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Vignettes of the Influential Tongue

                                                        By Don Petty


       Character development and emotional stability are influenced by the way our tongues are used when we speak to others. Our sharp tongue can drive one down, while our encouraging tongue can lift one up higher than he knew he could go.

       See what meaning or emotion these true life quotes convey to you.

       Multiple choice. Select the strongest message you get from each quote.


1.“You are going to be a very good cook when you get older.” (Grandmother to grand daughter.)

  • (  ) This would make a young girl really try hard to cook well.
  • (  ) This would make the young girl just quit trying to improve.
  • (  ) This would make the young girl simply quit cooking.

2. “Take all the math you can take all the way through school.” (Father to a son in high school.)

  • (  ) Scares him so much he might want to quit school.
  • (  ) Encourages him to sign up for math classes and maybe even major in it.
  • (  ) Wishes he could do math better, but fears he can’t.

3. “I know you are a good driver because you have not had any wrecks.” (Father to 16 year old son.)


  • (  ) Gets him a little more comfortable and he starts taking chances, driving a little faster
  • (  ) Makes him try to keep the driving record clean by driving carefully
  • (  ) He gives up driving altogether, fearing his clean record will be messed up

4. “_____ ______, you don’t have a brain cell working.” Teacher to an 8th grade student in class before all his friends.

  • (  ) Discourages him from even coming to class anymore.
  • (  ) Makes him study harder to answer verbal questions.
  • (  ) Helps him overcome his fear of speaking in class.

5. “Always speak to a child.” Mother to her teen age daughter.

  • (  ) Causes her daughter to resent little children when she sees them in public.
  • (  ) Causes her to be considerate to little children, and smile at them.
  • (  ) Causes her to take an interest in little children to help them and lift them up.

6. “Paddle your own canoe.” Elementary school maid to a 5th grade student.

  • (  ) Causes her to avoid talking with that maid anymore.
  • (  ) Makes her think about doing what she said, if she had a canoe.
  • (  ) Encourages her to work independently and do her own thinking.

 Our tongues are our servants in one sense of the word. They can help us set a young person, or old, on a course that will help them in life. On the other hand, we can knock their confidence in such a way that they will always remember a harsh word from us and possibly hate something or someone because of it. You may read a valuable piece on using our tongues well by Shannon Pollert writing in The Examiner here: The-power-of-words

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