The most crucial tool in a culture of gentleness is each caregiver’s words. Our words are not just our words. They are the softness in our face, the tone and rhythm of our voice, the twinkle in our eyes, the reaching out of our arms, and the way we look at those around us. Our words must be uplifting and wrapped in warmth. Each syllable that we emit should be loaded with honor, nobility and love. Our words are our most widely used tool. We have to understand the power of our words, their sounds, and their rhythm.
In the COR culture, words are not used to put down, reprimand, blame or sermonize. They are used to honor, console and uplift. The caregiving tool that is used (or misused) all too often is our words. Caregivers often mistakenly think that their primary role is to convince each person to behave by repeating threats and reiterating blame, and insisting, (“You know better!”) Too often caregivers speak of boring behavioural talk about “good job,” and toss out verbal reprimands (“Hey, stop that!”). These admonitions are not beneficial for self-esteem or creating a caring relationship.
Rather, caregiver’s words should signal feelings of being safe and loved. Marginalized individuals already know when they do ‘wrong.’ What they do not know is that it is good to be with caring people and experience unconditional love. Words are of little use when the person does not know the most basic spiritual lesson in life: to feel safe and loved. No amount of screaming will convince anyone of this important lesson.
Words are a key instrument for peacemaking. Caregivers need to know that all of their interactions with an individual constitute a whole that becomes part of a dialog. A large part of this dialog is simply listening, reading between the lines, understanding each person’s life story and interpreting feelings that underlie actions.
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