How to Talk to People

Advice from Ignatius, writing to Jesuits participating in the Council of Trent:

Be prudent. “When speaking in any conversation, do not think you are talking in private, but in public, so as to measure your words, and to say nothing you would not wish every one to know.”

Know your audience. “In the method of teaching Catechism to children suit yourselves to their age, so as sweetly to teach them the mysteries of our faith, and explain them according to the capacity and condition of your hearers.”

Be gentle. “Soften down the laws and prescriptions of the Exercises when needful, and especially for those who have to go through them in their entirety.”

Adjust your tone. “In discussions and arguments it is well to be brief; in order, however, to get men to follow virtue and to flee from vice, your speech should be long, and full of charity and kindness.”

Ignatius also told his men to take a break from the council every four days and visit the sick in public hospitals.  “Try to console them and to assuage their sufferings, not merely by kind words, but with some little present, as far as you are able.”

About Jim Manney 750 Articles
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is Ignatian Spirituality A to Z. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

3 Comments on How to Talk to People

  1. Timeless advise..in todays world, frankness and openness in speech is much admired that we forget to exercise Prudence, gentleness in speech. Thank you for this great reminder.

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