by Kim Perez, OLP Volunteer Director and Department Manager
Do you have sayings? I have sayings. You know, those quips that you say because you heard them from your family growing up; those little ditties that in today’s world may not really make sense but may sound kind of cute or catchy. “Ditty” is probably one of those words that isn’t used or understood much today.
“Don’t hang crepe” was a favorite of my paternal grandmother. Even though she said it often, I feel like I really don’t understand its true meaning, so I looked it up and here is one definition that I found: “Hanging the crepe” is an old phrase, referring to the no-fail ploy of foretelling a bad outcome to a patient, family and friends.” Hmm, is that what she meant? Maybe, but it doesn’t seem like it. I am a little confused on what she meant, but looking back, it seemed like it was in reference to something I shouldn’t do.
My point is that sometimes what we mean to say, our intent, is not communicated well through the words that we use to say it. And, the words that we use can be influenced greatly by those with whom we were raised. It is how we talk. It is how we communicate. They may not be bad words (you know, the ones we should never ever say), but just words that others may not get at all.
I recently attended an Equity Summit. One person on the panel said this, “We must have grace with each other. People may use wrong words. People will not get it right all the time. We may stumble our way through some of these conversations.” This statement was specifically in relationship to the topic of the Summit, racial equity, but I think it resonates beyond that to all communication, no matter the subject or issue. I like the idea of grace with each other. One definition of grace is, “courteous goodwill.” And, the definition of goodwill is “friendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitude.” Somewhere in these definitions is a space for listening as well.
Grace and words put together are a powerful combination. But grace with each other and true communication through words cannot happen if we don’t start and/or continue the conversation. Whatever that conversation is. And when words end, maybe listening will begin, which may be the most powerful and well understood of all.