Do you say more than you mean to?

We all are guilty of saying one thing while hiding (or trying to) our true feelings or intent. We do this for a variety of reasons. We fear conflict. We don’t want to hurt another. We don’t want to be seen as petty. We want to manipulate. Bottom line, we do image management.

But, I suspect that we leave more telltale signs as to our true feelings/beliefs than we realize. Consider these examples:

1. An interviewee badmouths a previous employer to a prospective employer and at the same time describing their own gifts. Here the individual thinks they are showing how they are better than their prior employer but really reveals arrogance and narcissism. I watched this happen recently (not at Biblical). The poor guy thought he was acing his new interview but kept on digging a deeper hole for himself.

2. A person says they are fine (after a possible conflict with a friend) and then looks down and away. Here the individual may be saying several things (I’m embarrassed, I’m not fine, I just want this to go away…) but they are rarely saying, “I’m fine.”

3. Or how about that line some of us said in our teen years, “Let’s be friends” (to a former boy/girlfriend). Here, we meant, “please let’s not make this harder than it has to be.”

What body language messages do you notice that convey to you a message that isn’t being stated? Where do you think you are fooling another? 

Just recently, I congratulated someone on a job that I thought they had worked hard on. The person immediately stated that it hadn’t gone well (correcting my assumption) and yet, they were fine with the outcome. I appreciated the spontaneous and honest response rather than the usual nicety-laden conversation that would have meant nothing to either of us. 

1 Comment

Filed under Communication

One response to “Do you say more than you mean to?

  1. I think it’s hard to be real in our responses if we’re not comfortable with ourselves. And if we’re not comfortable with ourselves (who we are in Christ), then we’re going to give fake-o responses because we’re ashamed of the stuff still living in us. To a point we all want to “save face”, but another is a symptom of our anxieties and our deep fears of rejection.

    I try to be honest, I really do. But some days and honest response comes with a cliche answer, and that’s too much to stomach.

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