I don’t care. Despite their apathetic sound, these three words are actually quite powerful.
When I say ‘I don’t care’, I frequently mean something else. There are times I’ve said, “I don’t care,” but what I really meant was, “I appreciate what you are saying, but mentally my plate is full.” Or maybe I meant, “I’m indifferent and I want to defer to your judgment/preference.” What is actually going on here is my words are communicating apathy, while my intentions are contrary.
As I sort out through my experiences what leadership means, what being part of a team means, and what being part of a community means, I frequently come back to the tripping point of communication: I play the juggling act of word out and thought still in. Does this sound familiar? What I’m beginning to see now is that what’s in my heart isn’t always what comes out of my mouth. Sometimes I’ll say, “I don’t care”, but that’s not true…. I do care! So I’d better find a way to show it.
The key to all change is learning principles and then applying them. A number of years ago I read Positive Words, Powerful Results by Hal Urban. There was a principle in his book that struck me: words conjure images and feelings in the listener’s mind. We need to know that If there are words we can use that help enhance good human relations and positive experiences, then there are words and phrases we equally need to learn to avoid. The more you are looking to edify and create a positive impact with others, the more you need to be on guard that what comes out your mouth needs to match what is in your heart. ‘I don’t care’ is a rather common phrase many of us casually employ, but it does not facilitate good communication nor does it build empathy or good will. It makes a difference what you say; choose your words wisely.
So I ask, is saying “I don’t care” a big deal? It may be a little thing, but in this world where encouragement is a rarity and face-to-face communication is being replaced by emails, texting, and all things digital and indifferent, we should strive to be excellent with verbal communication. Our relationships are worth it.
I challenge you to remove the easy-to-say but aloof sounding, insensitive, dis-engaging phrase ‘I don’t care’ with words that are significantly filled with something positive and closer to what you really mean. Try “I don’t have a preference; but I do trust your decision”, or “I can’t think about that now, but you are important to me, so can we talk later?”
The little things do make a difference…..or don’t you care?