I guess you might have noticed that it’s not so easy to evoke a response from someone else’s heart. We keep talking to each other about various things but can hardly get our point across. It’s like shipping a package. It takes so much time to prepare it for delivery. You pay for it and can’t wait for it to come. And yet, it doesn’t arrive on its delivery date. Recently, one of the most fully packed packages hasn’t come to us from India… This is all very much frustrating and depressing. One of the fundamental causes of depressed mood in a modern man is the inability to get through to the heart of an interlocutor. You see, we can’t establish even a simple human contact yet hanker to make contact with aliens. Come on! We’d better develop a good rapport with each other. And exactly today we’ll take a closer look at the issue.
1) The first rule of speech consists in knowledge of when, whom and what precisely to say to a certain person at a certain time.
According to the scriptures, information that concerns everyone should be passed on as soon as possible, without any loss of time. This is called promptness and this is what makes a true manager. A manager is simply obliged to inform each and all about the decisions that may affect the general course of events. Thus far, sirens have been used to make public announcements. So don’t be hurt if your manager begins to sound like a siren – this is simply his/her job.
This pertains to all levels of management and even to very simple management. For example, in the event of route changes, which occur quite often, a driver must inform the passengers loudly and well in advance. This should be done without undue shyness or laziness. No one should be left uninformed; otherwise, a manager turns into a downright spoiler. Yes, hearing one and the same thing over and over again sometimes taxes our patience. But it is the duty of a manager to make sure that everyone without exception not only heard, but understood the important message he/she has to put across.
2) Something that affects only us and our responsibilities should be discussed only with those for whom it will be useful and who will find such discussions pleasant. For example, if we didn’t have jelly or fruit filling for a cake and replaced it with ordinary milk jam, there’s no need to enlarge too much upon the matter. Guests may take it wrong. It’s not necessary for all and sundry to know all the niceties of cooking of what’s being served, for it may cause the loss of appetite. If one sees how dirty the veggies were before cooking, doubts may creep in: what if they were not washed properly? All the more so, if one knows what kind of fertilizers were poured on them, a desire even to look at the plate may completely disappear. Remember: ethics doesn’t demand that we disclose all the subtleties of the process. It’s quite sufficient to see only the pleasant and interesting parts of it.
Such fine points should be revealed to other cooks during cookery courses – then it will be really valuable information. Otherwise, it will only bring disappointment and cause reasonable suspicions and doubts. The above is also true of an astrologer: if he/she can’t remember certain information, he should say that he needs to make additional calculations, for example, though actually, he has to take a peek at what he forgot. But if he tells the truth, the client will run away in horror thinking this is a cheater and a fool. So, is there any use in discussing whether one should expose all the niceties of medicine or law practice?
3) One can speak about another person’s duty only after careful consideration of time and circumstances. This rule is closely connected with the previous one, but it has to do with criticism, which is a very dangerous sphere. Before meddling in other people’s affairs or business, one should give serious thought to whether it’s proper to do it right now, with this particular conversation partner, and whether it’s proper time and place for such talks. Poorly thought-out attitude to a question can result in most grievous consequences. This is compared to blasting operations or surgical procedure. One should think ten, or better, a hundred times before starting to discuss other people’s affairs.
It’s possible to say such things right off the bat only in close relationships that stood the test of time. Even in this case, it’s necessary to be on the alert and, at the slightest sign of tension, end an unwanted conversation. All its participants should be considered friends of the person we’re talking about. This assumes that, most likely, they will report our speech to him/her word-for-word, or even embellish it. Therefore, the basic recommendation is: behind someone’s back, talk as if you were speaking directly to that person. If you are not ready for that, better shuffle the whole matter out of your mind. It will be much safer then.
4) One can talk about the elevation of consciousness and purification with any person, anytime, anywhere, without regard to rules and regulations. It means that any topics related to self-realization don’t bring karma, in general. But make sure you don’t overdo it. For instance, can there be anything better than clean spring water? But even in a spring well, it’s possible to get drowned. Is there anything better than fresh unpolluted air? But even from breathing unpolluted air can one catch cold. Is there anything more joyful than dancing? Even while dancing, however, one can break a leg. Briefly speaking, while bringing good to the world we should remember to do it in a kind manner. A cake may be divinely delicious, but hardly anyone will like it if we smear it in their face…. This is the often-repeated scene in funny movies: one uses the sweetest thing to give the bitterest offence.
Also, when discussing spiritual issues, there’s no need to dwell too much on very-hard-to-understand topics. Indeed, they are sweet and wonderful, but if they surpass all understanding, a person we’re talking to may have a strong sense of disappointment, rather than inspiration. Inspiration comes when we hear about something that is really attainable, in this life and in our particular situation. Therefore, spirituality should always come together with practicality. Then it will really be inspiring and effective. There’s no need to start a conversation with a three-hour-long description of loving relationships in the spiritual world. It’s enough just to make mention of it, while devoting most of the time to something simple and real. Don’t you think it’s better to start with the diet and routine, for example?
