One of my most significant faults is I tend to say what I think. Sometimes that’s a blessing, but other times it can be a tremendous curse. The reason? People don’t always like to hear what I say. For instance, there’s a lot of times I hold my tongue. Like many of you, when my buttons get pushed to the max, I don’t always care what people think, so I say what I think. I think it stems from years of being a doormat and the realization that if I didn’t speak up, things wouldn’t change for the better. What I didn’t count on was that it could come across as intimidating to others by speaking my mind. I’ve always been the type to try to please people, and when I began to break out of my comfort zone and say what I thought, there were times it would get extremely uncomfortable, and I’d run the risk of offending someone. That lesson took me a while to deal with my insecurities. When you have a personality like mine, you try to be respectful of others, but you get so tired of the bullshit that eventually, you learn to say what weighs heavily on your mind and heart.
Yesterday I had a customer who engages in a conversation about people’s manners. Without thinking, I said, “People are more inclined to do what they want than what’s right.” Oh, she got upset. My dad used to say that when people got mad over something someone else said, it’s because there was a lot of truth in the statement. I guess she was angry over something else, and what I said triggered her buttons. It was entirely innocent on my part. I thought I agreed with her, but she heard something different. I should know better than to throw a quip out, but sometimes I don’t think in time.
If you are the type of person who speaks your mind, you can find yourself in similar situations more often than you might care to admit. In today’s world, many people get offended at the drop of a coin. Walking on eggshells has become the norm for many of us. Free speech has become a thing of the past. It may still be in the legal realm of stating we have free speech, but many things require monitoring. Innocent posts become viral because people read them the wrong way. People are vilified because others disagree so heavily with the content that conversations contain. Accusations arise with one another, and in the end, people who speak their minds are treated like the worst people ever, and nothing could be further from the truth. It doesn’t matter what walk of life people live around. What’s essential to one sect of folks isn’t crucial to others.
I have many friends on all sides of the spectrum and from all walks of life. Some are so opinionated that getting a word in edgewise is like getting a brick wall to move. Then I have others who keep to themselves and are afraid to say what they think for fear of being criticized. Where is the balance? I used to believe that you deserved to reap the consequences if you didn’t speak up for things. Life experience has proven me wrong. We have to be mindful of what we say when we say what’s on our minds. Until I worked for Habitat for Humanity, I had no clue about language and its meaning. It never dawned on me that what I said in words had a significant impact on others who read what I wrote. I thought I was doing a great job with what I tried to get across, and I quickly learned that I had a long way to go.
When you work with the public, there are many contributing factors that you have to acknowledge. The first is that not everyone thinks or believes the way you do. If you are the type of person that preaches your beliefs to others, they may not be receptive to you. They may feel you are trying to convert them to your way of thinking. That’s a dangerous road because people are not sheep. They can think for themselves. Whether they utilize their thinking skills or not is not your problem. But it would help if you were mindful that words impact other people’s thoughts and emotions. Words are one of the sharpest weapons we yield. People have died over what others said. Some committed suicide, others murdered, and some died of broken hearts. Think about what you are saying and the way you say things. It matters more than you know.
The second thing is respecting other people’s views. It’s okay to disagree with them, but showing respect is something we can all do to maintain a healthier environment with each other. I have to go on social media and start looking at controversial posts and see how other people attack one another with differing views. I’m not a fan of many politicians, but I’m not going to slew their names on social media and attack leaders with a vengeance. If I do that, all it does it help create more division, and then I become part of the problem and not part of the solution.
I don’t know how to solve all the problems of the world. I wouldn’t want the job of doing that because I don’t think I’d survive the stress, bickering, and ignorance. But I do hope that people can start thinking about what they say, especially on social media. We all have voices and want those voices heard, but the language we use can make all the difference in the world. We don’t always have to be suitable to find a connection with each other. All we have to do is be open to listening to each other, be willing to grow, and spread our horizons with the thoughts of what we say and how we can interpret what we hear.
Last but not least, don’t assume that people will receive your words the way you intended. I could say that the sky is blue, and someone else could say it’s gray. Who’s right? The truth is that we both might be correct. What we see and hear isn’t what everyone else sees and hears. Assuming is dangerous and creates distrust among each other.
Hopefully, your day will contain little drama and lots of communication. The days are getting shorter, and so are our tempers. Be mindful of the language you use and see how the relationships around you improve. I hope all of you have a great day.