The other day, I was exiting an elevator with my son. I was in the middle of calling my husband to find out if he was going to meet us downstairs when the doors opened. There were 2 elderly woman waiting for the elevator having a conversation about how things “used to be.” As I walked down the hall, I could hear them (because they couldn’t hear each other) complaining about everything. I kept walking slowly, with the little guy right at my heels, waiting for my husband to pick up my call. As I turned around to bring the little guy a little closer to me, I hear one of the “ladies” say “Not even watching the kid, they’re all the same.”
Now if you know me at all, I am one of the most non-confrontational people you will ever meet. Which makes this so funny – I turned around, glared at them and said “I do watch my children.” I’m guessing that my non-confrontational nature is why I didn’t say the chain of curse-words that swiftly followed in my mind, and that was my instinctual way of telling them off.
Her response: “Oh,” with this slightly dumbfounded look on her face. They continued on with their complaining (not about me) and I walked down the hallway with smoke coming from my ears.
I’m laughing about it now, but really, if people would just think before they speak, the world might be a slightly happier place.
Unfortunately, those ladies aren’t the only ones who are guilty of letting their thoughts fly out unfiltered. I am just as guilty, but generally only with the ones closest to me, which is even worse.
My husband and I have been listening to a series of lectures called “Developing Cabable Young People” by H. Stephen Glenn. He talks about how when something upsetting happens between you and a loved one, say what you feel, just don’t say it to them. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t express your feelings of hurt or frustration, you just shouldn’t say it at that moment. This has done wonderful things for our marriage. Now when I’m frustrated or angry, instead of blurting out everything I’m thinking at that moment, I go somewhere I can’t be heard (usually the bathroom or bedroom), let the profanity and/or nasty statements fly (which probably explains why the plant in my bathroom is dying), and then I’m usually ready to have a civilized conversation not long after that.
So if you’re like me with the people closest to you, or if you just find that you say things you often regret, step away and say it first, you might find you feel better and you’ll have much more productive conversations.