If you don’t know me by now, you know that I am a 32 year old politician that believes in being 100% honest with my social media audience….maybe a little too honest for my own good at times. When the Adrian Peterson case was just reaching its peak, I made a comment on my Facebook page that sparked interview requests, an online blog in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, critics and supporters alike and that ultimately led to the all too familiar “clarification of my statement” statement on my campaign website. And, to be honest, I should know better as a politician and attorney that words are VERY powerful and I should have known better than to phrase my statements in such a cavalier way. Lesson learned. Life is about learning. I’m moving on.
For those of you that are wondering what my original Facebook post said, I posted a picture (not the story mind you) but a picture of some of the whelp marks on the Peterson 4 year old child with a statement “My mom called this discipline. I turned out fine. I hope the statute of limitations have passed for her sake.” Now, let me be crystal clear…..I don’t apologize for the spirit of the statement—-it’s absolutely true! Some may question if I am in fact “fine” but the point is that my mom believed in sparing the child and spoiling the rod. Switches were a normal part of my childhood disciplinary life. You can disagree to the methods but overall I think I turned out ok and that was the point of my statement. It was not remarking on the details of the case (which may be abusive given some of the other details) and was meant to counter remarks that suggest if you whip your children, they somehow all turn out to be violent criminals or abusers.
That being said, here are some important lessons that I learned about the AWESOME power of words that we should ALL take into consideration when we make statements either written or verbal:
1. Disclaimers sometimes are necessary. I try not to use disclaimers too much because I believes it dulls the effectiveness of my statements and makes it seem as if I am hedging my bets against criticism. But sometimes, they are necessary. Perhaps I should have posted that my comments were only related to the picture and not the details in the case or that my post was only meant to counterpoint some arguments about the fate of those that grow up in a household that believes in whipping children. Perhaps…..
2. Humor is not always appropriate. In my attempt to make a serious situation open for discussion, my comment “I hope the statute of limitations has passed for my mom’s sake” was meant to be true but a bit humorous. Some people took it as being too playful on a serious subject. Many people that know me best know I use wit and humor to invite open discussions and relax my audience into replying to my posts. But humor in communications may not always be the best option.
3. Ask for help to re-craft your words. I was able to solicit the help of my Minority Leader in the House of Representatives to craft a statement that clarified my Facebook post. I immediately posted it on my campaign website page and sent out to various media, which did make the news. I am first to admit that sometimes my words need help in finessing and conveying my point and I am glad I have resources to help me with that.
Well—-those are my lessons learned and so much more. Life is a learning process and I am glad I am able to share my lessons with you so you don’t make the same mistakes. If you have any more lessons to be learned, feel free to share them.