“If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all!” I spent many of my earlier years hearing these words uttered from my parents, relatives and other important authoritative figures in my life. Only recently have I taken the time to think about the impact these words have had on my younger years and the person I am today. I understand that being nice to others and speaking only nicely about others is an important principle to learn early in life in order to help keep peace, but it does not address the idea of being genuine. It does not focus on the idea of truly meaning what you say.
I believe in being genuine. I believe in meaning what I say to other people. Being genuine with other people is just as important, if not more important then being nice to them. I value being genuine with others and when others are genuine with me. Small acts of genuineness have the power to change someone’s attitude or outlook on the rest of their day.
An example of a genuine act that changed someone’s attitude towards their day was when I worked at front desk at a community recreation center. If someone looked like they were having a rough day, I wouldn’t just take their money and say have a nice day. I would genuinely hope that their day improved. I would personalize what I would say to them. If they had goggles and a swimsuit I would say have a nice swim or hope you enjoy your workout. This usually caught them off guard and made them smile. Oftentimes they were so used to people just saying have a nice day, that this small change in greeting caught their attention and made them laugh or smile. This small genuine act changed their attitude or even outlook on the rest of their day.
Another example was when I recently visited a theme park with my boyfriend. It was a busy hot day. We decided to take a break from all the commotion and have iced lemonade. We waited in line and finally got the opportunity to order drinks from a grumpy worker who obviously was having a hard day. After receiving our drinks, we thanked the employee and wished her a good day. We genuinely wished that she would have a better day. This little comment and smile made this lady’s day. She immediately brightened up and greeted the next customers with a smile. Upon observation from a nearby bench we realized that this small genuine act changed this lady’s attitude towards the rest of her day.
So maybe instead of someday teaching my own children the principle “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” I will teach them if they have nothing genuine to say, then they should say nothing at all.
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