By Norris Burkes June 5 2020 

Layman, Mitch Carnell from First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C., has asked me to convey a national message to my readers. The church seeks others to join with them in setting aside the first Sunday of every June as “Say Something Nice Sunday.”

No one is saying that you haven’t been nice. Carnell is only promoting the 14th annual “Say Something Nice Sunday” on June 7. The day isn’t yet on commercial calendars, but Carnell is pushing for official recognition as they call for folks to take a two-part Civility Pledge.

If you decide to participate, you must promise first to “Refrain from saying anything ugly, demeaning or derogatory to anyone in my workplace,” and second, to “say something nice, uplifting or encouraging.”

As a chaplain, I suppose I should find this an easy day. Afterall, chaplains are paid to avoid derogatory comments and promote uplifting things.

I put the idea in early testing this week, going the extra smile-mile — even if my smile remained hidden under a surgical mask.

I began at the grocery store where I said thank you to every grocery worker for taking the risk to come to work. It’s just amazing that they are out there for us, true frontline workers.

From there, I drove to Chick-fil-A® where I told the drive-thru cashier how essential she was to me. She said thank you and smiled me on through.

By the time I arrived at the local shoe store, I was overdosing on smiles.

I felt like I was smiling a hole through my mask as I shopped new running shoes with the clerk.

Honestly, I think my constant chatter probably had him thinking about saying something not so nice to me. He obviously didn’t know that my runner’s group, “Runnin’ for Rhett,” nicknamed me “Chatty Chap.”

My Charleston Baptist brothers have some gumption, I’ll say that for them.

In the midst of social unrest, unemployment and a pandemic, they’re suggesting we say something nice to each other.

This “nice” stuff isn’t going to be as easy as the news release makes it sound. Given the current world situation, how does one say something nice, especially if they aren’t such a Chatty Chap?

My top five tips are:

1. Listen to understand someone, not to explain yourself. Seek to understand the circumstance of others by going beyond the stale “How’s it going?” I make that reach by asking, “Tell me what your world is like today.” The current racial unrest makes this more important than ever.

2. Say please and thank you, just like your mother taught you.

3. Learn how to say a person’s name. Don’t be like a manipulative salesman who overuses names but assume the tender tone of a concerned friend.

4. Take a lesson from Chatty Chap and laugh at yourself. All of us do funny bonehead things at times. Sharing them makes you more approachable. Who knows, maybe you’ll start a column like this one.

5. Give sincere compliments.

These tips may seem trite, but in practice they will become a true reflection of Apostle Paul’s admonition in Colossians 4:5-6.

“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (The Message).

I’ll be taking the “Say Something Nice” pledge because I have to believe that being nice to others might tend to help our world right now.

But just to be clear, Mr. Carnell, I’m thinking we’re gonna need more than one Sunday.

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Norris’ books available at Contact him at or 10566 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or voicemail (843) 608-9715. Twitter @chaplain.