Talking about Talking

“a time to keep silence,

and a time to speak”

Ecclesiastes 3:7


My daughter and I had a disagreement the other day.  Not an argument, but a discussion ~ which we’ve had before ~ that ended with her saying, “I just don’t think we’re ever gonna agree on this.”  And maybe she’s right.  Maybe we won’t.  But we’re both bright, teachable people who agree on 97% of life, so I think there’s a fairly good chance that over time, one of us will move closer to the other’s point of view.  We do that sometimes.

The issue was criticizing others ~ businesses, specifically.  We had a frustrating experience at McDonald’s last week, and while I’m not one to complain anytime I don’t get my way, there were several issues on this one visit, in both the areas of product quality and customer service.  So the next day, I emailed McDonald’s to let them know.  Nothing snarky or unkind, you understand.  And I signed my name and everything. 

Well yesterday I got a letter from them, thanking me for my input.  Thanking me, as they put it, for showing them how they could approve.  They also sent me two certificates for a free meal, which I put in my wallet next to the free drink card I got from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf a few months ago.

Now, please don’t think I make an obnoxious habit out of looking for ways to criticize businesses so that I can get something free from them.  It’s kind of a fluke that I’ve got two of these gifts right now.  In the case of Coffee Bean, I had tried their peppermint hot chocolate a while back, and was disappointed in it, so I wanted to let them, know.  I worry that there will be a time when the only coffee places around will be Starbucks, so I want their competition to do well.  I told them their hot chocolate wasn’t good, for the same reason I’d tell a friend of mine that her tag was sticking out.

Well, my girl disagrees.  While I’m sure she’d tell a friend if her tag was sticking out (I know, because she’s told me stuff like that) it makes her uncomfortable any time I speak up to a business.  I’ve sort of compromised in that I don’t do it in front of her any more, but it just doesn’t seem right to me to say nothing.  If I were an owner or manager, I’d want to know.  I’m not saying I’d cave to every complaint I got, but I’d take them under consideration.

Today, though, something occurred to me.  I received an email that was sent to a group, referencing a new member (the new member did not receive the email, as it was to introduce her to everyone).  Unfortunately the new member’s name was wrong.  Her name is Laura, and the letter writer called her Linda.  A few of us in the group have known her for years, but for most of the group (including the email writer) she’s a wonderful friend they have yet to meet.  So it bothered me somewhat, that her name was not right.  I didn’t want her to feel unwelcome or something, when she arrives.

But while I thought briefly about emailing the writer, to let her know of her mistake, I didn’t.  I’m not on the leadership team in this group, and there are several who are, that know Laura’s real name.  And somehow it seemed like I should let this correction come from one of them.  Like I might come off as know-it-all or a buttinsky.  It’s a group of lovely, non-gossipy women who only assume the best of others, so it’s not that I think they’re going to judge me.  It just doesn’t feel like it’s my place. 

I try very hard to be teachable.  So I generally assume ~ or hope ~ that others will be the same.  But that doesn’t mean I just jump right in trying to teach everyone I think needs teaching.  Some situations call for sensitivity.  And there are certainly people in my life I really don’t want correcting me.  I probably need to work on that.  But that’s a lesson for a different post…

There’s a time to speak, and a time to be silent.  Knowing which is which requires prayer and wisdom. 



~ “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue;

Cause me to understand wherein I have erred.” ~

Job 6:24


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