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Success Harmony Newsletter
"THE PARROT TEST"
I wouldn't exactly call fortune cookie messages the height of depth and
wisdom, but the latest one I saw both made me laugh and think. It said,
"So live that you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to
the town gossip."
Now, I assume
that this message isn't talking about what intimate things may be happening
within the confines of the home. Hopefully, the parrot wouldn't know how
to re-enact or say those things, no matter who it got sold to. The message,
to my mind, simply says that we'd better consider what we say, who we
say it about, and if we would be OK with our words being repeated by someone
else in any other context. And, as in the parrot's case, probably taken
out of context and repeated over and over again. Usually, the most embarrassing
parts would be most likely to be remembered and repeated by the parrot.
Otherwise, if the parrot was only to ever repeat things like "Good
day" and "What's for dinner tonight?", there would be no
cause for concern.
Most of us
are not celebrities and politicians so we don't need to worry about paparazzi
jumping into our living rooms in the middle of a cocktail party or about
having our phone lines bugged by the media waiting for us to serve up
a tintillating comment or two that can sell millions of Enquirer copies
the next day. So it's easy to assume for us mere mortals that what we
say to one person about another person will not get passed on. However,
what if we thought and communicated as if that communication could and
would keep going?
So, if you
have just mentally checked through your latest mental gossip files at
work and looked around yourself suspiciously, you know what I'm talking
about. Have you ever told jokes at your boss' expense that you think could
get you fired if he heard you? Have you ever listened to someone talk
to you about another person's weight issues, bad breath, choice of hairstyle,
messed up boyfriend, etc.? If so, would you sell the family parrot to
the town gossip? If so, maybe just make sure enough money comes in from
the sale to move far, far away.
deal - to me, at least. There isn't anything wrong with noticing and saying
things about others. What makes the difference is the intent and the audience.
When the intent is to put someone down, it doesn't just do that. It also
decreases the trust between us and the person listening to us. Why not?
If I am mouthing away about another person in front of you, how can you
trust me that I won't mouth away about you to someone else when you aren't
there? On the other hand, if the intent is to discuss something about
another person where the intent is to figure out a strategy to help out
the other person, why not? We're just processing something that we want
to share with the object of the discussion anyway, just in a way that
will make sense to them rather than offend. And how about jokes? If I
am willing to say the same joke about my boss to his face as I am saying
to you, that's cool. Hopefully, the boss will laugh along with me. If
not, I will take responsibility for what I said.
And the biggest
single benefit of thinking about what we say about other people? We don't
ever have to remember who we should avoid having in the same room, and
we never need to try to remember what story we may have told to someone.
Ah, how much simpler life can be!
is in our power, even when fondness is not."
"You can tell more
about a person by what he says about others than
you can by what others say about him."
"Kindness is the language
which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."