Just Say It

478While I was on vacation a few weeks ago, I wandered into a clothing store and had just begun to look through the racks when my cell phone rang.  Not wanting to be rude, I stepped just outside to take the call, standing with my back to the store.  As I was talking, I heard a loud click behind me, but I didn’t realize what it meant until I finished the call and tried to go back inside.  The door was now locked.  I could see the clerk through the glass door, doing her best to look busy over by the register and deliberately not looking in my direction.  I was only on the phone for a minute, but apparently that was all the time she needed to and lock me out.

Fuming, I checked the hours posted next to the door, and realized that the store was scheduled to close in ten minutes.  I’m guessing the clerk was afraid I was going to take an armful of clothes into the dressing room and force her to stay open while I tried them on, which is why she grabbed the chance to lock me out.  But it would have been so much better if she had just told me the store would be closing soon when I first walked in.  That, I would have understood.  And I wouldn’t have been standing on the sidewalk in front of her store, thinking distinctly unkind thoughts about sneaky little sales clerks, and vowing never to shop there again.

Believe me, I struggle with speaking up just as much as everyone else, particularly when I’m not sure how what I have to say is going to be received.  I have wimped out and kept my mouth shut more times than I can count.  But in almost every case where I’ve done that, I’ve ended up being sorry in the end.  Either my silence has led to an awkward misunderstanding, or I have ended up feeling rather bitter and angry because someone else doesn’t understand what I haven’t bothered to tell them.  But when I find the nerve to say the stuff that’s hard to say, I’m at least opening the door for a chance at real communication and understanding.

It helps to remember how much I appreciate it when someone is brave enough to speak up to me.  The other night, my husband and I were driving home from dinner at our favorite restaurant when the manager called.  He wanted to know if everything was alright with our meal, or if our waiter (who was new) had done anything to offend us.  My husband assured him that everything was great, and asked why he wanted to know.  It turns out, we had accidentally left the waiter a one-dollar tip.  We were so glad that the manager knew us well enough to know we would never do that on purpose, and was willing to call and let us know.  We drove right back to the restaurant and gave the waiter his proper tip, even though the manager said we could just take care of it next time we were in.

I know that these examples are small and personal, but I believe that the practice of speaking honestly and tactfully as much as possible is best in most situations.  I think we owe it to ourselves and to others to find the courage to say what needs to be said.  I’ve heard the old saying, “Silence is Golden,” and there are times when it is.  Hateful, petty and spiteful words are much better left unsaid.  But for everything else, real communication is priceless.

60 thoughts on “Just Say It

  1. I was thinking about that subject for a while, and also came to the conclusion that you need to care enough to speak up and try to change the situation…. most just ignoring and keep going…..Even though, speaking​ up most of the time feels uncomfortable or very uncomfortable I still do it when I throughly care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Svet, speaking up shows that you care. It means you want to try to resolve whatever issue is going on so that you can stay on good terms with someone, or fix a problem that needs fixing. At the very least, it means you understand each other better, I think. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s always a way to say it in a heartfelt, encouraging way meant not meant to be confrontation or ugly! You have likely heard, “It’s not what you said, but how you said it.” Verbal face-to-face communication is by far the best as we can use facial expression, body language, voice tone, etc. You can express sincere concern or offense in a kind way. Great post Ann!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, you are exactly right! Sometimes the words aren’t nearly as important as the way they are said, which is why face to face communication is the best. It’s so easy to misinterpret the real meaning of a text or email. And all too often, the internet is used as a way for people to vent and attack each other “safely’ although they are doing so much damage…. Thanks, Jodi!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Honest communication is definitely the way to go, especially when we feel strongly about something. Must admit though that sometimes I’ve been known to bite my tongue too, only to wish I hadn’t afterwards.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I try to decide whether saying something will help or just make things worse, and then go from there. Sometimes, keeping quiet is best. But if I’m stewing about something, then it is often better to initiate a conversation that can start the healing process. Although when I say speak up, I don’t mean just complain or point out problems that can’t be fixed. I just mean let people know what they need to know in order to move forward, if that makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Keeping quiet has always been easier for me. But I’m starting to learn to speak up, diplomatically and tactfully, and have found that it really does help! And then of course, I have to be willing to listen when others speak up too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! Far too many people think speaking up means attacking or complaining, when all it really means is explaining your point of view or asking a question that needs to be answered. And if it isn’t done in a civil way, then it does no good at all. I swear social media is setting back human communication in a big way. People are losing the ability to engage in civil discourse, it seems!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. So many misunderstandings could be cleared up easily with good communication. I fear that, as a society, we’ve become more and more incapable of this, though. I’m so glad that that restaurant manager called you. Like you, I would have felt awful if I had realized later that I had left much less than I had intended.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad he called, too. You could tell he was nervous about how to broach it, but we were so grateful he let us know. That poor waiter was new, and probably would have thought he made some huge mistake when he was actually just fine. And the manager was so appreciative that we came back that night!
      And I agree that our society is losing the ability to communicate effectively.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Effective communication with the goal of clearing misunderstanding is the key. In our 50 year + marital relationship, we had to learn and are still learning that assuming our partner after so many years would know all our feelings and thoughts is absolutely false. Just as in the incident with the waitress, which you described so well, we need to explain our actions and intentions. A very enjoyable post, Ann!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Peter! My husband and I also made the mistake of assuming the other would know how we felt just because, well, we were married. But we learned that wasn’t true and we had to take the time to tell each other what was going on in our minds and hearts. Still the case after 37 years!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You are so right, Ann. It is often very hard to do, but I always appreciate when someone speaks up (after I’ve had time to digest the information!). Since I live in a house full of men (5 against 1), I’ve become very used to the male way of communicating, which is often very up front. I still have trouble expressing myself, though, like we all do. But isn’t it a great feeling when the air is cleared? Thanks for such a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Yes, men tend to be more blunt, while women tend to say thing less directly, which can sometimes cause problems when men and women communicate. But after a while, we get the hang of it, I think. And I agree, it is so worth the effort when the air is finally cleared. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Very good thoughts. The example of the lady at the clothing store is crazy, but I can recall many incidents of similar situations. When we fail to communicate boundaries, needs, desires, etc. with our words, we will inevitably communicate them through our actions in unhealthy ways. Sometimes we think we’re being rude when we communicate honestly, but it’s almost always worse when we don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! And you know, I almost started this post with the sentence, “Actions may speak louder than words, but sometimes they send the wrong message.” Because you’re absolutely right, what we don’t actually say still comes out through our actions, and that’s usually worse. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Totally agree, and with all the comments – civil conversation can definitely clear the air and set things back on the right footing. I also agree with your final remarks – some things are definitely best left unsaid. I certainly shudder at the people who pride themselves on speaking their minds at all times because they’re “just being honest”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, yes, sometimes “I’m just so honest” is nothing more than an excuse to articulate every snarky thought that crosses our mind. When I say speak up, I mean say the things that actually need to be said in order to promote understanding and peace. If the shop lady has just said, “we’re about to close,” I would have completely understood that she didn’t want me to start tying on clothes, and been fine with that. If she had said, “I hope you know I’m not staying one minute past closing just because you decided to come in so late,” I would have felt the same way I did when she locked me out after I stepped out to take the phone call. What we say, and how we say it, matters!

