid sarcasm. We should learn words to bring happiness, not misery. We should learn words to bring confidence, not discouragement. We should learn to speak words that benefit them and avoid wasting their time with meaningless words. Most importantly, when we speak, we must try to consider the circumstances of the situation and the individual in question. We must not be imperious or irrational. We must not jump to conclusions without careful consideration. We must refrain from making personal attacks and boastful statements.

We cannot take back what we have said. Because of this, we must be careful with our words. In Buddhism, great emphasis is placed on verbal acts. Precepts have been set for telling lies, slander, frivolous speech, and the use of foul language. Worse yet, if we take away another’s hope with our words, it can be considered a violation of the precept of “no killing.”

It is a blessing that we have been reborn in the realm of humans, being granted this opportunity to seek happiness and joyfulness in words and deeds. As the saying goes, “A pleasant word will bring warmth in the bitter cold of winter.” A skillful speaker will always consider another’s reaction to their words. In addition to conveying what he or she wants to say, he or she hopes the listener will happily receive the words. Therefore, we must learn to use positive and uplifting language in our speech. Those who have mastered the skill of using good words will bring happiness to others and be loved by all.