Two words can make a huge difference

bright summer dressI heard someone once say that there are three things that once they are gone, you never can get them back: time, spoken words, and opportunities. I had an experience today after which I wished I could have gotten my spoken words back. Today being Friday, most people go to offices dressed up a little less formally, and that seems to be a tradition across cultures of the countries I have lived in. A colleague of mine was wearing a dress with bright colours (summer time!) and that attire made her look significantly younger than the day before, when she was wearing a more formal dress.

Putting on a big smile, I told her “You look younger today!” It was a sincere compliment but it is only when she replied “You mean I am old?” that I realized I should have chosen my words more carefully. She was laughing and apparently did not take it bad despite the few comments she made about it. I then spent a few minutes of my day thinking on how I could have made a better compliment. I came up with a simple variant that consist in adding just two words to my original statement. Without changing the meaning of my sentence, I could have said: “You look younger today than usual” or “You look younger today, more lovely.” Those two additional words would have made a huge difference and be less “offensive” to the young lady she is.

On the other hand, if she had just said “thank you“, those two words would also have made a huge difference as I wouldn’t have written this post. This lesson would have been lost in space. It is all good! I am happy she processed my compliment the way she did. 🙂

I am a passionate student of communication and it is those little daily experiences that give us the opportunity to learn and improve as we speak and listen to what we said. Have you been in situations where you spoke and later wished you had made the same statement(s) a little differently? Tell us about one of those experiences.