Over the last several weeks (months?) I’ve been working on the way that I talk about people. Specifically, the sarcastic, condescending tone that can often come out when the person (or group of people) I’m talking about isn’t around. You know the tone.
“The stupid idiots who get elective inductions.”
“Parents who don’t even try to breastfeed.”
“I thought she was a good mom, but then she mentioned spanking her kids.”
Is this ever helpful? Ever? There’s a pin buzzing around on pinterest that says “The way a person talks about other people to you is the way that person will talk about you to others.” It’s true. It’s not a new idea, and it’s as true today as it probably always has been.
I think it starts innocuously. Trying to establish your place in the group by showing solidarity against the others. I’m not with them, so you know I’m with you! Let’s be BFFs! I’ve done it too. I’ve declared “that other group” of people wrong to show my current company that I’m one of them, in the right.
But it’s wrong. We know it is. If what you’re saying would hurt someone who overheard it, you probably shouldn’t say it. It’s not rocket science. We expect this and teach it to our elementary age kids. But we don’t seem to hold ourselves to that standard.
Unfortunately, eliminating this manner of speech is hard. It means being silent more often, and keeping in those thoughts while you work on finding something else to say. But it’s so important. You can’t be trustworthy when you’re trashing someone or an entire group of people.
And it’s not essential that you be able to justify someone’s actions before you extend them grace, or even the basest respect. I do not have to understand why you chose to electively induce labor before I decide to treat you with respect. Even when you’re not around. Because regardless of your choices, I AM responsible for mine.
So I’m choosing to clean up my aura. Shake off those bad vibes by no longer inviting them into my life. That doesn’t mean that no one will have beef with me. Reading is relationship (as is writing) and I cannot control all sides of the relationship. You choose to read what you want, as much of it as you want, with whatever tone you put onto the words. I can only be vigilant about the words I’m putting out and the meaning I have for them. From there, I have to trust.
I believe that if more people were being trustworthy with what they say, more people would extend trust to what they read, hear, or see. We’d be more trusting if we were acting more trustworthy. Both individually and corporately.