At some point we need to move beyond saying things the way we see them and learn to find words that other people can understand. There is an art – cultivated only through practice, sensitivity and careful observation – to finding words that can reach deeply into the worlds of others.
But it’s not enough to know what’s the right thing to say, though this is itself hard enough.
We also have to know when to say it.
Until we cultivate our skill and sensitivity in matters of timing we will repeatedly say the right thing at very much the wrong moment. Without good timing we speak when we cannot be heard or, worse, we insist on speaking at a moment when others will get hurt, when our words cause outrage or confusion, and when our well-meaning efforts hinder others.
Learning good timing is also an art cultivated through practice, sensitivity, and careful observation. We have to learn what actually happens when we speak might be quite different from the intent of our speaking or what we imagine happens.
It’s all to easy to console ourselves with ‘I was only trying to help’ while at the same time failing to spot that because of our timing we are not helping at all.