Are you unknowingly insulting others?

For 3 months I’ve interacted daily with my remodeling contractor. He’s a sweet, thoughtful man who goes out of his way to make sure I’m feeling good about his work.

He recently shared with me that a new woman client refused to give him a key or use a lockbox at her house — she had to be home whenever he entered. This makes it difficult to get his work done. When he asked about other options, she said, “I want to be home when you’re here. I have daughters and I don’t want anything to happen to them.”

He was insulted.

I would be, too.

Sometimes we let slip exactly what we’re thinking without considering how it would sound to the receiver. I’m not immune from this myself, and have had to back peddle when my mouth is engaged before my mind.

But some people never hear how voicing their immediate thought could be insulting. And it’s too bad, because they are alienating people they want to help them.

What is the cure? I wish there was an easy one. The only one I know is to be mindful of your comments before they escape from your lips. And to pay attention to someone’s body language to see if they recoil from your comments. If so, you know you have some cleaning up to do, so apologize immediately.

You build alliances by being kind and thoughtful to people. Insulting someone does not make them want to be around you. This is common sense, I know, but it is not commonly put in practice.



1 thought on “Are you unknowingly insulting others?”

  1. Rebecca – Sorry, on this one I’m with the woman. She could have said it a little better, but in fact, she is protecting BOTH the man and her daughters. I probably would have said, “Oh, you know, with girls in the house, I’m really protective, so I’d just rather be here. I’m sorry this is making things difficult for you.”

    Fact is, since we don’t know the age of the girls, it’s just smart for him to not be there without her there, as well. Many a man has lost his reputation due to a teenager having a crush on him, being rightfully rebuffed, then wanting to make him “pay” by lying about his actions. And many a child has been harmed by someone who appears to other adults to be a responsible person – until we find out later he or she is not.

    I err on the side of protecting my kids. Either this man doesn’t have children, or he isn’t thinking when he tells you this story. She’s a “new woman Client.” He has no understanding about who she is or what her situation is. He doesn’t know if she or her girls have been attacked. It happens. He doesn’t know her history with her husband – ie – if she’s divorced and her ex comes over while the man is there alone with her daughters, she could lose custody.

    So he’s “insulted.” Really? I’m sure he’s a nice guy if you say so, but still, this shouldn’t be insulting or a surprise. I have construction companies and remodelers as clients. They don’t routinely expect to be let into a home without someone there. I NEVER give a stranger my keys or my lockbox code. Ever. I’m a cop’s ex-wife. I saw the reports. The nicest-seeming people are sometimes the ones you have to worry about the most.

    While your comments are well taken – that we should think before we speak, IMHO this example shows less professionalism in the remodeler than thoughtlessness on the part of a mother.

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