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Strength of Softness Part-II

To read Strength of Softness Part-I click here.


In the previous post, we saw the value and importance of softness in our behaviour and attitude as well as in verbal communication with reference to the Sanskrit subhashit,

"नमन्ति फलिनो वृक्षा नमन्ति गुणिनो जनाः | शुष्क काष्ठश्च मूर्खश्च न नमन्ति कदाचन ||"

That is to say, a tree that is laden with fruit bends down to the ground. Individuals with strong principles and attributes behave respectfully with others in the same way. Some examples from my personal experience are presented in this part.

The students studying in colleges are in their teens and “teen” is supposed to be a very delicate stage of their lives. They look at their teachers as role models. The teachers should be at a pedestal as compared to the students. If the teachers do not fit in the “frame” that is there in the minds of students, it becomes difficult for them to adjust. So, they tend to behave in an inappropriate manner. Sometimes, some students also do not know how to behave professionally and use the correct language while talking to the teachers. They tend to hurt the teachers. There are two aspects of this situation. The first is that the Teachers need training in "Positive and Effective Communication Skills" and they also should be able to counsel or at least identify the students who need counseling and should guide them to the right person. The use of “inappropriate language ” causes unnecessary complications.

So, the point is that teachers must set up a good example in front of the students and students also must learn to respect the teachers. Otherwise, the gap between them increases and we lose a chance of developing a good relationship, which is a lifelong treasure.

I would like to mention here an incident about a student, Amit. He was a quite bright student but did not know how to talk respectfully to the teachers, though he never meant to disrespect them. Teachers were naturally not happy with his behavior in the class and they always had to shout at him. Amit used to feel uncomfortable in the class. So he started avoiding the teachers and missing the classes. This was unusual of him. I had to call his parents to the office to tell them about his behavior. Upon asking him, he told me that he wasn't getting proper treatment in the class and used to feel insulted. I talked to him and also talked to all his teachers separately. I explained to him that it is very important to be polite in the class and he should consider himself to be lucky to have teachers who wish that he should improve; only their language and tone were not appropriate. He agreed to give it a try. It was a great and satisfying experience to see him as he completely changed his behavior in the class and started to attend classes regularly. He graduated with a good grade. It was a result of combined efforts by all teachers and Amit. His father was very impressed with the way we all handled this situation and called me personally to tell me his result after Amit graduated. He also told me that his second son also wants to be admitted to my department. There are many such successful situations, where the use of proper language completely changed the unpleasant scenes to cherished moments.

Many times people very proudly say that "I am very blunt and I don't hesitate in pointing out mistakes or shortcomings of the people without thinking much". But this is not the correct approach. This will hurt people and may detach them emotionally from you, even if they do not reveal this to you. Great thinkers have advised that if Truth is not pleasant, then it need not be told. We should carefully examine the situation and then talk to the person so that the person does not get hurt. One should also remember that “Bracelets do not adorn a man, nor do necklaces which shine like the moon. Neither a bath, nor an ointment, nor flowers and nor decorated hair adorns him. It is Cultured Speech alone that properly embellishes a man. All other ornaments lose their glitter, only the jewel of speech ever remains”, which is told in the Sanskrit shloka as follows:

केयूराणि न भूषयन्ति पुरुषं हारा न चन्द्रोज्ज्वलाः

न स्नानं न विलेपनं न कुसुमं नालङ्कृता मूर्धजाः ।

वाण्येका समलङ्करोति पुरुषं या संस्कृता धार्यते

क्षीयन्ते खलु भूषणानि सततं वाग्भूषणं भूषणम् ।।

It is also seen that weak and less confident people usually try to talk in rough language or very high tone. But it is a misconception that "louder means powerful". Gautam Buddha has taught so many values through his calm and quiet behavior, which people started following without being forced.

There are many examples and stories which emphasize the benefits of using good words and speaking softly while speaking with others and easily win their hearts.. It's very aptly said in the following Sanskrit Subhashit, which means that cold water, sandalwood paste or cool shade cannot please anyone as good as the soft and sweet words.

न तथा शीतलसलिलं न चन्दनरसो न शीतला छाया।

प्रह्लादयति च पुरुषं, यथा मधुरभाषिणी वाणी॥

Finally, it's a million-dollar truth that,

लोगों का दिल अगर हां, जितना तुमको है तो, बस मीठा मीठा बोलो"

Recently I was watching a series, “When Calls the Heart”. I liked it as it is based on the life of a highly educated teacher Elizabeth, who opts to go to a village to pursue her teaching passion. She quite often uses innovative ways to teach difficult concepts to her students. Jack likes her but being a constable is not able to convey his feelings to Elizabeth in proper words, and every time he tries to do so, he does not succeed. Abigail Stanton, an elderly lady in the town advises him in just one sentence on how to win the heart of Elizabeth. I was attracted to the advice given by her..

She says that, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar;” implying that being “sweet” or nice with someone will more likely give you the results you want than if you act mean, sarcastic, or otherwise “vinegary” toward them. It is very interesting to see how Jack makes efforts to use honey to catch the bees. Let’s try to do so in our speech and behavior too.

In my words, I would like to say...

छोटीसी है, ये जिंदगी, पल दो पल का, साथ है

दिल को किसी के, दुख दे अगर तू, क्या फिर तेरे, हाथ है।

सुरीले अगर, बोल ले बोल मीठे, कुछ भी न कम तेरा हो जायेगा।

दिलोंको सभीके, तू जीत कर देख, धनवान कितना, हो जायेगा।

पहचान है तेरी, बोलोंसे तेरे, उनको हमेशा, काबू मे रख।

यही एक है राह, मानेगी दुनिया, तेरीही बाते, जरा याद रख।

- Dr. Anjali Deshpande

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