When I studied to become a Transactional Analyst in the 70s, I learned how to analyze T-shirt slogans. What fun. Why? A slogan is a slippery transaction because it has a stated positive meaning, and an implied negative meaning. For example, suppose a T-shirt says this: “You analyze too much.” Its stated positive meaning is “Don’t worry. Be happy.” And its implied negative meaning: “You’re a worrywart.”
Come analyze with me! Here are some T-shirt slogans that I discovered during communications training meetings this week…and some ideas about what they might mean:
1. You don’t understand.
Interpretation: If you don’t agree to mirror what I feel, think, say or do, then I will lay a guilt trip on you.
2. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.
Interpretation: I won’t change what I don’t want to change, and I’ll use age as my excuse for not doing so.
3. I’d like to BUT…
Interpretation: I’d like to be more positive BUT my negative mood and mindset are in control here.
4. Everyone else is doing it.
Interpretation: I shouldn’t have to make hard, good choices when other people are making easy, negative choices.
5. There’s never enough time.
Interpretation: If you want to know the truth, I make time for what I want to do and don’t make time for what I don’t want to do.
6. You (they) drive me crazy.
Interpretation: I give you the right to play with my mind and drive me crazy and then complain about the whole mixed-up mess.
7. The buck stops here.
Interpretation: The dollar stops with me but the blame lands on your doorstep.
8. It’s not my fault.
Interpretation: I always have a good logical reason for why I’m not responsible for the mistakes I make.
Interpretation: For the sake of power, I’m going to make you put more energy into this conversation than I do.
10. I was only kidding.
Interpretation: Since I didn’t intend to hurt you, you shouldn’t hold me accountable for stepping on your toes and causing you pain.
11. You’re being so negative!
Interpretation: The most negative thing I can say to you right now is that you’re being SO negative.
12. I have to be honest with you.
Interpretation: A white lie here and there never hurt anyone.
Are you sending out positive messages that will create the positive life you seek? If not, why not? Today, make time to talk positively and accurately to yourself and others for a change.
Dr. Dennis O’Grady is a communications psychologist from Dayton, Ohio, and the author of TALK TO ME: Communication moves to get along with anyone