Is It Ever Right to Use Harsh Words?


Is it okay to use harsh speech and tone when several rounds of sweet speech doesn’t help one to mend his or her ways? At times there are people who do not understand sweet or plain language. If harsh language helps to discipline them, the why not?

—S.Neethi, India


Dear One,

Joy to you! You ask a simple question but it has a lot of considerations. Unfortunately, there are times when one may have to use, “harsh words and tones.” For example, if a child continues to run out into the street after numerous attempts using sweet words has been in vain — one might have to use harsh words and tone. Otherwise great harm or danger could occur. Law enforcement must use harsh speech and tone, in order create safety. So if danger or harm is possible then harsh words and tone might be appropriate.

Coaches or directors might use harsh speech and tones to make changes in behavior. But that works best after respect and trust has been established between both parties. In the case of coaching, there is a loving exchange that is involved. It’s done in subtle way that challenges and motivates one to use that energy to drive them self to the next level. Some artists and athletes desire harsh lexicon because they see as the energy needed to bring out their best. The student knows that the harshness is done with only the player’s best at heart. The harsh words are done with a much needed sharing of passion, if you will. Speaking for myself, as a professional athlete and coach to other professionals, we saw it and loved coaches who were willing to go the extra mile to push us to the maximum. But, again, we had an unwritten unspoken agreement that allowed what ever it took get us past my limitations — we demanded it. Or we would find someone who would speak in whatever way needed to bring out inner warrior.

Most people do not appreciate harsh speech and tone directed toward them. In fact, sometimes harsh energy creates a powerful resistance to change. Without a mutual agreement, the harshness makes some people rebel with great vigor. When harsh language does force change, the change lasts as long as the fear of being treated negatively is there. Once the fear element leaves the poor behavior returns with a dynamo of resistance to transform.

Harsh expressions can make the person yelling feel very powerful and or good. But it’s a false sense of power. It seldom works to make the other feel better even if they make the change. It is to say, it feeds the ego of the one being harsh. As devotees a very good habit is to keep the ego in check, inspire and learn how to utilize our Inner Divinity. We don’t want to make any action, thought or deed feed the ego. A good habit is tune into Master or our Higher Divinity when we think we need to communicate in a negative way. This way we if we must be harsh grace will take the edge off. A good goal is to communicate change through inspiration whenever possible.

I highly suggest you read, The Art of Supportive Leadership, by Swami Kriyananda. There is a tremendous amount of wisdom regarding how to “lead” people towards the change needed. To order the book, contact Crystal Clarity Publishers at,

I hope this helps,

Niyaswami Gopal