Quote for teens that it's not just what you say it's how you say it

"It’s not just what you say. It’s also how you say it."

-- unknown

“Sure. Ok, boss.”

What could these simple words mean? Maybe they mean, “Sure. I’m totally ok staying late Friday night to sort the recyclable cans by color.” Or maybe it was more like, “Sure. Okaaay. I’ll sort the cans. But not without letting you know I think you’re a total scobberlotcher.”

Tone and body language speak volumes. And sometimes, we use them to make our displeasure known. It can feel good to win back a sense of power by delivering the words we “should” say along with an annoyed tone or eye roll. But even this lubberwort of a boss knows her employee just tried to put her down. Most people don’t take kindly to that. And sometimes, it’s downright counterproductive.

What you say matters as much as how you say it. When you treat others with respect, you’re a lot more likely to get the respect you want in return. And even if your boss doesn’t stop acting like a gnashnab, you can feel pride in your heart for setting the right example.

Side note: We don't recommend actually calling your boss a scobberlotcher, lubberwort, or gnashnab, even if they are accurate.

Teaching Resources

Quote about communicating respectfully

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This quote focuses on relationships and communication skills. "It's not just what you say, it's how you say it" reminds young adults that tone and body language can dramatically alter the meaning of what they are communicating. Short phrases in particular, like "OK," "Sure," "Whatever," "I know," can be very charged with emotions and defiance, and come across as disrespectful. While communicating one’s displeasure through tone and body language may make the person speaking feel better, it’s generally not good for the relationship. Taking this action does have a consequence that typically acts as a barrier to positive relationships and further respectful communication. This quote reminds teens to be aware that their tone and body language messages are coming through loud and clear, and might be having a negative impact on their relationships. Understand ones emotions and communicating them in a more respectful way leads to healthier relationships.

High School Health Class / Social Emotional Development topics:

Curriculum Topics

  • Interpersonal relationships, healthy relationships
  • Communication Skills
  • Actions and consequences
  • Understanding emotions


  • Respect others as you would like to be respected
  • Be aware of your communication skills/style
  • Connect actions and consequences

Character Traits/Values

  • Self control
  • Respect
  • Honesty- saying one thing and meaning something else

Self-reflection essay / writing prompts and discussion questions

High school health class and social emotional development lessons

Age Group: High school, young adult.

  1. Explain how the same words can mean something different depending on how they are said.
  2. Have you ever said something and someone took it the wrong way? Why do you think it was misunderstood?
  3. Have you ever said something with a tone or attitude because you wanted someone to know you were annoyed? Did it work? Did it get you the result you wanted?
  4. When has someone said what you wanted to hear, but said it in a way that seemed like they didn't mean it?
  5. What are some examples of body language that show displeasure or a closed off attitude? What are some that show an open attitude?
  6. Have you ever heard an apology that didn't sound like the person meant the words they said? How should a genuine apology sound?
  7. What do these examples of body language usually communicate? Crossed arms, Eye Roll, Glaring, Hands on hips, Raised eyebrows, Full smile vs pursed lips, Leaning forward
  8. For each word, describe at least two different ways you could say the words that would change their meaning: "OK", "Fine", "Sorry", "Are you really going to wear that?" "There are actually 2,058 pyramids."

Health Class / Social Emotional Development Activities:

Communication Skills Activities

Age Group: High school, young adult

  • Coming Soon!
  • Body Language worksheet
  • Same words, different meanings worksheet
  • Delivering a proper apology worksheet

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