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This brilliant short video isn’t just funny, it makes an important point about the way we speak today. It has become unfashionable to assert something – to speak as if something is so – and you know that it is.

 

Today’s sentences are sprinkled with dissociations and hidden questions, such as “It’s like…”, “…y’know” and its brother, “you know what I mean?” This last alters the nature of your statement by turning it into a question. “I am having a bad day, know what I mean?” Your correspondent can either check in about your day, or just say ‘yes’, without having to get embroiled.

All these expressions work to dilute – and obscure – what is being said. The shorter, ‘y’know” simply has a more implicit question buried in it, but a question nonetheless.

The comedian talks about the lack of conviction commonplace in today’s language, but alongside that is a fear of commitment. Conviction I suspect is uncool, because it makes you look like you give a ***k. Commitment is troubling too, because it leads to what you’re saying being representative of you, something that expresses you and that might evoke disagreement & hostility or more subtly, leave you sounding as if you give a ***k, again.

The sad thing is that your word distinguishes who you are more than any other aspect of you including your hairstyle, your mates or your profession. If your word becomes diluted then so do you.

For moderators and those who make a living from facilitating and interpreting the words of others, it gets more and more important to get behind the dilutions and say: “what exactly do you mean (or intend) by what you said?” And don’t buy into the “it’s…like” obfuscation, simply treat what is said as a declaration, not a conjecture. If you’re really not sure, check it out. Remember this:

Every utterance has a motive. Every gesture is a signal, and what’s on the surface will reflect the deeper meaning. So if someone is diluting themselves via their language, there is a reason for it. It’s your job to find out what that reason is and help them to bring themselves more fully expressed, into the session.

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As a psychologist, psychotherapist and research practitioner of 40 years, I've had the benefit of the experiences of more than 100,000 people around the world. They've talked about their daily lives, hopes, fears, ambitions and needs. These experiences have helped me to contribute to innovations from Beds in Business and the Fast Track for airlines to television drama and online communities. Specialties:Large groups, facilitation, application of psychological theories to commercial issues