It all comes down to this: “Be nice and tell the truth all the time…”

Do you ever have one of those moments where someone says something in just a certain way, at a certain time, and you realize "That's IT! That's what it's all about!"  You have this incredible epiphany that you just don't need to say anything further, because the statement that was just made is so perfect it cannot be improved upon?

I had that moment yesterday. It has left me humbled and awed.

Yesterday, I was speaking at an assembly of 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Sultan Middle School. For the past 30 minutes, I was sharing with them the presentation "Street Smarts or SocialSmarts" and was explaining how being socially smart can get you more of what you want, more easily, and less of what you don't want.

I had been exploring with the students the concept of getting parents "off your case" and getting them to treat the middle schoolers more like adults.  I asked for some shared comments from the audience on how they thought they could accomplish this.  Some of the responses I got were, "Do what parents ask you to do," or "don't give them attitude when they talk to you," and other similar responses. I thought I had just exhausted the question when I noticed there was a young student in the middle of the bleachers to my left.

The student was small, fragile looking, actually. It was obvious there were some physical challenges, but when the student began to speak, it was clear there were some developmental issues as well. I asked if the student had something to add, and I was rewarded with a cheery "Yes!"  I asked, "What is it you'd like to tell us?" and got another "yes!" as a response. At this point, I have to tell you that, the entire student body had begun to quiet down to listen to the young student speak. I thought I would try again to prompt a response from our young participant.  "Did you want to tell us something about how to get more freedom and responsibility?" to which the student responded "Yes!"  I asked, "What do you think we should do then?"

The student clearly had difficulties getting the thoughts and words out, but everyone was patient and waited to hear what the speaker had to say. In halting phrases, the answer arrived, with enthusiam: "Um...you should, uh, be NICE. And tell THE TRUTH. ALL the time!" There was a brief moment of silence and then the audience erupted in applause and cheers for the young speaker.

My response was, "Well, if that doesn't say it all!  You didn't need to sit through 20 of my slides and 30 minutes of me talking...it all comes down to that, doesn't it:  Be nice and tell the truth."

I was marvelously moved by that whole experience, on many levels, and, frankly, I still am as I write this. First, that there was attention and respect for the young student as difficult as it might have been for the other students to be quiet and patient to hear the answer.  I was impressed that the young student was engaged and present to my presentation and was motivated to participate when asked. I was both humbled and honored to be part of such a truism in the answer, even if I just was the facilitator with my presentation. It's not often we are blessed with the opportunity to learn something when we were the ones "sent to teach."

The reality is, "Be nice and tell the truth" is such a simple message.  While it's simple, it's not always easy, however, to live that way, particularly in today's crazed world. But, just imagine how different things might be if we DID live this way?  We would have a society where people looked after each other and were courteous to one another. We could let our kids play in their neighborhoods without the worry of what might happen to them. Bullying and other anti-social behavior would stop before it even started. We could go back to taking someone's word for things and do business on a handshake. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I fully accept that it's not possible for everyone to operate this way, every day, under all circumstances. But, what if we committed to doing it for ONE day? Could you "be nice and tell the truth all the time" today or tomorrow?  Could you make a promise to live this way for one day -- maybe the  next, too -- and see what happened? Can you take on this challenge within your family or maybe a group of co-workers at your office or a club or group?  Can you envision how it might make a difference, even if it's only internally and personally?  Will it have an impact beyond you?

Today is my "BNATTTATT" day. When I'm done today, I'll try to do it again tomorrow. I'm going to give someone an extra smile, maybe help someone carry an armful of packages. I'm going to use pleasant words and seek to build up rather than point out other people's faults.  I'll be honest, but always with kindness. It's going to feel good, and I'll try to continue to make it a habit.

What about you? I'd love to hear from you if you are going to take the challenge, how, when and where  you'll make it work.  I'd even love to hear back if it made a difference, either to you or beyond. Can you spread the challenge to one or two other people? Let's see what their experiences are. Share a story and I'll choose one person at random from those stories to receive a copy of my book!

Thank you again, Sultan Middle School for presenting me with this opportunity. It's not often we have such an "ah ha" moment and it has made a lifelong impression. To the young student who was brave enough and persistent enough to share, thanks for making the point so beautifully and so clearly...

 

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  1. Missed Opportunity: “It’s How You Treat Them!” | Corinne Gregory

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