The power of mindful speech

Words are very powerful. We communicate with each other through words.

Words can praise or humiliate, encourage or discourage, bless or curse another individual.

We need to think before we talk and use this powerful tool for the benefit of everyone.

This article is about how to develop mindful speech in our daily lives.

What is mindful speech?

Mindful speech means to be aware of what you speak.

If someone is mindful of his speech, his/her speech will be exclusive of lies, gossips, harsh words, etc.

Instead, he/she will speak soft, gentle words which are pleasant to everyone.

What is the importance of mindful speech?

  • Mindfulness requires you to think before you express
  • It encourages active listening
  • Truth creates trust among each other
  • Mindful speech is soft and pleasant to others
  • A mindful speaker expresses only at the right time
  • A mindful speech is beneficial to both speaker and listener

 What you should speak?

According to Buddhist texts, when someone speaks, he should be careful to avoid the following types of words.

  • Lying
  • Slandering
  • Harsh speech
  • Idle chattering

1.      What is lying?

Lying means saying something to deceive another person. Exaggeration, misrepresentation, misleading, withholding information, etc. also cover the range of lies.

We often hear expressions in society such as; “You look beautiful”, “I am doing good”, “you are very kind.”  Even if the speaker knows the expression is not true, he/she utters the words to get a benefit or to please others.

 Is lying bad?

Lying can be harmful both on the part of the speaker and the listener. When someone tells a lie, he expects a benefit from the listener. For example, one partner would lie to get love and affection from the other partner in a relationship.

To cover one lie, he or she has to fabricate more lies. This can go on until the truth is discovered. When it happens, the trust between partners diminishes.

Depending on the gravity of the lies, they have been categorized as white lies, black lies, etc. Some people think it is ok to tell a white lie.

However, a lie is nothing but a lie. There is an intention to deceive another person. Therefore, it is best to keep quiet if you cannot tell the truth.

For example, you do not have to say “I am good” when you are at your worst. You can either tell the truth or just keep quiet.

We tend to lie because we want to shield ourselves from not telling the truth or expecting a personal gain. We do not want to show a true depiction of ourselves to others.

What happens when you lie?

Lying is difficult to maintain for a long period

Lying requires us to pretend other than who we are

Lying is harmful to our personalities

When someone lies, there would be a guilty feeling

A lire’s mind is not at peace

He/she cannot go before the public with a peaceful mind

2.      What is Slanderous speech?

Slanderous speech means words that cause disharmony among people. A slanderer repeats what he hears in one place in another place. It is a deliberate act done with malicious thoughts.

For example, A reveals something to B, saying not to share it with C. B confides it to C. That is slandering.

Is slanderous speech bad?

Slandering is a dangerous habit because it can split even good friends, families, or even countries.

Also, slandering creates fear among each other, because one does not know whom to trust.

When someone cannot bear the unity among others, one tries to disrupt it by tale-telling. One cannot slander unless there are negative emotions of aversion or anger in the mind.

Thus, slandering taints the speaker’s mind before he causes any harm to others.

3.      What is Harsh speech?

Harsh speech means words uttered to hurt someone. It can be screaming, scolding, ridiculing, defaming, etc.

Harsh speech degrades the status quo of a person.

Often, public figures are the targeted victims of defamation. People think they can say anything about public figures because the public figures have put themselves in the spotlight.

Is abusive speech bad?

It is bad as it hurts the feelings of the victim. If the speech affects the person’s image in society, they decide to get relief from the court. Thus, he has to spend a lot of time and money on that.

4.      What is frivolous talk?

Frivolous talk means words that waste the time of both the speaker and the listener. People often engage in idle chattering that does not add or share anything of importance.

Some examples of idle chattering are; talks about celebrities, movies, and clothes, etc.

Is idle chattering bad?

Idle chattering does not add any value to life. Negative emotions such as passion, hatred, anger can arise as a result of idle chattering. Instead, we should try to speak words that bring value to the life of the listener.

How to be more mindful in speech?

·        Pay attention to your intention:

See if there is any underlying malice thought in speech. Some examples of malicious thoughts are; intending to get a benefit, protecting yourself, anger, etc.

If so, hold them. Remind yourself, words are there to communicate the truth with each other.

·        Think good of others:

Words mirroring the thoughts in your mind. Unless you think good of others, gentle words do not come automatically. Therefore, make it a point to think about others on good terms.

For more details, read

·        Practice kind words:

Sometimes, it is difficult for people to say “thank you”, or “you are very kind” often. When we become adults, we forget all good words that melt the heart of the listener. Therefore, practice kind words often.

·        Pay attention to the tone

Even if you speak the truth, others would not like it if your tone is not pleasant. Always remember to talk in an appropriate tone according to the circumstances.

·        Practice noble silence

Keeping noble silence is key to understand the importance of words. We waste so much energy when we talk. So it is beneficial to talk only about important things.

If you are in the habit of continuously talking over the phone or in the presence of others, noble silence allows you to understand your habit pattern and the value of silence.

On a final note, your words portray who you are. Despite how powerful or rich you may be, if you are not aware of the authenticity of your speech, you cannot stand in society. Therefore, it is necessary to identify and pay attention as we talk.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


Rathsara (Sara) is an attorney-at-law who holds a Diploma in Buddhist Studies in ITBMU. She has engaged in community service in Sri Lanka and the United States helping many individuals. She is interested in reading, writing, and researching areas related to mindfulness. Inspired by spiritually developed individuals around the globe, Rathsara is keen to learn and practice mind-developing techniques. In the meantime, she would like to share her experience and knowledge for the well-being of others.

Recent Posts