What are you responsible for?

Today R, quoting NLP, said you are responsible for 100% of what you say and what people hear. Your words and their meaning have to be shaped by you to clearly speak to your audience.

First of all, that means that anyone you talk to has to be known and understood intimately, because if not, how can you know what to say to them and how to say it? That doesn’t work in my marriage too well. We have on rare instances argued when both of us agreed, because we didn’t understand that we were agreeing with each other. There is no one I know better than my husband, but I cannot always say things so that he hears them like I want him to.

Second, it means that the mood of the hearer/audience, their reactions that are unique to the day and not connected to your words, shouldn’t make any difference. Every Sunday the guys wave us quickly and want us to park in such a space, even when someone is getting out of a car in the next space. But today it particularly irritated me. They didn’t change their communication, but my response to it changed. How is that their responsibility?

Third, I can say something that a “normal” person would interpret one way. That is, most people in my circle, say 75%, would react a certain way. But then I am talking to one of the minority and don’t know it because the audience didn’t announce that they had a certain predisposition. So they take what I am saying one way where almost anyone else would have taken it another. Is that my fault? Is that my responsibility?

Fourth, it says that the listener has no responsibility. They are hearers only. They are empty vessels which are filled with my words. So if I am a powerful orator and I convince my audience that I am the new hope for the world, they have no responsibility for following me; it is all my doing. And thus we absolve the Germans, even those who knew it was wrong, of the Holocaust. It is this way that thinking has been devalued. If the listener has no responsibility, then the audience need not examine the arguments for truth or falsehood, for consequences, for long-term effects.

I think I as a listener am responsible for not only the words I listen to (garbage in, garbage out) but also for my interpretation of them as well as my implementation of them. So I would say that the speaker, the writer, has the least part of responsibility, though perhaps the greater need for persuasiveness.