Have you ever said something that you wished you could take back?! Truth be told, anyone who is older than 2 years can likely relate. Whether it is to your significant other, a family member, a co-worker, or a stranger; we’ve all had one of those moments when we lost our cool…and control of our tongue. As a result, our relationship with that person changed. In fact, some relationships have been irreversibly damaged or lost because of an instance of hurtful words that were spoken. Because I value relationships, I have decided that I have personally had enough of those moments.
Although I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, I suspect that the transformation began around that time that I became a mom. The parent-child relationship is one of the most precious relationships that we could be blessed with. All I know is that I made a conscious decision to use my words wisely and constructively, not destructively. Subsequently, from that point on, I began to pay more attention to how my words made others feel. You see, the words that we allow to come out of our mouths can impact others either positively or negatively. In today’s society, it appears that some people feel that it is more important to give someone a piece of their mind than to exercise restraint. Here is why I believe that we need to get back to basics by treating others the way we would like to be treated; and take our mom’s advice to either “say something nice or say nothing at all:”
- My experience has been that I don’t feel any better after I “cut” someone down with my words. In fact, the guilt, whether immediate or delayed, makes me feel worse. This is one of God’s children…a human being, with feelings, whom I just caused pain. The behavior definitely goes against my upbringing that we should love each other. These teachings are based on I Cor 13:4, “Love is patient, Love is kind…” So what do/should we achieve when we hurt others? Absolutely nothing…except a good ole’ guilty conscience for ourselves.
- It takes a spiritually-mature person to show compassion and respect, even if the other person has disrespected you. Too often, the human spirit is too concerned about what others will think if we did not say anything, instead of having a shouting, possibly profanity, insult-laced tirade. What this does is show our lack of acceptable interpersonal skills, self-control, maturity, and respect for others. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Some people know how to strike just the right cord that, if we’re no careful, can “set us off.” What I have learned to do before I react is, ask myself, “In the grand scheme of things, does this person’s opinion of me really matter in my life?” If they agree/disagree; like/dislike; approve of/disapprove of; my opinion, action, etc., what difference will it ultimately make in my life. Most likely none at all. So then I ask myself, “So why am I wasting my time?” If we are honest with ourselves, what is driving us is our ego, which is not a good-enough justification for me personally. I’ve come to realize that it takes a stronger person to exhibit restraint because those who do, think before they react. Absolutely anyone can react without thinking because that takes no strength of character.
- Disrespect begets more disrespect. We need to remember that we must be the change the we want to see. The next time that someone is rude to you or rude to someone else while in your presence, try calming the situation down by remaining cool, calm, and collected yourself. If the opportunity presents itself, say something positive or pay someone a compliment. Then pay close attention to how the atmosphere will hopefully relax. Kindness will also often open the lines of communication. Where everyone was once shutting down because they felt threatened in some, you now see everyone involved loosening up and hopefully eventually forgetting the tense interactions.
- Failure to respect others results in a lack of self-respect – I know that when I know that I have disrespected someone else, I don’t like to look at myself in the mirror because I know that I have not displayed my best self. That should always be our goal. Not because we need/want others’ approval, but because we want to set a positive example for those who are watching to see how we handle difficult situations. By doing so, we build credibility and character and we make others at least wonder what it is like to live the life that we live. Some argue that we are not realistic or that we live in some sort of mental Utopia. This is definitely not true. I see it as putting the humanity back into interpersonal interactions. As I have shared with others before…it is possible to deliver the worst news with compassion and empathy.
- I want to build others up, not tear them down. As a Human Resources professional, I have addressed countless employee relations issues. In doing so, I have adopted the professional motto, “Everyone who comes into my presence leaves with their dignity in tact. That means that even if I am unable to give my customer the answer that they want to hear, at least they will remember that I treated them with dignity and respect. The best compliment that I have received to date as an HR professional came from an employee whose alcohol abuse contributed to his losing his job due to poor attendance. Even though I had to tell this gentleman that his employment was being terminated, he told me that I had not made him feel judged during the process. I explained to him that it was not my job to judge him as a person, but to determine if his behavior had violated company policy and to recommend the appropriate corrective action based on policy. He thanked me and I knew right then that I had found my career niche.
So, please take my challenge to make those with whom we interact feel valued by simply showing kindness and respect. You will make a difference…one person at the time.