I’ve been unable to determine the source of this excellent advice. Spanish proverb? New England proverb? I certainly have invoked it the past couple of days. I’ve been in all-day meetings with groups exploring and validating the business needs of our prospects and customers in Healthcare and Manufacturing. Of course, I know virtually nothing of those “Critical Business Issues,” but I’m very fortunate to work in a company with many very bright people, and several of these “experts” are participating in the workshops.

Unfortunately, not everyone adheres to the counsel above. Yesterday during a break I asked one of the workshop facilitators if their new book was available as an audio download. Out of nowhere, a woman I hardly knew chirped, “What’s wrong, can’t you read? Did you take the short bus?” I just turned my head and looked at her. I didn’t say anything, but maybe I didn’t have to. Now I’ve got no problem reading and I can write better than some, but let’s just say I’m a little sensitive than most to a comment like that.

Words can be so powerful. They can lift up or tear down. You just never know when one word may be the very thing someone needs to hear; or the last thing they want to hear. Words are also interpreted. You may imply one thing, but your recipient may infer something completely different. The more you know the receiver, the more you’ll understand their boundaries of appropriateness. I know if that woman knew me at all, she would have known better than to break the rule above yesterday.