Some things are sweet and tasty – drawing us back for more, while other things set our teeth on edge and we struggle to tolerate them by themselves. Honey and vinegar function in this way. And there’s truth to the saying more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar.
Honey can be consumed straight from the jar. And while it can enhance the taste of other foods, it can also be enjoyed for its own sake.
This is not the case with vinegar. While vinegar might be a helpful additive, it’s not generally something we consume straight. It’s typically diluted to make it more palatable to our senses.
And from honey and vinegar we can learn how to best motivate the desired change we want to see in others.
Criticism and critique are often our natural first responses. We’re quick to tell others what we don’t like and how they’re missing the mark.
While there are times in which this approach is needed, like vinegar, its still best diluted so the other can fully receive it. When it is not, the natural reaction is resistance. What we’re saying might be true and needed, but it’s being presented in a way that causes the other to automatically be defensive.
On the other hand, affirming and reminding others of their potential is like honey. We’re more motivated to grow when someone blesses our strength and the potential they see in us. We’re not defensive and we want to discover this more for ourselves as well.
Of course, this is not just flattering others. Nor is it suggesting there’s never a place for vinegar. But it is a reminder we inspire best by naming the good we see, and want to see, in others.
Use vinegar sparingly. And inspire the change you desire by offering regular doses of honey.