Friday April 21, 2017

“Will I win?”

The meaning behind the words

Telephone cable warning sign

A recent newsletter from revered adman, Bob Hoffman carried the oh-so-true words: “what you say is different from what you communicate” and a link to an article about him being the handsomest man in the world.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the UK is facing a snap general election. Our generally highly regarded former MP who lost his seat in 2015, canvassed, via Facebook, his friends (over 2000 and growing) and I guess, friends of friends, on whether he should stand in the forthcoming General Election.

“I will stand if you want me to…” was followed by a comprehensive outline of what he stands for, including areas where he doesn’t follow the Liberal Democrat party line. He was known for being very independently-minded when he was an MP.

The replies, still coming in four days later and numbering close to 500 have been mainly positive, a resounding ”Yes, please do.”

My first reaction on seeing this on my timeline (I’m a friend of a friend – for now) wasn’t “how thoughtful and well-considered,” a reaching out for a straw poll to gauge sentiment, but rather a more cynical and disquieting: what he’s really asking here is “will I win?”

An impression garnered simply from those opening words.

He was/is (at the time of writing this) still considering his position. If he’d just left it at that – a carefully worded “I’m considering my position on whether to stand…” and then outlined his priorities and motivation, the answers and comments would’ve been broadly the same but without the lingering unease of a tetchy wobble in search of feel-good approbation.

We all do it, both intentionally and unintentionally: say one thing and end up communicating something quite different.

We fish for compliments (no biggie I guess), make mealy mouthed apologies – “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and “agree to differ” – a surefire way to stop listening to each other. And as for the romantic sphere, it’s littered with “mis”communication, ‘get out of jail free’ stock phrases and euphemism. Ever heard, “it’s not you, it’s me” and “I don’t want to not be with you?” How’s that for a vote of confidence?

And of course, you could say I’m guilty too. What made me write this? You could call me a bandwagon-jumping opportunist who’s a little too pleased with herself…

Because yes, Andrew George, I do want you to stand but only if you want to.

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