Friendly banter or unkindness?
Teasing can be a wonderful social tool. It shows that we are comfortable around certain people, and can be used to communicate in a roundabout way that we have affection and fondness for whoever we are having a cheeky dig at.
But in the midst of banterous exchanges between friends, I think it can be all too easy to slip in a comment that may have a toxic tinge.
And I think that the way to avoid this is to be mindful of the emotions that are the vehicle for our words.
Generally speaking, malignant comments come from a place of insecurity.
Last week, as I hung out with friends, I found myself on the brink of saying something cutting, but that I might have been able to disguise as just a bit of friendly banter.
Fortunately I was able to stop myself. I recognised that the words that came to me were simply a result of jealousy. I was struggling to comment on the subject being discussed, and felt lonely in my inability to contribute.
I identified that the thought was coming from a bad place, that it was potentially unkind, and so I kept it to myself.
I guess it's just that classic mantra; think before you speak.
If we can be mindful of when our words are rooted in fear, we can be aware of when we are on the brink of saying something that might be hurtful.
And conversely, perhaps we can also be more forgiving of others when they hurt us with their own words.
I believe that, generally speaking, people act nastily because they are, in some way, suffering. As much as they may have caused us temporary pain through their biting comment, it may be that, for whatever reason, they are in more serious trouble.