How to Handle a Discouraging Word

Last week I wrote part one of A Discouraging Word.  This week, I'd like to share how we might more effectively handle those who have a discouraging word for us. 1. Smile and wave boys, just smile and wave This is a line from the penguins of Madagascar my son loves to watch, but it is also a great way to handle those who have an occasional discouraging word.  If Ursula Uplift doesn't usually present a problem in this area, you might just want to smile and wave.  Just brush it off.  It's easier to do this with someone who doesn't always sing that tune.  If you find that you are too tired to discuss the matter, you don't have to.  Just chalk it up to a bad day or a poor choice of words on Ursula's part and move on. 2. Confront them If Wendy Wetblanket makes a habit of it, it might be time to confront her, especially if Wendy is someone you see more than occasionally.  As long as you bring it up in grace, asking her to please help support you, it should be received well.  Boldness tempered by grace is the key to sharing your thoughts effectively and with a minimum of Blood Loss Love Lost. 3. Stop hanging around them When Wendy Wetblanket turns into Bobbi Bully, the preferable alternative is to seek friendlier skies.  With friends like that, who needs enemies?  If this person is causing you or your family undue stress to the point where it is undermining your ability to do the work the Lord has for you, it's usually best not to spend as much time with them.  This is difficult and not always advisable if it is a close family member, but you may need to limit your exposure to their toxic talk. 4. Make sure it's not rubbing off on you Lastly, after years of exposure to Toxic Talk, it is all too easy to either believe it or reflect it.  If someone tells you how worthless you are on an ongoing basis, you may begin to see false truth in their toxic words.  God doesn't make worthless people and He made you for a special reason as He did each on of us.  You have a unique set of strengths and weaknesses that He wishes to use for His purpose.  Let Him. On the other hand, if you hear toxic talk all your life, you may be tempted to treat others as you have been treated.  Remember Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."  If a harsh or discouraging word should slip out of your mouth, apologize as soon as you can. 5.Be grace-filled Ephesians 4:32 says, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  Whether you have to confront someone, back away from someone or even address a small issue with a virtual stranger, make every effort to be grace-filled as you do so and be ready to forgive and forget if the situation does present itself.  Little misunderstandings can grow into major problems even if you try to communicate well all along the way.  We are all human and make mistakes and it takes two to communicate effectively.  You can speak as eloquently as an angel, but if the other person isn't listening, your message won't get through.  Speak in grace anyway. There may come a time when that other person may change or comes to you for forgiveness.  Whether or not you feel led to resume your friendship, make every effort to be grace-filled as you do.  Sometimes that means picking up where you left off without rehashing the issue and sometimes it means quietly letting them go without attempting to get another word in edgewise.  If you've said your peace and they have demonstrated that they will not or cannot do what you need to keep the relationship, it is more grace-filled to just let it be than to take every opportunity to reopen old wounds. 6. Keep supportive friends close Handling those who utter discouraging words can be difficult, especially without the help and support of  good and trusted friends.  As discouraging words can bring you down, encouraging words from supportive friends will give you strength, peace and will uplift you. There is no formula for the perfect way to communicate in every situation with every person because each situation is slightly different and each person is a unique creation of God.  However, if I were to come close to a formula that would suit almost any situation it would be this, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Colossians 4:6 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as and  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit


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    That is a tough one.

  • Carla

    Excellent advice. All good points. The problem is. . . what do you do when the toxic person lives with you and is not rational? BIG SIGH

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