Criticism to Positivity

My daughter recently came home from elementary school upset by what a classmate said about her.

The classmate shared that another fellow classmate said that my daughter provided too many details when talking, be it talking about what they did over the weekend or what was needed for an assignment.

Now, being the Mom that I am, I first asked how that made her feel, and I listened. Then I asked how she responded. I shared that I, too, had experienced not-so-nice things being said to me, and we acknowledged that they sting. However, it’s how we respond that makes us demonstrate our true character, empathy, and care for others. To be an example to others in how they can themselves showcase these traits and values.

Now being the GSD Momma that I am, I asked her if I could provide her with some additional responses to these types of things that had been said and will continue to be said throughout her life. I want her to be equipped in the art of verbal warfare, if necessary.

The response that I gave her, which can apply to many types of things is, “Thank you, that’s a trait that I choose to share with the world.” I also shared another response that she can use when she will inevitably be called bossy, aggressive, or too loud which was, “Thank you; that’s my leadership skills in action.”

We role-played this exchange back and forth, with her confidence growing more and more each time.

As women, we have heard many of the same negative stereotypes before. “She’s too high-strung, too loud, too opinionated. She’s just a bit much, too aggressive, too old, too young, too passionate,” and the list goes on and on… and on and on.

I was sharing with a friend about this encounter, and she had just experienced being referred to as too “fiery.” I shared these responses with her, which were encouraging to her, and she was excited to put them into action herself.

Whether we are in elementary school or well into adulthood, words can hurt, and it’s how we respond that separates us.

I had the opportunity to hear former First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at Salesforce’s Dreamforce a few years ago. She was calling those of us in the room to be better people, to use our voices, to stand up for what is right. She acknowledged that life will knock you down and shared the best ways to respond, “When they go low, you go high.” We’ve all heard her say this. It’s probably her most famous quote. She first shared it at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, but to hear those words first-hand, while standing in the same room as her, illuminated how a little mantra like this can shift our perspective and create resilience.

That’s it. It’s that simple. “When they go low, you go high.” This concept is so easy to remember, so easy to understand, no matter how old you are. One of my favorite Instagram influencers, Alethea Crimmins (@ms_hdic), always signs off on her motivational nuggets with: “Be great in their face!”

So my fellow adult humans, not only do we need to be ready for the mean words to be said (and they will be), we need to equip our tiny humans to be ready for others to go low. Because we GSD humans will respond by going high and continuing to be great in their faces!