I was chatting with my best friend the other day. After our usual catch up, we started talking about how some people say rude or inappropriate things to others either mindlessly or in jest. Now unbeknownst to them, they end up offending the other.
My best friend said something that had a lasting impression on my mind. She said, “Lana, it is not that we don’t have negative thoughts about others. We are all humans. But when we think it, before we say it aloud, we introspect whether it is hurtful or offensive, is adding any value and if it is inappropriate and accordingly, we censor ourselves!” I realised that she was indeed right and made sense. I often have negative thoughts or judgements about others, but only say it aloud if it is useful and doesn’t hurt the other.
The thought ruminated in my mind for a few days. The next day, I went grocery shopping with my kids and another friend Tina. After what seemed like a never-ending shopping spree, we decided to go to the nearby cafe for a bite. As my kids were devouring burgers and we sipped our cuppa tea, we casually started talking about a familiar acquaintance. Just like that, Tina said that the daughter of the acquaintance was ‘ugly’!
I was dumbfounded with what she said- and quickly told her not to say that aloud for fear my daughter would hear her. I also begged her not to say it in front of our familiar acquaintance. Thankfully she whispered it softly so that almost tween kids did not hear it. I believe that kids are impressionable, and I did not want my daughter influenced by such negative thinking. I have taught them that everyone in creation is beautiful, and it is one reality I want them to hold on to dearly.
But Tina’s words continued to trouble me for some time. I felt I handled it inadequately. Then the words of my best friend came to me again. I realised that even if I am guilty about obscene thoughts, I never permit those thoughts to translate to words.
After mulling over it for a while and as I pondered over it, a few days later, I added my part to it. It goes like this – We all have negative thoughts/ judgements about others, but we should censor ourselves if it is inappropriate or hurtful- and that’s what makes us adults and differentiates us from kids.
So what do you do when you hear something rude?
Do not make excuses for them.
As adults, we are mature enough to know what is appropriate or not. We can excuse kids for saying things like it is. But can we forgive adults for being insensitive? We teach children empathy and consideration in age-appropriate ways because these are small ways in which help to build a cohesive social environment. Most kids try to do that in their childish ways. So why can’t adults? So if an adult is rude, they are rude, let’s call a spade a spade.
Be honest about it.
We mustn’t be skirting such issues and putting them under the rug. Nor can we cant be okaying such kind of behaviour by being silent because then we too are being complicit in this. The other person may have no clue they are hurtful, and when we give them feedback, it gives them a heads-up. And if they are plain mean, someone has to say to them that they are wrong!
Take corrective measures
I realised I must do my part to make this right. I decided that when I come across someone who is so blatantly rude, I must call it out. I must tell the rude person that I’m afraid I have to disagree with them and what they said was inappropriate. Because if we don’t, we run the risk of them keeping them blissfully unaware, subtly permitting them to be nasty, giving them an added boost and confidence that it is okay to be mean?
What do you think? Should we pretend that it is okay, or should we speak our truth? Is it okay to be silent on such matters, or are we ready to take a stand? An important question you can ask yourself is -‘How do you feel when others say mean things to you?’ I am guessing that you feel bad. So when you encounter a situation where something nasty is said about a person, not in your midst, what will you do? Will you stand up to the rude one and tell them that you disagree with what is said or will you play deaf? Its time to speak your truth.