14 February 2011 § Leave a comment
first of all, happy valentine’s day. i hope you lovers are making out with reckless abandon all over the streets of new york and cairo and paris and hannibal, missouri. enjoy your night.
How often do we talk in the negative? In an effort to get across the right idea, I’m always in a rush to state what I’m not doing instead of what I am doing. My imagination takes the listener for a ride through tunnels and sewers where I do not want them to go, and I am the guide. And this is how the tours begin:
I’m not trying to…
I didn’t mean…
I’m not saying…
and how do these statements help my ideas? They don’t. There’s no focus there, and no real transference. If I’m trying to communicate what I am saying in the negative, I might as well say “I’m not saying a hippopotamus is polka-dotted…” It simply doesn’t accomplish anything.
Here’s an example: “…I’m not saying you’re a bad listener.”
This tendency comes from a lack of confidence in what I said or did the first time around, and out of panic, I want to reiterate it, just in case. In my mind, I think I can see how the listener took my statement and I want to make sure they don’t take it that way. Am I right? Probably not. Did I plant an idea in their mind that I specifically did not intend to communicate? Yes. Am I communicating effectively? No.
The issue of confidence goes hand in hand with this. If I think in the negative, I’m going to speak in the negative. But if I think in the positive, I’ll place the focus where it belongs and get across the idea that I wanted, not the one I didn’t want.
A better version: “I need to work on my communication skills.”
If I’m thinking in the positive, I won’t need to reassert my idea because I will have conveyed it the first time, and I can forgo the panicked, doubtful breath for the calm breath I’ll take after they’ve replied, before I start talking again.
It’s about what things are:
This is… something positive
What I’m trying to do is… something good with it.
I meant… to be clear