Word-Of-the-Week #993: Considerate

August 17, 2023 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #993: Considerate 

Considerateshowing regard for the needs or feelings of others.

Do you know how you tell when someone is being genuinely nice?

This week features the 2nd half of “If someone uses these 7 phrases, they’re only pretending to be polite,” by Tina Fey at HackSpirit.

To Recap:

1) “No offense, but…”

2) “I’m sorry you feel that way”

3) “Do you need any help?”

4) “Bless your heart”

5) “It’s not for everyone”

This phrase can be tricky. On the surface, it seems respectful, understanding, even validating. It acknowledges that everyone is unique and different things suit different people.

However, in a certain context or tone, it can also be a way to express criticism or disapproval.

Someone saying, “It’s not for everyone” could really mean, “I don’t like this, and I’m subtly suggesting that you, or your work, doesn’t meet a certain standard.”

You can’t really challenge it because technically, it’s a fair statement. But the underlying message can feel dismissive or belittling, turning it into a polite put-down.

Not so long ago, I created a small art exhibition at our local community center. An acquaintance, after spending a considerable amount of time observing my work, turned to me and said, “Well, it’s not for everyone.”

I was a bit taken aback. The phrase was innocent enough, but the context and their tone suggested it was a thinly veiled critique.

They weren’t saying my art was unique or different – they were saying it didn’t appeal to them, or maybe most people.

When being truly polite, it’s important to communicate criticisms constructively and directly — or say nothing at all.

6) “You’ll do better next time”

Here’s something you may hear people say when you feel down because you didn’t do well at something.

At my previous job, I was very hard on myself especially when I was new. I would analyze every presentation or project I did and find dozens of mistakes in them.

There were two colleagues in particular I shared my worries with. And I noticed what a huge difference there was in their reaction.

One of them took the time to talk to me about what exactly I felt bad about, and how I could try to improve it.

And the other one just listened, nodded, and made a comment like “You’ll do better next time.”

Sure, it was polite on the surface, and maybe this colleague truly meant well. But, I had the impression like they were just trying to end the conversation and didn’t really care whether I did better or not.

Because there was no effort behind her words. When a person really wants to be nice, they’ll show it to you through action and not just nice-sounding phrases.

7) “That sounds interesting”

I have to admit something: I’ve used this phrase hundreds of times. In fact, I dare say I still do.

And to be honest? I try my best to always be a kind person, but the truth is that sometimes I do use this phrase just because it sounds polite.

I don’t have energy to think of something more thoughtful or specific to say, so I just fall back on phrases like this that work for practically any situation.

And sometimes I could tell it in the person’s face. They were expecting a comment with more substance, or maybe even just a more enthusiastic tone, and I disappointed them.

Since then I’ve made sure to avoid this phrase, and instead take the time to understand what the person is saying more deeply. As a result, I can always find something more meaningful to say in response.

How you can tell when someone’s truly kind and polite

Now you know 7 phrases that people use when they’re only pretending to be polite.

So now you might wonder, how can you tell when someone is genuinely nice?

It’s pretty simple. It’s not just about saying the “right” things — it’s about true consideration and respect for others.

This doesn’t depend on any specific way you word something, but through the way you approach the conversation, your ability to listen and empathize, and the care you put into the interaction.

It’s important to listen carefully and critically to what people say and how they say it. Because words can seem harmless on the surface, the real intention often lies beneath.

Let’s strive for a world where politeness isn’t a mask to hide behind, but a genuine display of empathy, kindness, and understanding.

This week is all about being considerate. How often do you show regard for the needs and feelings of others? Do you feel your thoughts/feedback are respected at work? Are you able to communicate any criticisms constructively and directly?

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Word-Of-the-Week #992: Polite

August 10, 2023 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #992: Polite 

Politemindful of, conforming to, or marked by good manners.

How does it feel when you are mindful of someone else and show good manners? How does it feel when people treat you politely?

This week features the 2nd half of “If someone uses these 7 phrases, they’re only pretending to be polite,” by Tina Fey at HackSpirit.

