Don’t quote me on that

images  “You’re a HR Director and an Executive Coach. You’ve done all that NLP stuff. So why are you such an a…hole at times?”

Maybe this (wholly justified) tirade from my lovely wife needs some explaining…

You see I didn’t mean any harm, I just didn’t think.  We had been for a brisk walk around our very small town and were nearly home when a small car, moving very slowly stopped ahead of us.  An elderly lady got out and peered up the drive of the large house she had pulled up in front of.  She looked quite puzzled.

“Excuse me, are you local?” she asked looking at my wife.  “We are looking for the Garden Centre.  We thought this might be it.  Do you know the way?”

She was outside what is,to my eyes, obviously a residence – Ok a large 17th century stone manor house, but still.  She’d also just driven past the massive garden centre and all of it’s huge signs, vast car park and large greenhouses.

“Yes we are local.” I said. “This is someone’s home, the Garden Centre is back the way you came about half a mile.  Straight across the roundabout and on right.” She looked worried. “You really cannot miss it.  It has huge signs and a big entrance to the car park.  If you do miss it there is a little lane a few hundred yards further on where you could turn round.”  I felt I was being especially helpful.

“Ah.” She said, very nervously “Straight over the roundabout?”

“Well it would help if you kind of wiggled round it.”  I said, smiling at my witty comment.

She looked very confused “Errr. What?”

“Straight over.  It isn’t hard.”

“Hmm, but well it goes round.  I mean …”

I pressed my advantage.  Confused by a roundabout, missing dirty great big buildings, thinking a house was a Garden centre.  What a fool.  I’d show her my superior intelligence.

“Yes, if you keep going you can go round and round, it is a roundabout.”

Finally my wife stepped in.  Physically placing herself between our puzzled visitor and myself. “If you just turn round, go back the way you came, take the first exit on the roundabout signposted Fairford, the Garden Centre is then 200 yards on your right and has a big wide entrance.”

We walked on in heavy silence and as we rounded a corner my wife rounded on me. I then received the tirade that started this piece.  I’d talked over my wife and upset a complete stranger.  I was feeling pretty bad, yet worse was to come.  I was pondering why I was such an a…hole ( a total lack of empathy on my part? being so self absorbed I failed to notice or react to any of the signals being given that I was causing distress) when we heard the little car cough into life, a crunching of gears, the whine of an over revved engine and finally the ‘Crump’ of a small car reversing into a stone pillar.

Congratulations.  Two old friends decided to go out for a drive in the countryside, maybe stop for lunch at the Garden Centre.  And I bloody terrified them.  They were clearly nervous, lost and confused.  And I decided to choose that moment to demonstrate my ‘superior’ wit.

I suggested going to help but rightly my wife pointed out that that might just finish them off.  In any event ‘that nice girl’ from up the street had just gone by and had stopped.


It’s clear I have work to do.  The good news is that we can all learn.  But Don’t quote me on that.

Its all Eggs Bacon Beans and a Fried Slice.

Did you see the one, yeah yeah,
The one they wrote in the paper just the other day,
Well, well would you believe it,
Well what I said, they took it all the wrong way.

Now you’ve gotta be careful, ’bout what you say,
Cos they’ve got a bad habit
Were you reading in between the lines?
Or is that what I said?, now I just can’t remember

Madness – Don’t Quote me on that


Scottish Indie rock and Yoda – without trying!


So after a ten year break the Scottish Indie rockers Franz Ferdinand have returned with a new album.    I immediately liked the title.  It feels strong and empowering.  But the more I thought about it it the more something felt wrong.

The thing is the words we use change the way we think.    Words can mean very different things to different people, based on their past experiences.  We have all no doubt been surprised when someone reacts unexpectedly to something we said.  But even putting this personal meaning aside words can be tricky blighters.

The words we use to describe something carry a huge amount of meaning much of which may be unintended, but which colours our thoughts. Simply by asking someone to ‘Try’ to do something we imply a degree of difficulty and an acceptance that failure is acceptable.  On the other hand simply asking someone to ‘do’ something implies that it is perfectly within their capabilities.  If you say to a child ” Here,  try this new food and see if you like it”  they are likely to taste a tiny amount and be ready to spit it out.  On the other hand “Here, do you want some of this?” might get a more open minded tasting.

As Yoda says ” There is no try, only do”

So a better title might be Right Words, Right Thoughts, Right Actions.