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Say What You Mean, Is Your Message Clear?

Later this week a movie about Mr. Rogers starring Tom Hanks opens in movie theatres. I can’t wait to see it!

My children grew up watching Mr. Rogers. I enjoyed the shows just as much as they did. We sang along to his songs and looked forward to finding out what the different characters were going to do next. We also talked about the content of many of the episodes. The messages contained fabulous teachable moments.

Examine the words

I never realized the trouble he went to in producing each episode. I recently learned in this article in The Atlantic that Mr. Rogers looked carefully at each sentence in every episode making sure that children would not accidentally misunderstand the intended message.

Think before you speak

How often do we honestly think before we speak?

If I’m being honest, I quite often end up apologizing because I failed to pay attention to the fact that the person to whom I was speaking misunderstood the point. There are times when I assume the person has the background information on the topic of conversation and then there are times when I’m in such a hurry to get the words out of my mouth that I stutter. Then, I slow down, take a breath, and think about what I want to say before speaking.

My mother used to tell me ‘think before you speak’. Good advice.

Careful how you use humor

The speaker, June Cline, this week at our monthly NAPO-Georgia meeting was talking to us about inserting humor into our organizing sessions and into our presentations. She explained the different types of humor and let us know that when we crack a joke followed by ‘just kidding’ we are making fun of (not having fun with) the person to whom we are speaking.

That message really hit home to me.

I don’t ever want someone to feel like I’m making fun of them. My goal in bringing humor into the things I do is to lighten up what may be a challenging task or sensitive topic.   There are plenty of ways to have fun, to lighten up, without being sarcastic, poking fun at something, and having to say ‘just kidding’

Say what you mean

My plan is to look at the words that float into my mind to say with the intent to ensure they convey the correct message.

Kindness and transparency

As time marches on carrying us rapidly into the holidays toward Thanksgiving and Christmas my focus will be on kindness and transparency. I’ll be thinking: do my words say what I mean them to?  I’ll endeavor to make sure my body language, facial expressions, and actions reflect kindness.

And, you know when this movie about Mr. Rogers opens this weekend you will find me in the movie theatre enjoying every moment. I am confident that Tom Hanks will do justice to this role.

I’m curious to know if you grew up watching Mr. Rogers, if you think before you speak and if you’re looking forward to this movie also?


  • I grew up watching Mr. Rogers, but my kids did not. I remember liking some parts of the show but also found the puppets a bit creepy. As an adult, I realize that his programming was unique, and he did a lot to help kids (and adults) understand feelings, tolerance, and a host of complex topics.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the movie too.

    As far as the words we say, I agree that they have power for kindness and also for hurt. Choosing words from a place of compassion and understanding can make all the difference. And as you know, it’s not just our words, but the nonverbal aspects of how our message is delivered and received.

    With my organizing clients, I use humor and try to keep things fun, when possible. But it’s not always appropriate, so I’m sensitive to that too.

  • Sara Skillen says:

    Wow, great reminders here! I did grow up watching Mr. Rogers, and I’m looking forward to this movie. Did you also happen to see the documentary that came out about a year ago – “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Also a great film. Really enjoyed this post!

  • Seana Turner says:

    I was a hug fan of Mr. Rogers when I was little. I think it was my favorite show. His demeanor was always calming and peaceful. You felt accepted. That is exactly why this post is so on target. I especially resonate with being careful about using humor. A joke can quickly “go wrong,” even if our intentions were good. Being mindful about our words is hard to do, but very important. I know I can do better!