Bouncing back

Have you ever tried dropping a word or phrase into a conversation and seeing how long it takes for the other person to use it? It usually takes between 30 seconds and two minutes for it to bounce back to you.  If this was a real life example then the word I’d expect to come back would be “bounce” in the same conversation but not necessarily in the same context.

In the last week I have read the phrase “back in the day” three times on different blogs (Le Pen Quotidien, Suz at Large and Paddy K), each entry posted on the 28th or 29th of December.  I noticed it the first time I read it because it jarred slightly.    So, never at all and then three times in a week.  At first I thought that someone, somewhere has dropped that phrase into the collective conversation at the end of December and what I was seeing were the ripples, however the phrase “back in the day” is a song and a movie, so it’s obviously a phrase that’s out there, even if I’ve not heard it before.  Checking it was actually used less in December than in November or October.   So much for my theory, then.

Even so, let me recommend the game of dropping words into conversations.  It works best in three- or multi-handed conversations (pubs, meetings, that sort of thing) and works best with simple and appropriate words that aren’t entirely obvious given the context.

Well, it passes the time.

4 responses to “Bouncing back

  1. This week for me it’s been “mindful.” Everyone seems to be saying it to someone who then copies this and bounces it back in conversation to someone else.

    Nobody’s “aware” any more, is seems we’re all “mindful” now!

  2. “Going forward” seems to be prevalent. Everyone interviewed on R4 uses it at least once.

    * shudder

  3. I think this has to do with how empathetic the person that you are talking to is. I knew a girl once whose entire accent would subtly change to match whoever whe talked to. I find myself matching the rhythms and cadences of the other person’s speech.

    I also think it has to do with dominance and confidence – the less dominant party in the conversation will automatically start mirroring the more dominant person which will include using the same words.

    Interesting to watch it happening in biggish groups, and fun to try to predict who will be the copiers and who will be the leaders.

    (sorry for not being around much lately – this has had the side effect that I’ve got lots of good stuff to catch up on)

  4. The problem with everyone talking about being “mindful” Shrink, is that it has a very specific and useful meaning, which it’s very easy not to get. Oh well.

    “Going Forward” is a particular bete noir of Lucy Kelloway of the FT, Teuchter. She’s written a wincingly hilarious book called “Martin Lucas: Who Moved My Blackberry” taking gleeful pot-shots at that sort of language.

    Kelli, you’re probably bang on the money with those comments, and I’m annoyed with myself for not thinking that for myself.

    Thanks all for reading and commenting.


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