|(I’ve noticed when I introduce this idea to people, many have an immediate aversion to it — of course, disliking a quotation doesn’t mean it’s not true.)
The take-home message behind these words is that it doesn’t matter what you meant to say — it’s how the recipient takes your information that counts.
It doesn’t matter if you thought you were playing around, or if you perceived yourself to be “just kidding.” If the other person was upset by what you said, then your words were upsetting.
Stated another way: good intentions aren’t enough. It’s the outcome that matters. How people hear you is what counts — not your intention.
Let me recount an example. When I was in high school on a field trip, we were on a bus and my friend David fell asleep. Another friend, Hobart quietly began removing David’s sneakers. David woke up thinking a prank was being pulled on him. Hobart explained that he was just trying to make David more comfortable… it was something that he did for his brother when his brother fell asleep. But, to David, it was invasive. He didn’t like it. Despite Hobart’s good intention, the outcome was bad. The meaning of communication is in the response elicited, regardless of the intention of the speaker.
Bringing us back to teasing…
Years ago, I used to tease Jane about her cooking (among other things). But then I had a realization: how is she supposed to know I’m supportive of her if I’m making fun of her? (Funny enough, ever since my cajoling ended, she’s cooked more meals for me.)
How is a person supposed to believe you care about them, that you actually support them, when you ridicule them?
Teasing is powerful and subtle. Moreover, teasing is rude. Period.
Spiritual-religious advice: Be Be kind. (Don’t tease.)