Psychologist: Watch your words, and how you say them

Dr. Laurel Kramer said 80% of communication isn't what we say, but how we say it.

October is Anti-Bullying Month, and mental health experts say words can hurt, just as much as physical violence.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health Psychologist Dr. Laurel Kramer about why it's not just what we say that matters, but how we say it. "The saying sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me? Words do hurt," Dr. Kramer said.

She said it's not always just the words we choose that pack a punch. "Communication is given 20 percent verbally, and 80 percent, nonverbally. How we look, and our tone of voice," she said.

Dr. Kramer said she believes if people make an effort to better listen to how they talk to others, it can create more compassionate communication for all parties involved. "Our tone of voice, we may not even be aware of how it's changing when we're irritated with our child, or our partner, or we're just coming home from work in a bad mood," she said.

She said a little self-awareness can go a long way when it comes to verbal communication: "Words can calm, and words can inflame. If we're really mindful about wanting to create peace and good feelings around ourselves, and for our family members and our loved ones, and also in our workplace, we can try better to say words that are more positive in nature," she said.

Positivity isn't always possible in every situation. In those cases, Dr. Kramer said it's best to just give both parties involved a "do-over". "If you have to give criticism to a coworker, or to your child, or to your spouse, think of a way to say: 'You know, that wasn't the best way to do that or to say that, let's try it again,'" she said.

This October, consider how powerful words can be: follow Dr. Kramer's advice and use verbal communication as a tool not for tearing others down, but for building others up.

Watch KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for our next Family First topic - we'll talk to a social worker about why it's important to not let bullying go unreported.

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