I had several experiences recently that reminded me of the unintended consequences of our words. I was talking with my 11-year-old nephew a couple of weeks ago. He was talking about two girls he met. He described the 12-year-old as pretty and then he said, “The other girl was 16, so she was REALLY pretty!”
To that, I wittily responded, “Well, if a girl gets prettier as she gets older, then I must be gorgeous!” Instantly, he responded (quite innocently, I am sure), “Oh no, Aunt GG! At a certain age, it does not work any more!” Ouch! Some day he will realize what he said!
Just as I am recovering this week, I am walking through Target. A woman walks by me and as she passes me, she says, “I really like your haircut.” OK, I am worthy! Then, she turns back to me, smiling sweetly, and says, “I am trying to get my grandmother to cut her hair like that.”
Grandmother! She just had to add that! I have grandmother hair? Well, her hair reminded me of a wet poodle, but I didn’t tell her that!
So these two incidents, occurring so close together, made me think about how we often say things that may hurt others, though it was never our intention. For example, when we say to a student, “You need help with this.” Or when we ask a parent, "What is happening at home to cause this behavior?" They might feel it differently than we intended. Just thinking . . .