Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Be Careful What You Say

Once again, I've been thinking.  A dangerous pastime (we know!).

Every time I write a blog.  Or have a conversation.  Or give a presentation.  Or express an opinion.  I run the risk of saying something that is.. well.. simply put.. wrong.  It may be wrong because I mispeak.  It might be that there is an interpretation that I didn't think of as I was typing or speaking.  Maybe I say something wrong because I need to adjust my attitude, or my knowledge base.  Or, perhaps it is wrong in one person's opinion, but not in another's thoughts.

Uh oh... he's talking again.
And, oddly enough, because we run a small farm business (the Genuine Faux Farm - in case you didn't know that... but how could you not if you are here?!), there are many more opportunities for us to mess up.  After all, we put our thoughts out on a blog.  We put posts out on facebook.  We give presentations to promote our farm and host events at the farm.  You might see us at a farmers' market or a CSA distribution.  In short, everything we do to promote our business and communicate to our customers provides an opportunity for us to make a mistake of some kind.

I will take a wild guess that most people who will read this post know Tammy or myself personally.  You've already formed some opinions about us (good or bad).  You also don't think of us as an entity known as the Genuine Faux Farm.  You know us as Rob and Tammy who run the farm they call the Genuine Faux Farm.  But, I've realized for some time now that our ability to last for ten years has moved us from Rob and Tammy who have a farm to the Genuine Faux Farm that has a married couple who are the owners of the farm.  That's actually a big difference in many people's eyes.

Wow, he IS out standing in his field.
In short, it is so much easier for people to jump to a conclusion because there is more distance between us and those to whom we speak (or write).  It's all part of the way things work. 

Let me put it this way.  You visit restaurant X for the first time.  You don't know the owners or anyone that works there.  You overhear one of the staff say something that, on its face value, seems wrong to you.  Maybe you didn't hear the whole thing, and maybe you weren't the audience.  But, isn't it a natural tendency to equate what was said to that particular establishment?  After all, it was THEIR employee at THEIR premises, therefore THEIR business has a problem with THEIR attitude.

And, that is my point.  There are people behind a business and people make mistakes with what they say.  And, the more chances people have to say things publicly, the more likely they are to say something wrong. 

Example number 2:  Tammy teaches Social Work at the college level and I have taught Computer Science at the college level.  There are many opportunities to make mistakes in what we say.  I have heard Tammy do this, and I know I've done it.  When you teach, you often have to have part of your mind on what is coming out of your mouth at that moment and the other part has to be setting up what comes next.  Oh.. and don't forget the parts of your mind that are paying attention to the students and preparing for their reactions and questions!  Sometimes, the part that is paying attention to what is being said NOW gets distracted.  And maybe the word "NOT" gets left out of a sentence.

There is a big difference between:
   "This is the way to do it."
   "This is NOT the way to do it."

Can you imagine the damage control when you find out students were actually listening carefully to that sentence - and sadly not the ones around it that clearly contradicted what came out of your mouth for that one moment?

So - what brought this on?  Nothing in particular - it's just been on my mind recently.  No, I am not aware of something I've said or done recently that has me worried - unless you count the things I just can't find the time to do when I know it needs doing.

Instead, I brought this up as a reminder to me and, perhaps, to you as well.

 I try to remind myself to be careful what I say - and be more careful about how I listen (or read).  I remind myself that people are involved.  These people make mistakes.  These people may say things for any number of reasons.  But, until I have more evidence and knowledge about what drove them to say what was said, then I will give the benefit of the doubt.  Does it mean I won't say something if I feel what is being said is VERY wrong.  Of course not!  I will say something as politely as I am able.  It does not do the other person a service to stay silent either.  But, there is a difference between an appropriate, measured response and condemning someone (and anyone or anything they are associated with).

And, now, I remind myself to proof read this blog post yet AGAIN.  But, I know I'll miss something.  I always do.  I hope you can forgive me.

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