Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has done essential work in spreading the practice of mindfulness worldwide, has written dozens of books. “The Art of Communicating” is one of his best.
Although his work clearly comes from a Buddhist perspective, he has much to teach us all. One of my favorite chapters covers the four elements of right speech:
- Tell the truth. Don’t lie or turn the truth upside down.
- Don’t exaggerate.
- Be consistent. That means no double-talk: speaking about something in one way to one person and in another to someone else for selfish or manipulative reasons.
- Use peaceful language. Don’t use insulting or violent words, cruel speech, verbal abuse or condemnation.
The book is short, but so useful. I particularly like the Six Mantras of Loving Speech, which each person is free to adapt as the situation calls for it.