I am known for many quotes: some mine, some of others. There is one I strive for every single day.
Specificity is the rule.”
Simple enough, right? Or is it?
For me, it calls into question our ability to actually be honest. We have to say what we mean, as well as mean what we say.
We have covered portions of this quote in some of the posts about questions. Failing to follow the rules leads to bizarre, dangerous and unpredictable results.
I am a stickler for answering the question which is asked. I do not assume to know what is going on in your cranium (if anything). I will not volunteer the information you are likely seeking because you ask me either a tangential or passive-aggressive question.
To be entirely frank, I often point out passive-aggressive questions as PA and refuse to answer on principle. If you would like for me to endorse your grasp of the concept, ask… I might. If you ask me a yes-or-no question, be prepared for “yes” or “no” with no further explanation. Surveys are easy, and thank you for aggregating my results with those of random others.
Likewise, if you ask me “how”, I will tell you “how” and will keep “why” to myself.
So, what about statements?
Allusions are a literary technique meant to ignite intrigue and suspense or to show connection to other parts of the story or real life. They have no business being the sole method of soliloquy. When they are, the message the listener gets is a short list:
- Speaker believes Listener should revere the ability to use indirect speech.
- Speaker really has no concept what the subject is.
- Speaker is convinced Listener is not as smart.
Is this something you want as a speaker or listener? Then, follow the rule!
Specificity is the rule.”
1. Indirect speech is a characteristic of passive-aggressive behavior. By allowing Listener to draw conclusions, when the wrong one comes out of the hat, Speaker has the knee-jerk, I never said that defense. Shameful.
2. Mixing metaphors and alluding to subjects about which Speaker has only nominal knowledge confuses those who understand all of the components of the mishmash being vomited from Speaker’s lips.
3. If Listener really is not as smart, Speaker should be using definitions, slides and show-and-tell to help Listener understand… not insulting Listener.
Is it really all that difficult to say what you mean? Do you know someone who has never made a definitive statement in the longevity of your relationship?
© Red Dwyer 2013
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