When I was a little kid, my younger, older brother liked to play a game with me. He called the game “Flinch.”
Okay, kid, here’s how it goes. I’ll pretend to hit you, but I won’t. I’ll do it when you least expect it. If you flinch, I get to hit you for real on the shoulder. Then it’s your turn to try to make me flinch too.
It was a boy’s game and he was a big brother playing with a much younger little girl. I didn’t stand a chance.
He’d throw fast false punches at me. Sometimes I’d face them off bravely, but sooner or later he’d catch me off guard.
I’ve thought a lot about that game since I’ve gotten tall.
What Happens When We Flinch?
Imagine someone you hardly know flinched every time you walked by. What would you think about that?
I’m suspecting that most folks would want to explain that they had no intention of striking out … attempt to ease the concern that made the person move back.
But suppose the person kept flinching, even after you explained. Soon enough most folks would probably start to dislike the flincher, start to feel mad.
“Who does that flincher think I am? I’d never hit anyone. Why does that person think that about me?” Some folks might even get mad enough to want to give the flincher a reason to have something to be flinching about. Yeah.
You flinch and after a while people think they’re supposed to hit you.
Flinching when we talk says that we don’t trust the people around us as we move back defensively like that.
Flinching in Conversation
It’s not often that we see people flinch as if they’ll be hit by a physical blow. But if we listen, we can hear people flinch in conversation regularly.
We discount ourselves in little ways. Recently, in a conversation, a friend who is a successful business man, someone of high professional stature and who has achieved a certain level of fame said the following two sentences.
Sentence one: “I was telling a story much like Jack Canfield does.”
Sentence two; “Of course, I’m no Jack Canfield.”
Of course he’s not like Jack Canfield … he didn’t have to say that. His sentence two was backing off from the possibility that I might disapprove of sentence one. I wasn’t going to knock him down literally or figuratively. His example had been fine with me.
We learn to not promote ourselves by doing it wrong. We overplay something we’re proud of and we hear a reprimand. We puff with an accompllishment and someone comes along with a pin to take the wind out of us. It’s that feedback that has taught us to flinch when we hear ourselves talking nice about ourselves now.
When we take true statements back, we’re flinching. I wonder if that doesn’t bring out any conversational bully who might be around.
Do you flinch when you talk about yourself or business?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!