I received a gentle correction the other day. I had fallen into the habit of replying to the common greeting ‘How are you?’ with ‘Not too bad, thanks.’ The point of contention was on my use of the double negative. The focus on the negative ‘bad’ rather than saying ‘I’m good thanks,’ leaves a poor resonance on your soul. ‘Out of a man’s heart, so he speaks’, the double negative infers that my thoughts were probably not where they could be. Thoughts determine actions, and if I am continually reinforcing a negative emotion every time someone greets me then it’s going to build up eventually.
Armed with this knowledge I observed the rest of my speech for the next few days. Oh horrors, the double negative was everywhere! How was business?-‘not too bad thanks’, How is your head?-‘not as sore as it was’, How did the presentation go?-‘not a total disaster. There was a virtual minefield of them scattered liberally throughout my vocabulary. It was as though someone had slowly replaced my tongue with another. Some serious de-mining was called for. The next time someone greeted my I almost bit my tongue off to stop the reaction. ‘Not too…ah, actually I’m good thanks.’ The next time I forgot, hit myself over the head, and succeeded in the next dozen or so consecutive responses.
Since then my speech has been a little sweeter, a lot more positive and better constructed. Rather than being just out the starting blocks, I am now well on my way to a better vocabulary.