WHAT did you say?

Fresh from Shelle Rose Charvet’s ‘Words that Change Minds’ Consultant/Trainer programme, where I’d spent two weeks focusing on specific patterns in language and practicing precise communication, I needed to visit my local branch of Halfords. I only wanted some new wiper blades for my car.

I consulted the list of car models and dates and discovered that mine weren’t in stock. So I went to the Parts Desk (an interesting concept if you’re an NLP-er!) and asked if they could be ordered.

The young man who checked on the computer for me asked me to repeat the model of car the blades were intended for and then asked, ‘Do you know the registration at all?’

My brain stalled. My mental processes groped around wildly for a few moments until I realised that what he actually wanted was my car registration! I gave it to him and the sale progressed. Or rather it didn’t because he couldn’t find what he wanted to on the system and had to ask a colleague etc etc

But that’s not the point. Why did my brain refuse to process a perfectly simple request for information? I think it was because I had been surrounded by such precision communication for so long that I’d forgotten that most people don’t use language very well.

Do I know the registration AT ALL? What does that mean? Either I know my car registration or I don’t. So he must be asking me for something else. Do the wiper blades have a registration? No, that would be a reference. No wonder my brain could not compute!

I really don’t like hearing the English language used in such vague and illogical ways. It reminds me of countless other examples; my real pet hate is the use of ‘yourself’ instead of ‘you’. “We’ll send that out to yourself in the post”.

I got equally frustrated when I walked around my local House of Fraser and on every department someone asked me, ‘Are you alright there?’ until I begin to feel I must look unwell. One time I almost snapped back, ‘Don’t you mean, “Are you looking for something particular?” or even “Can I sell you something?”’ Of course, I didn’t, I’m far too polite. I just told the hundreds of people who read my blog instead!


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