I make an effort in my blog posts to be positive and inspirational. However, today I am blogging about one of my pet peeves, bicyclists who don’t bother to say “on your left” when passing walkers or other cyclists. My goal is to walk at least three miles per day four to five times per week. In other words, I am serious about my walking, it’s one of my main forms of exercise. I can’t count how many times a biker will pass me on the bridge or on the shared path and come so close to me that I almost jump out of my skin. What I want to shout out at them is “Use your words.” How much effort does it take to say “on your left?” Three little words that are so appreciated by walkers and fellow bikers. I don’t shout out at the bikers because I don’t want to get into an episode of bike path rage and have someone swear at me or punch me out. I am an experienced long distance cyclist and have done many distance rides in previous years. When I rode in the RAGBRAI in the late 90’s I learned about proper bike etiquette. Phrases like “on your left,” “car up,” “car back,” and I have carried these practices forward into my recreational biking. So, that’s my rant on rude bike riders!
Now, moving on to a different perspective about how we use our words. How often do you say things without thinking and then wish you could grab those words back? When something bothers you, do you clear the air as soon as possible or do you store up resentments? Are you clear in your communication with others or are you vague and ambiguous? What would happen if you were intentional in your conversations, saying what you mean and meaning what you say? Words are powerful, they can hurt or heal. I try to think before I speak and I ask myself three questions. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Wouldn’t the world be a better, more peaceful place if all of used our words with intention, kindness and compassion?
What about you? How do you use your words? Are you intentional in your communication with others? If not, what is one small action you can take today to move in that direction? How can you respond rather than react when someone provokes you? How can you be more intentional this week when using your words?
18 thoughts on “Use Your Words”
Thanks Sacha. Sounds like you are very intentional about using your words in a positive way.
Thanks for your comments Kimberly. Sounds like you exercised great self control by zipping your lip. Good for you!
I use my words to remind myself of my goals and to create affirmations
Dear Nancy, yesterday I found myself inexplicably grumpy. My husband is recovering miraculously from his hip surgery and I was called worrisome for cautioning him to continue with his walker even though he wanted to go back to his cane. It had only been one week since surgery. Later, I had come home from shopping and it was raining so I needed to bring in groceries, pull clothes off the clothes line and go into the back yard to cover our outdoor bed, only to find that he was slitt in it. I said lets go and he said he wanted to stay and that it looked like only blue sky to him. I suddenly wished it would rain on him. Frankly, I found his cheerfulness annoying and decided to just not respond. So then later when he rubbed it in that it hadn’t rained after all, I kept my mouth shut again. Most of the evening I stayed quiet. After he came in (much later I might add) I covered the bed with plastic and he reminded me how grateful he was for all that I was doing around the house. At midnight, when I awoke to pouring rain I was grateful that I’d kept my mouth shut. I realized that my grumpiness probably was because I’ve had to carry the load awhile. No big deal. But fighting over it would have been ridiculous. I’m not sure why this came to me in reading your post. Maybe I could relate to wanted to just be quiet. And maybe the person who zips by you on their bicycle is just grumpy and doesn’t want to speak. I agree there is an ideal to strive for, sometimes we’re just not there.
A bell works really well Debbie and good for you for using it. When the rare biker does say “on your left”, I always thank them. To me it’s common courtesy and it costs us nothing to use our words wisely.
Thanks for your comments Vickie. A bell is a great idea and folks who have them tend to use them. I know, what ever happened to listening to nature and being present in the moment? I walk without earbuds intentionally because I so enjoy the sounds of nature, birds singing, water rushing down a creek, the wind in the trees. Doesn’t get any better than this for me:)
Thanks for your comments Danielle. Be gentle with yourself, it’s about practice, not perfection. What I have learned to do is to make a choice, how do I want to respond to this comment, text, email etc. Being at choice empowers me and my words are more likely to intentional.
What a great reminder. Biking is my main form of exercise and I have a little bell I ring to alert pedestrians that I am passing….and I always send a ‘thank you’ back to them as I pass. Now, I’ll know to also let them know which side I’m passing on….great!
Bikers on paths can be irritating. I recently went biking in the Florida Keys – my bike came equipped with a bell, which I rang with joy when going around walker. In today’s day and age, you can scream “on your left” – but so many people have earphones in – they aren’t going to hear anyway. What happened to walking and listening to nature – that’s another topic I know. I enjoyed this! thank you!
The world definitely would be a better, more peaceful place if we used our words wisely.
I’ve learned in my first year of marriage that I am not nearly as tactful as I thought I was. I can be mean, respond terribly to criticism, and definitely don’t honor my husband with my words at times. It can be so hard for me to hold my tongue, or maybe even more importantly in my relationship – my body language. Turning away from my husband because I don’t want to deal with whatever issue we are facing, can sometimes be the most hurtful form of communication. This is something I have to learn to overcome because no one wants to be around a person who doesn’t take control of their words and emotions!
Thanks for your thoughtful comments Hema. I have never heard of the “sandwich technique” before. When I have to confront someone on their behavior or talk to them about how their behavior makes me feel, I start out with a positive and then go into what is bothering me. I tell them upfront that I value our relationship and this conversation is in service of having a better relationship with them. So it’s similar to the sandwich method.
Glad you like the questions Cindy. I find them useful when I need to reflect on my words before speaking them. I, too, have said hurtful things in the past and now try to be more intentional and mindful of the words I speak.
Thanks Michele. The car up, car back phrases are used on long distance rides so people would not pass when a car was coming in the opposite direction. Sounds like you are having a great summer Michele:)
Thanks for your comments Scott. I tend to be succinct when speaking and writing. Although like you, when I am speaking about a topic close to my heart, I can go on for quite awhile:)
Beautiful and thought evoking post Nancy. Being very honest and frank by nature I often tell it as it is…nowadays I have curbed down that side of me as I know it used to hurt people. I think before I speak. If I have to let somebody know they’re doing it wrong I used the sandwich technique. I tell something good about them, insert the criticism and coat it again with another layer of appreciation for who they are. What do you think of this?:)
Loved your post. Thank you. Wish you a wonderful week:)
We just say “left” when passing but have noticed it only seems to be around the lakes in Minneapolis and a few other spots where any other bikers do that. I just don’t think they know. I’m not familiar with the car up or car down thing. We love biking but haven’t done as much as we normally do this year. It’s been crazy busy with camping, concerts, and kayaking.
Hi Nancy –
Love your advice: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? I have been aware of my own words and do regret what I have said at times. I will take your three questions and memorize them. 🙂
I don’t bike a lot, but my hubby used to mountain bike race and I always heard racers announce their passing, rider down or whatever to be polite. Maybe, they need signs where you ride, for those who aren’t familiar with biking etiquette?
I generally use my words sparingly, to get the most effect out of the fewest. Except when I am invited to speak on a subject I enjoy, which ends up with me going on for ages.
It can be difficult to gauge the amount of snark that’s appropriate–some people detect even the slightest hint and blow up, others need to be beaten over the head with sarcasm before the words get through.