It was several years ago, so I’ll leave the participants nameless. Alice and I were watching the Today show when one of the regulars said the word, “snuck” in a sentence. The other regular — in my opinion a somewhat arrogant guy — immediately corrected her right there on live national TV. He informed her that the proper word is “sneaked.” Her face turned sour but being the trooper she was, she braced herself and pressed on. It was obvious to everyone watching that he embarrassed her, but she was not going to make it worse by responding to his correction right then and there. My admiration of her increased; my dislike for him did the same.
The problem is that I’ve done the same thing. Not on national TV, but in public. There have been times over the years when Alice said something and I immediately corrected her right there in front of whomever was present. While that wasn’t as embarrassing to her as it would have been if I’d done it on the Today show, it was embarrassing enough. That became clear when we were finally alone and I learned how badly I hurt her.
Though I tried to do better, and did as we matured, I would still occasionally do that stupid thing. I might again but the odds have dropped considerably. Why? Because I began to understand the emotional humiliation when one of my daughters — no name here — did it to me on more than one occasion. Once she turned to Alice during one of my sermons and said I was wrong in what I had just described. Not in a whisper, mind you, but out loud so that others could hear. I reaped what I sowed. (Galatians 6:7-8)
She’s a good kid. However, as with her father before her, she had to learn the effect her public correction has on people. Namely, me.
Recently Alice and I were working on a list of ways that spouses demonstrate disrespect to each other. That’s what put this back on my mind. Embarrassing a person is definitely disrespectful. After all, who cares if it’s snuck or sneaked? If any discussion of the right word choice occurs, it must be in the right place at the right time with no possibility of embarrassing the other.
Remember that and you’ll have a much better relationship with your spouse, children, parents, and friends.