watch one’s words

hello my faithful fans! it’s so nice to see you all. thank you for your continued support and interest.

today i would like to present to you an idea that hits very close to home: watching what you say. has your mouth ever gotten you in trouble? you ever overstepped your verbal boundaries? your mouth ever written a check your @$$ couldn’t cash? doesn’t it all feel like it goes against who you ARE? like you’re being changed or morphed into someone that is NOT you. today we are going to discuss those verbal boundaries, the rules of vulgarity and even some workplace do’s and don’ts.

in case we haven’t met before, i’m Tanisha. i say what’s on my mind. sometimes in a few choice words… other times, in thousands of words posts. i am a self-proclaimed and extremely guilty potty mouthed sailor. i enjoy talking and connecting with others — on multiple levels. i have a plethora of opinions, stories and jokes to help me do so. i am becoming more settled in my body and personality everyday and have come to the understanding that no matter how much i want to always be me and remain true to myself — there are times when I am not what’s needed. sometimes it’s better to just be, than to be me.

i recently participated in a very interesting personality assessment. i have an extroverted personality. i know it’s hard to believe, but yes really, it’s true. this was not news to me (or you). as much as i enjoy sharing and again, connecting with others, there have been more than enough situations where i could have toned it down. it’s hard to filter my thoughts without flinging words about. i think out loud. occasionally, this can be a hazard. you gotta know your limits and know when to say when. or when not to say when.

years ago i was a police dispatcher. i had a lot of fun at that job. i met some great people, made some great friends and shared some amazing experiences. as i walked into the dispatch center, on my first official night working, i realized in an instant what i had gotten myself into. there was a buzz about the room like a hive of bees. an array of sounds and noises from all directions flooded my ears and alerted every other sense in my body. i felt a slight tensing panic. phones ringing, verbal radio traffic, the pressing and releasing of the foot pedal, subtle conversation. hours later, as i fought sleep a coworker, melissa, came to chat with me. she was checking up on me and has done so ever since. 

years later as i settled into the job and we shared laughs, tears, jokes and food we also shared workplace hijinks. one night as we were horsing around just as i pushed the foot pedal and began speaking to a police unit. please accept the vagueness of the radio traffic transcript and also cover the eyes of any nearby children:

<police officer> : four-adam-twelve

<me> : four-adam-twelve

<police officer> : please show me on scene, at this location, doing something or other

<me> : four-adam-twelve, i copy, on scene at that location, doing whatever

let me pause here. understand that melissa and i enjoyed messing with each other’s chairs. there were several types of chairs that reclined and tilted into a variety of positions to accommodate the many bodies of the many dispatchers for many hours at a time. in the wee hours of the morning, you would most likely find the graveyard dispatchers in a reclined and very relaxed position. the main lever allowing the chair to recline was wound pretty tight. hitting that button at the wrong time could literally eject you from the seat. well, you guessed it. just as i pushed the foot pedal for the radio transmission, melissa smacked that lever with her foot. my chair went from a forty degree recline to more straight up than would ever be comfortable. so you can imagine my surprise. surprise + potty mouth = shame.

<police officer> : four-adam-twelve

<me> : four-adam-twelve

<police officer> : please show me on scene, at this location, doing something or other

<me> : four-adam-twelve, i copy, on scene at that location, doing whatever >>SMACK! goes my chair<<  fu¢ke®.

oh. em. gee. did that just happen? my affirmation of the officer’s radio traffic went out as:

four-adam-twelve, i copy, on scene at that location, doing whatever, fu¢ke®

melissa and i looked at each other and while she started to ask me “did that go out?” we both reached for the recorder. i hit the rewind button and much to my chagrin, it did go out. yes, my bad word bounced outta my mouth, across the microphone and out into the world… live and in living color. i instantly received dispatch instant messages from my police world. i had to call the watch commander and advise him of my bad deed in case he received a complaint from a citizen, a coworker, a city official or perhaps the f.c.c. (Federal Communications Commission). i. was. mortified.

still to follow was the instant message from the police officer that the horrible word was seemingly directed towards. her weren’t happy. i sent a blanket message to anyone that could receive it and explained the dynamics behind the horrible word. i didn’t live it down for several days. i still cringe when i replay it in my head. the potty mouth killed it. without that one word, it wouldn’t have been noticed. but, that’s not what happened. my habit of being carefree had just clashed with my need to be professional and ladylike. boooo.

i think that maturing is learning what your reaction to something is going to be and heading it off at the pass. making choices based on a realistic understanding of the long term affects and consequences. it is a feat to learn to not just let anything fall out of your mouth. being open, honest and forward has nothing to do with quick, vulgar or funny. the witty comeback is not the only comeback. perhaps it’s the fact that the mouth and the brain are so close and this allows no time for the thought to be filtered and censored before being spoken. it proves to be a sincere challenge requiring daily maintenance and monitoring. effort.

there have been countless words evoked and inspired by pain, verbalized and yelled out of angst that can never be unheard. words can do so many things. they can explain, explore, examine and they can also exact excruciating emotions. words can hurt more than any physical pain. they can also inspire, motivate, romance and entertain. the choice is yours… and mine.

