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Letters From Listeners
Yeah, But...
Yeah, But...
08/29/2017

Dr. Laura,

I just wanted to let you know that you’re not the only person who gets “Yeah, but…” as an answer to yes or no questions. As a high school communications teacher and motorcycle safety advocate I’ve heard “yeah, but” several thousand times.

It’s frustrating to have folks try to squirm away from facing the simple truths by muddying the waters with details that don’t change the basic premise. With my high school students I try to clarify the situation by telling them a parable which goes like this:
“Do you want to hear about a teenage boy’s worst day ever?” They universally respond with a “yes”. I continue, “Cody is at his friend’s house playing X-box. It’s a bit of a party and there’s 4 or 5 other young men there. Cody’s phone rings. He looks at it and it is his girlfriend. After a moment of teasing he ignores the call. The phone rings again. Girlfriend. More teasing. He ignores the call again. The phone rings again. This time someone pauses the game and the guys tell him to “answer it, she won’t give up until you do.” Cody takes the call and, even with the phone to his ear, everyone can hear Cody’s girlfriend on the other end crying her eyes out, gasping, snorting, she’s hysterical. “Cody” she yells for all to hear, “I’m sorta pregnant!” and then she hangs up.

At this point I ask the class, what question is in Cody’s head. They respond with stuff like, “Is it a boy or girl?” “Is it his?” or other goofiness. I quiet them down and say: “He wants to know what the flipping flapjacks ‘sorta’ pregnant means. Either you are or you aren’t. There’s no sorta, kinda, or a little bit. Either you are or you are not.” There is no “sorta”.

“Yeah but…” doesn’t change a yes or no question; either you are or you aren’t.

Keep on keeping on!
Tags: Behavior, Regarding Dr. Laura, Response to a Call, Response to a Comment
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