10 Pathways to Positive Speech

Source: “10 Pathways to Positive Speech” excerpted from “Gossip: Ten Pathways To Eliminate It From Your Life And Transform Your Soul,” by Lori Palatnik with Bob Burg
Gossip may be defined as any form of communication that harms another. It can ruin lives, assassinate reputations, split families, alienate friends and destroy businesses.

    On the other hand, a gossip-free environment leads to peaceful lives, healthier relationships, and overall prosperity.

    Yes, the gift of speech is a marvelous one, depending upon how it is used. Would you like your words to soothe instead of sting? Heal instead of hurt? And build instead of burn? Following these ten pathways will help:

  1. Speak No Evil.

  2. Hear No Evil.

  3. Don’t Rationalize Destructive Speech.

  4. See No Evil.

  5. Beware of Speaking Evil Without Saying An Evil Word.

  6. Be Humble; Avoid Arrogance.

  7. Beware Of Repeating Information.

  8. Honesty Really Is The Best Policy뾏ost of the Time.

  9. Learn to Say, “I’m Sorry.”

  10. Forgive.

  11. Say only positive statements. Let words of kindness be on your tongue. This means to respond instead of react. And, even, to edit your speech before you speak. Refuse to listen to gossip, slander and other negative forms of speech. Hint: If avoiding the conversation is impossible, have another topic of “positive” interest you can quickly bring up in order to change the subject. Excuses like “But it’s true” or “I’m only joking” or “I can tell my spouse anything” just don’t cut it. Gossip is gossip, anyway you cut it. Besides, the fact that it is true is what qualifies it as gossip. If it were not true, it would be libel or slander. Judge people favorably, the way you would want them to judge you. If you’ve ever been accused of doing something for which you know you were innocent, then you know how it feels to be misjudged. Remember, if you weren’t there, you don’t know. And, even if you were, you may have missed what actually happened in context. Body language, and even positive speech, can bring tremendous destruction. Yes, telling someone you know takes advantage of others’ kindness that a particular person will give you “the shirt off his back,” although it seems like positive speech, is not an act of kindness. These will be your greatest weapons against destructive speech. As Rabbi Noah Weinberg teaches, “Take pleasure in your accomplishments, not pride.” This way you recognize the Ultimate Source of your accomplishments. And those who are arrogant are so filled with themselves, there is no room for their Creator in their lives. Loose lips sink ships. Even positive information needs permission before being repeated. Telling someone who’s out of a job that your mutual friend, Julie, got a raise, does not constitute proper speech. Be careful to always tell the truth unless it will hurt others, break your own privacy or publicize your accomplishments. Strive for honesty in everything you do. But if it’s between honesty and unnecessarily hurting another’s feelings, it’s better not to be so truthful. Those who boast about being “brutally honest” are usually more brutal than honest. Everyone makes mistakes. If you’ve spoken badly about someone, clear it up immediately. It might be embarrassing, but get it over with quickly. Apologize, ask for forgiveness, and let him or her know it won’t happen again. If you have been wronged, let it go. Forgive for your sake, if not for theirs. Those who can forgive live healthier, happier, and less stressful lives. Those who say they’ll forgive but not forget are actually saying that they’ll neither forgive nor forget.

    Try this for the next month. The good news is, if you slip up now and then, it only means you are human. Try again. I congratulate you simply for making the effort.

The Tao of Forgiveness
Source: Unknown

One day, the sage gave the disciple an empty sack and a basket of
potatoes. “Think of all the people who have done or said something
against you in the recent past, especially those you cannot forgive.
For each of them, inscribe the name on a potato and put it in the

The disciple came up quite a few names, and soon his sack was heavy
with potatoes.

“Carry the sack with you wherever you go for a week,” said the
sage. “We’ll talk after that.”

At first, the disciple thought nothing of it. Carrying the sack was
not particularly difficult. But after a while, it became more of a
burden. It sometimes got in the way, and it seemed to require more
effort to carry as time went on, even though its weight remained the

After a few days, the sack began to smell. The carved potatoes gave
off a ripe odor. Not only were they increasingly inconvenient to
carry around, they were also becoming rather unpleasant.

Finally, the week was over. The sage summoned the disciple. “Any
thoughts about all this?”

“Yes, Master,” the disciple replied. “When we are unable to forgive
others, we carry negative feelings with us everywhere, much like
these potatoes. That negativity becomes a burden to us and, after a
while, it festers.”

“Yes, that is exactly what happens when one holds a grudge. So, how
can we lighten the load?”

“We must strive to forgive.”

“Forgiving someone is the equivalent of removing the corresponding
potato from the sack. How many of your transgressors are you able to

“I’ve thought about it quite a bit, Master,” the disciple said. “It
required much effort, but I have decided to forgive all of them.”

“Very well, we can remove all the potatoes. Were there any more
people who transgressed against you this last week?”

The disciple thought for a while and admitted there were. Then he
felt panic when he realized his empty sack was about to get filled
up again.

“Master,” he asked, “if we continue like this, wouldn’t there always
be potatoes in the sack week after week?”

“Yes, as long as people speak or act against you in some way, you
will always have potatoes.”

“But Master, we can never control what others do. So what good is
the Tao in this case?”

“We’re not at the realm of the Tao yet. Everything we have talked
about so far is the conventional approach to forgiveness. It is the
same thing that many philosophies and most religions preach – we
must constantly strive to forgive, for it is an important virtue.
This is not the Tao because there is no striving in the Tao.”

“Then what is the Tao, Master?”

“You can figure it out. If the potatoes are negative feelings, then
what is the sack?”

“The sack is… that which allows me to hold on to the negativity.
It is something within us that makes us dwell on feeling
offended…. Ah, it is my inflated sense of self-importance.”

“And what will happen if you let go of it?”

“Then… the things that people do or say against me no longer seem
like such a major issue.”

“In that case, you won’t have any names to inscribe on potatoes.
That means no more weight to carry around, and no more bad smells.
The Tao of forgiveness is the conscious decision to not just to
remove some potatoes… but to relinquish the entire sack.


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