      Like

  9. Imagine someone grabbing the opportunity to lock you out like that, Ann! I’m going to make sure I have my key with me next time I leave the house to take the garbage to the compactor.

    Liked by 2 people

    • He knows us well, and knows we would want to know that we stiffed the poor waiter. He was so impressed that we came right back to give the tip, though, that he actually gave my husband a small bottle of wine. He’s good people….

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree, find a polite way to say something because bottling things up isn’t healthy. I’ve found that often when I say something the other person says they didn’t realize their was a issue and they were sorry for the misunderstanding. Sometimes you just can’t see things from both sides. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I couldn’t agree more, Ann. Too often we think we know what someone is thinking or said. We don’t know the whole story or have taken something out of context or, worse still, believed second hand information. Then we react to what we don’t fully understand and something which could be easily explained is magnified and blown up. Sometimes, as you suggest, it’s best not to say anything, but more often than not, asking a question or simply stating our opinion respectfully may help avoid some very uncomfortable or long lasting animosities.
    Glad you had a nice trip and even happier for your waiter. I’m sure it’ll make for fun stories on future visits..:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh it will…and so much better than the awkwardness that would have been there if they were all wondering what the waiter did to upset us so much!
      And yes, too often we keep quiet for fear of offending, but then we stew about perceived slights that could so easily be cleared up if only we were brave enough to speak up in love and understanding. The people I feel closest to are the ones who are the most open and honest, because I never have to guess at what they are thinking or feeling, and I always know I can let them know what I’m thinking and feeling as well. It has drawn us closer together, which is a good thing. And on a less personal level, it works just as well, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It can be quite uncomfortable speaking up; I’m quite like you, Ann, in this department. I struggled with this often when I was in dentistry, especially in the early years. I can tell from your posts that you are not unkind (and what I’m about to say may be apples and oranges with your experience above). Sometimes, patients show no regard for time. When the last patient of the day didn’t bother to call to let us know they’d be late, yet showed up very late and expected the full hour long treatment, I began with two strategies. Either I let them know their treatment would be limited that day (exam and x-rays only) and they would have to reschedule for the rest, or I told them they would not be seen that day at all. I learned over the years that unless I said this, they’d walk all over me. This was obviously not what happened in your store, and I think the clerk could have issued a kind statement about closing hours without offending you.

    One morning, my first patient of the day was late, and when I called her, she was sitting at a nearby coffee shop. Well! When she arrived, I told her since she was late, and since she was due for EVERYTHING (exam, films, periodontal cleaning, perio exam, health history update), we’d only be doing the exam and x-rays. She was severely periodontally involved and I needed AT LEAST that full hour. She was really quiet and said little, but she never disrespected me again.

