flowing motion

Posts Tagged ‘English

Speaking properly

I once worked with people who hated other people ~ or so they said.  I hated broccoli (I like it now) and I hated doing my tax return.

Sometimes I loathed someone.  Or I disliked someone.

Speaking accurately

The nuances of emotional words are interesting.  We have poor emotional vocabularies as a general rule.

Understanding nuances

The other day, I dipped into  Kate Fox’ Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour.

The nuances of Englishness

Kate Fox suggests the English accept serious but not solemn and sincere but not earnest. I looked up the differences in my COBUILD dictionary that was built from a corpus of actual English usage (Collins Birmingham University International Language Database).  It wasn’t very enlightening.

Serious not solemn; sincere not earnest

So I am on the trail to distinguish solemn from serious and earnest from sincere.

Any suggestions?

My Saturday mornings are zombie time and this week I have been pondering zombie-lives

How do you spend your Saturday mornings? Some people race around. I find that the best review programmes tend to be on radio and TV on Saturday mornings and I like to let the world wash over me, get up late, and spend some time reflecting on how the week went before I go out to do the shopping and join friends for a meal.

During the week I tend to push observations that are not particularly practical to the back of my mind. In my Saturday morning time, I pull them to the front and tidy them up – make sense of them.

This week I kept brushing up against full-scale denials

In quite unrelated incidents I remembered and noticed a peculiar habit that some people have ~ that we must all have ~ of denying reality.

Of course, it is absurd to think we ever have a completely accurate grasp of the world around us. And we know that there is nothing more delightful and shocking than the view of the world from a completely different perspective. But sometimes we actively deny reality.

Mother of an abused child syndrome

  • I once lived and worked with people who had what I called “mother of the abused child look.” Whenever anything difficult came up, they looked past your left ear.

No one else lives here syndrome

  • I lived previously in a place with quite shocking art. It had no depth perception and the background was often blurred. The background certainly never had people in it except as a silhouette on the horizon.

We are invented the moon, we really did

  • I’ve known communities who live a perfectly Walter Mitty life. They have quite grandiose ideas about their contribution to the world matched only by shocking squalor of their physical circumstances and sparseness of their professional knowledge.

Denial in the big bad West

In the big bad West of the developed world, there is another phenomena. This is not necessarily an individual phenomena, I might add. We all do the things I describe, so it is a cultural phenomena – a collective way that we experience our collective life and express our collective purpose.

As it happens, as it does, a good description of this phenomenon arrived in my Google Alerts in a post on leadership from by John Ortberg, whom I don’t know, but I take it from the details is a Christian minister in the USA. Sadly there is no comment box to leave a note appreciating his work. It you are running an Alert on yourself, thank you.

Deteriorate as slowly as possible

John makes the point that many people seem to live by a motto “Deteriorate as slowly as possible.”

When you have been big, rich and powerful, inevitably there is some decline ~ at least in bigness, richness and power.  Inevitably when you live in a country that is big, rich and powerful, then you have, say, a 66% chance of not really being big, rich or powerful yourself and you live in the reflected glory of people who make your country big, rich and powerful.

The flip side of success then is deterioration. That is is just reality.  It is not a psychological phenomenon.

It becomes sad, it becomes a denial or reality, when we aren’t aware of our deterioration, or we are stuck in deterioration ~ moaning, complaining and whinging such as the English are prone to do. Deterioration is part of our life. It has to be as the shadow of success.  But we must live well within it.

How should we deal with deterioration?

How should we deal with deterioration? Gracefully? That is one option. Gluttonously – that is another option – I know someone who said she enjoyed living in decadent societies. But why not exuberantly? Why can’t we enjoy the morphing and regeneration that is a natural part of life as a snake changing its skin? Why can’t we celebrate the cyclical shriving? Why can’t we celebrate newcomers and mourn the departure of old ways in dignity?

I’ll list John Orteg’s questions for recognising communities who are deteriorating in an unhealthy way in Part Three: Questions to Recognise Cultural Deterioration and What To Do About IT

Part Two: Deny Deterioration at the Cost of Your Love of Life

Part Three: 6 Symptoms of Deteriorating as Slowly as Possible

Active listening

I thought I had a post somewhere on basic active listening.  It seems not.

