Understanding the context before saying – Yikes!

The other day at home, I walked up to the lunch table, saw a box of sweets and instantly said ‘Yikes!’. My mother and my wife gave me looks that could have killed me. I am trying to be on a low sugar diet and seeing the box of sweets I instantly reacted.

My wife quietly told me, the sweets had been brought by the lady who works in our home. She had brought them to celebrate building her own house. Being a single mom, working multiple houses, building a house on her own was a huge achievement.

Unfortunately, the lady was right there when I said ‘Yikes’ as all of this was happening. Both my mom and wife had the presence of mind to say that my expression was about the repetitiveness of the food on the table. I could suddenly see the change in the lady’s expression, and when I congratulated her, you could see the sense of pride and achievement. And why not… what she had pulled off was not easy at all.

I felt miserable for what I said.

Reflecting on the incident, I wondered how in most situations, and more so in the professional world, we say things without knowing the context.

We have a very ‘I, me, myself’ view without any consideration of people around us, their feelings and opinion.

The same is good about our creating impressions and perceptions about others. We are largely blinded by our own thoughts and views.

A very senior captain of mine from the shipping days once said to me: ‘As a leader, always try and wear the other person’s shoes before you say something or make an opinion. You will get a much better understanding and context’.

For sure, the next time I say ‘Yikes’, I will think twice…