Kindly speech

This story takes place in a lovely care-taking facility that anyone would like to have as their residence when they age and become dependent.

The little old lady in a pink chenille robe stood in the hallway of the nursing home. Her face twisted in anguish as she proclaimed to the attendant, “Somebody stole my glasses! They were right there and somebody just took them!”

What did the attendant say?

How about

Mrs Simmons! You are always putting them down somewhere and then you forget and walk off.  You’ve got to be more careful!


Have you looked in your pockets?  Did you check your bed stand?  How about the bathroom? Are you sure they aren’t on your television table?


Now who’d want to go and steal your glasses anyway?! Nobody’s going to do that. You just left them where and forgot! You shouldn’t be charging people with stealing when it your own darn fault in the first place.

Did she say any of these statements?


She said,

“I think that’s just terrible.  I’m going to look into this and find out just who did that! Now let me take you down to dinner and we’ll get this straightened out. Don’t you worry about a thing. We’ll get those glasses back!”

We all know that Mrs. Simmons glasses were not stolen but were probably nestled under her newspaper, or bed.  But Mrs. Simmons didn’t need a lecture, a scolding or the third degree.  A little kindness and soothing was just the thing to solve her distress. Mrs. Simmons was not aware that a sweet kindness was bestowed on her.  But I was.  And now you are. Sometimes we don’t need to fix something as much as we need to understand someone.

If you want to learn more about how Dr. Fleming can help you improve your communication skills, please call her at telephone 415.391.9179 or send her an email at

Carol Fleming, Ph.D., is the author of “It’s the Way You Say It”! Becoming Articulate, Well-spoken and Clear. A comprehensive guide to vocal development and improvement of communication skills.

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