I used to be a very ‘wordy’ person – and I’m still a ‘wordy’ person to some extent as I often think and analyse problems while talking about them. Although it might work well for verbalised thinking, it often does not work well when it comes to communication and effective message transmission. As one of my wise friends once pointed out to me, often ‘less is more’ in communication. Last week I came across a brilliant example of that point in Nigel Latta’s book ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Teenagers’. He called it “a bad punctuation in communication” – apparently, a very COMMAn mistake, especially in inter-gender communication:
“Perhaps the worst offender is the humble comma… Whilst it might seem extreme, my advice would be to declare your home a comma-free zone. The comma will only bring trouble, and if you are wise you will have none of it. The rule of thumb is that anything which comes after the comma is nagging. Anything after a comma is simply going on about things.
The full-stop, on the other hand, is your friend. The full-stop can prevent many arguments. It can be used liberally with little fear…
Mothers tend to have far more difficulty with this basic… Commas come naturally to mothers that they are often unable to tell when they are using them. Mothers also take more convincing about the need to limit the use of question marks. Mothers often thing the best follow-up for one question mark is another question mark. Fathers are more full-stop oriented.”
“No, you can’t go to your friends place tonight, and before you ask me why, let me tell you, because if you were to speak a little more nicely to me and your father, and show us just a modicum of common courtesy, then I might have let you go, but you’re the one who decided to be rude, so you’re the one who can stay home, and if you want someone to blame for that, then don’t blame me, because I’m not the one who doesn’t think about anyone else in this family, although you probably don’t even notice the fact that I do lots of things for you that I never get any thanks for, like your washing, and cooking all the meals, and keeping this place clean, and ….”
How to fix that:
“No, you can’t go to your friend’s place tonight.”