How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you thought another person just needed to keep their mouth shut? Often, after they fail to keep it shut, someone utters the something such as, “That was best left unsaid.” It happens far too often, but I believe there is a greater problem facing us. All too frequently we don’t say something that is best left said.
Sometimes this merely produces confusion, such as when my wife, daughter, and I checked in to a hotel for my cousin’s wedding. I stood at the front desk after a long drive to check in.
“Have you ever stayed with us before, Mr. Brown?”
“Oh, then you should know we are an environmentally conscious hotel. You’ll be happy to hear that we are LEED certified.” I was ecstatic.
She went on to point out various features of the hotel, where I should park, and the quickest way to our room. Unfortunately, she left out a vital piece of information.
We made it up to our room to settle in. It was nicer than we expected (but not as nice as we hoped). I helped our daughter get settled when Chrisie called out to me.
“I think there’s something wrong with our room,” she said.
“What is it?”
“I can’t get the light in the bathroom to come on.”
I went over to help, but wasn’t any. We both flipped all the switches we could find to no avail. I checked other outlets and switches in the room which all seemed to work. I figured a single breaker controlling the just the bathroom had been tripped, so I called the front desk.
“Front Desk, how my I help you?” asked a voice that was entirely too chipper.
“Uh, yeah, I’m in 419 and there seems to be a problem with our room. Some of the lights won’t come on.”
“Well, we are a LEED certified facility.”
“We are committed to an environmentally friendly experience.”
“Does that mean I can’t have light in the bathroom?”
“Of course not.”
“Then I need someone to fix it, because ours won’t come on.”
“That’s because we are a LEED certified facility.”
“But you said I could have light.”
“You can, sir.”
“Uh, huh. SO how do I turn them on?” I asked as I wandered the room. I just noticed something I had never seen in a hotel room. It was right beside the door and the only way to notice it o the way in would have been to stop and completely turn around. It was a small slot the size of my keycard.
“There’s a small slot near the door . . .”
“Yes, I just found it,” I interrupted.
“Would you like instructions on how to use it?” It had a little sign that explained to place the keycard in to activate the bathroom lights.
“I think I can figure it out, but do you think, maybe, I don’t know, you should tell people about this before they get to their room?”
“Well, we are a . . .”
“LEED certified facility. I know. I just didn’t know I needed a key to use the bathroom. Thanks, I’ve got it from here.”
It wasn’t that big a deal, but why ask me if I’ve ever stayed there before if she wasn’t going to explain the ways it wasn’t like every other hotel I have ever stayed in? At least they didn’t rent our room out while we were in it.
A little confusion is not a big deal, but occasionally, what is best left said (yet annoyingly left unsaid) creates safety issues. This is ever more apparent than when a local news channel gets new technology in the weather department.
“You can’t get the precision of our radar from other stations. Only we can penetrate the storm and show you what’s going on in the clouds,” intoned the meteorologist during a Tornado Warning.
“That’s great,” I yelled at the television, “Could you maybe tell me where the tornado is?”
“Let me just turn on our enhanced 3D mode.” The screen rotated and the actual map vanished from sight as she continued, “You can see from this view that the clouds are spiking into high elevations here in the tornado warned area. No other station has this level of detail.”
“Wow, that’s amazing. Could you please tell me where the clouds are? That’s kind of what’s important to me right now.”
Clearly, I wasn’t shouting at the TV loud enough because she continued unfazed. I finally changed the channel, but the other station just told me how great their radar was and why I should watch it. The storm passed before I ever discovered where it was. But, hey, at least I could tell you how high the clouds were and explain the false color images.
That may seem like the most egregious example of something best left said, but, sadly, we are all often the culprits of the most heinous examples. The things we often leave unsaid that should be said range from crushes we wish we had admitted in high school to regretful unspokens after a loved one has died.
I don’t know if it is our fear of saying that which really should be left unsaid that holds us back, but I believe it’s worth the possible rejection, laughter, or need for forgiveness if we do speak our minds to those around us. It’s even more important that we speak our hearts. We can’t assume someone “just knows” how we feel, we need to say it.
So take a moment this week and seek out all those important to you and say all the things best left said.