I used to frequently end my sentences with that modifier. My wife eventually told me to stop it. No one liked it and it was not really a question I was asking. It was just a way to get a response to a statement. Or more likely, to receive affirmation on what I wanted.
A recent conversation got me thinking again about the power of our words. More importantly, what we expect as a return on the words we share. Rarely do we dispense words with nothing meant in return. They solicit a response, an action, a direction, a feeling. We want our words to be meaningful.
Kenneth Gangel, author of Feeding & Leading, says those in leadership, and really all of us, need to define the expectations of our message based on what we desire to communicate. This desire is shaped by what we expect of those around us. More importantly, the meaning and relationship we desire to result from our communication. It sounds so mechanical, but consider a day’s worth of your conversations and statements. Consider including all those whispered under your breath, and even those said in your head as a response to your inner dialogue.
Gangel would say you need to consider 2 things: Understanding and Agreement.
My ‘…right?’ addendum to a statement meant I sought agreement. Many times when we speak we desire to find agreeability. It makes us feel good. It deters conflict. It means we can commune. Or at least that is what we think we are achieving. Usually it means we are hoping that everyone can achieve an enjoyable status quo in the setting. Often people will find just enough separation from the matter to maintain an attitude of congeniality without cost.
That does not mean we are on the same team, we just avoid putting too much weight on the balance of the relationship. Or we separate ourselves from those who disagree with us, making the matter about our personal validation more important than the person or the ability to have honest dialogue. That’s not good.
The other option is gaining and giving understanding. This takes more time, more energy, and can cost us a lot more in the long run. Being understood is important. It is not the be all and end all of every part of a relationship, but it is vital for long term communication. It can sound pretty formal to assert understanding over simply agreeing to save the face of relationship, but clarity builds respect and trust. It allows people the space to knowingly disagree, remove themselves from a greater commitment, or better yet, engage in open dialogue. Not an angry disapproval of the person, but kind open understanding.
Personally, I say I love the ideal of people speaking freely, but I know that is not always true. I desire agreement and the feeling of a unified spirit with others. I call that a ‘fake harmony’. Often that can come at the cost of others withholding their investment in the bond being formed.
I love it when people agree with me. But I am learning to love it even more when we understand one another openly. Even if we disagree.