Hissy Fit - May 2015

Hissy Fit...becuase everyone deserves one once in a while.

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by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

I don’t like it a bit. That little comment—usually women—make. “I read your little article.” “How’s your little project coming along?” “Is your little problem working itself out.” “I just love your little house!” “I enjoyed your little retreat.” “Congratulations on your engagement and your little diamond is so cute.”
I can’t be the only one who hears the venom coming out of these pseudo compliments. Or, maybe that’s just the way some people talk and it is not meant to belittle, but it sure sounds like it is. It’s that one little word in there wreaking havoc: the word “little”.

Fact: The word “little” is negative. No matter how thoughtful or sincere of a person you may be, by using the word little in your compliments, you are negating your genuineness and diminishing the compliment.  According to Merriam-Webster, the word “little” is defined as, “small in condition, distinction, or scope; narrow; not much; small in importance or interest; trivial.”

So, with the definition now perfectly clear, unless you are talking about someone’s baby, puppy, kitten, black dress, wrinkles, age spots or sports car, don’t use the word “little” to describe what someone believes in, has or does. Even in the examples listed, consider proceeding with caution. Compliments are supposed to make someone feel good, or at least better. There is nothing positive about “little” and it doesn’t sound cute either—which is another derogatory word in many cases. Really, it just sounds small and narrow, exactly what it is. In fact, it takes all the nice words around it and deflates them and the whole thought. It minimizes when a compliment should maximize. If it has happened to you, then I’m sure you have felt the sting this little zinger injects.

I’m not sure of the origin of the word “little” being used in this context. Some may think it’s just darling. However, it is a biting habit. If you sincerely have a compliment for some one, then say it like you mean it. If you don’t mean it, then don’t say anything at all. I bet you’ve heard that before!
Now read those same comments without little lurking through them: “I read your article.”  “How’s your project coming along?” “I just love your painting!” “I enjoyed your retreat.” “Congratulations on your engagement and your diamond ring is beautiful.” Much better!

The bottom line: Women need to talk to women better. The Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” He’s right. It doesn’t take any more energy to be nice and it offers a much better outcome for everyone. Well, that’s it; short and sweet…some may even say little.

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