Do You Understand What I'm Saying?

When I was little, relatives from Arkansas used to visit us for a week. Within just a few days of their arrival, my usual Yankee tongue would turn into an odd twang, as words became an an odd mix of Southern drawl and rhotic severity. My family used to poke fun at me for something I don't think I consciously intended to do. I was a little chameleon, soaking up all around me. I think, too, I knew back then that, "When in Rome, do as the Romans." Even if I was actually in Massachusetts, doing as the Southerners.

To survive we must adapt. I realize, with respect to communication, this is what I have done. I'm me in all situations, and most people, whether at work, home, or socially, would agree that I'm loud, like attention, am (sorta?) funny, outgoing, and bossy. They'd tell you I step to the beat of a slightly off-beat drummer but that I usually mean well, I like helping people, and I enjoy communicating. (They will also tell you other bad things, but they can keep that to themselves.) It's how I communicate, but the lexicon, or specifically, vocabulary, shifts, depending on the audience with whom I am communicating. It becomes a situational pattern, I've realized, where I use the same words, and phrases over and over, depending on the audience. Here are some examples.

Suppose I am at work. Whether writing or speaking, my days include these words and phrases: facilitate, reach out, touch base, circle back, regards, dear, engage, cohort (love!), propose, suggest, agree, disagree, implement, going forward, support, fyi,include, demonstrate, assess, and one of my faves-just checking-in (code for, why haven't you replied yet?).

Now, if I am at home with the kids, it sounds more like this: potty, tubby, focus, no, no, no, because I said so, hurry up, come on, be quiet, settle down, no, no, no, love, sweetie pie, honey, baby, that was fun but now we're done, let's go, rise and shine and Give God Your Glory, Glory!, wash your hands, gimme a smooch, nice bum, wipe your bum, I don't know where the "marote is", put that away, give me a hug. I love you.

So, if I am at home with Andy, the vocab choices are a reflection of my mood. Our communication is usually done between carrying on another conversation. Like this, "Did I tell you about no, I said you couldn't have any more gum, did I tell you about what happened at work t, no, I didn't get the mail. What was I saying? Uhh. Never mind. I don't remember."

If I'm in a bad mood, and feeling stern with Andy, it could go one of two ways. I either slip into work-speak, like this, "I'm sorry to inform you that you neglected to communicate with me about the meeting you plan to attend this evening. That is unacceptable and we need to touch base more about this issue and address how to implement changes going forward."

Or, I can channel my logger, trucker, lumberman upbringing, and say something like this, (all very loudly, of course.) "F off. F you. What the F. Kiss my A. Go to H. I'm not yelling. I'm not yelling. F you."

My favorite situation, however, is hanging with my family. Yes, I was raised in Western Massachusetts, where we like to pronounce every syllable for the most part, except the "h" in Amherst because who the hell does that? We use words like grinder, sneaker, and package store. We get gas at Cumbies. We shop in Hamp. But, I love my family for their, should I say, country charm, and so, after not too long at home, I'm saying things like, "Quit yer rootin' on the couch" or "He was talkin', walkin' and doin'". Other words are normal in this setting, like holler, supper and sloppin'. Oh, and I will always respond when called Missy. Or Mandy, or Molly. (Those were the dogs. At least I wasn't called Chubby, the name of the goat and, simultaneously, another dog.)Throw in some f bombs and it's good to be home!

So, whether at work, or with my children, my husband, or around my relatives, I'm still me. I may say things a little bit differently but in the end, I just want to talk, talk, talk-to you, or whom ever. I just want you all to understand what I'm trying to say, or write. Let's communicate!

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