I read with some enthusiasm this morning the Kindness Blog, in which a challenge was issued. Specifically, for one year, to consciously think about what you are going to say before you say it to give yourself the opportunity to either choose your words so as not to hurt, or to decide not to say anything at all. It seemed apropos since just yesterday in response to another driving lesson from my wife, I responded less then kindly. As soon as it was out of my mouth, I was sorry I had said it. If I could only learn that the flame that suddenly ignites in my psyche is in fact a warning fire instead of an invitation to fan it into something worse then it already is.
So it was, upon reading today’s post, I started thinking about how I normally respond to even casual conversations. Am I given to talking about other people in their absence? Do I make offhand comments that could hurt. Do I openly criticize, cajole, belittle, falsely flatter, correct, demean, or just generally say whatever the hell I want. I don’t think so, but hey, I know I am in there somewhere. Because I do have a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later.
I became conscious of this tendency early in my career. A coworker whom I had just made a sarcastic comment to quietly asked if I had intended to hurt with my comment or had I perhaps spoken in haste. I should have thanked them for that response, because it has remained with me to this day. And I think that, over the years, when I have exercised discretion, the results were much more favorable. I was once told that I could tell a person to go to hell and make them look forward to the trip, so I guess I am doing at least a couple of things right.
I’m not a joiner by nature, but it occurred to me that this was one challenge worth accepting, and in fact, spurred me to go one better. I have seen the power of people doing good deeds and hoping the recipient will pay it forward. So starting today, I am going to implement my own challenge, to myself. I call it “saying it forward”. I plan to consciously try to either say one nice (sincere) thing to someone every day, or refrain from making some comment or remark that serves no purpose, in the hope that someone else will say it forward. I will do this both verbally and in text, since wireless communication has a tendency to challenge the mores of civility.
So there you have it. Wish me luck. Or better still, join me.
P.S. Have I told you how nice your hair looks today?:)