Look for the Helpers and be Thoughtful with Your Words
As I know many of you are too, I have been struggling the last few days. There seems to be significant discontent in the world and in moments, I have found it difficult to stay positive. When I get this way, I am often reminded of a story I heard about Mr. Rogers; yes, that Mr. Rogers.
It is said that, during particularly scary and trying times in his youth, Fred Rogers would express fear and concern to his mother. Offering comfort to her son, she is quoted by him as saying:
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
In reflection, Fred shared the following:
“To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
I am offered some reprieve in my moments when I look around and see so many people helping; it warms my heart. The challenges of today are many and yet there are indeed “so many helpers.”
Mr. Rogers was known for his ability to address difficult topics with children. He would often touch on topics such as disagreement, divorce, and even death in his show, which ran from 1962 to 2001. As the world converses about “opening up,” I have sensed and seen much difficulty and disagreement between people about how things “should” be done, with evident resistance to being told what to do either way. Of course, I am not attempting to solve that disagreement as I believe people staked their flags in the issue some time ago. Rather, in my readings, I found another gem of Fred Rogers’ wisdom in the following article that I thought I’d share:
As I read this article tonight, it got me thinking that “Freddish” is not just a language for communicating with children, rather a language in which all people can communicate clearly, even about scary or disagreeable things. In the article, two of Rogers’ writers are credited with coming up with the term “Freddish” and illustrated 9 steps to crafting clear, motivating language that is inclusive and considerate of many variables that might lead to misinterpretation.
I found this quite moving as it clearly demonstrates the importance of being selective in our language, with all people (not just children). People who know me well or who have worked closely with me may know, I am not a fan of “cheap talk.” I think the words we use are important and they can belie true intentions or be misinterpreted to convey intent that was not meant. I’d like to encourage you to read this article and give a moment’s thought to how you could join me in softening our language so as to invite thoughtfulness in disagreement rather than resistance in it.
Cheesy as it may be, I hope you find something of worth this article as I did. And for those of you of a certain age, I offer you the following trip down memory lane.