Speak your peace: Use constructive language
By Amber Kiggens-Leifheit
MACF Executive Director
The Marshfield Area Community Foundation sponsors the Speak Your Peace Civility Project. The basic principles are simple and straightforward and involve the idea that it is often not what is said but how it is said that initiates conflict. The more we all learn about polite, civil discussion is a good thing. It is worth a try, and it may help bring our community together. This week we will examine: Use Constructive Language.
A stressed or fatigued person is less inclined to be patient and tolerant before acting and to be aware of the needs of others. We all need to take a deep breath or a step back before we respond to people — by phone, text, email, or on social media. In today’s world of instant, nonpersonal communication, it is too easy to shoot off an email containing words and sentiment you would never use in a face-to-face confrontation.
This too is easier said than done. I admit to going over the top from time to time with my communications. My children refer to it as “going all AMBER on them,” which is not something I am proud of. I hope I do learn from these experiences and try to do better the next time.
We can all learn to compliment more and to use constructive criticism better.
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment. We all like to hear a compliment.” As children, we loved our parents’ praise. Schools use positive behavior strategies to increase academic performance, improve safety, decrease problem behavior, and establish a positive school climate. P.M. Forni states that, “After a while by praising others, we feel good about ourselves as well.”
Praising others does not always come easily. Accepting and giving constructive criticism can be even harder. To make your criticism constructive and effective, Forni suggests that before you speak, make sure there is a problem and that you are trying to help and not to humiliate or exact revenge.
Receiving criticism is hard. My son is in a graduate school photography program where every week students put their photos up on the wall and invite others to criticize. The class is actually called critique. This sounds beyond painful to me.
Each week he is opening himself through his work to any and all thoughts — both good and bad — by fellow students and professors. It is a way to improve by seeing things from another’s point of view. It is not an easy thing to accept, but it can be very valuable.
If you are interested to learn more, visit marshfieldareacommunityfoundation.org/index.php?page=speak-your-peace, or give us a call at 715-384-9029.