This morning I woke up thinking about how easy it is to say things we don’t mean and how difficult it is to take them back. How many times have you said something and later on replayed it in your mind – wishing you hadn’t said it in that way … or said it at all! This is something we learn the hard way, especially when we say things in anger – how to watch what we say. I’m unquestionably guilty here. I wonder about how different some of my relationships might be if there was a bit more thought before words.
When I’m doing training sessions for work, I often give this list of things to think about before someone says something to a subordinate or co-worker:
- You may not know all the facts.
- You may speak too quickly.
- You may say too much.
- You may use the truth as a club to hurt others.
- You may say something you regret later.
- You may hurt someone’s feelings.
- You may reveal your own weakness.
I also use the toothpaste analogy — once you squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube, you can’t put it back in!
I find this especially true with my teenagers (both ways!). Sometimes I regret the things that come out of my mouth (and I know they do too!). I often give advice when they didn’t ask for it. Or, I voice my suspicions that really should remain in my head. Sometimes I get so passionate about a subject too early in a conversation that I wonder if it shuts their thoughts down. This happens in our love relationships too (sometimes even more so than with anyone else!).
Here’s something I (we?) need to remember:
Silence is often misinterpreted but never misquoted.
I was in a meeting yesterday and the head person was fairly silent. At first I couldn’t read him. Then I realized that he was just taking it all in before he responded. He wanted to hear everyone one else (not his own words) first. And then what came out of his mouth after everyone had shared their opinions, was thoughtful, relevant and addressed everyone’s concerns. That’s a great communicator.
I’m going to make a commitment to use that method as a mom, friend and partner. Listen first, respond second. This might be tough for the Italian in me!
Life really is such a big learning curve. It’s ever-changing and you really can’t go to school for it!
I’m off to go for a walk in the rain to just listen to the birds.
Enjoy your day!