HOW DOES YOUR SAYING THAT MAKE IT A FACT?
There is a kind of language which is rather strange. The 'action' is completed merely by uttering the words. These words sometimes have to be uttered by a certain authorised person but not always.
For example, when you stand there in front of the clergyman and he says, 'I pronounce you man and wife,' then at that point you are married. What has happened? What has changed? What has happened is that someone has uttered some words, and because he or she has uttered them then something is true. For example:
The true expressions of this kind are ones where having said something an act has been done or performed. (For this reason they are sometimes called performatives).
(You have, as a result of this statement been warned.)
(You have been ordered to stop talking - I don't suppose you will stop, though! But you have been ordered.)
This reveals a way of thinking wherein we believe that something is the case because someone said it.
For example, why should we be upset because someone says we are stupid? For no reason other than we think because they say it it is true. It acts like a performative.
One response to these is to make clear who is the origin of the statement.
According to whom are we man and wife?
(This makes the speaker self-conscious and perhaps wonders about his or her reasons.)
THE question for performatives is illustrated below:
Sometimes we get a sensible or reasonable response to the question: How does your saying something make it a fact? Other times it reveals that what could be a powerful persuasion technique is really empty.
The Being Specific Model can sometimes appear confrontational. This is not the purpose. Questions asking for clarification are preferable to contradictions. You have to use these questions sensibly and try not to put people on the spot, if you haven't built rapport with them.
This question for performatives can really bring into our awareness what the assumptions and reasons for a statement are. It can also make clear exactly what a sales person is offering, for example.
Now I urge you to use and practice all the elements of the Being Specific Model. You can find past postings in HTML form at one of the web sites below.
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Most Recent Revision: 20-Mar-99.
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