Friday, November 02, 2007

Learning to Keep My Mouth Shut

Occasionally, I have the urge to tell people things that they are doing wrong. Sometimes I do, then they feel embarrassed. I often feel superior. I've been realizing, however, that sometimes what I define as "wrong" is merely just slower, but equally effective.

Sometimes, however, they are just wrong.

One case is those instances of misuses of grammar. Unless it's someone that I'm close to and can call them out on it, I don't, even if I want to. Like all of the English graduate students who don't realize the difference between "quote" and "quotation". Every time they say "quote" when they mean "quotation", I wish to yell. But I don't. Some things are bad manners.

The other times I've learned to keep my mouth shut involve working with other people. Sometimes a co-worker will do something in a way that I find to be inefficient, slow, and overly cautious. Occasionally I say something, and it makes her feel inadequate, and then I feel bad. So I've learned to keep my mouth shut because in the end, she gets the job done well, and just because I can do it nearly twice as fast doesn't mean that her way doesn't work. She's probably a little more conscientious and has a stronger work ethic than I do.

Another is with my family. I'm the sole liberal in a sea of stanch Republicans (my dad doesn't think women should be senators, let alone president), and I'm also more honest about my doubts about traditional, mainline Christianity than they would like. I have learned that even if all I want to do is offer up a different perspective, without arguing, I should just keep my mouth shut. They don't listen, and the situation usually quickly results in a full out yelling match, and my mother cries easily. Don't discuss politics and religion with family--good rule to remember.

What are some situations where you have learned to keep your mouth shut?

1 comment:

Timothy said...

I usually always keep my mouth shut about things. I don't want to be rude. But here's a story when someone said something to me and he should have kept his mouth shut. In my poetry class, there is a very abrasive 44-year-old man. He is loud, crude, and a know-it-all. Now, I've never had problems with him before because I just stay out of his way, but in Thursday night's class, he announced to the whole room that I have poor posture, then insisted I stand up straight while he critiqued my posture in front of everyone. He even went so far to say "I'd tell you some exercises to strengthen your back muscles, but you're not gonna do those anyway." I was mortified. I played his little game and went home embarrassed and upset that someone could be so tactless.

And that's why I keep my mouth shut about little things like grammar (unless I'm grading/tutoring) and posture.