30 Days to Taming Your Tongue - What you say (and don't say) will improve your relationships by Deborah Smith Pegues
Day Seventeen - The Tactless Tongue
Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone - Colossians 4:6
While honesty is indeed the best policy, it is not a license to say whatever we want. One of the most important skills we can develop is the ability to deal with others with sensitivity and to speak inoffensively when we find ourselves in difficult or problematic situations.
You would think that exhibiting graciousness would be an easy task for one who claims to be filled with the grace of God. Sometimes our lack of graciousness results from the communication styles we saw modeled when we were children. Is it ever necessary to be brutally honest? After all, can't we be honest without being brutal? Even Job declared in the midst of his suffering, How painful are honest words! - Job 6:25 Must pain always accompany the truth? The extent to which a person experiences pain from being to the truth depends on numerous variables, including his degree of emotional security, his perceived worth, or his desire to grow.
We must understand that extending grace and telling the truth are not mutually exclusive concepts. We can tell the truth tactfully. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ - John 1:17 Jesus never allowed His graciousness to prevent Him from imparting the truth.
What about mean-spirited truthfulness? Have you ever been intentionally tactless? It was William Blake who said, "A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent." Of course, it is understood that we must always be quick to apologize for our intentional and unintentional tactlessness.
Becoming a tactful person does indeed require some practice. We may not bat a thousand right away. When we find ourselves about to say something tactless, however, we can do what the Federal Communications Commission sometimes mandates broadcasters to do -- delay transmission. We can review the words in our minds and evaluate their impact. We can then choose to yield to the Holy Spirit's leading. This practice alone will help us to develop the emotional discipline necessary for stifling tactless remarks.
My words are seasoned with grace as I speak the truth in love.