First, to properly understand this post, you should go read this article. I’ll wait.
Now. Wasn’t that interesting? Maybe it didn’t ring true for you, but for me I can honestly say, I do all of those things. I always use language (often those exact examples) to “soften” the message I’m trying to express, and to protect myself from anyone who might be offended or disagree. Like my opinion matters any less than theirs.
The other day I said something which My husband did not agree with, and after he expressed his dissenting opinion he said “don’t you think?” And it occurred to me what a sneaky, underhanded little phrase that is, because it served no other purpose than to get me to reverse my original opinion and instead agree with him.
Now, I’m not trying to call him out at all, and I don’t honestly think he was using verbal manipulation on me in some passive aggressive attempt to win the point. I honestly can’t even remember what we were talking about, but this stuck with me because my initial reflex was to say “yes.” Despite having begun the conversation with the total opposite belief, I was prepared to capitulate and agree with something 180° from my original position, simply due to ingrained response.
I don’t know whether this is simply because I’m a woman and have been subconsciously conditioned to be more agreeable and less assertive, or because I personally am deathly allergic to confrontation. Probably the latter. But I do know that when I actually managed to override my automated affirmation and say “no. I don’t think so, which is why I said … to begin with” he got much more defensive as though I were overreacting or being aggressive about the argument And again, I’m not trying to call my husband sexist- he’s just the premise of this particular example. But my interactions with him do shed light on how the subconscious differences in gender communication (and the relevant, but often flawed perceptions of those differences) are actually affecting my daily life.
I’ve always found articles such as the one I linked above to be fascinating insights into behavior we aren’t even aware of, and I’ve been paying closer attention to my own language and responses lately. I’ve become so much more aware of the fact that my daughters are watching, and that the example I’m setting isn’t always one I’d like them to have. For example, I’ve become hyper aware of the fact that I say “sorry” all the time, when what I really mean is “excuse me.” Instead of being polite about passing someone in the grocery store aisle, I am instead apologizing as though taking up space in general was something to be ashamed of. Not good.
Anyway, I’m not even sure where I’m going with this post. I just find it interesting to notice how these totally innocent and understandable foibles in our speech patterns can actually be subtly affecting our confidence and how other perceive us.
What do you think? Do you have any of these habits?