Is it really that important to Speak with People and not at them?

speak with people Aug 31, 2022

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase…Speak with people, not at them’, many things come to mind. I think about how much speaking I do everyday. Speaking with myself, oh come on, I know you talk to yourself too! Speaking with my spouse, speaking with my kids, speaking with my parents, speaking with friends, speaking with strangers, and speaking to the computer screen when I mess up. Ok, you got me there, that’s more like speaking AT the screen. But, it’s amazing when you start to think about how much speaking you and I do in just one day. 

When you start to add up the sheer volume of words you and I speak everyday, it takes this phrase to a new perspective. Think about it, would you rather have all those people you speak to daily, describe your words and your speaking as…”they spoke with me” or “they spoke at me”? Both ways communicate something. You can get your message, your thoughts and your ideas to be heard if you speak WITH or you speak AT. The WITH and the AT are very important parts of the equation. It’s a huge difference and it's up to you how you are going to communicate to people and ultimately it's up to you about how you will be known. 

Words are so important! Think about this; God used them to create the world. He didn’t use Pinterest to create the world, HE SPOKE, and EVERYTHING WAS CREATED. Jesus was the great curator of words. Jesus’ words were profound, helpful, and hopeful. Imagine if we elevated the importance of healthy communication; imagine the lives that would be transformed and changed.

So, when you use your words, how will you use them? Will you speak WITH people or AT them. Obviously the WITH part of the question is the positive framework and the AT is the negative. WITH is when you speak with kindness, empathy and emotional intelligence. AT is just the opposite. Speaking at people is when our words are void of kindness and empathy and when our goal is to just relay information and it doesn’t matter at all how it’s received. 

Each week, we’re going to dive into this journey of becoming a healthy communicator and the foundation is speaking with people, not at them. Next week we will explore in depth the primary difference between WITH or AT. Until then, take some time to consider how you’re doing. Do you regularly speak with people or at them? For extra credit, ask those closest to you. Good luck!