[Articles on Communication][Freeing the Mind]

How exactly did he hurt you?

In this series we are looking at the Being Specific Model. This model, when you have learned all of its parts will do marvellous things for you. Your interpersonal skills will improve, you will learn better and you will be less gullible, to mention only a few benefits. But I have to tell you this. Almost everyone who has learned the model has managed to get up the noses of all who have been the victim of their practice!

Strong medicine has the power to help tremendously, but until we learn to use it wisely we may produce unwanted effects. Practice the model on yourself, on your own thoughts to begin with and go easy on others.

As a treat here's a bit of theory from General Semantics (which is probably the basis of the Being Specific Model anyway.) The basic idea is that we are aware of far less than actually exists. And we report in words far less than we have in experience.

To start with we cannot experience all of the world. Our eyes only see in a limited range of frequencies. If we are colour blind we perceive even less. Similarly for the other sense. We can experience only part of the event. We call the part we can experience the object, which could be a person or a thing or a mental image. But we are not aware of all we could be aware of in the object. Have you ever looked at a car thinking how good it is only to have someone else point out the scratch on its door?

When it comes to words we express only a fraction of what we experience. We abstract, organise and distort the experience with words. When I say that scientists have proved this system, you would now ask, 'Which scientists, for example?' Because I have left out of the message the particular scientist or scientists who have 'proved' the system.

The Being Specific Model helps to bring back some of the detail and information that we have left out of the message.

When I said, 'Scientists have proved this,' you might wonder, 'How exactly did they proved it?'

If I said, 'I helped someone yesterday', you might ask, 'How exactly did you help them?'

If someone said, 'My husband hurt me', you might ask, 'How exactly did he hurt you?' (There is world of difference between forgetting to buy some flowers and punching someone in the nose!)

If someone tells me, 'You should learn some manners', I might ask, 'How exactly should I learn them?'

A simple way to make these questions less abrupt, say when you are talking to nice people, or counselling someone is to prefix them with 'I wonder...' For example, 'Mm! I wonder ... Exactly how did they prove it.'

For the practice period, remember to ask the question whenever you encounter a vague verb:

He went to town.

How exactly did he go?

I solved the problem.

How exactly did you solve it?

I worked hard.

How exactly did you work hard?

You get on my nerves.

How exactly do I get on your nerves?

Women are changing.

Which women, specifically?

How exactly are they changing?

What exactly are they changing?

Modern men are changing their roles.

Which modern men, specifically?

How exactly are they changing their roles?

Which roles, for example,  are they changing?

Remember that reading about something isn't the same as practising it. And if you don't do it, you won't learn it!

Send feedback, if you like.

Speak soon.

Ken Ward

Freeing the Mind

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Most Recent Revision: 20-Mar-99.
Copyright 1998, 1999 Ken Ward,
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