Researchers at Kenyon College conducted a test in cooperation with the US Navy. The purpose was to discover how the tone of the voice affected sailors when they were given orders. The experiments revealed that the way a person was addressed determined to a large extent the kind of response he would make.
For example, when an individual was spoken to in a soft voice, he would answer in a similar manner. But when he was shouted at, his reply came back in the same sharp tone. This was true whether the communication was given face-to-face, over the intercom, or by telephone.
This study reminds me of Proverbs 15:1, which states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” What we say and how we say it not only makes a difference in the reaction we’ll receive, but it also determines whether conflict or peace will result. Many arguments could be avoided and tense situations relaxed if we practiced the truth of this verse.
The next time someone speaks to you in a harsh or angry tone, reverse the trend by expressing meekness, quietness of spirit, and loving concern. What a difference a soft answer can make in our relationships!
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), one of the world’s leading intellects, was visiting with Houston Smith, a well-known professor of philosophy and religion. As they were driving to an engagement, Huxley said, “You know, Houston, it’s rather embarrassing to have spent one’s entire lifetime pondering the human condition and . . . find that I really don’t have anything more profound to pass on by way of advice than, ‘Try to be a little kinder.'”