Friday, March 22, 2013

Verbal Pet Peeves

We all converse with people all the work, at home, with friends, family, strangers, colleagues, etc. Over the years, I've noticed a few verbal habits a lot of people seem to have that really bug me. And guess what? I'm going to tell you about them. See if you recognize these annoying patterns and if they bug you as much as me...

"Well, a)..."
You ever notice how people will initiate an an explanation of something like they are going to go through several points - outline style - but then never follow up on that? As in, they'll say something like, "Well, I think a) there's no reason to support that viewpoint because of blah, blah, blah." From there, you'd expect them to say, "And b) not only that but..."

However, most of the time, people don't follow up with the subsequent points...they just say "a" and trail off after that. It's annoying and shows how many or most people cannot verbalize a liniar line of thinking or express more than one point about something before they lose track or - in some cases - are interupted.

My advice? Dont' use the "outline style" in answering questions. Or, if you dang sure to get a second point in.

"I could care less"
Really? You could? "I could care less" is a phrase people use all the time to express that they actually could NOT care less about something. I am not sure why it's so hard to say "I couldn't care less" instead. But, it's noticable and quite annoyong. Next time someone says that to you, ask them, "Oh, really? How much less could you care?" Or, say something like, "Oh, doesn't bug you that much then, right?" See what you get as a reply and then point out that they said the could care less.

"How are you doing?"
Do you really want to know how I'm doing? No. You don't. Or, at least 99% of the time when someone asks you that - no matter how well you know them - they don't. What they're really saying is, I cannot think of any other way of greeting you, so I'm going to ask how you are doing. It shows a lack of imagination and communicates that - actually - they don't really care how you are. And then, on the other end of it, you're usually forced to answer with soemthing inane (and probably not true) such as "I'm fine." That's lame too. The whole thing is a social device construction of falsehoods to make two people feel better about conversing.

You want to stop people from doing this? Two suggestions:

1) When someone asks you how you're doing - tell them. You don't need to tell a long story every time, but let them know. "I'm hungry." "My back is killing me." "I am sure loving how last night's game came out." Or whatever. Over time, your friends and colleagues will get the picture.

2) Don't ask people this as a greeting yourself. Better yet, when greeting someone, try and engage with them on something you know about them or think might be of interest to them.

OK, I concene this one is too much part of everday speech and I should probably just get over it, but does annoy me that people describe citizens of the United States of America as "Americans." Why? OK, get ready for this. "America" is a continent, not a nation - more accurately it is two continents: North America and South America. Moreover, North America has two other nations other than the U.S. on it - Canada and Mexico.

So, our people have taken manifest destiny to the verbal level and claim the entire continent every time we describe our nation or citizenry. It's just not accurate or correct to call the U.S.A. - "America." It's like Germans (or Italians or French) calling themselves "Europeans" and assuming everybody knows what they're talking about.

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