What Would Mom Say?
When New York Times Food columnist Mark Bittman issued an apology for using an "inappropriate phrase to refer to the late VP of PR for Chick-fil-A," reaction was what you would expect. The Huffington Post did a short write up, which covers off on the details.
The offending phrase was removed, and Bittman's original post now omits the "inappropriate phrase." While mentioning this on Twitter, Liem Nguyen noted in a tweet response, "If you can't say something nice...." Which got me to thinking. As that was a phrase my mom used to use all the time when I was growing up as a kid, what other popular expressions did she use that have absolute relevance in today's social media inspired world.
Here are a few, with relevant context. Let me know what you think, and if I'm missing any other good ones.
"If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all."
Clearly words to live by, especially for those knee deep in social media channels commenting and/or participating in real-time conversations. Like some emails you would love to write, perhaps you should just write what you want, then hit delete, rather than hit tweet, send or post.
"You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."
I had a former client that used to start off and/or end every conversation everyday with, "It's going to be a great day." He was right, and his enthusiasm and spirit lives on. You can't help but think of his infectious smile when you hear those same words. There are good ways and bad ways to phrase things, and to act. Being pleasant and positive tend to get better results, in spite of the circumstances.
"Here's the grave of John D. Gray, died defending his right of way."
Another one of Mom's favorites, and is a good reminder as she used to say, that you may be right about something, but compromise isn't a bad thing. In fact, being right isn't always the best end game.
"As long as you tell the truth, the punishment won't be as severe."
A solid reminder to be upfront, and don't lie about things, especially when confronted with tough questions. As she used to remind me, it becomes harder to tell the truth once you start lying, and worse, no one will ever believe you if they think you lied before. In today's social circles, pretending to be something or someone you're not, or saying things you don't believe in, can only lead down a slippery slope. And, the punishment inflicted by the court of social opinion can be much harsher than anyone's mom.
"The one that keeps it up is worse than the one that starts it."
A good reminder that you don't always have to have the last word. Sometimes you may get lost in an exchange, conversation or commenting, and you need to know when to stop.
"There's a fine line between clever and corny."
Humor can be easily lost in 140 characters, let alone in other social exchanges. Remember that. And, like the advice about not saying something about someone, perhaps it's best to bounce off what you think is funny to a colleague, friend or family member. Chances are, you might be surprised by the reaction you get.