Using a More Loving Language

Kind Words Have Power

By NAfME Member Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ―Mother Teresa

My children recently asked me several questions about Valentine’s Day. They wondered when it began, why we celebrate it, and who participates in this tradition. Like I often do, I gave them an answer and they continued to ask more questions which I could not fully answer. I am sure that at one point in my upbringing at home, school, or church, I learned the history of Valentine’s Day. However, I could not remember everything, and I certainly was not regurgitating this knowledge in a kid-friendly manner to my children. I let them know that I would do some research on my own and share more information with them when I was more knowledgeable.

I read up on Valentine’s Day and learned new information. From its origin as a Christian feast day to honor a martyr to its current-day traditions, my understanding was improved, and I shared these findings with my children. In my readings and experiences, I have come to realize that Valentine’s Day, if we celebrate it, is whatever we want it to be. Many people consider this day as a way to express appreciation to those we care about in our lives. We could show our appreciation to a romantic partner, or to family members, friends, colleagues, or students. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we often approach this holiday with a romantic vibe. What if we expand this tradition of expressing our appreciation for the people in our lives to include those we love, serve, and lead? How can we extend the spirit of Valentine’s Day beyond February 14? Could we shower more people with kindness? How could this impact them? Why would we want to shift our language to a more loving one?

happy couple in white t-shirts and jeans holding string telephone cups to their ears with the red string in shape of heart

Photo: ProStock Studio / iStock Getty Images Plus

Consideration of Language

As we think about loving, kind, and positive feelings, messages, cards, gifts, or experiences we want to share with our loved ones, let’s also consider how our language could serve as an uplifting example in both our living and working situations. When was the last time we showed appreciation to the people we associate with at home and work? Have we ever expressed kindness to our clients, colleagues, or students? When was the last time we shared words of acknowledgment, congratulations, or positivity with them? Did we recognize how their attitude may have brightened or their behavior improved when we did? In return, did they shower us or others with kindness, too?

Frustration in Negativity

I recently had a heartfelt conversation with a friend. She is a dynamic teacher and also a caring parent. She shared with me her frustration about the lack of positive feedback her older child had been given since entering middle school. The parent receives constant emails about what the child has failed to do, how the child has acted poorly, or how teachers hope specific behaviors will improve. The mother mentioned that emails sent from teachers are often negative and abrupt, and rarely offer suggestions for improvement. No positive messages about the child are sent to the family. The student shared with the mother that at school, positive remarks are rarely received as well.

As the mother watched her child withdraw emotionally from school and continue to experience these messages of negativity, she decided to reach out to a specific teacher to explain her frustration and concern. The mother asked the teacher to imagine what it is like as a student not to receive any words of kindness throughout the school day. She also asked the teacher to imagine how it feels as a parent not to receive any positive affirmations about your child. My inspirational friend said that the teacher often responds quickly, but replying to this specific and heartfelt email took several days. When the teacher did respond, a kinder, more reflective message was provided. Since this email exchange, in addition to continuing to receive critical feedback for academic and behavioral improvement, the mother and child have received positive words from this teacher. As a result of this more loving language, both the student and the parent have shown a more favorable approach to school.

Words of Affirmation

In the book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman offers Love Language #1 as “Words of Affirmation.” He begins this section of the book by sharing the Mark Twain quote, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” The author goes on to explain that “one way to express love is to use words that build.” As a partner, leader, teacher, or caregiver, are we using words that build up or are we using words that break down? Do those whom we love, serve, or lead consistently learn about how disappointed we are in them, or do they comprehend how happy we are with their progress?

Let’s take some time to consider what language we use with others. Are our words kind ones that are filled with positivity, respect, and praise? Or, are we too quick to use negative language that criticizes or challenges? As a partner, parent, teacher, or leader, if we need to communicate with our partner, child, employee, client, or student and their family, could we begin with positivity? Could we build up first? Then, rather than breaking down, could we offer suggestions for improvement? How are our tone and timing influencing the language we use?

Using a More Loving Language

Consider these key changes to improve our daily language:

Reflect
Give thought to how we have spoken or written to others in the past. Do we use words that help or harm? Do we begin with a greeting? Do we share a positive comment? Are we only complaining, or do we offer suggestions for improvement? Do we show gratitude? What are the tone and timing of our words? How are our words received? How does the receiver react to the language we use?

hand holding square beads spelling word love

Photo by Shane on Unsplash

Research
Examine who we may have communicated with recently. When was the last time we shared words of kindness with them? Why have we not done so? Did we even realize this was the case? What have we done to improve our language?

Refresh
Make a conscious effort to share kind words with those we love, serve, or lead. Let others know we are thinking of them. Praise them for their efforts. Congratulate them. Show gratitude.

smiling teacher high fiving student in classroom

Photo: pix deluxe / E+ Collection via Getty Images

Tough conversations are often necessary, but if there is little to no positive feedback given, a more loving language may need to be considered. Kind words have power. They may even produce more kindness and positivity! Let’s keep this in mind as we examine our language and consider the words, tone, and timing we use. Are we building up or breaking down? As Mother Teresa so eloquently states, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

About the author:

Lori Schwartz Reichl Portrait

Photo: Richard Twigg Photography

NAfME member Dr. Lori Schwartz Reichl is the visionary thought leader of Making Key Changes. Her career began in music education where she learned the importance of a key change—a shift in the tonal center of a piece of music, often used to inject energy or produce significance. She eventually realized the necessity and impact of making key changes in all areas of her life.

Since transitioning out of one classroom as a public school educator, Dr. Reichl has uniquely created a global classroom for her essential work. She guides organizations, teams, and individuals to create and maintain a shared vision by making key changes in their communities, companies, classrooms, and careers by unlocking their greatest potential in collaboration with those they love, serve, and lead.

Learn more MakingKeyChanges.com. Subscribe to Dr. Reichl’s Making Key Changes newsletter. Listen to her weekly podcast.

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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

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Published Date

February 6, 2024

Category

  • Classroom Management
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Music Education Profession
  • Teacher Self Care

Copyright

February 6, 2024. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)

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