Kind Words Are Swiftly Heeded

Someone once complimented me on my excellent detective skills. "Man, Colin," he said. "You can find just about anything." I recall blushing violently and replaying the compliment in my head for days to come.

It made me so happy, this generous declaration, that I didn't for one second dwell on the fact of it being untrue. I am not a good detective at all: I get sidetracked easily, never check my sources, favor interesting answers over correct ones, and so on and so forth. But I try to be, hard, because somebody called me a good detective once.

I remembered this phenomenon later when talking to my friend, who was in the midst of some stupid fight with his wife. "Wow, man," I lied. "I think it's great that even when you're disagreeing with her, she can always tell that you really do love her and think she's smart. That's cool, that you guys have that kind of understanding."

Since then, I'll be damned if those two don't fight more fairly, and less often. That's a beautiful thing.

I tried to put this in words once, intimating my secret trick to someone else, stumbling over an explanation of the principle and not realizing that, naturally, someone else had already thought of it, and already expressed it more or less perfectly:

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming."

That's Goethe, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, whose last name is pronounced "Gerta," like the girl's name. I looked it up. I'm an excellent detective, you see...

1 comment:

BM, The Necessary Movement said...

Yes sir!! Well done I declare!!

I was complimented before. Once. No kidding anyway. Compliments always make me smile for a while until my own brain devours them and disproves anything nice anyone has to say about me. Low self-esteem is a bitch!!