Excuse Me, What Did You Say?

It’s my belief that some human brings didn’t come with a censor or edit button. (some of you may say all of them but I’m an optimist). Now I could say insulting comments mostly come from the male of the species but then that’d be wrong except for the examples used in this blog post. Women do play a role in doling out cutting remarks. Sticking your foot in your mouth isn’t specific to a gender, religion, or race. Certainly the ability to cut deep into someone’s psyche or ego does not discriminate based on creed, color or belief systems.

The past few weeks have been chock full of unexpected zingers for me. Starting with my new hair cut. My partner (and no my dear readers, he’s not immune to being called out in my blogs), said to me when I came back from the hair salon, – ” Do you like your hair?” Excuse me, what did you say?

Then a colleague asked me to write something to send out to some people I write information for everyday, and so I did happily and emailed the draft copy to him. The return email to me was very short but certainly not sweet. The following is my perception only and in my estimation email communication may be deadly and a take you down a slippery slope. There are some things, I’m learning from experience, that can only get through to the other person with a personal interaction. Here’s what I read in the email, ” I’ll take a whack at that”. Excuse me,what did you say?

Oh, and it certainly doesn’t stop there. I’m blessed with people in my life that give me much fodder for my writing. The next comment came from an older man who I was having lunch with and very clearly stated that only big guys can finish the ‘loaded’ omelet the restaurant we were in served. He said this as I was licking the paint off my plate that the said omelet had just been on. Something was loaded, and it may not have been the omelet. Excuse me, what did you say?

Now my partner is a brilliant man. He’s an inventor and has actually invented something during our ‘summer adventure’, that will revolutionize the gardening world  and blew my mind, however the light fades when it comes to his ability to communicate in our relationship from time to time. Tonight, everyone in the house made the meal when they wanted. There was some leftover pasta so I filled a cereal bowl, nuked it, ( I know, I know, not the way to warm something up but that’s a whole other blog). I proceeded to enjoy a yummy meal. As I returned to the kitchen for a second helping ( it was a small bowl), I heard a dulcet tone asking, ” Didn’t you eat today?” Excuse me, what did you say?”

I’ll give those of you who ‘get ‘ it, some time to stop laughing. For those of you who don’t, I apologize for the delay.

We all see life from our own eyes not someone else’s and that in itself is a design flaw in the human species. A flaw we have to work around. Let’s look at these four comments in regular light and then through transition lenses.

Unfortunate Comment: ” Do you like your hair?”

Siobhan: “Excuse me, what did you say?  You mean you don’t like it? Do I look like I just stuck my head in a light socket? Are you afraid I’ll be mistaken for a poodle by a dog?”

Preferred response from commentator: Your hair is lovely,  do you like it?

Explanation for those of you who still don’t ‘get it’. Are you really going to say this to your loved one or any woman in fact and expect to live through the evening? “Do you like your hair?”, according to ‘Wiki’woman ( my newly thought up version of Wikipedia) means, “Man, what did you do to your hair,  you look awful? You expect me to sleep in the same bed with you tonight?” (that particular comment is for the loved one alone)

Unfortunate Comment: I’ll take a whack at that”

Siobhan: Excuse me, what did you say? Ok, so you want a mind reader? From your response my mind understands it’s clear you don’t like what I wrote but can’t you at least give one positive comment? Then share with me some feedback about how you see it being presented with a few suggestions and let me take another ‘whack at it’, instead of completely ignoring the fact I put some work into it and deserve more respect than a cold brush off? Since this is the first time we’ve worked together on a project, explain to me how I’m suppose to learn what it is you feel needs to come from my creative writing so I may get better providing that? Especially when, you once told me once I was a good writer? Can you tell what I’m thinking now?

Preferred response from commentator : “Hey Siobhan, that was interesting. I liked the part about….What I was thinking this email should get across to readers is… I’d like you to makes some changes to reflect… Then we’ll have copy that has a voice and tone we want to project  to our audience. Thanks for your help.”

Explanation for those of you who still don’t ‘get it’ : Any one who has been in management or administered a group of people know that you need to give feedback like an outside Oreo cookie. Two layers of creamy pieces with a chocolate cookie in between. Positive feedback (the creamy good part), the correction (the cookie), and more positive comments (more yummy creamy parts.)  This makes the lesson palatable and the person wants more of the good stuff they can lick up, so they work harder to get more the next time. To do anything else means you are doing nothing but creating resentment, poor productivity and chances are you’ll have nothing but crumbs left to dunk in your milk.

I’m not writing a book so, I suppose it’s time to acknowledge you ‘get it’, and instead of going on about the other comments add tags to this post and publish it. One last comment – think before you speak or write and do a little editing, you may find your life slightly less dramatic or complicated. Not to mention the fact your photo won’t be used as the definition of ‘putting foot in mouth’.

Oh and to my partner – thank you and I love you. He took my suggestions of how he should have spoken to me about my hair cut and the other day as we were walking down an aisle in a department store, he stopped, turned and said, “Your hair looks lovely, do you like it?”

Siobhan Shaw

Co-host/Producer, The Attitude Shift

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