There have been instances when I have told someone about my businesses and the feedback was sharp and abrupt. I’ve pondered my reactions to these replies, dissecting them and analyzing why they left me feeling affronted. My thought process went something like this:
- I know I do not want people to show false interest in my businesses so I know that ⬇️
- I do not feel affronted when people respectfully decline, therefore ⬇️
- It must be the tactless word choice that has left me feeling minimized and ashamed for sharing my businesses with them.
Now, you might be wondering why I’m blogging about my thought processes and my ruffled feathers. I’m sharing because my reflecting didn’t stop there; my train of thought began exploring how these experiences can cause me to be a better communicator in an era when miscommunication happens all too easily and frequently.
As a whole, America is a polite society. Save for the outliers and bullies amongst us, we want everyone to feel included and we don’t make it our goal to offend. In fact, I think it’s safe to say we will go out of our way to make sure we don’t hurt another person’s feelings even to the point where we are the ones whose feelings are inconvenienced.
The events of the past year have magnified this politeness. Many of us are now afraid to speak without qualifying and clarifying and pre-apologizing for any unintended offense our speaking may cause. And to make social matters even more strenuous, we have been removed from most routine social engagements so we are out of practice with regular verbal communication. It is easy to worry that our rusty speaking skills may leave a trail of stepped on toes or feelings rubbed the wrong way.
At the end of the day, I just want to be myself and share my thoughts: not with malicious intent but with sincerity; not to critique but to generate conversation; not to make others feel small but to show camaraderie on this journey called life. I don’t want to have to scrutinize each word as with a magnifying glass before I say it; I would like to speak out of the integrity of my heart and the experience of my life. How is that done in such a sensitive world?
I believe the key is taking note of my responses to others. Am I left feeling minimized? Ashamed? Torn down? Discouraged? Exasperated? Hurt? Betrayed? Abandoned? Or do I feel understood? Heard? Bolstered? Befriended? Soothed? Hopeful? Renewed? Refreshed? In my communication with others, my reactions, feedback, tones, body language and words should reflect a genuine interest in the other person’s perspective and experiences. As tempting as it might be to return harshness with harshness or cutting remark with a biting retort, this will not make me feel more secure in my personal identity. Instead, it is better for me to cultivate a habit of communicating that I can fall back on in every situation: positive or negative. And when I initiate conversation with those around me I want to structure my comments to bring out the best in others.
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11