Okay everyone! Let us see if I can roll up these sleeves of mine.
I wanted to share a couple of simple rules of thumb when writing out your responses to various threads to keep others from having a discomforting reaction and to enable you to help keep your fellow writers (or adversaries) from blowing their tops when all you were trying to tell them was how the world works from YOUR perspective. This is also some armor to enter into family discussions on what Christmas present you really should have gotten for your mother, but you didn't because they just don't know why.
Words have power.
I will share three, simple words which have a great amount of power in our society these days. I will give you the word, the connotation to the word in social context, and a replacement word which enables you to actually say what you really mean.
First - this is a word that prompts many a person in my life to say, "Stop shoulding on people" - say it aloud, you'll get the reference.
This word is appropriate when used in a religious context or that of a deeply held belief.
The reason this word does not work outside of religious conversation, is that "should" means "ideal." If I think something SHOULD be a certain way, I believe that the ideal has to be met. This is why, when someone tells you, "You know, you really should stop treating your father that way" your back goes up and you hiss. Or, the feeling you get when you say "I shouldn't have screwed up so badly" has such a weight on your spirit.
Should = Shame. Shame does NOT = guilt (a healthy emotion that prompts change) but instead, means you have fallen short of the Kingdom of Righteousness, man! The word works quite well in religion (though I find that is another topic altogether - the use of "should" in organized religion - and one we won't address here) as one is talking of the ideal, or the tantamount of what a man must do/can do/has to do. The word does not, however, work well in casual conversation with anyone. Belief is powerful and some beliefs are perfect for this. "Children should be protected." Why yes. AND, this is not true, it is an ideal. We work toward ideals, we don't insist we become them.
Next time you feel you have to should on someone, say instead "could" or "would". This enables the other person some falliability and CHOICE (a very powerful thing to have). Next time you feel the need to should on your own self, say "could" or "would" to give yourself the freedom from judgment and the ability to choose differently next time.
SHOULD = shame : To be replaced by COULD or WOULD
EG: You shouldn't treat your father like that! becomes You could treat your father differently or You would get further if you treated your father with respect.
My rule of thumb on this is (prompted by a very dear friend) to state "If I say but, kick mine."
BUT is a scientific word. Please, if you are in science utilize this word. It is an awesome bit of luck there.
Otherwise, seriously do not. It makes a fool out of you and the person you're talking to. You set them up and you come off as a bully. This is how it works.
"You're such a nice guy..."
"but you can be annoying sometimes."
And what is he supposed to say? You've just said he was a nice guy! (only you really didn't)
BUT negates anything said before it. It says, "I don't really think you're a nice guy. I think you're annoying!" But makes people like me itch. It is a way to be super mean to someone and then say after "Well, if you'd listened to what I said, I SAID you were a nice person!" and the underlying message is "I'm a nice person, I didn't say anything mean to you, so why are you acting so put out?" Umm.... because you actually just said I was annoying, thank you very much, AND you made it so I can't argue the fact. Thanks for putting me into a position where I look like a jerk if I try and argue this insult just because you were acting too much of a coward to say it outright.
But Closet... he really IS a nice guy! He's just annoying sometimes!
Ahhh hah! Well then, let's make this easy on YOU. Let's change the word "but" for the word "and" and see how this conversation goes.
"You're such a nice guy..."
"and you can be annoying sometimes."
"Yeah, sometimes I get that."
"Still like you, despite that."
Okay, we'll leave it at that. There ARE other "flag" words in there ("sometimes"/"you"/"be") which still make it an insult, and no one is going to be perfect. The worst word in there, the one that had made it impossible to have an honest conversation, is gone.
BUT = negates whatever you said before : To be replaced with AND
EG: I like how funny Closet is, but Closet's really a jerk Becomes I like how funny Closet is, and Closet's really a jerk.
And you know what? Closet CAN be a jerk! Because Closet's human and humans are jerky (not ... physically, though that is true as well)- AND funny AND nice AND sadistic AND giving AND forgiving AND resentful AND ... ad nauseum.
3. WHY (last but not least)
This one is easy. Why, asks for an excuse. If you want an excuse and NOT the reason why, then ask why. Easy! Think back to being a kid again. "Why'd you eat that cake, Closet, when you knew it belonged to your sister?"
What else are you supposed to say?
Let's change Why out for What and see what happens.
"What happened that made you want to eat your sister's cake, Closet?" (much harder to say, I know - it takes practice)
"I was hungry and... and... it was chocolate!"
Why did you hit Johnny? "Cause he was annoying"
What happened right before you hit Johnny? "He kicked my sand castle over!"
Ah hah! the truth comes out!
Be wise with "What" because "What were you THINKING???" is the same thing as WHY.
WHY = Excuse Time : To be replaced by WHAT
EG: Why did you say that to me in such a mean tone? becomes What made you so mad at me that you felt you had to use that mean tone?
(Again, I'm utilizing other "flag" words there (Make/Mean) and again, we're not asking anyone to do more than change a few defining words to get a different response, enabling communication to happen)
Happy Holidays everyone and be kind to one another. In the amazingly wise words of Todd Snider's Miss Virgy, "Life's too short to worry. Life's too long to wait. Too short not to love everybody and life's too long to hate. I meet a lot of men who haggle and finagle all the time, trying to save a nickle or make a dime. Not me, no sir. I don't have the time."
Last edited by Closetmonster; 12-24-2012 at 03:41 AM.
‘What will my death be like?’ he thought- and knew at once
with abrupt certainty, that it would be just like his life:
... the same balance of bearables.
~Amis in "Denton's Death"
So these things just walk around spewing forth koans?
You're going to turn them loose in the cities?
Nah. I'm going to turn them loose in the malls.
These things are going to walk about the malls spewing forth koans?
One koan, per cone?