Two weeks ago I told you how I came to understand that using the word “compromise” can lead to unintended consequences. I promised to give you more words that lead to my favorite lady –Miss-communication. I called them “Little foxes that spoil the vine”. A regular reader recognized the Bible reference and wanted know where the “foxes” were. I said, “It’s in the Song of Songs 2:15. But don’t go there if you are sensitive to sexual content. Erotic images dance on every page of the book. It should be rated X.”

 He said, “Say no more, I’ll find it.”

 I KNOW you would like that story because words matter.

 The man said, “I KNOW your mom is not going to like the mess in the kitchen, but your history home work is to make a 3-D paper mache mockup showing the Seven Hills of Rome.”

 The seventh grade teacher came into the room and said, “I KNOW you are not going to like it, but we are going to have a math quiz today.”

    The next morning one of those seventh graders said to his folks, “I don’t like school. I hate school. I don’t like math at all.”

 His mom said, “Son, you KNOW you have to go to school. What’s wrong with math?”

 He said, “The teacher told all of us yesterday that we were not supposed to like math. She said, ‘I KNOW you are not going to like it.’ How does she KNOW what I’m feeling?”

 Mom said, “You KNOW she didn’t mean it that way.”

 The son said, “Now you’re on her side. How do you KNOW what I feel. Are you a mind reader? I KNOW you’re trying to defend her, but…”

 Mom interrupted, “Now who’s doing it? How do you KNOW what I’m thinking?”  (End of story)

 We better leave that unhappy family before the violence escalates any further. “KNOW” is one of those little foxes. As with “compromise” we use it with good intentions. We want to connect with people in their problems and joys.

 A car runs over a man’s dog and the neighbor says, “I KNOW how you feel. My puppy got run over a year ago.”

 I went to the dentist for an implant last week. He hammered and drilled and said, “Jim, I KNOW you’ll feel some pain when the numbness wears off.” (I didn’t).

 “So your daughter is graduating from college. I KNOW how happy you are.” The mom wasn’t, for now her daughter was moving across the continent to California for her new job.

 At funerals, it is common to offer well-intentioned sympathy by saying, “I know how you must feel about your loss” to the bereaved. A client of mine, an abuse victim, told me her story, “I was at the receiving line in front of my dead husband’s coffin. People murmured their condolences and I tried to look sad. One woman came in her turn and said, ‘I KNOW how you feel, I lost my husband last year.’ I gave up and began to laugh. People thought the shock of his death finally got to me, but they were wrong. I said to myself, ‘What does she KNOW? I’m done play acting. I’m glad the wretch is dead. 25 years of hell and abuse was enough’. Tears of joy were on my face.” (Unintended consequences)   

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