laura ferrario

You Don’t Say!

laura ferrario

Vocabulary is not just a matter of communication but can express a point of view to our advantage. For example, little Suzy thinks of herself as a leader of the sandbox set while playmates see her as bossy. Mamma may call her little darling a bundle of energy while teacher sees her as hyperactive.

Family life brings its own contributions. I am a careful housekeeper, you are a fussbudget and she is a cleaning nut. I am married to a man who's a hard worker, your husband is a workaholic and hers is escaping a bad scene. My children are well disciplined, yours uptight and hers in need of counseling.

I see my neighbors as pushy; they see themselves as friendly. Alternatively, they might find me standoffish. If the community is closely knit, I participate, while you take advantage of everyone up and down the block. I keep an eye on events, you are nosy, and she is the town gossip.

The world of work shows me to be effective, although associates see me as demanding while others call me neurotically coercive. Reversing the direction, I am caring and understanding, you are a pushover, she is impotent. The nine-month academic year gives teachers a well‑deserved rest, lets them re‑charge their batteries or goof off, depending upon the point of view.

In business, I am a dedicated worker, you are a man trap, and she is on the make. My employer claims to set high standards while I see him as a slave driver. In contrast, my boss sees himself as delegating effectively while I find him lazy.

Politics are notorious for euphemisms. My candidate is charming and clever; yours is nothing but a pretty face. My candidate travels a great deal with a world outlook; yours joyrides at taxpayer’s expense. If he takes a vacation, he's not doing his job; if he doesn't, he's got something to hide. If he is decisive, he's trigger‑happy: if not, he’s probably too stupid to understand the issue.

Even daily interaction provides opportunity to judge. When someone is struggling, I keep away so as not to interfere, but you are indifferent and she is cold-hearted. If I try to help, I show compassion. When you do, you are stepping on that person’s independence. If I show pity, it’s because I am sympathetic. If you do, you are patronizing.

Social activists produce their own niceties. I volunteer out of love for humanity and a sense of purpose. You’re a bleeding heart or out of touch, he’s a patronizing snob while she’s too inept to find anything better to do with her time.

Church-life carries its own minefields. I serve on the Board and chair committees, putting my organizational skills to use, utilizing the gifts I was given. He is over his head and misrepresenting the faith while she exudes so much self-righteousness that no one wants to talk to her. Meanwhile the minister is either strong, or lacking in scholarship, having warmth or excessive community commitment depending on age, looks or charm.

Semantics? Well, a little. We see the pitcher half‑full or half‑empty depending on our mood and on what is happening today.