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Disqualifying Disclaimers

Someone my husband and I know who lives in another state, often prefaces and concludes comments to us with a sandwich of D.D.’s.

The Disqualifying Disclaimer.

For example, this person begins the remarks with “I really don’t want to make you angry or upset.” Then he/she continues on with whatever he/she has planned to tell us. And at the end of said comments, our friend concludes with, “Now, if I upset you, please forgive me.”  By the time  we, the listeners have figured out that an insult is coming, the speaker has already rattled off the criticism, and wrapped up the monologue with a concluding Disclaimer (such as: sorry to have had to tell you this…).

I call  this pattern of communicating and “introducing” unpleasant remarks, the “Disqualifying Disclaimer” because once it (the intro) is said — if the listener is alert — the D.D. can be the ultimate give-away to the listener. The give-away is  that whatever is to follow, will be the exact opposite of what the Disclaimer/Intro has claimed it would be.

The D.D. disqualifies what the speaker is about to say, rather than strengthens it.

The D.D. goes something like this:

Well, to be perfectly honest….(followed by some gibberish that the listener now knows is NOT true).

Well, trust me when I tell you that…(followed by some serious discussion of some material that the listener now is warned NOT to trust).

Here’s another winner:

You see, I hope you don’t mind me telling you, but…(I’m now going to rattle off a  harsh insult directed at the listener because I already said I hope you don’t mind, so it’s okay.)

When I hear these introductions, I try to tune out the rest – by singing (to myself – in my head) “It’s a small world after all….la la la la…” or other such distracting ditty.

But more often than not, I forget to do the ditty.

I vow to myself that next time I will respectfully ask the person to communicate more positively.

All these disclaimers have one thing in common:

Defensiveness. The person who is speaking them or writing them, is defending his or her position before actually saying it. One should not have to defend or protect something that is true, accurate or valid.

And all these D.D’s only serve to weaken —not strengthen – what is to come.

Rule of thumb? Just say it. Say what ya mean, and mean what ya say. No need to defend or introduce.

And if it might be offensive, then try the rule: “When In Doubt, Don’t.”

Now, if I offended anyone by this post….please forgive me. (NOT! Scratch that…)

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