WHEN I SPOTTED THIS MESSAGE to Santa while traveling through New Ulm on Saturday en route to a family Christmas gathering, I laughed. What a humorous way to draw attention to a real estate company, I thought.
But then I thought some more about that message after reading a magazine article titled “5 times when you should hold your tongue.” The writer of the piece in Real Simple advised that diplomacy, tact and a lot of silence can go a long way. In other words, think before you speak or write. That’s great advice.
You may think it’s your sister’s fault when, in reality, it isn’t. Perception is not always truth.
I’m a big proponent of listening. I truly believe if we all chose to listen, rather than jump to conclusions, many disagreements would never happen. But in the heat of the moment, when we feel we’ve been wronged, we fail to hear anyone’s voice but our own. That is the precise time when we need to clamp our lips, lift fingertips from keyboards and cell phones and consider that, yes, there’s another side to this story. Once hurtful words are written or spoken, they cannot be taken back.
The holidays are a great time to reconnect with family. But such gatherings can also prove stressful. Travel, too much alcohol, lack of sleep, changes in routine, strong personalities, perceived grievances and more can fuel disagreements. It’s all too easy to lash out with angry words. Don’t. Just don’t.
I tend to fade into the background at family gatherings. I’m quiet and reserved. I listen more than I speak. I prefer to talk one-on-one with family members rather than wedge my voice into a conversation dominated by strong personalities in a roomful of people.
It’s important to remember that only in silence can you listen.
Would Santa rather read “It was my sister’s fault!” or “I’m sorry I was mean to my sister?”
Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling