> Spirituality > Personal Growth

10 Habits of Green Speech

July 2, 2017 | by Aleeza Ben Shalom and Rabbi Mike Stern

Change your words, change your life.

Social media, which has brought us together in new and amazing ways, has also caused an explosion in the misuse of words, without any social or ethical responsibility.

Judaism has given us a set of beautiful traditions and laws for guarding our speech that promote respect and peaceful co-existence.

Recycling, reducing waste and shopping for local produce are all ways we interact with our environment to conserve the natural resources of our planet. We can harness that same kind of mindfulness to protect our personal well-being, relationships, families and communities.

We associate the color green with the farms and forests that we hope to preserve and nurture by making those environmentally conscious choices. Let’s expand that spirit of preservation and nurturing to the words we use and start using “Green Speech.” After all, who doesn't want to have healthier and more beautiful relationships?

Jewish tradition calls Green Speech Shmirat HaLashon, literally “guarding the tongue.” Let’s focus on the following 10 Habits of Green Speech:

  1. Make only positive statements, and refrain from making derogatory ones – even if they're true.

  2. Promote people's well-being. Don't make any statement that could cause someone physical, financial or emotional harm.

  3. Humor is great, but make sure jokes aren't at someone else's expense.

  4. Avoid speaking badly – even about yourself.

  5. Communicating derogatory or harmful statements by writing, verbal hints, or body language is just as bad as saying them.

  6. It takes two to gossip. Don't listen. Change the topic or walk away if necessary.

  7. Give others the benefit of the doubt.

  8. Refrain from conveying negative stereotypes or information about a group of people or an organization.

  9. Communicate with your spouse and family with kind and supportive words.

  10. Warn a person about potential harm. For example, from an untrustworthy prospective business or marriage partner. Make sure your information is accurate.

We can make these habits our daily practice by committing yourself to take ethical responsibility for the words you use and be more mindful about how negative, harmful and derogatory words and gossip hurt people, including yourself.

Making efforts to adopt the habits of Green Speech will reduce harmful and derogatory words, and put an end to the verbal abuse that damages our mental health and causes us pain.

Our words matter. 

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