I was out to lunch with a colleague last week, and the waiter asked for my order.
“To start, I think I’ll go with the carrot soup, and for the entree, I think the seafood risotto sounds good.”
Over and done in a matter of seconds...or so I thought.
“Is that what you really want to eat?” she asked.
“Because you didn’t sound too sure. You kept on saying ‘I think’.”
“Mere figure of speech,” I countered. “No big deal.”
“No...no BIG deal, but it does make you sound less than authoritative. If you know what you want, why not say so instead of saying ‘I think’?”
Tipping point time. Part of me wanted to bark out: “Who gives a rat’s ass? Why are you so preoccupied with these petty semantics? It’s just a lunch order, for crissakes!”
But the bigger, smarter, more diplomatic part of me gave it some, shall we say, thought. She had a point. If I knew what I wanted, why didn’t I just say it?
Peppering conversations with “I think” is another one of those annoying verbal tics, like “uhs” and “you knows.” But you usually DON’T know you’re doing it until someone has the gumption to point it out as you do.
Nothing wrong with thinking; Lord knows we can use a lot more of it, particularly in board rooms and in upper chambers of government. But thinking out loud is more a sign of uncertainty than it is of intelligence.
And in a world where every word, every move, every unspoken fragment of body language is scrutinized to form part of an overall evaluation, I’d rather be seen as decisive rather than wishy-washy. Even if it’s only soup and seafood risotto.
I will indeed continue to think...but quietly. And make my decisions loudly.
So with apologies to philosopher René Descartes (yup, that's him above)...I think, therefore I’m not.
I decide, therefore I am.