When I was growing up, my father was in corporate America. He was president of increasingly larger companies. I always knew being president was a big deal (although I never fully understood what a president did) but he was still my Dad. When I would go to his office I would meet “important” people but to me they all felt the same: whether they were vice-president, secretary or the lady who worked in the company cafeteria; they were all important. I hope I succeeded in treating each of them with the same courtesy and respect.
One of the ways we treat people is with our words – usually the basis of our attitudes, our thoughts and our actions. I read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements when it was first published in 1997. It truly changed my life. I have already written about the Second and Third Agreements, but this first one is the foundation on which all the others are built. The first agreement is to “Be Impeccable with Your Word“. Do what you say you’re going to do. Be authentic. Act with integrity. Be kind.
Sometimes being kind means to stop talking. Your mother telling you, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it,” fits here. I try not to talk about others, but if I do, I pretend that person is sitting right next to me. Am I still comfortable saying the things I am saying? Would I still say them if that person were really sitting next to me? If not, I stop talking.
The same is true if I’m with a group of people and the conversation is about someone not present. If I feel the need to defend the person being talked about, I do my best to change the subject. When I am unsuccessful, I walk away. Being impeccable with my word means not contributing to gossip-fests whether it’s with my words or merely my silent presence.
Recently someone lied to me. The minute she denied knowing about something I knew she knew, I knew she lied. I didn’t call her on it, but I have spent many days wondering why. It has really made me question what else she might have lied about. (I would do both of us a huge favor if I would follow the Third Agreement – Don’t make Assumptions – and just ask her why she said what she did, instead of letting my own made-up story possibly affect our ten year relationship.)
Has that ever happened to you? You thought you knew someone so well and then they tell you an un-truth and it makes you question everything else they say? What did you do? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.