“Be Kind … It Takes All Of Us” is the theme of Boulder City’s 65th annual Damboree Parade. Those words got me thinking about not only how we treat each other but also how connected we are to everyone. What we say and how we say it not only affects everyone we talk to but also what we get back from them.
Thinking about what comes out of our mouth takes some judgment and consideration.
All of us, me included, usually don’t take a lot of time constructing in our head what’s going to come out of our mouth. It’s an automatic response. Someone says something to us, and we answer. That took three seconds. Not a tremendous amount of thought there.
When I write something, I have the luxury of thinking about it before the words appear. Some words come faster than others, but I also have the ability to go back and change what I’ve written.
That’s not the case when someone asks you what you think about so-and-so and you blurt out, “What a goof!”
I have nothing against folks telling the truth or saying what they really think, but sometimes we need to pause for a moment and consider the fact that those words can’t be taken back.
Sure, we can add an explanation, but the words are out there.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be honest or critical when talking about a person or situation, but maybe we, me included, should think about how our words are going to bounce off the person we’re talking to.
The other day, I heard a woman explain the strengths and weaknesses of one of her co-workers in a manner that gave me an objective evaluation of both the speaker and the person being spoken about.
That’s my idea of kindness. Tell the truth and state the facts. Don’t sugar-coat your opinion or conceal what you really believe because it will hurt someone’s feelings or make them angry.
Sometimes, in an effort to be kind or to appear cooperative, we don’t say what we really mean. So the person we are speaking to gets the wrong idea; we’re not saying what we really mean and we lose the opportunity to be honest with one another.
Is it better to be kind or to be honest?
I think we can do both.
No one is perfect, except maybe Mother Teresa, who is dead, and my best friend Mary Anne Nardi, who was a high school counselor in Chicago. So there is always going to be something negative that can be said about all of us.
We can talk about people in a kind way by discussing both their positive and negative attributes. For example, just because a person was instrumental in spearheading a popular project doesn’t make that person a good manager of people. It is, in my opinion, not unkind to state this.
Just because a person is talented in one area doesn’t mean that person will perform admirably in a situation he or she is unfamiliar with.
Again, I say, it is not unkind to state this.
Because we are all so connected, it is tremendously important that when we think about being kind, we also focus on what effect saying those often times insincere, yet kind words, might have.
We hear nothing but glowing, kind words about a person. That person is now in a position where he or she is going to be chosen for an influential position that could affect many.
Hey, this person is outstanding! Never a bad or unkind word said about her or him. Give that person the job!
Whoa now! Kind words and compliments are fine, but they are, after all, just words.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Actions speak louder than words.
Being kind is admirable.
Being cooperative is outstanding.
Being kind at the expense of the majority is neither.
Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 347-9924.