An old proverb says it particularly well:
There is a reason that you have two ears and but one mouth.”
Sometimes the smartest thing to say is not what you are planning, but instead, “Would you please repeat that?”
Speaking Without Thought
Many people speak before they think. This phenomenon is documented by doctors. The human brain begins formulating a response to a statement after hearing only four words.
Surely, by the time that the Generation X-ers reach the current Boomers’ age, the number of words will be even smaller. X-ers do know everything, you see. Perhaps that is why the number is so small now. Respondents are certain they know what the other person is going to say.
Are we so advanced that our verbal skills are rendered mute? Have we become truly telepathic? Maybe, Hollywood could remake the “Name that Tune” game show.
Blah, Blah, Blah, But…
Another explanation could be the respondent feels his point is more valid. Although this seems rather egocentric, there could be some validity to it. Are you saying the same thing for the 18th time?
Watching The Clock
Yet still, as a society, are we so pressed for time we feel the need to abbreviate all interactions in our lives? Common catchphrases today are mostly sentences or phrases slurred into a single word or initials of words. Time is valuable, after all.
Just give me the Cliff’s Notes version.
This theory is tested every single day on your computer, on your bookshelf and in your newspaper. Headlines scream or tantalize in the fewest words possible to entice you to read further. Condensed novels are selling on Kindles at record rates.
This abbreviation is evident in text messages and email slang. While arguments can be made that it saves the typing time, the same argument cannot viably be applied to speech. Honestly, can you make your point in four words or less?
Speak to me.
As we seek to pack the most into the least (think shot of espresso vs. a large cafe au lait), we need to take the time to listen and appropriately discourse. Conversation need not become a lost art.
Wait for it!
Knowing time is valuable, please make the effort to listen long enough the question need not be repeated when your invalid response is delivered. The qualifier which may completely change your view on the subject may well be delivered at the end of the sentence!
When was the last time the message changed at the very end? What abbreviation do you despise the most?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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