What do you say, America?

Please don’t label me a pedant or martinet. Honestly, I battle tirelessly not to be overly expectant with other’s word choices while conversing. I know I certainly have been guilty of fumbling, stammering, misusing, butchering, offending with, and eating my offered words aplenty! Who amongst us hasn’t anguished over what they should have said? Nevertheless, the specific verbiage and inflection we choose when communicating with each other do reflect mightily on the speaker and often set an important tone. Please rally citizens; we can do better!
Further, I am not concerned here about the comfortable vernacular we share with family and friends. Even though communication deficiencies are cited as the number one cause of divorce in the U.S., I am really zeroing in on conversations between acquaintances who converse anew. It is the transactional back and forth that seems to lack earnest intent these days. The standards have fallen so far that I seem to mentally grant esteem and good faith to others who show any real effort beyond a grunt!
I will do my best not to reveal myself as a surly baby boomer overly occupied with today’s lack of effective and civil discourse. I am not addressing bad grammar per se, but more directly the effort and corresponding selection on what to put forth verbally. In my day, one was more often greeted with a smile and a welcoming comment when entering an establishment. I miss that. Unfortunately, we all tend to latch on to the patterns of speech and discussions that we are comfortable with and accustomed to employing, even if the situation is nuanced. I sense a general lack of energy more than incapability. Also, I cringe when dining out and a server offers a “no problem“ response when a “my pleasure” would send a more appealing and apt message. Why introduce at all the idea of an obstacle during a simple response? I realize this expression is innocuous to younger folks, but it illustrates a language/age gap that can foster confusion and ill will.

Also, I cringe when dining out and a server offers a “no problem“ response when a “my pleasure” would send a more appealing and apt message.

There are many facets of America and, equally, as many ways to interact and successfully convey thoughts, ideas, and feelings to each other. We should try harder to connect more effectively using all manner of these. America’s official spoken English would be a great start! Has the cell phone entirely replaced our need for pleasant, clear, face-to-face speech? It seems we are perhaps out of practice? English? Let’s not stop there. Rather than ostracize our recent addition of Hispanic Americans for not speaking America’s tongue. We could grow our cultural range and friend group by learning some basic Spanish!
As imperfect humans, we are all capable of blurting, swearing, being unintelligible, and sometimes just going full-on catatonic when spoken to. Each generation’s style of slang is not my issue either. Lord knows my adolescent use of “psyche” or “bad” (good) confused and irked my elders, but at least I was discernably present while speaking. Well, mostly…. it was the experimental 70’s! I feel as if today’s filler words weaken the tidings too. Beginning all remarks with “so” and then heavily peppering in “um,” “like,” “literally”, and “know what I mean” dilutes the message. It’s not “awesome”!! Still, if these distracting additives are said with a smile, I am open to try and participate fully in the intercourse. Regardless of one’s expectations, we all should be more tolerant if a genuine attempt to engage is being made. (Yes, I am reminding myself!)

None other than Warren Buffet preaches the value and importance of communication skills. He considers mastering effective communication the best investment a person can make in themselves and a key to eventual wealth.

If only there was a universal way to communicate across generations and with varied groups of the U.S. that could satisfy all of us. Wouldn’t it be spectacular if we could quickly learn to “read the room” and opt for words that would always be receiver appropriate? Hey, what if we tried to monetize the idea of better communication? None other than Warren Buffet preaches the value and importance of communication skills. He considers mastering effective communication the best investment a person can make in themselves and a key to eventual wealth. Let’s tap into our capitalist DNA by encouraging trenchant verbal proclivity for riches. We CAN sharpen our small talk, America! It could pay off big someday! Wouldn’t that be literally awesome!! JAH

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John A. Hughes

John A. Hughes

John Hughes hails from Wilmington, Delaware. He has lived throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England in his 35 years working in the Commercial Furniture Industry. He remains an active parent of 2 children in their twenties and enjoys running and golfing.

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