“Sure. Ok, boss.”
What could these simple words mean? Maybe they mean, “Sure. I’m totally ok staying late Friday night to sort the recyclable cans by color.” Or maybe it was more like, “Sure. Okaaay. I’ll sort the cans. But not without letting you know I think you’re a total scobberlotcher.”
Tone and body language speak volumes. And sometimes, we use them to make our displeasure known. It can feel good to win back a sense of power by delivering the words we “should” say along with an annoyed tone or eye roll. But even this lubberwort of a boss knows her employee just tried to put her down. Most people don’t take kindly to that. And sometimes, it’s downright counterproductive.
What you say matters as much as how you say it. When you treat others with respect, you’re a lot more likely to get the respect you want in return. And even if your boss doesn’t stop acting like a gnashnab, you can feel pride in your heart for setting the right example.
Side note: We don't recommend actually calling your boss a scobberlotcher, lubberwort, or gnashnab, even if they are accurate.
Bring this quote into your classroom with a lesson guide and activities that are ready to use.
This quote focuses on relationships and communication skills. "It's not just what you say, it's how you say it" reminds young adults that tone and body language can dramatically alter the meaning of what they are communicating. Short phrases in particular, like "OK," "Sure," "Whatever," "I know," can be charged with emotions and defiance, making the words come across as disrespectful.
Communicating displeasure through tone and body language may make a teen feel better in the moment, but it's generally not good for the relationship. Tone and body language messages are coming through loud and clear, and parents, teachers, employers, spouses are likely to feel ( and probably react ) negatively in response.
Before throwing out a tone, teens might consider what they really want. If their intent is to vent or to be defiant without feeling any consequences, a teen's tone is likely to cause them more harm than good. If their intent is to let someone know they're not happy about something because they want to change it, there are healthier ways to communicate and more effective ways to get what you want.
Questions to prompt discussion, journaling, essays for high school health class and social emotional development lessons:
Activities and worksheets for teen SEL / high school health and wellness lessons:
Download printable coloring pages for a mindfulness activity that features this quote.