Stuck on Words

The Chairman of the National Republican Committee, Michael Steele, was recently interviewed by NPR reporter, Steve Inskeep. And they got stuck on words.

The Chairman was the first to attack: “You’re doing a wonderful little dance here and trying to be cute,” he stated. Inskeep entered the fray by replying, ” I respect that you feel that I’m doing a dance here,” and counterattacked, “You are giving me a very nice, nuanced position here.” The Chairman then became defensive.

Steele: It is not nice and nuanced. I’m being very clear

Inskeep: You are giving me, nevertheless, a nuanced position.

Steele: What’s nuanced? What don’t you understand?

Their first dance finally ended when Steel bite pro review Inskeep recognized it as leading them into a wall and said, “Maybe we’re getting hung up on the word ‘nuanced;’ maybe I should say, ‘complicated.'”

But Inskeep, rather than end the performance, started anew. He attacked Steele again by asking, “Do you find it challenging to get into this complicated debate and explain things to people in a way that it’s honest to the facts and still very clear and doesn’t kind of scare people with sound bites?”

Steele parried, “Look, no one’s trying to scare people with sound bites.”

These two intelligent men were arguing in public in front of a national audience. They attacked and defended their positions as if they were two children in the playground.

How many of us get hung up on words?

How many of our arguments deteriorate into Who Said What?, a personal version of Abbott and Costello’s heated comical debate, Who’s on First?

Getting beyond individual words, recognizing the quicksand into which we’ve fallen, takes courage. One person needs to take a deep breath, step back and pull the other out of the pit of recrimination.

The ability to stop, look and listen ensures the safety of adults in conversation as much as children crossing the street. It is the strength we seek when involved in a relationship.

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