Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Choosing Words Wisely

By Danniella Banks

Yesterday I was reminded of a story that came out in January of last year about a waiter who refused to serve a family because of their mean comments towards a child in the restaurant with Down syndrome. The comment was that the boy, who was five, and other special needs children “need to be special somewhere else.” 

This type of story is all too common in today’s society. People make comments about others without realizing or understanding the harm that they can cause to others. In this case, the family with the Down syndrome boy was just trying to enjoy a meal, and he was acting as any five-year-old. 

Understandably, we all make mistakes and say things we shouldn’t, but we need to be more aware of how what we say can affect those around us, whether we realize it or not. By choosing our words wisely we can avoid situations like the one above. The family was most likely more annoyed by the fact that the child was making noises. Instead of stating that his Down syndrome or special need was bothering them, they could have said that his noises were a disruption to their dinner. This would have left everything in a more agreeable situation than what actually happened.

Hindsight 20/20, everything can be avoided, but if we think before we speak we can keep ourselves from being or putting others in awkward positions. The things we say can create problems in our society and workplaces. By being aware of those around us and choosing our words wisely, we can create a more inclusive environment for all.

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