The Gemara (Shabbos 34a) tells us that the head of each household must make sure that his family members deal appropriately with all halachic issues before the start of Shabbos. The Gemara notes that even though he must get the job done, he should say it softly so that his words will be heard. We are more motivated to work hard when it is out of love than out of fear. Similarly, Chazal tell us that the theme of the home on Friday evening is shalom bayis. The Satan is particularly prevalent in the house before Shabbos; in the rush of preparations it looks for opportunities to capitalize on the stress and ruin our shalom bayis and our menucha. Thus, the Gemara tells us: at this busy moment speak softly in order to keep the peace and foil the evil plans of strife.
Our Father in Heaven loves us always and sometimes needs to teach us to be better as well. All of Hashem’s acts stem from love and serve to help us grow and ultimately come closer to Him. Just as we recognize that the father’s rebuke of his three-year old son stems from love and is intended for his betterment, so to must we recognize that our life circumstances are also meant for our personal growth. As the famous phrase teaches, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
When we are compelled to give corrective feedback to others, we must deliver the “medicine” in a way that ensures that the recipient realizes before, during, and after the rebuke that we love him and want the best for him. The Ramban’s famous letter teaches us that speaking softly will save us from anger. Waiting until we are calm, composed, and capable of speaking softly will help ensure that our words of rebuke go from our hearts to the hearts of others. No one loves criticism, but everyone likes love… so let us put the two together to enhance our relationships in a productive fashion.