Proverbs 18:21 says, “ Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (KJV). Research says that it takes five positive interactions to overcome one negative interaction. What we say matters. Think back to when someone said something that verbally cut you to the core. How did you feel? Defeated? Hurt? Angry? Frustrated? Words matter.


What we say to one another has a great impact, not only on the relationship, but on the person themselves. Here are some practical tips you can put into practice right now. First, look for the good. It’s there! Now, point out that good. Thank them for what they have done, whether it’s working hard, doing the dishes, being patient, or just being there. Next, encourage them. Verbally let them know that you believe in them, then give them the tools they need to succeed, if you’re able. The final tip is a little harder. Many of us get in the habit of just saying what’s on our mind. But try to be intentional about what you say. There is an acronym THINK that is useful for this.

T-Is it true? Or is it colored by your feelings?

H-Is it helpful? Wil it help or hurt the relationship and the person?

I-Is it inspiring? Wil it help the person to be the best they can be?

N-Is it Necessary? Or are you saying words just to get the last word in?

K-Is it Kind? If not, is there a way to reword what you want to say?


I want to encourage all of you to try a little experiment. Try these tips for a week or two and see what happens. Pay attention to how you feel and how the relationship changes. Remember, look for the good, not the bad. It matters.


Steffani Wooley, MA, LPC-I