Open Mouth, Don’t Insert Foot

Last night a friend of mine really upset me. I know it wasn’t intentional, but she said something that sent me reeling with anger and hurt for hours.

The thing is, she didn’t know the comment she made was going to push one of my buttons, and I’m sure if she had known, she wouldn’t have said it. None of us know 100% what kind of effect things we say will have on our friends and other people we come across in our day to day lives. More often than we’d like we manage to hurt and insult people, and for the most part, I think we’d rather avoid that.

With our close friends, we get to know what kinds of things we should avoid bringing up—someone’s ex boyfriend, someone else’s parents’ divorce, problems with alcohol, etc—but with strangers or new acquaintances, it’s easier to accidentally step on a landmine. This is especially true when dealing with people who come from really different backgrounds from our own. Comments that you might not give a second thought to can be seen as downright offensive, and sometimes a simple curiosity about a life that’s so different from your own can come off as nosiness or voyeurism.

This week on MJL we’re featuring an amazing article by the very talented Aliza Hausman, of Memoir of a Jewminicana about the Dos and Don’ts of talking to converts. This is an issue that I know I’ve struggled with before. If you know someone has converted, it’s hard to know what’s appropriate to ask, and what’s just none of your business. Aliza’s article helps clear a lot of these issue up, and reminds me to loosen up, and always remember to welcome converts to the Tribe. Check it out.

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