Things I Am Learning to Say

The title makes it sound like I am trying my hand at a new language. I am not. The things I am learning to say are all in English. More accurately, some of the things I am learning to say I am really learning to say more frequently, more honestly, with more conviction, with more thoughtfulness.

“I was wrong.”

Still tastes like vinegar each time I say it, but I have come to appreciate the value of it. I used to think admitting I was wrong was a sign of weakness and vulnerability. Turns out it helps build trust. I thought people would lose respect for me. Turns out admitting wrongness can help gain people’s respect.

“Can you help me?”

I thought asking for help would be seen as a sign of weakness. I thought working 16-18 hour days would be better than asking for help. Turns out asking for help makes us vulnerable in the right ways, helps gain people’s trust, and people overwhelmingly respond positively when help is requested of them.


Okay, so this is a word I use a lot. And I mean it when I tell people to be awesome or embrace their awesomeness. So what do I need to learn to say with this word? That it doesn’t lose its meaning if I say is sincerely to people.

“I appreciate you.”

I say thanks for people’s contributions to work quite regularly, but I am learning to say that I appreciate the person that did the work. (And not sound creepy when saying it.) I honestly do appreciate people even though I am not really a people person. I need to learn to take time out to say it.


We all have things we need to apologize for. (Heck, if you are Canadian you are pre-conditioned to apologize all the time.) Here’s the thing – I am learning to say “sorry” without couching it in a disclaimer or excuse like “But I was really tired when I said…” or “But I am sure you’ve had situations where you’ve…”

“You are welcome.”

I don’t accept thanks well, which means saying, “you are welcome” has not come easy. But if people appreciate me, my work or contributions I need to vocalize my recognition of that. I need to get better at acknowledging people’s appreciation.

Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.

One of the best things I am learning to say is, in fact, saying nothing at all. Learning to listen is actually teaching me lots about learning how to say things I really mean. And it is hard for me to truly be reflective and in the moment to calm what would be my own contributions to the conversation to just say nothing at all.

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.

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