“Have you ever left a conversation feeling vaguely uncomfortable? 

On paper, there was nothing wrong with the conversation. In fact, everything they said was very nice and polite. 

So what’s going on here? Are you overthinking things when there’s no real issue? 

Or maybe you’re picking up on someone who’s only pretending to be polite. 

How can you tell if that’s the case? After analyzing the people I know and interactions I had with them, I’ve narrowed it down to 7 key phrases. 

If you notice someone using these a lot, there’s a good chance they’re only pretending to be polite. 

1) “No offense, but…” 

We’ve all heard this phrase. It’s a classic, typically used when someone is about to say something that they already know might offend you. Despite the preface, it’s rarely used in genuinely polite conversation. 

A person using “no offense, but…” is, in effect, giving themselves a free pass to make a potentially insulting comment. 

They’re acknowledging that their words might upset you, but instead of putting in effort to find a more compassionate way to say it, they’ve decided to say it anyway. 

The irony of this phrase is hard to ignore. By claiming not to intend offense, the speaker shifts responsibility for any hurt feelings onto the listener, as if it were your fault for taking offense. 

I heard this quite a lot in a recent online course I was a part of. During peer review, one member would start his sentences with “No offense, but..” and then he would give a rather harsh critique to another participant’s project. 

It was rather uncomfortable for anyone involved. If you find yourself tempted to use this phrase, it’s a sign that there could be a kinder way to say what you want to say. 

2) “I’m sorry you feel that way” 

Ah, the pseudo-apology. 

On the surface, it seems like an attempt at empathy and understanding. But in reality, “I’m sorry you feel that way” is often a veiled attempt at deflecting blame and responsibility. 

Instead of offering a genuine apology for their actions, the person is merely expressing regret over your emotional response. It’s a subtle shift, but it places the responsibility of the conflict onto the receiver, not the issuer of the statement.

Basically, they’re saying, “I’m sorry that you’re upset,” not, “I’m sorry for what I did to upset you.” In other words, this phrasing suggests that the real problem is your feelins, not their actions. 

At my previous job, I had a situation with a co-worker where we disagreed on a project approach. When I expressed my concerns over his method, his response was, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” 

That phrase did nothing to address the issue at hand. Instead, it left me feeling dismissed and unheard. 

Remember, genuine politeness means listening, empathizing, and when necessary, owning up to our actions. 

3) “Do you need any help?” 

And now we come to the fake offer for help. 

You’ve surely heard this from a seemingly nice passerby or stranger. I witnessed it just a few days ago in a grocery store parking lot. 

A woman’s bags ripped and all the contents of it spilled onto the ground. A young man walking by asked, “Do you need any help?” 

So here’s why this is often just someone pretending to be polite. The way it’s phrased practically encourages the person to politely decline. 

Saying yes would make them feel like they’re inconveniencing the person asking, or having to admit that they need help, which can make them uncomfortable. 

And in fact, the woman in the parking lot answered with “Oh I’m fine, thank you.” 

A genuinely kind offer would sound like “May I help you?” or “Please let me help you.” Or, you would simply help without even asking — it’s pretty obvious the person could use a hand. 

4) “Bless your heart” 

Here’s a phrase that’s very popular especially in the south of the US. 

While it can be a genuine term of sympathy or endearment, it’s often used as a passive-aggressive insult, typically when the speaker believes the person they’re addressing has done something foolish or naive. 

Instead of directly stating their disapproval or disbelief, the speaker sugarcoats their criticism with this seemingly kind phrase. It’s polite mockery masquerading as concern.

Last year, during a family reunion, I suggested a new way to organize our yearly holiday gift exchange. 

An elder cousin responded with a sweet smile, “Bless your heart, always trying to fix things that aren’t broken.” 

At that moment, the phrase wasn’t a compliment to my initiative but a polite jab at my perceived naivety. It left an undercurrent of negativity beneath the polite veneer. 

So remember, politeness isn’t just about the words we use but also the intent behind them. Truly polite people use their words to uplift others, not to subtly bring them down.