5) The next rule explains the correct way to answer questions. We may be asked lots of different questions, but it doesn’t mean we should answer whatever comes into our head. Scriptures state that answers to the questions should always be pleasant and useful. The word “useful” is especially emphasized. It is not advisable to enlarge too much upon useless or worthless matter, even if it’s very much pleasing to the ear. But something unpleasant, as long as it is of any help, can easily be spoken. However, it’s highly recommended that we say such unpleasant but useful things only in private, and only if the listener agrees with us. To cut a long story short, saying useful things protects us from sin. If our words serve a useful purpose, they no longer fall under the category of sordid commonplace sense gratification. They become part of the performance of duty. This is the indirect way of protecting oneself from degradation that comes through uncultured, unmannerly speech.
6) In case you don’t remain uncontradicted, mind that too much debate is pointless. As a matter of fact, scriptures recommend keeping silence as long as an interlocutor contradicts. It’s because contradiction bespeaks bad mood, and the mood of a conversation partner must always be taken into account. If he is in a bad mood, on no account should you make mention of someone he hates. This point is especially emphasized in the scriptures. If we present someone in an unfavorable light at the moment when our conversation partner is in one of his black moods, it will only add fuel to the fire. Moreover, it will be a scurvy trick, for our part. He may start to believe us even if we talk about some of his friends or someone he used to respect before. Such a cunning approach is considered as one of the dirtiest political tricks. E.g: “Do you have a very bad toothache? Just a moment! Do you know what your friend has told me about you today?”
Therefore, as soon as you realize that a person is in a bad mood, keep your mouth shut. Overcome the temptation to seek vengeance on your insulters by presenting them in a bad light.
7) The next point suggests that while talking, we often tend to discuss different funny situations people get into. On the whole, this is quite normal, and still there’s an obligatory rule to follow. Yes, it’s possible to laugh without any misgivings, at someone who got into hilarious situation. But really cruel mockery must be avoided. Only light laughter without any undermeaning is allowed. Scoffing, spiteful, evil laughter, gloating over another’s misfortune is no longer laughter, but a downright abuse. Such an emotion is impermissible in a conversation for it very quickly hardens our heart.
Moreover, if it is our conversation partner who initiates such a talk, it is recommended that we delicately put it down and, at the same time, discourage him/her to speak ill of others. Hearing someone else talk cruelly of others has the same adverse impact on our heart as our own cruel speech. However, if someone speaks unkindly about us, it’s recommended that we remain as patient as Mother Earth. The Mother Earth is considered the most patient one: she tolerates even when someone spits on her. Such patience will bring about the softening of our heart because it will enable us to feel what another person feels when others speak ill of him.
Scriptures don’t recommend sitting opposite each other while talking. This is considered to be the sign of conspiracy talk. During a friendly conversation, it is advisable to sit next to a partner, neither too close nor too far away from him/her. Sitting too close, once again, suggests conspiracy, while a too large distance can arouse suspicion that the partner has already entered into conspiracy with someone else. The long and the short of it, a positive conversation is friendly and relaxed, pressureless and non-aggressive.
It’s no good when the speech is loud, impolite and hostile. It all bespeaks ulterior motives. Another sign of a hidden agenda is when a person laughs for no apparent reason. An attempt to tell something in secret or communicate some questionable facts should also raise doubts about the honesty of a speaker. Some indirect indicators of low motives are also outlined in the scriptures, for instance, constant spitting during the talk. If you watch the talk between aggressive people, you’ll see that they are constantly spitting.
In fact, the “secret talks” issue deserves special attention. Such talks are considered conspiratorial, and they don’t lead to anything good. They harden our heart most mercilessly, by making us find an enemy and start fighting with him/her. The attempt to have such talks in a secluded place where no one else will hear them, or an intention to have a quiet word even while in the presence of others – all this refers to such talks. Private talks in public are considered very immoral and even hostile towards all those who are present. They are regarded as a display of aggression towards surrounding people. Therefore, don’t be surprised if it meets counter-aggression, sort of like, “Stop whispering among yourselves!”
Some individuals get that part of it – that whispering in the background is too impudent, and try to manage without words. They use secret signs, such as surreptitious winks, frowning or making a wry face at the person who speaks. Interruption of a speaker is another sign of aggression. Even without opposition or criticism, the mere interrupting of a speaker at every word is by itself a very offensive, malicious and aggressive communication style, intended to show that the words of this person are worthless. Interruption is the same as attacking with weapons. It is likened to open declaration of war.
We should watch our tongue and be careful about what we say because it also creates karma, or consequences. It is said that a sudra pays for his words with his health, vaisya with his financial strength, ksatriya with his physical strength and brahmana with his spiritual strength. One way or another, we are always accountable for what we say. Hence, we must deeply understand the science of speech that is based upon conveying the truth. Lies distance us from God. By understanding these laws, we can regulate our speech so that each and every word could benefit both ourselves and others.
The easiest way to change one’s life lies through proper speech. We know that we are all influenced by prarabdha-karma that is practically impossible to change. Only dreadful, tormenting austerities can slightly regulate it. But true sages never recommend such austerities because even this kind of correction won’t make any conceptual difference. On the other hand, one can easily start serving the Absolute Truth, by engaging speech in service, and thus change one’s life conceptually by redirecting it from material degradation to spiritual elevation.