Basic Manual Speech 2:
Speak with Sincerity
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take a few minutes of your time to talk
about epiphanies. Traditionally, an "epiphany" has possessed religious
connotations of "divine inspiration", but according to the American
Heritage Dictionary, it also means "a sudden manifestation of the essence
or meaning of something." In that sense, persons adhering to all sorts of
belief systems can experience this instant flash of insight.
For many years, I let myself get sucked into arguments that consumed my
precious time and emotional energy. Despite reading various books like Suzette
Hayden Elginís THE GENTLE ART OF VERBAL SELF-DEFENSE, I still had difficulty
adjusting my attitude to deal properly with obnoxious people. At last, on July
27, 1996, Scott Adamsí "Dilbert" comic strip offered me an
unforgettable epiphany. Those who read this hilarious daily funny already know
Dogbertís nonchalant disregard for others, and this particular three-frame
mini-story absolutely exemplifies it. The brief dialogue went like this:
DOGBERT: "From now on, I will not try to reason with the idiots I
encounter. I will dismiss them by waving my paw and saying, 'Bah.'"
DILBERT: "Just because someone thinks differently from you doesn't mean
he's an idiot, Dogbert."
DOGBERT: (waving paw) "Bah."
After I picked myself up off the floor and recovered from my belly full of
laughter, I promptly copied the strip and placed it in plain view over my desk.
Later, I built the attitude into my own explicit values system during my
Franklin Covey Seven Habits Training Seminar. The exact words are: "I
do not suffer fools gladly; instead, I dismiss their false, arbitrary, or
irrelevant assertions with a wave of my hand and a hearty 'Bah!', thus
optimizing the use of my most precious commodity, time, the stuff of
which my life is made."
This epiphany has made all the difference in the quality of my life. I
finally realized that many, or perhaps even most, people will NEVER be persuaded
to see things my way, and that it really is not necessary that they do so.
Back when I first got onto the Internet in 1995, I participated in several
on-line discussion groups that included people from a broad range of worldviews.
I used to jump right into the foray, advancing my opinions with substantial
ferocity. Of course, some folks cannot be swayed by hard facts, no matter how
logically they are presented. Those persons, in my experience, tend to be the
ones most intent on wasting the time and energy of rational people. If you let
them, the irrational will gladly turn themselves into the moral equivalent of
blood-sucking leeches, draining you of precious resources like time and
emotional energy that could be better spent on productive activities.
What is your alternative? More often than not, you can simply dismiss them
with a wave of your hand and a hearty "Bah!".
Letís say that you are a man who intends to participate in your buddy's
bachelor party. Your wife does not mind because you have earned her trust.
A social acquaintance overhears your plans and informs you of her
"disappointment" in you for participating in this
"debauchery". At this point, you have at least three options:
- Become 100% defensive and get sucked into a time- and energy-consuming
argument that could end with no winners.
- Wimpishly cave into her demands and go home pouting.
- Dismiss her arguments by waving your hand and saying, "Bah!"
I advocate applying the last option as much as possible. If you go with
Option 1, you have no guarantee of persuading her to your point of view, and
whether you did or did not, it should make no difference in your well
thought-out choice of activities. If you go with Option 2, your self-respect
will rapidly diminish, since you will have built your actions around the
"opinions" of others rather than upon sound principles. By using
Option 3, you demonstrate that other peopleís "opinions" pale in
comparison to your own agenda, that you are confident in that agenda, and that
you really do not care about their opinions one way or the other. This is likely
to discourage attackers from future confrontations, since they will know that
such attacks produce no desired results.
Obviously, this method has its limits and cannot be universally implemented.
Dismissing your boss in this fashion could lead you to the unemployment line.
Nevertheless, the discovery and application of this newfound strategy has served
me so well in the management of my time and emotions these last few years that I
wanted to share it with others.