Words Have Power
by Devora Krasnianski, founder of Adai Ad Institute
S: “I’m looking for a shidduch for my son. He’s a good kid but he’s chilled. I hope it is not going to be hard to find his shidduch.”
Me: “Can you tell me more about him? What do you mean by ‘chilled’?”
S: “He’s still frum, but he’s working.”
Me: “Tell me more about that balance.”
S: “It’s not like he’s into drugs or anything like that. Thank G-d. He’s more like … He never touched his beard (I don’t think). He davens everyday and he even joins a shiur a few times a week. And he’d never wear jeans.”
Me: “It sounds like he found a balance for himself. There are lots of wonderful young ladies who are looking for a guy that fits that description. Tell me more about his interests and who he is.”
The conversation continued. He’s kind; he’d give the shirt off his back. Perhaps even too kind; he might even go to his closet and give away all his shirts. And of course, he’s good looking and dresses well. And responsible. And a great sense of humor. And everything else a mother might kvell about.
This bochur actually sounds like a wonderful person. I know the parents; they are upstanding and respectable members of the community, involved in many Chesed and community programs. And yet there was something niggling me about suggesting a shidduch for this guy.
After some reflection, I realized that it was the mother’s tone and choice of words when first describing her son. As if she was somewhat disappointed in him and his choices.
It would not be my first choice for my daughter, niece, friend to join a family where the son is looked down upon. Ideally, she’d join a family who will love her and respect her for who she is.
So much of communication is not the overall message but the actual words, tone, what is stated first, etc. These all reflect what is in our hearts about the matter. The words like “chilled”, He’s STILL frum …”, “… BUT he’s working.”, “… he EVEN joins a shiur.” all are judgments, based upon one’s feelings on the subject.
When networking for shiduchim for your loved one, it is important to state the truth – of course. It would be inappropriate to say that he is learning in a top yeshiva when he is not. Yet, the words we choose to use to describe him ought to be objective and positive.
She might’ve described her son along these lines:
“We’re looking out for a shiduch for our Mendel. He’s a fine young man. He is a frum guy – that is he davens everyday with a minyan, learns several times a week. Right now, he is working at Z organization as a developer.”
Same bochur, same facts. And yet it sounds so different. The words (and tone) make all the difference.
(The same holds true when describing and networking anyone.)