Saturday, 7 September 2013


I love 'em, in all their weirdness. I especially love some of their foibles, especially those which crop up repeatedly - that is to say these are not really individual foibles, but common ones.

Yesterday I experienced one that I've been watching for years, and it inspired me to write about it.

Essentially what happens is that person A has a problem. They ask a group of people "What would you do in this situation?"

Those in the group can express themselves any way they please, and most simply ignore the question. Yep.

Remember, the question is "What would YOU do?"

Most people reply "I think you should...."

No, she didn't ask what you think she should do, she asked what you would do.

Those of you who know me well know that I try to avoid saying "you should..." anyway, as a general principle. But specifically when I'm asked "What would you do?" I reply "I would....."

And what I would do is frequently not what others would do. I have a fairly unusual outlook on life.

Therefore, quite often when I say "I would........." a lot of people disagree with me. That's OK. I don't mind, in fact I'm used to it.

But having said "I would...." what happens next is not just people disagreeing with me, but people accusing me of something I didn't do.

"Why would you tell her to do that?"

"She shouldn't have to do that!"

"You have no right expecting her to do that."


I didn't tell her what to do. She asked what I would do, and I actually paid attention to the question. I responded with what I would do.

Apparently to many, this implies giving advice. This must be how they operate then. They say "I would" when they MEAN "You should." A subtle way of telling people what to do, by pretending they aren't. And, they assume others are as weasly as they are.

Some of us say what we actually mean. Shocking really.

I don't expect everyone to be as careful in their communication as I am. It is my choice. I will not "should" you on this anymore than I would anything else. But group behaviour fascinates me anyway - especially the "pile on" effect when somebody says something controversial - and this is an especially interesting aspect of it.


  1. I wish blogs had a "Like" button, that you could press to indicate that you like this post, but have nothing more to add. .

    1. Wordpress does, and I really don't know why Blogger doesn't, but I am used to getting few or no comments on blogs I KNOW my friends are enjoying, and I'm not offended by it. I simply look to my own behaviour, because I frequently read things when I don't have time to comment, and I know how it goes!

  2. One of the reasons I enjoy Star Trek in its various incarnations (even if it went off the rails with ST Enterprise) - Quark (barkeeper on Deep Space 9) refers to the species as "Hew-mons."

    And Lieutenant Saavik complains "Humor. It is a difficult concept." to Admiral Kirk.

    1. I watched TNG but I don't remember that. It was a long time ago, LOL.

      We are odd.

  3. It has been about ten years or so since I was read the riot act over the use of the word, "should." It was for an item just as you have described here...offering words of advice that are then misconstrued as 'authority' as opposed to 'suggestion.' Touchy word, 'should.' Even touchier those who choose to interpret it as demanding authority, which is something from which I tend to distance myself.

    So I find I use less of the word, and everyone is happier. Now, the word "ought" on the other hand..... ;) ~ Blessings! :)

  4. Good observation, and good reminder to be on our toes. Careful listening is rare. One notices it in collective discussions all the time. Phone-in shows, whatever. After taking some workshop years ago I became very careful about giving "I messages". Like you are describing: I use I, because I am not presuming to speak for you. And the response I got from spouse, after a few months, was that all he heard was I, not we. Hey, I was trying!