    We don’t know what someone is going through, or what they are thinking unless it’s said. So true. It could be the opposite of what’s in our head at that moment. Never assume is a great motto.

    I am bothered when people show no regard for other people’s time. It’s just so easy to be kind. Thanks for tackling a tough subject.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you spoke up and let your clients know that coming in late created serious scheduling problems for you and the office! That’s exactly the kind of thing that needs to be said, and that I was trying to address in the post. It’s amazing how much people don’t understand unless you spell it out for them. Thanks for the comment, it was directly on point!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are most welcome. Now, to address the neighbors who do not fix their cats but, rather, contribute to the feral cat population…..(wish me luck). Working in a shelter, is there advice you could send my way? I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t really know, since I’m not out in the field. Sadly, there are no laws to make people spay and neuter, so all you can do is talk to them and hope they get it. I know the people who work in our rescue/investigation department say trying to educate people is the best way, but that takes patience and tact which isn’t always easy! Are there any clinics that provide free or low cost spaying/neutering? Sometimes animal shelters will do that, in an effort to help. (I think it is called the “Snip” program.) It is amazing how many cats just one mating couple can produce, and feral cats lead miserable lives. They also have a horrible effect on the local bird population. Sorry I wasn’t more help, but I honestly don’t know.

          Liked by 1 person

          • We’ve contacted the feral cat society who strongly suggest a fee per cat to have them fixed. We go get the traps, we trap, we take them in, we pay, we pick them up after the surgery, we then release them on our property. It’s pretty frustrating because, you are right: they can still get sick and infect other species but not reproduce. That is our plan now. Two days ago I found another kitten (dead) in our driveway. So sad.

            Thanks for the suggestions, Ann. 🙂

            Like

            • I’m sorry they weren’t more help than that. I honestly don’t think it’s good to release the feral cats, but I know that there are many who feel differently. In my opinion, if you are going to have a pet, then you need to take care of it, and I’m so sorry your neighbors aren’t doing that. It puts your animals at risk, and life for those poor kittens is very poor indeed.

              Like

    • We were leaving the next morning on an early flight out, or I might have spoken to the owner. As for the clerk, I’m sure she did have a reason for not wanting to work late, and of course I didn’t expect her to. I just would have preferred if she had said “we’re closing very soon” when I walked in, rather than seize her chance to lock me out, ten minutes before the store was supposed to close. It just felt sneaky and insulting, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I enjoyed this post, Ann – I completely agree with you about communication being so necessary. However, I have to hold my hands up and confess that I have great difficulty speaking up in an assertive or direct way, particularly if I’m representing myself when something negative needs pointing out. (I think some of this is due, in my case, to my lack of self-confidence and poor self-esteem that goes along with my Emotional Intensity Disorder). I can see some serious drawbacks to this though (like being walked over in some instances which is obviously undesirable).

    Having said that, I don’t have any problem at all in speaking up if I am representing anyone else, particularly if that person is vulnerable in some way or if an injustice is being done to them. Funnily enough, I also find speaking up in a positive and complimentary way to other deserving people, absolutely no problem at all. I am certainly slow to criticise but quick to praise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think being slow to criticize and quick to praise is actually a virtue! But I agree that it is hard to speak up on our own behalf, even when we are entirely justified in doing so. I fail at this rather often myself, and am trying to work on it. I don’t mean being confrontational or even snarky, I mean just calmly and respectfully articulating what needs to be said. It’s hard for sure, but in the long run, it does help.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. As someone who used to work in retail, I can tell you what that clerk did was wrong, regardless. You are not allowed to lock the doors until the exact second the store closes. That said, yes, I used to be the type who just said nothing, and walked away. I still can and do do this depending on the occasion (and my mood, haha) . I have learned over the years, however, that it is important to speak up. Not just for yourself, but for the business. Quite often managers and business owners have no clue about poor customer service. I always do my best to be polite, of course. I have had some situations where the issue has escalated. At that point, while I may still stay professional in my word usage, I make sure the place knows I am not happy. In your situation, I probably would have walked away, as well. It’s hard to speak up. I usually find I am happier when I have done so, though. I find it’s a balancing act for each situation – balancing where it is worth speaking up, or just letting it go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right. I occurred to me that the store owner would probably be deeply unhappy with what the clerk did (I had shopped there before, and I’m pretty sure the woman who is usually in there is the owner, and she’s very nice and helpful to her customers.) But the problem was we were on our last night of vacation, flying out early the next day, so there was no time to go back to the shop and let the owner know. The decision was made for me. But if there had been time, I don’t know if I would have found the courage to go back or not. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I completely understand your situation. I would have done the same in your shoes in that situation. As someone who has worked many a customer service job it truly irritates me to see or hear about poor service because, as we all know, it’s just not that hard to be nice to someone. I am sorry you experienced such poor service. Enjoyed the read.

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.