Strategies to Avoid Spewing Venom

I’m sure it’s been a problem since the dawn of creation and will likely continue to be until the new heavens and new earth. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it.

spewing ashes


The problem I am referring to is put downs, criticisms, complaints, and grumbling about another person. This type of interaction seems to be at epidemic proportions.

Even if there is some truth to the snarky words uttered, laying them out for all to partake is never justified.  It accomplishes little and casts a bad light on the one speaking.

Such talk makes me uncomfortable.

I experienced negativity of the grumbling mode the other night while helping at a school function with a few moms. And at a meeting on a previous night  the topic detoured to put downs and ridicule.

In the same vein, who hasn’t heard a “smear” or “slam” (or a thousand) in the current election campaign? Or from talk show hosts or in most forms of media or at adult gatherings? Who hasn’t fallen to such a low at some time in his or her own daily walk?

Now, to clarify, I’m not talking about disputing facts or lively debates or statements of disagreement or even pointing out when someone stumbles in word or action. Such dialogues carried out in a respectful, honoring manner serve a tremendous purpose.

What I am posting about are utterances that have no redeeming quality. Words that have little purpose other than to hurt.

You know of what I write: gossip, slander, words of malice, “innocent” put downs, complaints.

It is easy to get sucked in to spewing venom. You may even agree with the point(s) being made (if there is one). However, when words are spoken at the expense of a real, live someone, it’s wrong and should be avoided at all costs.

But how? We all live, work, and play in community. There will always be conflict and disagreements and people, who frankly, don’t like much.

Nevertheless, there are strategies for reducing the amount of snarky talk you are exposed to.

Some I’ve found helpful include

  • avoiding those gatherings where the “complainers” flock. Often we have a solid idea where that might be. Try rearranging your schedule or even dropping an activity to accomplish this.  Though an effective strategy, it isn’t always possible.
  • praying for opportunities for positive fellowship. Ask God to bring kindred spirits into your life.
  • planning a few gentle comebacks to redirect the conversation or stop it in its tracks. Defending or supporting the person being badmouthed is a surefire way to end the dialogue. Even expressing doubt as to the validity of the grumbling or put down works as a direction changer.
  • modeling healthy positive language. Nothing is more persuasive then a life lived well. Ask the Lord to protect you from the temptation to slip into filth talk.
  • pausing before responding when tempted to join a negative conversation. Try placing yourself in the shoes of the person being talked about. Have a few neutral words/phrases to say instead of degrading ones.

We won’t avoid degrading talk perfectly. Christians are still susceptible to Satan’s seductions and the world’s pull. We will still slip in our walk with the Lord. I have and will continue to do so.

In fact Scripture points out that ” … no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

But when we purpose to make better choices and develop a plan, we stand a stronger chance of following the way of the Spirit instead of the flesh.

Next time you are faced with snarky language, grumbling, and put downs, choose to extend grace. Both to those spewing vitriol and those often-unaware recipients.

Next time you are faced with snarky language, grumbling, and put downs, choose to extend grace. Click To Tweet

You may just earn their respect and affect change in the process.

“No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

Share in the Discussion: Is this an area in your life you need to ask forgiveness and develop healthier habits? Do you have additional ideas for reducing the influence of venomous talk in our lives?

Linking up my week’s Joy Dare list (#970–990). View them all here.

  • Sweet old dog’s loyalty and companionship; Prairie grass waving in the breeze; Respite for Rachel
  • Sweet ladies in our church’s mission guild; Chiropractor; Texting with my college boy
  • Opportunity to donate blood; Connecting with my Writing Critique Group; FamilyTalk with Dr. James Dobson
  • Sharing my outdoor passions with 5th graders; @LisaRWhittle‘s book {w}hole; Acorn pancakes
  • Cuddling with 11 yr old son at cool football game; Long hugs from 16 year old son; Abundance of ripe cherry tomatoes
  • Saturday!; Playing football with 2 of my “boys” on a gorgeous day; Possum out our deck door
  • Coyotes howling: their chorus always makes me smile; Potluck at church; Joey’s first football game of the season

By His grace ≈


Encourage Others by Sharing This Post

Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

4 comments on “Strategies to Avoid Spewing Venom
  1. such a good reminder.

  2. Thanks for tackling this issue. We always told our youth group that a snide remark even with a laugh and “just kidding” or “jk” did not make it any less hurtful.

    • juliesunne says:

      So true, Dawn. I don’t care for it at all, so I try to avoid snarky, grumbling people, but sometimes I find myself drawn in. My flesh getting in the way–again.

Join the Discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.