When I returned home from my mission as a young man, my first boss would often use the words “when you have time, please come see me,” when he really meant “come see me now.” Another boss would say “I was wondering if you could… “ when he was really was requesting “I need you to… “

How often do we say what we mean? How often do we use kind words?

As a therapist in prison, I learned there were three words if an inmate said them to another inmate, those words would immediately trigger a fistfight because the words were disrespectful.  Another time in prison, a young man, 24 years old, would use profanity about every third word. I asked him “What are you trying to prove?” “Who are you trying to prove it to” One of the group rules we established in therapy was not to use profanity. Some group members complained that they could not be authentic. The challenge to them was “If you can learn to control your words, then it will be easier to control your behavior. If you can control your behavior, you will not come back to prison.”

In his book The 5 Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman explained one love language: “Words of Affirmation.” Words can uplift and edify and strengthen those around us. Words can also be critical, sarcastic, mean, or dismissive that can damage and destroy relationships.

One of my former classmates, Kelly O’Horo, recently shared this wise counsel: “Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t be mean.”

In the New Testament, Jame 3:2 teaches “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma taught: “…  our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.” (Alma 12:14)

President Thomas S. Monson quoted Dale Carnegie, a well-known American author and lecturer, who believed that each person has within himself or herself the “power to increase the sum total of [the] world’s happiness … by giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged.” Said he, “Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”

President Monson exhorted us: “May we begin now, this very day, to express love to all of God’s children, whether they be our family members, our friends, mere acquaintances, or total strangers. As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.” (Love, the Essence of the Gospel, General Conference, April 2014.)

A beloved hymn encourages us: “ … the kind words we give shall in memory live, And sunshine forever impart. Let us oft speak kind words to each other; Kind words are sweet tones of the heart.” (LDS Hymnbook, #232)

May the Lord bless us that our communications will be done in love with that same love that our Savior gives to us.