“They will NEVER forget how you made them feel.”
By Admin

June 15, 2010

They may forget what you said, but they will NEVER forget how you made them feel~Carl W. Buechner

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I was at my daughter’s softball game the other night and I observed an interaction between 2 team mates that literally sat me back in my seat and made me think of the quote above.

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The home team was down by 1 run in the 5th inning with 2 outs.  The other team had scored 4 runs this inning, which had given them the lead.  A ground ball was hit to the shortstop, she confidently picked up the ball and tossed it to her teammate that was covering second base.  The second baseman, who is not as skilled as some of her other teammates bobbled the ball and ended up dropping it…the runners were safe at FIRST AND SECOND.  The runner that was on third, had tagged up on seeing the drop and effortlessly crossed the plate as the ball was being recovered and thrown back to the pitcher. Another run had scored.

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The shortstop, turned to the second baseman, shot her a dirty look and let out a frustrated sigh as she walked back to her position.  When she reached her place on the field, she folded her arms across her chest and shook her head with obvious displeasure with the second baseman.  Immediately we all watched with compassion as the second baseman’s  head and shoulders dropped down. She flatly moved toward her spot between 1st and 2nd base, visibly aware of the shortstops feelings.

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The game continued and the next batter was up.  Now there were runners on 1st and 2nd.   The next pitch was sent over the plate, the batter swung and it was like déjà vu .  This time, the second baseman shot with determination over to second base and it was obvious that she was intent on making the play.  She used all the fundamentals she was taught.  She kept her eye on the shortstop; she made sure her toe was on the bag, she lifted her mitt and right hand ready to receive the toss.  To her surprise, and everyone else’s, the shortstop did not toss the ball.

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She held on to it herself and tagged the bag.  She looked the second baseman straight in the eye, and then turned, dropped the ball and took off running from the field. The second baseman just stared at her in the most deflated way I’d ever seen, dropped her mitted hand and started at a snails pace for the dug out.

The second baseman, is one of those wonderful kids who is frail in frame, more academic than athletic, not as confident or comfortable with herself as some of her peers, and not the most popular in her class.  She has a shy smile, quiet and nice to everyone.  She is the kind of kid who plays rec softball to be able to hang out with other kids her age. She truly wants to learn the game, get better, and gives her best each game.  She is sensitive and gets frustrated when intention doesn’t match up with skill and gets easily embarrassed.

The shortstop on the other hand is naturally gifted with sports, is confident with herself and is a nice kid in her own right.  She is highly competitive by nature and wants to WIN!  She gets good grades, hangs with the popular crowd and forgets many times that not everyone can naturally do what she is able to do.

Now some may say that these are kids.  Kids are less thoughtful or are more inconsiderate of other’s feelings.  I disagree.  I have seen many adults, in all kinds of situations, through their own SELFISHNESS simply make others feel BAD—and they feel justified and entitled to do so.

It’s about being so egotistically focused on the “I, ME, MINE”, that they only consider their own feelings, their time, and what they want to get out of a particular situation.  There is not thoughtfulness or sensitivity in the delivery to the other party because they are so focused on what they believe is keeping them from GETTING WHAT THEY WANT or WINNING.

In my opinion, anytime one person makes another person feel bad, INTENTIONALLY, it’s ABUSE.  I don’t really understand how one would think that treating others badly is going to make them more respected, or have people jumping for joy at the opportunity to work with them.  Abusiveness is more about insecurity—that’s noted in Psych 101, it’s characterized by degrading, demeaning, disrespectful and unacceptable treatment of others. It’s such a backwards way of thinking.

It’s a fact that one who treats others with dignity, compassion and kindness will get listened to more, a more collaborative effort, a genuine “like and respect” from others; all which increase the odds of getting the result you really want. Who do you feel more compelled to work with…someone who is mean to you or someone who is respectfully trying to assist you?  Someone who is making you feel bad or someone who inspires you to get better?

The shortstop had a choice…she could have said, “We missed it that time, but good try, and we’ll get it next time.”  She could have said, “Good effort, I’ll work with you so we can get that play down.”  But she chose the option that had the second baseman feeling bad about herself AND about the shortstop.

There was a lost leadership opportunity that would have led to a completely different outcome.

I wonder how that approach not only affected that girl, but also the rest of the team. I wonder how the rest of the team will feel about the shortstop because of her choice.  I wonder how it will affect the shortstops reputation in other group situations in the future.  Hmmm….

People may forget what you say, but they will NEVER forget how you made them feel.


  1. Funny how people treat other people isn’t it! In the heat of the moment you think it is the correct thing to do but looking back you realize it wasn’t. Sometimes you get that second chance to make things right but sometimes you go to the well to many times and people just can’t forgive or forget. People need to be very careful how they treat people.

  2. People who act like that will usually find out after a while that they have upset enough people that they have no one else to make fell bad …because no one is around them.

  3. And you’ll remember forever and ever. I still remember words such as that from when I was a child. How profound Pamela. As adults we often forget how our very actions and choice of words can harm another even when he had no intention to do so. Frustration, stress, time restrains all add pressure to “get the job done” and we often react TO others instead of engaging WITH them. Thanks for the reminder to “mark my words”. I will slow down. I think if I did that the temptation to use “bitey” words won’t be there. Lovely post. Thank you!

  4. These true life stories are always the best to discuss issues aren’t they? It takes but a moment to tear something down and doesn’t require much skill. On the other hand, it takes time to build something up and requires skills. Since the former is easier, many people resort to that for results never realizing there is long term damage.

  5. Rosie

    people may forget what you said and people may forget what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel. -Maya Angelou

  6. Yes, a leadershYes, a leadership opportunity was missed, but not by the shortstop.

    Raising three children, 15 years of coaching, 5 years of running a HS baseball league, and 30 years as a sales executive taught me something I passed on to my son when he was made captain of his HS baseball team.

    “When the team wins, they get the credit, and when they lose, you own the responsibility.”

    Our children understand the responsibility of leadership and personal accountability from the way my wife and I live.

    My wife owns a dance school with a mission to teach teamship and real self-esteem. Our dancers learn to be comfortable with their bodies and in their skin. Roles are given on merit, not body type. Many of our dancers go to the top summer programs in the country like ABT, Alvin Ailey, and Joffrey and go on to dance professionally. But that does not lead to unequal treatment.

    This is accomplished with top down leadership, the elimination of negative competition, backbiting and gossip, and instructors who are good role models who have our desired character traits and uphold and reinforce our policies and guidelines. My wife owns the accountability and responsibility for all of the results.

    It wasn’t the shortstops leadership failure. It was the coach and parents who failed the shortstop, the 2nd baseman, and the entire team.

    Thanks for allowing this old codger for sharing his opinion.

  7. Gary…. thank YOU for sharing that. It IS difficult to take on the accountability for other people.

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