So, you think you are reasonable?

27 Jun

Do you think of yourself as a reasonable person?  If so, then would this be a ‘reasonable’ request?

“Give me your credit card number and I’ll get JUST what I need!”

Of course not!

How about this?

          “Would you & your husband care to trade babysitting?  You guys go ahead and pick a date night and we’ll watch your kids; then we’ll choose an evening and you can keep an eye on our kids.  That way each week we can each count on a responsible babysitter and it won’t cost us any money!”

I grew up thinking that the term ‘reasonable’ meant in essence the same as “not asking too much”.

But actually, if an idea is reasonable, then it means that there are adequate grounds to support it.  Usually we refer to conclusions as being reasonable, or supported by adequate and sufficient reason.

Here’s an example:

Eating candy and not rinsing one’s mouth or brushing one’s teeth can cause tooth decay. Tooth decay can lead to multiple visits to the dentist. Some dental work is painful. So if you don’t want the cost, inconvenience and possible pain that can accompany dental visits, don’t eat candy without cleaning your teeth!

We often use terms without knowing the concept or idea they actually refer to.  This happened to me growing up.  Each time I would start to argue with my dad, he would say, “Maria, stop equivocating!”  I don’t think I understood what ‘equivocating’ was, except that I did know that I was challenging him and he didn’t like it.  So I figured that to equivocate was the same as to argue.

Years later I realized that ‘EQUIVOCAL’ words were terms that are spelled and pronounced identically BUT refer to completely different concepts.  Why is this important?  – because…… we often jump on someone and start arguing with them without REALLY knowing what they mean.  For instance, they might say: “It’s GOOD to be the King!”

And when YOU think about royalty and leadership, because of a particular context you have in your head, you might default to remembering past monarchs who have been overthrown and beheaded, like Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette.  Launching into a heated discourse without knowing what your interlocutor meant by ‘good’ could be both embarrassing and wasteful of your and his time!

Again, it’s always ‘GOOD’ (i.e. helpful, wise and less pride-ful) first to clarify what someone means by their language before you even launch into a discussion.

If you want to begin using logic and clear thinking, the best place to start is with terms and the concepts they refer to.

What terms have tripped you up in the past and led you into unintended heated and/or fruitless discussions?

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