(Barré) #1

A salesman, for example, might promise to deliver his product
on a definite date, but his subtext lets his customer know "There's
no way I can meet this deadline."
Maybe the boss promises her employees big bonuses if the
business continues the way it's going, but her subtext may also
be saying "I have no confidence at all that sales will continue at
this rate."
And what about the junior executive who tells the CEO, "I'll
have this report done tomorrow"? In spite of those confident words,
the real message might be "Now I'm going to have to find a really
clever excuse to stall another day!"
I was introduced to subtextual communication years ago when
I was hired by a psychological research outfit to act as consultant
on an experiment in counseling. In an attempt to get better results,
the research team was videotaping interviews between counselors
and disturbed children, then playing the tapes back so the counsel-
ors could see themselves in action.

I remember one session in which the counselor, a woman, sat
across from a ten-year-old girl. The counselor's legs were crossed,
and her body was pulled back, her posture tight and restricted.
She seemed to be putting as much physical distance as she could
between herself and the child.
The girl was abnormally shy, answering only in monosyllables,
refusing to meet the counselor's eye—a disappointing interview,
to say the least.
The counselor told us later, "I couldn't get anywhere with that
one. She resisted me every inch of the way!"
When we talked to the girl alone, she said, "I don't like the
lady who talked to me."
"Why not?"
"Because she didn't like me!"

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