Active listening is often required when we least expect it

Active listening isn’t hard.  Provided we remember to do it!  When we are needed to listen, simply listen, we are often in a rush ourselves and it is the hardest ever to slow down and pay attention.

Three situations require active listening

There are three classical situations when we must pay attention and listen

  • Requests: Please may I have .   .  .!
  • Help:  Everything is going wrong!
  • Anger:  Life is unfair!

We rarely miss anger!

The third, anger, is the one we don’t miss.  Angry people get in our face.  They are bristling with rage.  They want something to change now and they’ve decided that it is all our fault!  Can’t miss it 🙂

It can be hard to react with applomb

Sadly, because other people’s anger often takes us by surprise, we don’t react well.

If we have a moment to catch our breath, we are probably OK.  We give the person the attention they crave so desperately and reassure them of their importance in the world.  They calm down and feeling a little sheepish, become our new best friend.

But what of our anger. What we we are angry?

It strikes me that England is an angry country.  And people enjoy being angry.

Anger in Britain is a treasured state

Anger in England isn’t an unpleasant temporary state that people want to get away from. It is a treasured state to be sought.  People even seem to feel important when they are angry.  “There!”, they seem to be saying, “I am angry too!” It is almost as if their status is restored by being angry.

I get angry so that I can be important enough to be insulted?

It’s a perversion.  Usually we are angry when our status is diminished, and we want it restored.  When an angry person also has a triumphant gleam in their eye, I wonder whether they are also delighted to have found a situation where they are important enough to have been insulted?

Someone needs some deep respect

If I am right, and there is no reason that I should be, then a way to reduce anger is to help people feel valued.  Courtesy and politeness do this in part – but they avoid “dissing” the other person.  Courtesy and politeness isn’t respect.

If we want to help people find status without resorting to some bizarre form of tantrums, then we need to take the trouble to find out what about them is deeply valuable to us ~ and tell them.  I found a great quotation from E E Cummings yesterday ~ we have to mirror to people what is so wonderful and why we would be so much poorer without them!

Extreme experiments in life

Try that as you are next on a commuter train and your neighbour is annoying you.  Pay them some attention. Yes, I know you are English, but try.  It will be a fun experiment, won’t it?

What will happen when you pick on the one point that is so important to them and that you would really miss if they weren’t part of your life?

Whinging poms

Have you ever seen a psychological study of why the English complain about the weather?  Or why the English complain .   .   .

We all know the English talk incessantly about the weather.  The Aussies remind us that poms whinge.  Or rather, the Aussies dismiss “whinging poms” with a frisson of superiority!

Folklore has it that poms whinge about the weather to make small talk.  That smirk of satisfaction begs explanation in turn.  Why is it considered polite to whinge about something we can do nothing about?

If  a South African is talking, they would advise you what to do about the weather. The focus would be on action and the focus would be on the battle of life fought successfully against willful, unhelpful and unbiddable elements.

If an Australian is talking, they would be proud of Australian weather.  I’ve never deciphered that either.  Proud of something you had nothing to do with making???

I know how to treat with a South Africa.  They want to “do”.  They want to be competent.  So simply ask to borrow their umbrella!  They will make sure you get back to your car dry – and probably get your shoes cleaned for you to.

I’ve cracked the English whinge.  You say sweetly:  “I like English weather.  Everything changes so fast.  If you don’t go out for a single day, you miss the daffodils, or a tree that has changed color”.

The English man or woman is left in a dilemma.  Continue whinging and imply England is not up to scratch?  Won’t have that!

So they start being informative.  You’ll hear all about the plants they love.  Your walk to work, or your previously insalubrious train ride, will take on a fresh look as they point out all the best bits of scenery to look out for!

And it works on other topics too.  The English are as volatile as their weather.

Here

Hat-tip: Sally.  Thank you.

UPDATE:  David Whyte is a English poet who now resides in Washington, USA.  Marine biologist, NGO worker and poet, David Whyte is a resource for anyone who is interested the meaning of work in our time.  He writes on our lost sense of meaning and how to recover it by reaching out to all that is around us.

His books and CD’s are available on Amazon.

This link is to one of his rare appearances on YouTube.


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