This week is all about being polite. Are you a good listener? How easy is it for you to feel empathy for someone? Are the words you choose uplifting to others?

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Word-Of-the-Week #991: Hospitality

August 3, 2023 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #991: Hospitality 

Hospitalitykindness in welcoming strangers or guests.

Bill Marvin, the Restaurant Doctor, featured this in his weekly journal.

#22: Small Gestures, Big Payback

[by Rick Phillips, taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work, Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Martin Rutte, Maida Rogerson & Tim Clauss]

I do a lot of management training each year for a national chain of convenience stores. Among the topics we address in our seminars is the retention of quality employees — a real challenge to managers when you consider the pay scale in the service industry. 

During these discussions, I ask the participants, “What has caused you to stay long enough to become a manager?” Some time back a new manager took the question and slowly, with her voice almost breaking, said, “It was a $19 baseball glove.” 

Cynthia told the group she originally took a Circle K clerk job as an interim position while she looked for something better. On her second or third day behind the counter, she received a phone call from her nine-year old son, Jessie. 

He needed a baseball glove for Little League. She explained money was very tight for a single mother and her first check would have to go toward paying bills. Perhaps she could buy his baseball glove with her second or third check. 

When Cynthia arrived for work the next morning, Patricia, the store manager, asked her to come to the small office in back of the store. Cynthia wondered if she had done something wrong or left some part of her job incomplete from the day before. She was concerned and confused. 

Patricia handed her a box. “I overheard you talking to your son yesterday,” she said, “and I know it’s often hard to explain things to kids. This is a baseball glove for Jessie because he may not understand how important he is to you, even though you have to pay bills before you can buy gloves.” 

“You know we can’t pay good people like you as much as we’d like to, but we do care, and I want you to know you are important to us.” 

The thoughtfulness, empathy and love shown by this convenience store manager demonstrates vividly why people remember more how much an employer cares than how much the employer pays. An important lesson for the price of a Little League baseball glove.

 A Note From the Doc:

Hospitality is about how you are in the world. It’s not limited to the way you deal with patrons nor is it an exclusive quality of restaurateurs and innkeepers.

This week is all about hospitality. How are you seen in your world? Would your friends, family, customers or clients say that you welcome people with kindness?

I LOVE feedback! Join my Facebook community on my FUN-damentals Fan Page.

Word-Of-the-Week #990: Change

July 27, 2023 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #990: Change 

Changethe action of making something different.

Do you find change difficult or stressful? Or do you love the excitement of creating or experiencing something new?

One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” Change is a part of life. Four times a year the seasons change. We experience physical changes every day. Some people find change almost paralyzing while others find it exhilarating.

This week features two of my subscribers who shared stories about change after reading my 19th anniversary WOW about being lucky and good karma. And a great follow up to last week’s Diversity!

Jennifer wrote, “I have received your Wow Word of the Week emails since I attended the Woman’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) about 19 years ago. I remember hearing you speak and was so inspired. I was about 31, a mother of a 2-year-old and going through a separation/divorce while growing my career. I am still with the same company (now in a Director position) and your weekly emails have helped keep me going all these years. Thanks so much for the years of inspiration!”

Kim wrote, “I adopted a dog from Puerto Rico that had social anxiety. She was scared of everything especially if I got mad say from dropping something. She would be so scared she wouldn’t go into that room for weeks. So, I learned quickly to let everything go and act like it was supposed to happen and that I was happy it happened! 

When I dropped a Tupperware dish full of spaghetti on the floor, she looked at me and I exclaimed, oh good! Yay! So glad that happened, this is so much fun cleaning this up!! And it worked! She would wag her tail instead of cowering away!

 That behavior made me change my own karma. Now things that get messed up don’t bother me, and life is so much better! Saying whoopsie! and moving on, cleaning up, and laughing has been the best thing. Incidents aren’t so heavy and energy draining like before, and I am a much lighter happier person because of my dog, Voodoo. Cheers! “

And this from Steve Strauss, “Does change have to be hard or can you let it be easy? 

