Parts of the Whole

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

Quote from Benjamin Franklin on water background

I tend to be a rather negative person. There's a certain enjoyment in playing the devil's advocate and employing sarcasm when, well just because. It's just who I am and it's how I earned the nickname Oscar the Grouch from a neighbor growing up. 

I've tried to justify it every which way under the sun. It's been labeled as "being realistic" and "straight shooting." Honestly, it's just being grumpy and can be down right hurtful. Don't get me wrong, I one hundred percent believe in being truthful and having integrity; however, when it's relayed in a way that does not allow for grace and tact, you're not doing anyone any favors. The person receiving the information is turned off by your delivery and you've allowed a little piece of yourself to lose it's light.

Some would cry "foul!" and call it sugar coating. Well, maybe that's what it is. If considering someone's feelings and their circumstances gives you pause and makes you phrase what you might say differently and you want to call it sugar coating, go right on ahead. I believe most would just say you are employing a little used communication technique called tact. 

Remember the saying "you'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar"? That's tact. When you consider trying to legitimately influence a person's life for the better, that's tact. When you don't employ expletives and instead respect that you are dealing with a person with feelings, no matter how blind and ignorant they may wish to remain, that's tact. 

Benjamin Franklin said "Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." It seems like in my line of work, when dealing with the public, I have daily opportunities to say the wrong thing at the tempting moment. However, I value my job and more importantly the opinions of my boss and my employees, so I weigh my options and I take more time to speak now than I ever did in my late teens and early twenties. 

Someday my son will do something that I'm sure will warrant criticism. It will be up to me in that moment to choose to send him down the path that leads to a solution, rather than therapy. Fingers crossed, I get it right the first time.