I was on a picnic with my friend, Joelle, the other day. She was cutting an apple into triangle wedges and offered me one. I joked that I preferred to cut my own apple and here was why: I like my apples cut into thin circular slices. We laughed and then talked about why it isn’t only the taste of the food we eat but its shape that matters. And what does that have to teach us about living our best chapter?
It isn’t just the taste we’re after. Ring Dings and Yodels have the same chocolate on the outside and the same vanilla cream inside. Yet one is a cylinder and one is round. Sometimes I feel like eating a Ring Ding and sometimes, I go for a Yodel. So why do we go for one and not the other?
Because — and this is a biggie — it isn’t only what we eat but how. And the what is sometimes overshadowed by the how. And the rules of food apply to every day life. How we tell people things that are important to us is just as crucial – if not more crucial – than what exactly we’re saying.
One rule before I speak is to try to ask myself the 3 W’s: What, Who and When. If I’m about to say something that might be misconstrued or taken poorly by someone else, I need to ask: Does it have to be said? Does it have to be said by me? Does it have to be said by me now? Often, I find the answer is no, no, and no again. I don’t need to say what I think I do. And often if I have a burning desire to “get things off my chest” or if I have to preface my remarks with “You’re not going to like what I’m going to say but…” then I know I’m treading in dangerous waters.
If I’m in a rush to speak, then I have to check my motives. Maybe there’s really something else that’s bothering me that I can figure out before I get into trouble. Maybe I should hold myself back. And if I think I’m about to hurt someone else or trigger an argument, then I better zip the lip. Moreover, if I have to say, “I hate to be the one to tell you this but…” then I really should keep quiet. Any sentence that begins with, “I hate to be the one to tell you this but” is never good news. If you hate to be the one to say it, then don’t say it — unless it’s a bona fide, total emergency, like “I hate to be the one to say this but our house is burning down right now and if we don’t get out of the house then we’re going to die.” Otherwise, let someone else do the dirty work.
I like my carrots in sticks rather than circles, my red peppers in rings not strips and I like my pretzels twisted rather than straight. What about you? How do you like them apples? What are your strategies for knowing how — and when — to speak?