I was asked after my last posting, “When is it right to get on a soap box and ‘correct’ someone?” Fortunately, for me, I now know the answer to that. I can’t say that I always get it right, but the thought is there.
The teacher in me always wants to make sure people get the opportunity to know the right answer. As a student, I study hard and always shoot for 100% and knowing as much as possible. I like being right. However, there is a time and a place for being right outside yourself. When someone would misspeak, I would offer them a correction until one day my husband “rudely” corrected me. I felt belittled and a little hurt. He said to me, “That’s what you do to people.”
If it isn’t going to send them off a cliff, kill anyone, make anyone bleed, or make them look like a complete idiot in public, keep it to yourself. Misspeaking happens. People have opinions about a variety of topics. Let them speak. If you are being offended by what they are saying, please let them know that. People can only treat you how you allow them to treat you. Keep calm and be polite.
Most people think faster than they speak and the misspeaking will happen. I was at a Toastmasters event a couple of weeks ago and must have made an inappropriate reference to either a lectern or a podium. I don’t recall making such a statement, however in my evaluations someone made a big deal over the fact that I didn’t know the difference. The problem is, I do know the difference, but obviously my mind and my mouth didn’t match and the offended person didn’t bother to make the correction for the rest of the group, but it sure bugged them during the presentation. I speak in front of people all the time and I know my mind and mouth don’t always match. Sometimes I catch myself and attempt to make the correction. Sometimes I don’t catch myself. In a classroom or seminar setting that is somewhat small and when people are hanging on every word, it is proper to make the minor corrections very politely. After all, someone might be writing it down.
So, how do you make the corrections? The way the initial question was posed to me referenced getting on your soap box. RARELY do you ever get on a soap box. The majority of the time when you feel a correction is needed, give the speaker the benefit of the doubt and politely state something like, “did you mean to say….” If a statement was made that offended you, offer something like, “I’m not comfortable with that statement/topic/etc. Could we move onto something else?” If it is a difference of opinion, how about, “I take a different view on that particular topic.” You can be polite, gentle and non-offensive. Set the tone as to how you would like the tone of the conversation to go. If you are looking for confrontation or an argument, hop up on the soap box – the view is much different.