Avoid meta messages – Roundtable 48

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Meta-messages come from undeveloped interpersonal or linguistic intelligences, and they torpedo the very people you hoped to win.

Have you noticed  when we speak meta-messages we leave victims running for escape hatches? We begin to question flaws between their lines because what we hear is not what speakers mean. How does it happen? When we lack interpersonal  intelligence, we tend to use meta-messages instead of honest communications, and some even wonder why their victims bolt. It doesn’t have to be that way.

These masks also kill brainpower for future exchanges whenever meta-messages …

  • In sales, dive-bomb consumers at a business like a vulture swoops down for its kill. In response,  folks flee. Brain shut down with cortisol that comes through insincere statements such as, How are you? when you really mean, “How’s your bank account?”
  • In conflict, state meta-messages such as – All’s OK –  when it’s not, and you’re really holding a grudge about unspoken problems. Amygdalas flare, like lightning strikes iron rods, through meta-messages insincerity of words.
  • In learning, pretend you understand long before you do, and watch those you lead default back to ruts because you failed to speak sincerely, and so could not apply new facts accurately.
  • In communication, claim no feelings hurt, when emotions were literally crushed, and that meta-message sends convoluted meanings that leaves whole circles with mental regrets.

What do people really mean anyway, when they use camouflages such as –

1. I don’t mean to be critical but …
2. That’s OK …
3. Catch me next time…
4. It doesn’t really matter, but …
5. It’s only because I care that I tell you this …
6. Guess I’ll have to do it by myself from now on …
7. No hurt feelings… but …
8. I don’t really mind at all …
9. Sorry …
10. I don’t mean to be negative, but …

If meta-messages are simple covers with convoluted meanings,  they rarely hide how speakers feel. Nor does it take Dr. Phil to  pick up on the fact that what people say in pretense may not be what they mean.

Check out the vernacular for common meta-messages below to see if you’ve detected similar hidden meanings from people you know.

1. People say – I don’t mean to be critical but they mean – this stuff stinks!
2. That’s Ok – which means – cause you’re too dumb to get it right anyway!
3. Catch me next time – is really meant to add –  if you can run faster than me from this thing!
4. It doesn’t really matter – means –cause you’ll never get it right anyway!
5. It’s only because I care that I tell you this – translates into – because if I didn’t say that first you’d likely pop me one when you hear what I have to tell you!
6. Guess I’ll have to do it by myself from now on – is really saying – cause none of you jerks will help!
7. No hurt feelings – is simply the disguise for – cause you’re too crude to waste feelings on anyway!
8. I don’t really mind – translates into – cause if I let myself mind I’d sue you for your last breath!
9. Sorry – says in reality –   you’re cramping my style and that’s a major problem, so don’t expect more cause I’m apologizing ahead.
10. How do you like my work – more truthfully begs –  Say it’s great. Say it rocks. Say it’s brilliant, OK?

Meta-messages torpedo trust and pretense prevents open communications in many toxic workplaces.  People say what others want to hear to avoid speaking what’s really on their mind? The opposite of meta-messages, tone that communicates sincerity can build goodwill even among people who disagree. Do you observe more tone or meta-messages?

Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset

This tool is available on my TpT site

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