She strode forward to greet me, stopped and remarked in a disappointed tone of voice, “Oh … I always think of you as much younger.”
As he put out his hand to shake mine, he observed, “I see someone’s been giving the scales quite a workout.”
You know, their words were true. I was a few years older and 10 pounds heavier than when I had last seen them. But, how to receive those comments with grace? That was my challenge.
I have learned over the years that there can be several voices rattling around in my head, each eager to put their spin on any situation.
First up with an interpretation was my uber-sensitive teenage self. She was spitting mad that I had just been insulted and dissed – told that I was old and fat.
Then my wiser more mature self took her turn. She suggested that the comments said more about the speakers than they did about me. Perhaps my friends have a few concerns about their own advancing age and expanding waistlines – neither of which have much at all to do with me.
I searched for a voice that genuinely believed their comments were offered with the kindest of intentions in an effort to lovingly express their care and concern about my well being. Nope – not happening!
Action: As the old saying goes, honesty may well be the best policy. But we needn’t feel compelled to blurt the truth at every turn on every topic.
There are some words best left unspoken. Those would be words that create unnecessary hurt or friction.
In their aftermath, dissonance lingers. Even when we find a grace-filled reaction to careless comments, those words leave scars on the relationships that rest between us.
In the gap between your thoughts and your spoken words you’ll find a Pause button. Before you open your mouth, hit that button for just a moment.
Check your intentions and consider the potential impact of the words that are about to come out of your mouth. Will they lift another up or put them down. Speak wisely.
Quotes Of The Week: Build bridges with your words. Speak to both yourself and others with kindness and compassion. Comments linger. Let their legacy be worthy. – Yours Truly
Criticism, analysis, and insults are tragic expressions of unmet needs. – Marshall Rosenberg
Resource Of The Week: Marshall Rosenberg was a prominent thought leader on the idea of Non Violent Communication. Here’s a link to a more complete collection of his quotes on this subject.
It’s a pretty sizeable collection. I suggest bookmarking it, and dipping into a few at a time. They’ll give you plenty to think about.
An Invitation: In case you missed it in last week’s Pause ezine, here is your invitation to respond to a Survey On Malaise. I’m doing some R & D work on this particular aspect of engagement in work and life.
We’re all pretty familiar with stress and burnout – that dramatic stretched-to-the-limits, crash and burn phenomenon. Malaise is different.
Malaise is more like rusting out, feeling stale, bored, lethargic, restless, joyless or adrift – suffering the dis-ease of being under-challenged or feeling under-engaged. It can be every bit as challenging as burnout.
I’m interested in learning how we might short circuit long stretches of malaise and move more quickly to light a spark and find a path to a more joyful and enthusiastic experience of life and work.
I’d love to hear your experience and insights. Again, here is the link to the survey. I’d be delighted if you invest 5 to 10 minutes to respond to the survey.
I’ll be collecting replies up until the end of April. If there are other people in your circle whom you think may have an interest in sharing their thoughts on the issue of malaise, please share the access link as freely as you wish.