“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.”
Foolish people speak rashly and without knowledge; wise people seek truth and speak truth. Foolish people use their words to criticize, hurt and tear down; wise people use their words to connect, understand, and gain clarity. Foolish people are reckless with their words; wise people are careful about what they say.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15.1)
In the midst of a difficult, emotionally-charged conversation, you can respond with respect and empathy, or you can react harshly. The first response is described as a “soft answer” that tends to have a calming effect. The latter is described as a “harsh word” that tends to inflame and incite anger.
When a conversation is difficult and emotionally-charged, wise people don’t react, they respond. They are thoughtful and intentional. They are discerning and disciplined. They seek to bring clarity and perspective to the conversation.
At the other end of the spectrum are foolish people who get caught up in their emotions, and then react with heat rather than light. The result is escalated anger, diminished clarity, rash words, hurt feelings, and a damaged relationship.
It is of the utmost importance that we develop the discipline of pressing pause and thinking before speaking. This is especially true when engaged in a challenging, emotionally-charged conversation. The more emotion you feel, the more careful you should be before speaking.
“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” (Proverbs 15.2)
It says that the mouth of the fool “pours out folly.” This is a very accurate description of much that is said, written, and posted today. Far too many people simply want to express their opinion, even if it is emotion-driven and poorly researched. They feel strongly about something, latch onto what they think is a compelling talking point, and then make a foolish declaration or criticism. More often than not, when challenged they double down and defend their foolish statements.
Be a person who seeks truth and speaks truth.
“The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.” (Proverbs 15.7)