Everyone has heard the age old saying “if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything” right? Well, there’s some serious truth in that. Sometimes we need to learn that not saying anything is actually not a problem, that being quiet is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of thoughtfulness. There have been many an occasion in recent months that I have found myself thinking I could quite easily give someone a serving; let them know exactly what it is that I think of their lifestyle, their habits, their clothes, their attitude… but I don’t. Instead, I take a step back and I think to myself, what exactly is this going to achieve? Now it’s easy to not say anything, what’s harder to do is to find something ‘nice’ in spite of all that ‘nasty’. Not saying anything can be helpful, but saying something nice, simple and honest can be powerful. Of course, if saying something nice means lying point blank then maybe not saying anything is the better option.
I have a five-month-old son. He’s a gorgeous little boy and to date probably one of the single greatest things in my entire life. This is slightly off topic but stick with me here, I’ll get back on track. There are some aspects of my parenting style that I am certain people disagree with, some aspects people may like and there are people that see a healthy, happy, loved little boy and as such don’t care either way what I’m doing so long as that continues to be the case. I mention this because I have joined a mother’s group that is made up of some of the most diverse and fantastic women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We are a mixed group, to say the least; there are those of us who have lived in Australia our entire lives, those that have moved here recently, there are women with older children and there are first-time mums, there is everyone from managers to teachers. The one thing we all seem to have in common though is that we all support each other, no matter what. I have zero doubt in my mind that we don’t always see eye to eye on the ways each one of us parent but it doesn’t seem to matter. On more than one occasion I have needed just a little bit of guidance or reassurance and every single time those mothers have been there with a smile and a positive word of encouragement. That tiny little bit of reassurance and support has, more than once, seen me through what would’ve otherwise been a complete meltdown.
A simple “you got this”, or “everything will be fine just keep doing what you’re doing” can make an entire world of difference. The smallest things make the biggest impact and I didn’t entirely understand the depths of this until I made a comment to a woman in a doctors surgery some months ago. I had just taken my son in to be checked and I was waiting in line to pay when this woman behind me asked how old he was. We got to talking and she mentioned she had four-year-old twins, I told her quite honestly that any parent of twins is without a doubt an absolute hero in my eyes, that the simple fact that she functioned, let alone looked as well presented as she did was nothing short of inspirational. At the time I hadn’t thought anything of it, I’d just said something that I felt was true, little did I know it made a rather big impact on that woman. After we had both finished up in the surgery she came over to me as I was about to get in the car, looked me dead in the eye and thanked me. She said I’d changed her entire day, she’d had what could only be described as an utterly crappy morning. She’d been doubting that the way she was parenting her twins was, in fact, the best thing for them; hearing that some stranger thought she was doing a wonderful job had apparently given her that little bit of reassurance she’d needed.
I guess that’s where we forget how powerful words can be. I cried the first time someone told me I was doing an amazing job with my boy, needed to take a minute to myself when someone said I was looking really good four months after giving birth. It’s those little things that make such a huge difference to someone that is having a tough time. A few months back my son went through a bit of a rough patch when it came to sleeping, we were up every hour to an hour and a half over night, some nights he decided he wanted to be wide awake and playing at 3 am. This lasted for just over three weeks and by the end of it, I was a total wreck. I couldn’t even see straight, I was exhausted and emotional and I was teetering right on the edge of breaking point. Until someone said to me, quite simply, “you’re doing an incredible job, you should be very proud.” That was all it took to turn my outlook around. Two of my very dear girlfriends took time out of their lives and away from their kids to spend a day with me for some much-needed R & R and all of a sudden I felt like I could take on anything.
Changing someone’s day is simple, it’s quick and at the end of the day, it doesn’t cost anything. That age old saying of not having anything nice to say is true, but for me, I think it goes deeper than that. I think we hold a very important and very powerful tool that can make or break someone else’s day in a split second. What we say, and how we say it really can make a world of difference; they can bring someone back from a dark and lonesome path, they can brighten a tough day or they can throw someone over that edge. So, yes, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. But if you so much as think of the tiniest compliment, not force yourself to think of something, but genuinely think of something, say it. Okay every now and then you may get a strange look, but I can guarantee you nine times out of ten you’ll get at very least a grateful smile. And then there will be those special few people who will thank you from the very bottom of their heart and you will know in that split second, that you made the world of difference without even having to lift a finger.
And this last little vibe:
Words can inspire, and words can destroy. Choose yours well. – Robin Sharma
Now go spread the love.