Have you found that changing alone is better for you? If not, who can assist you with your change? 

Coaching Point: One year from now is probably going to happen anyway. Do you want your life then to look just like it does now? Or do you want it to change?”

This week’s focus is all about change. Change is inevitable, growth is optional. That pretty sums up life wouldn’t you say? How would it feel to embrace change knowing that YOU CAN AND WILL get through it? And how about the added bonus of improving your karma too?

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Word-Of-the-Week #989: Adversity

July 20, 2023 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #989: Adversity 

Adversityan unfortunate event or incident.

How well do you deal with unfortunate events? Do challenges or disappointments make you want to give up?

This week features Christine Schoenwald’s article on Heartbreak from YourTango.com, “She Tells Her Grandma She’s Been Cheated On — And Grandma Gives Incredible Advice.”

“There are times in life when you just want to curl up in the fetal position and cry. 

You feel broken like you don’t have the strength or the desire to go on. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you, or you’ve been fired from a job. Everything sucks so badly that you don’t see how things could ever get better. 

This simple story can help. It illustrates the best way to handle adversity and how we can take those challenges, disappointments, and overall bad things that happen to us, and use them to create better versions of ourselves. 

A young woman was visiting her grandmother one day and telling her how difficult her life was. She had discovered that her husband had cheated on her. 

“Gran, I give up. I’m just not strong enough to fight anymore. Everything seems to be going wrong and when one problem is resolved, another one ten times worse happens. I swear I’m done.” 

Her grandmother looked at her, dried her tears, and brought her into the kitchen. There, the grandmother filled three pots with water and put them on the stove. When the pots started to boil, she placed carrots in the first pot, eggs in the second, and ground coffee beans in the third. 

The young woman and her grandmother didn’t say anything and just watched them boil. After about twenty minutes, the grandmother turned off the heat from under all the pots and brought the contents of each out, and put them in bowls. 

“Tell me what you see,” the grandmother asked. 

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the granddaughter replied thinking her grandmother’s mind wasn’t as sharp as it used to be. 

“Feel the carrots,” the grandmother told her granddaughter. “Then take an egg and break it. Lastly, take a sip of the coffee.” 

The granddaughter did as she was told and then asked, “What are you trying to tell me?” 

“You see, honey, each of these objects faced the same adversity and each reacted differently. 

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the scalding water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile with only a thin shell protecting its liquid interior, but after sitting in boiling water, its inside had become hardened. The ground coffee beans were different than the other two — instead of being changed by the water, they had changed it.”

The granddaughter nodded her head in agreement and wished the science experiments in seventh grade had been as instructional. 

“Which one are you?” The grandmother asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you react? Are you a carrot that seems strong but with pain and adversity; do you become soft and lose your strength; or are you the egg that starts out with an adaptable heart but changes with the heat? 

Do you have a fluid spirit usually, unless something bad happens like a death, a breakup, or job loss, and then you become hardened and inflexible? Do you look the same on the outside, but inside do you become bitter and tough?”

The granddaughter was listening and trying to make sense of every word her grandmother said. 

“Are you like the ground coffee beans that actually changed the hot water, the very circumstance that brought the pain? When the water gets hot it releases the wonderful coffee smell and takes on the flavor of the coffee. If you’re like the bean, when things are at their worst, instead of giving up, you get better and stronger and change the situation around you,” the grandmother explained.”

The young woman hugged her grandmother and with clarity went to go talk to her husband. As she was almost outside the door, her grandmother said, “Be the coffee, honey. Always try to be the coffee.” 

In the end, the happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best everything, and every day isn’t found with lollipops and unicorns — it’s just that happy people make the best of whatever comes their way. 

The brightest future is built on a forgotten past. It was a wise person who gave this great life advice: you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failure and heartaches. 

Don’t let adversity knock you so low that you can’t get up again. Try to lear from it, forgive if you can, and know that trials help make you strong, sadness keeps you human and happiness helps make you sweet.” 

This week is all about adversity. Are you the carrot, the egg, or the coffee? How would it feel to be able to make the best of whatever comes your way?

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