Three Little Words

Sometimes kind people do unkind things, and it can be a kindness to privately point out the unkindness in a kind way.

Often the three little words “That was unkind” said in a gentle and loving way can have a major positive impact on the words and actions of otherwise kind people.


About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
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16 Responses to Three Little Words

  1. beebeesworld says:

    Im gonna keep that one, russtowne, I could have used it many times!

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you for your feedback! I know what you mean. Before I’d learned the power of these 3 simple words my responses to unkindness were often far from desirable.


  2. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Very true, Russ. And so powerful. Thanks! – Cathy

  3. Jo-Anne says:

    I am going to try to remember this one as it sounds so spot on………….I know how it is when I remain calm and composed when Tim is going off his head……

    • russtowne says:

      Good idea, Jo-Anne. My beloved and I learned that it can be especially bad if both of us lose our composure at the same time. We’ve learned that when one of us is out of sorts it is wise for other one to keep cool and calm until the storm has passed, and not to engage while emotions are running high. That little secret has saved us from a LOT of potential arguments.


  4. Rhonda says:

    Reading those three words caught me off guard. My thoughts did not bring me to ‘saying’ them, but how I would feel if someone said them ‘to’ me. The same way I had always felt when my parents told me “they were disappointed in me’. I would rather they had been angry…their disappointments were my biggest fear and my greatest lessons. I would absolutely hate hearing those words said to me. Very powerful little words these are and I think anyone hearing them would NOT be inclined to forget them, especially if said kindly. Like cold water, wakes you up.

    • russtowne says:

      Good points Rhonda. They are so powerful when spoken kindly to kind people. If someone said them to me I too would be stopped in my tracks. I would likely immediately change my behavior and sincerely apologize.

      The 3 words might not be effective if said to someone who has no deire to be kind, but even then, it puts everyone within earshot on notice that you believe an unkindness has occurred, and that awareness of others can be helpful too.

      Even when the 3 words are said in anger they may still have power to encourage someone to change their behavior but I much prefer the kind approach.


  5. Andrea Kelly says:

    Thank you for the reminder, Russ! This is very good advice.

  6. Gina's Professions for PEACE says:

    “that was unkind” said in a gentle way ~ This is profoundly simple yet not displayed enough in our society. Thank you so much for this important reminder! Blessings, Gina

  7. Without a doubt, they’re extremely powerful words. I’d hate to have someone say them to me. The only ones stronger or as strong are, ‘I’m disappointed in you.’ That’s far worse than anyone being angry at you!

    • russtowne says:

      Good point! Yes, “I’m disappointed in you” can be highly impactful too, and often negatively. My Beloved and I would sometimes say to one of our children, “I’m disappointed in your behavior” about something they had done, but we avoided saying “I’m disappointed in you.” To us they are very different messages.


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