The Meaning of Our Words

How many times have we been involved in a great experience only to have the excitement of the accomplishment diminished by negative words? I can remember so many times in my life when I was floating on an emotional high with excitement because of an accomplishment or happy event only to be brought down by these words: “but…you should have” or “but why didn’t you…” It seems like second-guessing each other and destroying one-another’s happiness is almost a spectator sport anymore.

I have been making a conscious effort throughout the past year to NOT do this to others. I consider myself a pretty considerate person and sometimes not doing this is harder than you think.  It seems ridiculous to say…but allowing others to enjoy their own happiness can actually be hard because we, as a people, have become so focused on the future and improvement for the “next time” we are hypercritical of each other!  Admittedly I have had to stop myself from saying…”But next time I need you to…” on multiple occasions and I have been glad I did every time.

Does anyone really even remember what was said BEFORE the “But…instead of” statement? I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IT!

Here is a practical example from a school setting.  Let’s say I was observing a teacher and he/she did an amazing lesson with his/her students having a great deal of input and on topic with discussion and learning of the objective across the board. Overall the teacher received a very good rating for this lesson.  Following the lesson I say to the teacher: “That was a great job of integrating student voice into your lesson. But, do you think you could have pushed them to a higher level of thinking?” What does the teacher remember? THE NEGATIVE FEEDBACK; the “But…” statement. So the observation was positive…but does the teacher feel like that now?

Here’s a recent example I can relate from my household. I came home from taking my children to a birthday party out of town over the weekend. My husband had done A LOT of yard work. (We have about 5 acres to mow.) When I came into the house I told him the yard looked great…and then I said, “But why didn’t you mow down by the pond?” (MAJOR MISTAKE!) I’m sure you can imagine…my husband didn’t remember the positive words I started with…he just remembered that I was critical.

Words are the most powerful thing most of us have…let’s let the meaning of our original words stand alone.  Celebrate the moments…both our own…and other peoples.

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