Itís not what you say, itís how you say it.
Well ainít that the truth?
My mother-in-law and I laugh about that all the time. Like when she pokes my father-in-law in the ribs if heís telling and not asking. Or when I dope slap one of my girls when they hit me with a snarky tone of voice instead of just answering my simple question.
Itís the old ďyou catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.Ē (A ridiculous saying, but completely true). Itís all about our approach and our tone and our intensity level when weíre communicating with people. Or at least it should be ó whether those people are our kids or our parents or the people we work with or our friends. Because when we come out guns blazing, itís almost always going to make the other person reach for their holster too. And thatís counterproductive.
The perfect example of what Iím talking about is a situation I found myself right in the middle of a few weeks ago at the gym. It was late, like around 7:30 or 8 p.m., so the locker room was quiet. In fact, there was only one woman in there when I walked in to stow my stuff. She was just sitting on a bench, tying her shoes, quietly talking on her cell phone when another woman walked in and opened the locker next to us.
With little or no hesitation at all, the woman who came in behind me made an extremely rude and obnoxious comment about the other woman being on her cell phone. She went from zero to 60 in a hot minute, barking at the poor woman about being in a public area with signs prohibiting cell phone use and never even gave the woman a chance to respond.
Now, even in spite of how rudely the other woman was attacking her, the lady on her phone kept her cool and immediately acknowledged that she hadnít noticed the sign. She even apologized and said she was about to hang up, but the tirade continued. And thatís where I have a major problem.
See, it was bad enough that this woman came into the locker room loaded for bear, but to be so rude from the get-go and then continue to lambaste someone even after theyíve admitted they made a mistake is so many different kinds of wrong that I didnít know which one to address first.
Needless to say, I did tell the angry ranterlady that for what it was worth, there was definitely another way she couldíve/shouldíve made those comments. She didnít like me too much after that.
Look, weíre all guilty of being snippy every once in a while. It happens. We get frustrated when life doesnít flow like we need it to flow and then we lose it. Perfectly acceptable human behavior, as far as Iím concerned considering none of us is perfect. We are, after all, somewhat like radiators in that we need to bleed out a little every once in a while to maintain balance.
I mean, as much as we all may try, we canít always be civil and gracious and in complete control 24/7/365. Not when you factor in wildcards like hormones and kids and work stress and the market being out of goji berries. So periodically we slip and weíre short when we shouldnít be or sharper than we intended to be. But we apologize and own it and move on.
To hit someone right between the eyes, though, with the first word out of your mouth, just isnít ok. There are always other ways to get your point across without being insulting or hurtful or unkind or insensitive. And thatís what I think we often lose sight of. Because when weíre barked at, it hurts. Especially when whatever needed to be said couldíve been said in a more tactful and mature way.
The most obvious example I can think of off the top of my head is when Dave and I are eating out and the beautiful people who take the time to serve and wait on us are belittled and yelled at just because someoneís Brussels sprouts are cold. Drives me insane when someone gets all huffy and intolerant toward someone when all they really need to do is behave with a little respect to get the same point across.
But thatís because knowing how to communicate effectively is a skill, I guess. No, itís an art. And not enough people realize how they really sound a lot of the time. Cause itís not good.
So from now on, do me and the rest of the world a favor and think before you speak. Because I can guarantee that thereís always more than one good way to get your point across. And youíll have far fewer people spitting in your food.
ó Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at itiswhatitiscolumn.wordpress.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores.
It Is What It Is: It’s not what you say it’s how you say it
Itís not what you say, itís how you say it.