A Tweet from this week's IABC World Conference that I cannot find again, has nevertheless been sticking in my admittedly receptive craw.
Apparently one of the keynoters earned his or her speaking fee by repeating some version of the Maya Angelou line, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
How many times have I heard this load of bull from my fellow shallow Americans, and how many times have I let it pass?
Yes: People are more likely to remember how they felt when they were with you than what precisely you told them, or how you were dressed.
But first of all, how egocentric it is to assume you're making people feel a certain way? If I set out to comfort someone and the person feels comforted, well great. But if I set out to impress someone and the person feels intimidated instead—that's my fault? Maybe the person is an insecure basket case, the hordes of whom it is not my responsibility to mollycoddle by tiptoeing through my days.
More importantly: How what I say or do affects people's feelings is far from my only consideration before saying and doing. Only a professional public relations person—or a full-time amateur—believes that the purpose of life on planet Earth is inextricably tied to the feelings of people. So somebody remembers that I looked at my shoes when he said something dumb? And kids remember the first time they put their hands on a hot stove.
Maya Angelou is dead. Let this weak-minded sentiment of hers—or at least the weak-minded way that Americans interpret it, as a commandment to be nice to every Tom, Dick and dumbass we meet—die with her.