- Thoughts for inspired living

December 16, 2014

Christmas Intonations

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:55 am

C698791 mDid you ever notice how words or phrases can have different meanings depending on how they’re said?

I’ve been musing about some words we hear at this time of year and the different meaning they connote depending on their usage and delivery.

Let’s try these on for size:





“Good” and “Bad” are childhood words we were weaned on. “Good girl,” Bad boy” or vice-versa are familiar to most of us.

You can imagine how they change meaning depending on the situation. Let’s pretend that you have given your boss three pieces of unwelcome business news and then moments later you hit him with a fourth. His response is “Oh, good.”

How about “naughty” and “nice”?

“Naughty” and “Nice” have different meanings in the homeroom than they do on the honeymoon. No one needs to spell that out for you.

So what’s the larger point? Watch your language! Watch your delivery!

Good and bad are really words that have lots of emotional baggage attached to them and you would be better served using synonyms you learned in high school as substitutes – Productive/counterproductive and useful/not useful come to mind. Dr. Dave Dobson taught us that “good” and “bad” are words we were toilet trained with, and even though we use and perceive those words in different contexts as adults, there is still a part of us that harkens back to that “trying” period when we hear those words.

Dave called it a “transderivational search.” Our mind is looking for all the references we have for any word when we hear it. It happens at mind numbing speed but all contexts are considered. The “adult” words we learned later in life have less references attached and are more precisely tied to a meaning.

Just compute these two sentences:

“That’s ‘good’ information.”

“That’s ‘productive’ information.”

On the surface they may appear as the same thing; below decks, there’s a lot more going on. And the one with more references is more ambiguous in it’s meaning than the other.

Regarding delivery, sarcasm is like a spice. It can accent a meal or ruin it. If sarcasm is your “go to” delivery, you will wear on people quicker than the brownie plate disappears on the set of “The Biggest Loser.”

Here’s a yuletide tip: Put away your sarcasm for the holidays and you won’t have to heat your house with coal.

Check your language twice. We can all be more precise and less biting with our words; it just takes a bit of noticing. And remember, Santa is watching.

All the best,


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