Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Today's fortune: October 4, 2011

Today's fortune: Speak only well of people and you need never whisper.

This is just a damn good piece of advice for each and every one of us to follow. In fact, I might even say this is one of my favorite fortunes so far.

Because don't you hate it - just hate it - when you see people whispering to each other in a not-crowded room? You know they're talking trash about someone. Otherwise, why the need for the whisper?

Or even worse - we've all known people who are saccarine-sweet to your face but they talk trash about everybody else in the world to you. Well, guess what? When they're talking to other people, they're talking trash about you.

It grinds my gears.

But speaking only well of people is extremely difficult. As a culture we thrive on trash talk. It makes us feel better, and as long as the subject of your trash talk doesn't hear it, they're no worse off, except for in the eyes of the person to whom you're trashing them. Speaking badly of people is human nature, and it's difficult to break. So to keep me on the straight and narrow, today I gave myself a sign. Literally. I put a sign up in my cubicle at work:

It helped, too. At one point today, a friend told me about a nice attaboy she received from a customer. My instinct was to act jealous and jerky to make her laugh, but by doing so I wouldn't be speaking well. When I looked at the sign, I changed tactics and sincerely congratulated her.

Later, I had to send an instant message to a co-worker in another department because the co-worker had forgotten to do something while processing a widget I was working on. I gently reminded her to complete the task, and she obliged. Instead of ending the message conversation with a terse "Thanks," I typed, "Hey, thanks a lot! You're the best." She responded. "You're welcome, and thank you!" Although the conversation was only digital, I could tell the compliment meant a lot to her.

I'm going to keep that sign up in my cubicle. Hopefully it will inspire me to be nice, and perhaps others will ask about it and I can pass the lesson on to them.

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