Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What You Say Matters

I was sitting at my desk a couple of days ago and my colleague declares passionately that she is going to start making cupcakes and giving them away to our consultants.  She's itching to start being more creative and wants to start branching out.  Did I mention that I work for an Information Technology firm?  I scoffed at the prospect of having us viewed as "cupcake girls".  As far as I was concerned, women have worked long and hard to be taken seriously in any male-driven industry and her idea risked dragging our credibility back a couple of decades. 

While looking a bit crestfallen, my colleague still defended her vision (even though it was a little less passionate than her initial pitch).

<Pause here for my remorseful sigh>

Let's recap, shall we?

Question: Did she ask for my opinion?
Answer: Not at all.  My rant was completely unsolicited

Question: Was her cupcake dream a threat to her or anyone else?
Answer:  No.  In fact, it’s a commendable idea.  At least she has the courage to try.

Question:  Did I make myself heard?
Answer:  Yes.  I stood up on my soapbox and spewed my judgments from on high. 

I didn’t think that what I’d said mattered.  To my dismay it did.

(Insert foot in mouth; add salt and pepper to taste)

Normally I would be happy about my words and viewpoint having an impact on someone’s day, except that in the aforementioned scenario I was not a ray of sunshine and joy. Although my intentions were honourable, I came across as a storm cloud blowing torrential hot air from the West.

I have since sincerely apologized to my cubicle mate for my verbal hit and run. She graciously accepted.

What is the moral to this story of woe?

Simply put, when presented with an opportunity to build someone up, use the cheapest yet most effective tool that you have - your words. 

They may have more impact than you think and despite what anyone tells you (more often than not) they matter.

Until next time, friends.....


  1. I absolutely identify with this - surprisingly, not everyone wants my honest opinion. My new mantra is 'speak kindly'.