This post has been authored by Piya Mukherjee, a mom, a blogger, a people watcher and the other half of Chatoveracuppa.
My daughter and I have fairly engaging conversations on what we call our weekend walk the talk. I have to say she brings on an interesting perspective to things though she may not fully understand them herself. On one such walk, the conversation transpired somewhat this way
Let’s talk about being nice today. I noticed sometimes you are not nice to people. You always need to pay attention to how other’s feel when you say something to them. You need to be polite and nice. If you think someone’s teasing you or hurting you, you cannot get angry or be rude to them.
(After a pause that seemed like eternity) But being nice does not always help. What if someone is not nice to you. What if someone is hurting you. Again and Again and Again.
You still got to be nice to them.
It does not work. Always being nice does not work, Mom. (I stumble in my walk, the conviction in her voice is surprising. I know she is not incorrect in that observation. I am intrigued.)
I ask for her opinion. Don’t know really, Mom. May be giving an eye message. You can give a eye message and still be nice.
Yes you can. That is a wonderful idea. Try it out next time. And remember next time you hurt me, or you are not nice to me, I will give you an eye message too.
OK. (Quite disapprovingly.)
Eye message, is perhaps the most important tool that has been taught in the first year of my daughter’s school. I must applaud the teacher for teaching something so simple yet powerful. How does it work? Fairly easy.
If you do not like what someone says or does to you, you look them in their eye and politely but firmly say “I do not like what you said or did to me. Please do not do/say it.” If the person repeats, you repeat the eye message. You may think it may not work, but it actually does. Not just with the kids also with the adults. Most of the time people corner you, bully you, walk over you, be rude to you when you do not know how to say NO to them. But what is important is you look them in the eye and convey the message. It takes every bit of courage to do that. Looking in the eye is why it is called an eye message.
How I wish this is something I learnt early on in life too. So many times in life there have been moments of an impolite acquaintance, a passing remark in the hallway, a disapproving remark from a friend, an overdose of unsolicited advice from a relative (who does not mean a thing to you), rudeness in the pretext of transparency or the general sarcasm people handover to you in your everyday life. Being nice is ingrained in me, I would admit most of these times I would be left dumbfounded and not say a word. Not picking an argument was part of being nice. That is what I had been taught.
After almost half my life, my daughter has given me a life lesson that tells me to think and do things differently. She is right, being nice does not always work. And what makes me even more glad is that she has learnt to fight her battles more smartly than me. (At least I hope!)
Just a few days after the weekend chat, I noticed her to be a bit grumpy. On enquiring, she complained how everyone always kept saying she was shy. She did not like the label. I asked her whether she had tried the eye message. The next day, she came back and gleefully told me. I gave an eye message today “I am not shy. I just like to be quiet.” No one had supposedly repeated calling her “shy” anymore during the day.
Now it’s my turn. I need to work on the real implementation of “eye message” in my life. Beware People !