and mean what you say. I’ve no idea who first coined that phrase but it is one that rings around my mind a lot.
Not that I do it, as my bad haircut will testify. I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to convince myself that I meant it when I said the words I always say, “that’s lovely, thankyou.” But it wasn’t really true. And the thing is, nobody will ever tell me that it is not ‘lovely’, because they play the same game as me. Only once in my adult memory do I recall someone asking me, “what happened?” after I had a crazy pregnant moment and got my hair highlighted. Like a tiger. The person commenting was genuinely concerned for me and my state of mind. I’m laughing now, but was silently offended then.
That’s the problem – it’s all very well speaking your mind, but if it is at the cost of someone else’s feelings, should you do it? Sometimes (read most of the time) I say what I think the person with me wants to hear, and afterwards my true opinions fester inside of me. It often comes from a place of kindness, but other times, it is out of fear of a hurtful confrontation. Simmering, repressed feelings do nobody any good.
Nevertheless, I will always contend that considering other people’s feelings trumps (can we bear to use that wretched verb these days!) speaking our mind. Sure, speak into the hidden tension, but tread softly.
It happens all the time in the workplace as well. Back in my days of working in an office, I encountered people who always threw their weight around, regardless of the damage they were causing. But I rarely stood up to them and so the balance of power never shifted. Of course, I would come home and say the things I should have said or done, but then and there, I suffered in silence. On the other hand, if a colleague shows you a poorly thought out idea, or a terrible attempt at solving a problem, then the only way to save them is to tell them. But make sure you’re armed with a better suggestion. Criticism only works if it points in a positive direction.
Maybe next time, I’ll tell the hairdresser to change their work. Or maybe, I’ll choose the kinder way. Say what you mean and mean what you say. But don’t ever be mean.
Take it from the hedgehog.