Last year I came up with the idea of not saying a negative thing about another human being as my 2014 resolution. It met received mixed reviews. Some thought it was amazing, some were taken away by the idea and some thought it was stupid and unrealistic. But the more I talked about it, the more I realized it was something important that I had to do.
One of the best ways I have found to make something happen in your life is to make yourself accountable to those around you. I would tell everyone about this goal of mine months before New Years’. Through many conversations about the ins and outs of how it would work, I amended it to have the one recourse of saying something only to that person’s face when it is constructive.
Over the years I am sure I have spewed a lot of poison talking about others. Many people don’t even realize that they are doing it. While talking about this over lunch with some co-workers the lady next to me was surprised, called me a positive person and they don’t even think I do that.
So I started to break it down. If I was talking about you and you walked around the corner would I feel ashamed about what I said? Do I have to look around to make sure you are within earshot before I say something about you? Have I ever had to finish with that stays between you and me?
If you see yourself in any of those statements or feel convicted, trust me when I say I am talking about myself. This is a confession. I have been described as passive-aggressive before and I can’t stand confrontation. After reading Quiet, I realize I am a total introvert and I am totally okay with that. But saying something negative behind someone’s back doesn’t help them. It really doesn’t help you, you just feel that person you are talking about is more of an idiot or nag or whatever it is you think of them. And the person you are telling it to now is in the awkward position to defend the person or agree with you which spreads more negativity. Plus there is also the chance to person you are saying this to thinks that you are a complainer or worse still a trash talker.
I don’t know that venting is a good excuse. Just accept them or tell them they have a problem.
I had a boss that once said, “I won’t talk about this person since they are not here to defend themselves.” That totally blew me away.
After almost two weeks I can say while it is hard, I definitely have a better outlook on my fellow man. My dealings with others are easier and I have been letting things go. Most of my co-workers respect this goal and don’t talk bad about others in front of me. There have been a few times when someone is complaining that I will join in but I will catch myself pretty quick. I haven’t done the best job when I talk to my wife about things our kids do. But I do try to describe the action that happened, keep emotion out of it and say things in the most positive way.
- Start to pick up on the things you say. Do you have to look around first?
- Ask would I want someone to say this about me?
- Would it be more helpful if I told this person something that they could work on, that if they corrected in time, would help me to look at them in a more positive light?
- Realize that there are a lot of worthless people out there that will never change their ways. But are they worth your time and the negative energy it takes to say something about them?