10 Steps to Eliminating Evil Speech/Verbal Abuse
Criticism, derogatory, disparaging, belittling words, put-downs, labeling/naming; words affect what we do and mold the way we think about people and the world around us. TRUE or False, but especially when they are lies, they can seriously damage a person’s reputation, confidence and self-esteem. These words: Evil Speech and Verbal Abuse must be eliminated, if we are to save our world. These guidelines can help.
1. Be aware! If during a conversation, someone’s skin becomes flushed or pale, you may have hurt them.
2. Speak positively. Don’t assume you know the reason why someone said what they did. All you really know is that they did or said something. You don’t know why until you ask. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.
3. Jokes are funny, except for the person who is the butt of it or has had the same experience.
4. Your words have the power to hurt 3 people: you, the person you are talking to and the person you’re talking about. Speaking badly about someone, even if you include yourself, still hurts.
5. Evil Speech includes your tone of voice, your facial expressions, and your body language, as well as the words, you speak, write, tweet, sign, etc.
6. Speaking badly about a group or a community hurts many people.
7. Don’t repeat Evil Speech to ANYONE.
8. Don’t listen to Evil Speech. Even if it is public knowledge, it is still wrong.
9. Telling someone what you’ve been told about them may simply make things worse, and put you in the middle where you become the bad guy.
10. Evil Speech may be necessary to warn someone that they are about to make a BIG mistake, to save them from a bad relationship, a disastrous business deal. You may also use it to protect someone who is being hurt by the things that are being said to or about them.
Other Helpful Information
You are obligated to warn someone before they are harmed, but before you take any action, the following five conditions must be met. (Note step 10 above).
1. You must give the matter much thought before you decide that the action the possible “victim” is considering will actually be detrimental.
2. You must not exaggerate the extent to which the decision they are about to make can prove to be damaging.
3. You should be motivated solely by the desire to aid the person you are warning, not by any feelings of dislike for the person you are speaking against. You must force yourself to have pure intentions even if this is difficult. This, however, does not free you from your obligation to save others involved from possible loss or harm. However, if you know that the person you are considering warning will disregard our advice, you should remain silent.
4. If it is possible to bring about the same results, without saying anything derogatory about the “perpetrator”, you should do so.
5. Your warning must not cause the “perpetrator” any damage greater than he would receive in a Court of Law. If it does. then you should not speak against him.
You are obligated to rebuke the “perpetrator” for his intentions before you report his plans, unless you know that he will not listen to you. Also, you are obligated to rebuke the person for his past actions before you report them to someone else, unless you are convinced that he will not heed your rebuke.
You must make sure that your actions will not infuriate either one of the parties and cause a confrontation that might not have happened otherwise.
Seven Conditions for Using Evil Speech for “a Constructive Purpose”
It is permissible to speak negatively about a person – (1) to help the person, (2) to help anyone victimized by the person, (3) to resolve any major disputes, (4) or to enable others to learn from the mistakes of that person – provided that the following seven conditions are met:
1. One must be absolutely certain that their remarks are based on first-hand information, not hearsay. If after careful investigation the information is second-hand, clearly stat the fact.
2. You must be sure that a wrong has actually been done
3. The person has been spoken to in private, but refuses to change his behavior.
4. The statement to be made will be true and accurate, not exaggerated, especially, if it is an emotional issue.
5. The intent of the speaker is only for a constructive purpose; solely to help the victim. He must not have any other, ulterior motive.
6. There is no other way to fix the problem.
7. The statement to be made must not make things worse or be unfair.