Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

Last week, my boss informed me, in the midst of a stellar 6-month performance review, that I needed to "make myself look more valuable" to the company. This morning, as I rode the last few hundred feet through the parking lot at work, a co-worker nearly ran me over rushing to get "her spot". As I slammed on the brakes and looked into her eyes through the windshield she screamed, "Get out of my fucking way!"

I'm the first to admit I'm overly sensitive so it was no surprise that both of these situations rattled me to the core.  I take words to heart, often hearing so much more than was actually said.

For instance, in the case of my boss, she may have meant, "The company is going through hard times and there may be lay-offs. I want to keep you around so let's make sure we have a reason to keep you." What I heard was, "You are not valuable."

In the case of the co-worker, I honestly don't know what she really meant, but what I heard was this- "Your presence in the world annoys me."

Harsh, I know, but that is how we thin-skinned people interpret the world around us.  A few harsh words can leave us shaking for hours, a dirty look can keep us up all night,  a rolling of the eyes can leave us wondering why we annoy you so much.

There have been times in my life when I wish I could change this, when I wish I could, for just one day, not be so annoyingly sensitive. Of course, then I remember that things could be so much worse. I have all my working body parts. I'm healthy.  I have a lot of good people who love me. I get to ride my bike to work and then home in the sunset. Best of all- I get to be sensitive enough to know that I should think before I speak, just in case the other person might hear it much more harshly than I meant it.

So, I leave you one thing. Before you speak, remember this:  Choose your words wisely because what the other person hears will leave a much greater impression that what you meant to say.


  1. Many use such out of the blue outbursts to put others on the defensive and gain control. Once they find it works they continue and get still more aggressive until they are stopped. Either way if it's not dealt with it will continue. Perhaps the driver was having a bad day or perhaps it's her modus operandi (MO). Have a gander at the Eighth Rule of Life and be prepared if it should happen again. In the meantime you might consider doing what I've done when someone has taken two spots in a crowded parking lot...Vaseline their windshield. Now that some time has passed since her offense you can probably do it without your being suspected. It's puerile but....

    As far as you boss is concerned there's not much you can do. Relating what you wrote here may or may not be a good idea. Depends on her feelings about sensitive people.

  2. Your coworker deserves a smack upside the head, and I mean every word of that :)

    I'm glad you have a good attitude about it all!

  3. Man, we are having the same kind of week. Sorry, that sucks. People usually assume I'm unflappable; I guess I do a good job of acting like I don't care what anyone thinks, but words can be really hurtful. Hang in there.