It’s a running joke in the family. When I was applying for admittance into the National Honor Society, I was asked to name my “best quality”, as well as answer a series of other questions about my character. I put down that I was “stubborn”. Mom thought that it was a terrible idea.
Even though she knew I was only jokingly describing my generally determined attitude— because the word “stubborn” has a different negative connotation, she was not thrilled with describing my enduring attitude that way. “It is like saying that the ‘glass is half empty’ versus ‘half-full’”, she said.
There are tons of nuances to today’s language. It gives writers the chance to be more precise in their communications. Why say, “The leaves fell to the ground,” when they can “flutter”, “tumble”, or “come down in lazy spirals”? But if you are not careful with your words… there are equally as many pitfalls as there are opportunities. An ill-begotten phrase might be all it takes to create a false impression of yourself and your intentions.
My mom has shared a story with me to emphasize the difficulties in communication. It’s the story about two secretaries working together in the same work space. One of them said, “I think somebody deleted my file” when what she was really saying was “I remember saving what I typed this morning but I can’t find it now in the data file”. The first statement sounded accusatory while the second is stated in a more factual way.
I also remember, many years ago, reading a book on self-improvement that prompted me to challenge myself and prove the book wrong. I thought it was going to be easy. My goal was not to say one negative word for 24 hours. I failed miserably.
Sometimes, we say hurtful things when we do not mean it. Sometimes we utter words without thinking about its potential negative connotation. Sometimes we express ourselves in ways that come across as bragging, over-stepping, or insulting when the original intention is good. Sometimes we just need to focus on what is being said, and not how it is said if we want to achieve our goal.
I think that it is hard enough to rally people for a cause and to get them at the right place at the right time. It’s going to be much more difficult if we can’t overlook some communication problems. While we could all work to be more positive, it is easier said than done —but I think that it is also worth the effort to try.
There’s so much a group or a community can offer for well meaning goals and objectives. There’s always an abundance of talent to achieve great things if only people look around to tap on those skills. Good communication is the key to get where we want to go.
Note: Elizabeth has been sending out articles about how she views “solidarity”,
“I am writing these articles because I know it is an important subject that may appear simple to talk about, but to me, is very complicated. It requires a lot of dissecting and then re-assembling in my head. More time is required”
Horner will “re-assemble” or summarize her thoughts at a NaFFAA National Conference in Detroit, Michigan August 2-5, 2012 where she is one of the speakers during the plenary session. She will talk about “Building Solidarity between Generations”. The conference will be attended by national civic leaders, Consul Generals and the Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States. An excerpt from her speech reads…
“I believe that no one’s beliefs should be treated as if they don’t have value, no one’s passionate response should be ignored, and no-one should feel left out of the group to which they play a vital role. Instead, we should endeavor to reach a compromise that incorporates some, if not all, of everybody’s most salient points. I believe that we should always walk away with a healthy respect even for the individuals whose ideas we could not quite settle with.
For example, we, young members of this society, may share a flurry of excited voices and harbored opinions. But adult members should not just dismiss these as childish. Conciliation and negotiation are stuff of the real world and real life— skills that young members should be learning how to use effectively if they are to prepare for leadership roles someday.”
A copy of her speech will be made available after the conference. She thanks Senior Scribes for allowing and supporting the voices of young members of Darke County Community.