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  • Writer's pictureMichael Holme

An alphabetic diffusion

Long after the event, an elderly friend of mine, told me he had been trying to cultivate the habit of silently counting to ten, to help find a less angular and reasoned reply or retort, after someone had annoyed or offended him. I'd been that person, after an attempt to be funny and friendly backfired catastrophically.

This was probably not a new method, because it's been postulated that the Roman Emperor Augustus from 27 BC to 14 AD, who was known for his bad temper, but also his encouragement of education and cultural enrichment of the populace, would mentally run through the alphabet in such heated situations.

Unsurprisingly I expect, I've noticed politicians are hopeless in this manner. At least UK ones are. Of course, they often offer quite unrelated words, and after several such responses, a more relevant one may emerge, but if they're determined to be avoidant, it won't.

It seems Politicians are not so good in the heat of the moment. The fixed party line trots out. In contrast, there are well known people on social media, who consider their responses effectively. For example, Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk, Richard Dawkins, and Sadguru. I once saw Elon Musk pausing for around about 15 to 20 seconds before he answered a question. He wasn't in an argument, but was certainly bring scrutinised, somewhat morally even. His complete calm in that situation was a powerful and rare sight, and by anyone's measure. Peterson is perhaps the more stressed. I think people might be more keen to catch him out, and his subject base is less specialised than Elon's, for example. However, his knowledge of statistical data is bullet proof. To use that infuriating adage, "it is what it is".

If you do try to count to ten, in an attempt to moderate your reply, you might find it's a long time, and aggravating of anxieties. Maybe practise "1, 2, 3" first. Build it up. Who knows where this will take you? I'm leaving this with you...

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