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TOTD 20 Aug 2002

All language is manipulative; all language is attempted persuasion. Anytime you talk, you are attempting to persuade the others present to listen to what you have to say, rather than talking themselves; you are taking and holding the floor. When you talk, you want to be listened to, believed, respected, appreciated, accepted, agreed with. No matter how much you may wish to be neutral in your communication, you cannot not manipulate. As speaker, you are controlling the conversational space, whether you like that idea or not. And you cannot escape by refusing to talk, either; unilateral silence is one of the most manipulative forms of language, and one of the most negative.

Since you cannot choose between manipulative and nonmanipulative communication, your only choice -- unless you are willing and able to withdraw totally from all human interaction -- is the choice between skilled manipulation and unskilled manipulation. It is my firm opinion that since you must manipulate others with your language, it's best for you to know what you are doing and do it with skill.

-Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 20th, 2002 10:45 am (UTC)
so true!

Fabulous quote.

You have me searching for more from Ms. Elgin now. Recommendations gleefully accepted!
Aug. 20th, 2002 11:46 am (UTC)
Re: so true!
Well, I bet your search lead you to a title and phrase you've heard many times before; "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Dr. Elgin has written lots of books on that theme. I haven't read any of them. I did find lots of excerpts and synopses of her ideas (from which I lifted today's quote) here.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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