Good morning, today is Wednesday Sept 15, 2021. It’s another pleasant late summer morning in the glorious Emerald City. Tonight begins Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, the most significant of all Jewish holidays. A time for reflections, on forgiveness, on atonement, on resolving to do better this coming year, to be a better person this coming year.
One approach to becoming a better person could be how we handle the “oopsies and ouchies” that sometimes pop up in interactions. For instance, one person uses a phrase that perhaps they’ve heard all their lives and never really thought about what it meant, and it contains words that negatively reference the identity of someone else — a friend, a co-worker, family member — who is standing right there. In an ideal world, that would not have happened, but we don’t live in that ideal world. In my next-best world, the listener would be comfortable pointing out the phrase as derogatory, and the person who uttered it would be amenable to upgrading their language, in part because both listener’s and speaker’s intent would be to maintain a good relationship. Because, in my next-best world, acknowledging oopsies and ouchies is what people would do, with the hope of creating a healthier community together.
I used to hear the phrase “that’s so gay!” to refer to something considered stupid. Rarely do I hear that these days. A lot of people are good with asking others to upgrade their language in certain situations.
This notion is fundamental to understanding communication. True communication is not just what is said, it is also what is heard. Yes intent is important, and so is the impact on the listener.
For this to work, participants actually have to agree that they want to get along and make an effort. That the impact of one’s actions, even well-intentioned actions, can adversely affect someone else. Are you willing to consider that?
We look at these issues and skills in some of our classes, esp the six-week Self-Defense 101 course.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and fulfilling New Year! Stay safe, live life.