Have you ever been on a school playground with a bunch of first graders? If you have, you probably noticed something right away.
Six-year-olds are social creatures but they have not yet learned to settle their differences without adult intervention.
I was a first grade teacher in one of my former lives. There was a certain pattern of behavior at recess time. One kid would break a playground rule and another kid would run up and, with that acute sense of justice only 6-year-olds have, blow the whistle on him.
It happened over and over again.
And the line before me would grow longer as they waited for their turn to spill the dirt on someone.
About the third year of teaching (I was a reasonably patient person), this finger pointing started to get to me.
“Joey took my four-square ball away!”
“Grace pushed me off the climbing bars!”
“Jill cut in line!”
I started to dread it every time I was on playground duty. I became the police. Writing tickets. Scolding kids. Letting them off with a warning if they promised not to do it again.
Recess was hell.
Until I got an idea
One day I came up with an ingenious rule. It was brilliant.
I called my students over to the carpet for a ‘class talk’. They sat in a circle, cross-legged, curious looks on their faces.
“We have a new rule on the playground,” I said. “Starting today, if you want to report something bad someone did at recess, that’s perfectly okay.”
“But first, you have to say something good. Something you like about them.”
They nodded their heads solemnly. And they went back to their seats, back to our math lesson on place value.
Fast forward to the playground, the next day
The test came the very next day at morning recess. Josh was the first kid to run up to me, all red-faced. He looked at me, brows all furrowed, his mouth a hyphen.
“Nate hit me in the—”
“Wait,” I said. “Remember? I need to hear one good thing about Nate first.” I smiled and thought, I have him now.
He looked across the playfield, then back at me.
“Just one good thing. Then you can tell me the bad thing.”
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He frowned. We were knee deep in silence. He looked down and scuffed the toes of his shoe on the pavement.
“Well…uh…Oh…” Another long pause as he turned things over in his mind. Then he let out a big sigh.
And he ran back to the group of boys across the playground.
From that day on, the tide turned. Why? Because those first graders had discovered something. It’s easier to point out what someone is doing wrong than to see what they are doing right. It is human nature to notice the bad in someone more often than we notice the good.
We are happy with the service at our local restaurant in 99 percent of our visits. Sometimes we are beyond happy.
Yet we never find the manager and say, “Our server was incredibly responsive to us. He delivered our meal exactly the way we ordered it. And he knew we didn’t have much time, so he made sure it was ready when we needed it.”
But that one time we are treated poorly? Yeah, we want to talk about it, maybe complain to the owner. Or tell all our friends.
So what does this have to do with blogging?
Well, it’s just that many, many bloggers are writing beautiful posts, ones that educate us, engage us, entertain us. But they write in obscurity. And sometimes they wonder if it’s even worth it.
We consume their posts. We enjoy them.
But, like those first graders, we don’t take the time to recognize the good they are doing.
We get busy. We read the post. We meant to comment, but we got distracted by the pinging of the messages in our inbox. Or the phone rang. Or we had to check Facebook one more time.
So, what would happen if, out of the blue, we told them how much we appreciate them?
If we took the time to comment on their blog with a short remark about what we took away from their post? Or sent them a personal email? If we tweeted about it with a positive, concrete comment and a link to their post?
We just may make someone’s day.
What about you? Do you ever get personal messages from your readers? Do you have a favorite blog that could use some extra love this week?
Tell us who—and why. And, please, leave a link so we can visit and join the conversation there.
If you found this post helpful, why not subscribe to CatsEyeWriter blog and get them personally delivered each week?