The following is an excerpt from the A Teen's Guide to the 5 Love Languages. Thanks to Moody Publishers for the permission to reprint the following excerpt.
What we say matters a lot; how we say it matters just as much, if not more. Sometimes our words are saying one thing but our tone of voice is saying another. That’s a double message. People usually interpret our meaning based on our tone of voice, not only the words we use.
If your friend says in a sarcastic tone, “I would love to go running with you on the lakefront path,” you won’t hear a genuine invitation in those words. (“Ummm . . . no thanks,” you’d reply.)
On the other hand, you can hear even a hard message if it’s delivered in a kind tone: “I felt disappointed that you didn’t invite me to go running with you.” In this case, the person speaking wants to be known by the other person and is trying to build authenticity into their relationship. (The natural response: “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you wanted to go. Want to run together tomorrow?”)
How we speak is so important. An ancient sage once said, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” When a friend lashes out at you verbally, if you answer gently, the heat simmers down. You’ll be able to hear what the person is saying, empathize, apologize if needed, or calmly explain your perspective. You won’t assume your point of view is the only way to interpret what’s happened. That response shows maturity. Mature love speaks kindly.