Why Our Words Have Meaning
This post is one of the most cut-to-the-chase, insightful posts I have ever read (by my friend Nora, who is awesome, but the piece would be just as striking to me if I did not know her). Take a minute to read it. I'll wait.
Ok, you're back. Hopefully you're bowled over — I was, and I can identify with the experience because it happens to me All The Time. Maybe you've never thought of it that way before, and now you are, and that's cool too.
But hey, if you're one of the many (and I am sure there are some of these in the comments to her original post by now, I haven't looked because I have learned that my cardinal rule of life is "Don't read the comments"), who is still thinking "What's the big deal? He didn't even know he said anything. He was just trying to be nice" — I challenge you to reconsider. Hard.
Our words have meaning. Everything we say. When I present something for a client, what I say and how I say it is every bit as important as the data I am giving them. When I snap at my daughter without thinking, it can wound her for days and affect everything else she does. Ninety-nine percent of my disagreements with my husband come from communication misunderstandings. And those instances are from people I have relationships with, who can at least take my words in a general context.
What you say matters (even if you are a jerk). So own that power. Make it matter. Only say what you mean — and then 100% mean what you say.
And never, ever, tell anyone to "just smile" out of context. (However, if it's something like "Smile, because I love you and here's some chocolate and I just got us tickets for Hamilton tonight and our plane leaves in 90 minutes" I will accept it!)