a college professor once told me “talk ten percent less”. i would have never guessed it would be so difficult. i don’t think i’ve knocked two percent off, much less ten and it’s been a little more than three years that i’ve actually been making a conscious effort. i don’t know if my brain to mouth filter is broken or if it’s that innate desire to be me overriding the undeniable logic of just shutting up every now and again.

this proves especially true for the workplace. we are all hired for our capabilities and productivity. if we’re lucky, we are chosen for our personality and disposition. don’t let it go to your head though. they might like you, but they will not allow you to feel so privileged as to not obey the rules and basic conduct standards. test it. see what happens. maintaining a favorable position with your employer is of the utmost importance. they pay you. they make your life possible. do not disrespect them by proving ungrateful. you’ll be sorry and your position will be filled by someone else.

in that respect, you have to treat your workplace and your coworkers like preteens. like twelve year old kids that are impressionable and old enough to tell on you. i have just come to this realization. honestly. but within the parameters of your job description (loosely, people, be a team player), your physical work location and a reasonable work load, they can ask what they choose. they. pay. you. they give you money. respect them for that and do what is expected of you. outside of attendance, your word choice is paramount at work. be careful. watch what you say, how you say it and whom you say it to. it’s simple. it’s hard to do, but it’s simple. be conservative even if you’re not.

i am guilty of signing employment contracts, memo and the like without actually reading them. aren’t we all? no? just me?? hmm, oh well. almost all employers provide a detailed explanation of rules, regulations and procedures required legally and in the best interest of both parties. if you didn’t read the document or choose to ignore your employer’s request, you do yourself a disservice. the excuse of “look at so-and-so” is childish. when at work, worry about yourself. don’t make yourself subject to discipline because of someone else’s actions that you decided to accept responsibility for. will they accept financial responsibility for your obligations if a termination should ensue? yeah, i didn’t think so. cover your @$$.

in the course of daily work, should you be advised, warned, coached, counseled, briefed, memo’d, emailed, written or faxed anything about attitude, performance, appearance or PERFORMANCE — you need heed the warning. should you be reintroduced to any policy or procedure, you need heed the warning. don’t let your understanding come with a pink slip. if you’re ever in a meeting and something comes up and you have the thought “oh, i hope they’re not talking about me”, you need to act like they are. you need to leave that meeting and change your conduct accordingly. if you think it’s you, act like it really IS you.

from an overactive mouth to a potty mouth or an outside voice that’s inside, we must watch our words. we have to be careful not to put things out there that we can’t get back. some things can never be unheard. ever. use your words to inspire and encourage, not to berate or condemn. not to infuriate. words tend to boomerang and they sure pack a wallop on their way back at your head. do not sacrifice your livelihood to prove the point that you (and your fabulous personality) will not be stifled. that’s not a point you need to make.

where children are concerned, one must be almost overly cautious about what you let fall from your lips. children are curious, inquisitive and relentless. they are miniature detectives and professional peeping tom’s (not in a weird way, but in a quiet “i wanna see what you’re doing” way). they hear everything. during the twos, threes and fours they repeat what you say. be mindful of what you say when a child is within hearing range. not only will you provide them with the entirely wrong thing to say, they will choose the entirely wrong time to say it. think of them as the ultimate auto-correct-failure. you will spend a lifetime trying to undo the damage that can be done.

we are all role models. whether we want to be or not. whether we choose to be or not. whether we are worthy or not. children latch on and look up to the adults that are around them. they don’t have to know you, care about you or love you. if you are in their world, they are receiving from you — whatever you are putting out. make sure, MAKE SURE, that what you are sharing is appropriate. it’s not just the words they absorb. they gather context, respect and their version of like and love from the things that we share with them… and how we share with them. if you can’t handle that responsibility, you’re kinda just plain ole $h!t outta luck. watch your mouth or don’t be around any kids. ever.

if anyone is guilty of embarrassing themselves because they didn’t filter and censor before speaking, it’s me. so, i speak from experience and humility. think before you speak. choose words that convey your thoughts and feelings, but just know that your thoughts and feelings might not be needed — all the time. there’s a time to be you, to be me and then there are times to just be. don’t get them confused. save your profanity infused self loathing opinions and obnoxious jokes for your blog, not your debut at work or in front of the kids. you will benefit from this more than anyone else.

4 thoughts on “watch one’s words

  1. “miniature detectives and professional peeping toms” ….WHAT a phrase! you captured the essence of our kids. Personally, i love and have learned to use the question “Did I say that out loud?”, to great advantage…(read, comic relief) as an escape from verbal spasms. Great piece, T!

    • “did i say that out loud?” is already a motto. as well as Autin Powers’s: “how do i tell them that i have no inner monologue?” .. i’m guilty. if loose lips sink ships, the navy better watch out. honestly. it’s proving to be my worst attribute. i’m suffering from it, right now, at this very moment and it is unpleasant. you can’t take it back. once it’s out there… it’s out there. my guess is that eventually i will be able to stop myself.. i’m just wondering when.

  2. “…when i had him, i had no idea what to do with him… now i don’t know what to do without him.” I imagine most parents feel that way. Add health challenges into the equation and things really get complicated, as you have so eloquently explained. He’s a lucky boy and he’ll be fine. You both will.

    • charles! always so nice to see your black and white photo. 😀 Kenneth and i are managing. he has a new doctor that is most interested in detoxifying him, as well as setting him on the path to a wonderful future. thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

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