It was recently reported by TMZ that Tom Cruise compared shooting a movie overseas to serving in Afghanistan, a comparison that is ridiculous at best and incredibly insulting at worst. I mean c’mon, what kind of jerk likens making a movie to fighting in a war zone? Luckily, TMZ’s claim was totally false. Still, it made me think of those comments we’ve all heard at one time or another that, purposefully or not, minimize our professions and make the other person sound like an idiot.
Would you say to a doctor that you could totally perform that surgery because you had to pull a splinter out of Little Johnny’s hand?
Then why would you imply to your professional actor friend, who has studied for years and perhaps has multiple degrees in the subject, that you totally get what it takes to perform a great role because you were in a play in high school? Well, now I’ll bet she wishes she hadn’t wasted all that time and money in college studying “the craft” since she could’ve learned everything she’d ever need to know from a few high school plays. Gee, that’s not insulting at all!
Would you describe Benjamin Franklin, who (among multitudes of other things) discovered electricity, as “that guy with a key”?
Then maybe you should actually listen when your friend tells you that her job is to test your blood to help your doctor find out why you’re feeling sick before you say, “So, you draw the blood, huh?” For the record that’s a phlebotomist. Totally different jobs with totally different education and training requirements, dude — and you just demoted your friend.
While we’re at it, you should just stop before you say to the stay at home mom, “I would kill to be able to get my house clean and not have to work, too.” I know a few SAHMs, and while I occasionally get jealous that they don’t have to deal with inter-office politics, their job would have me huddled in the corner with a blanky crying for my mommy!
One SAHM I know decided to start wearing a pedometer, but she didn’t expect to see much as far as results. Well, she soon found out that between trying to keep two preschoolers from burning down a two-story house, racing to clean up before those two little tornados could destroy the place again, running errands, planning meals, putting Barbie’s head back on, and fixing the toilet, she was easily blowing those coveted 10,000 steps out of the water every day! Also, this is the SAHM’s full-time job. She doesn’t get weekends off. She doesn’t get vacation. She doesn’t get sick days. She’s lucky if she can get enough personal time to use the bathroom uninterrupted.
We’ve all heard them. We’ve all said them. They’re those well-intentioned comments that are said in the spirit of trying to relate to another human being that end up unintentionally insulting the other person and making you sound like an ass. Instead, realize that you may not know as much as you think about that person’s job. If you want to relate through your own experience, keep in mind that you may have far less experience than s/he does. Instead if making assumptions, ask questions and listen to the answers — “So how did you get into this line of work?” or “What’s your favorite part of doing that job?” It can help to get to know that person better, further the conversation naturally, and save you from an awkward situation!