Asking the Right Question
The difference between a constructive conversation and a destructive conversation is in the words that we choose. Our society takes a lackadaisical attitude toward proper language. The result of indifference toward correct speech produces increased tension and/or misunderstanding in communication.
A few examples that come to mind are:
1) A buddy I’ve known since grammar school used to often say, “Why don’t we go to the picture show?” If you break the contraction down, the question becomes, “Why do not we go to the picture show?” ”Not” is a negative word, which automatically conjures up negativity. My friends real question should have been, “Would you like to go to the movies?” or a statement of, “Let’s go to the movies. Today, the question of, “Why don’t we…?” is an acceptable means of speech used by many. Moms around America are telling their children, “Why don’t you clean your room?” Later, when the child’s room isn’t clean, mom gets mad. Now you have a situation of unintended increased tension between parent and child. The child may have thought he had a choice in the matter. Whereas, mom really meant to say, “Clean your room.”
2) Closer to home, my wife and I were getting ready to go on vacation. She asked me, “How difficult will it be to remove the handles off of your bathroom faucet, today?” My answer was, “It won’t be more difficult today than it will be if I remove them next week when we return.” My wife gave me a pair of eyes that I read to mean “oh Lord, here he goes again.” From my point-of-view, I simply answered her question. What she really wanted to know was, “Will you remove the handles off of your vanity faucet, today?” Had she asked that question, I would have said, “Yes, dear, I am willing to do that for you,” and I wouldn’t have had to explain my original answer.
Another thing, when someone says, “Thank you,” the appropriate response is, “You are welcome,” instead of, “Not a problem.” Not and problem are negative words. Although two negatives make a positive in math; in grammar negative words conjure negative thoughts.