When to be "Specifically General"


On Monday, I talked about the need to be specific, even oddly specific.  Today, I'd like to talk about when it's necessary to be "specifically general."  While being specific can help you avoid confusion and frustration, being general has the advantage of not ruffling feathers and allowing you not to discuss personal issues if you don't want to. 1. Say you get a phone call from a distant relative asking you to fill her in on all the details of a personal family matter.  She is not directly involved and is just being nosy.  You don't want to give her any details, but you feel trapped as she has you on the phone.  What do you do?  There is no law that says you have to answer every question you are asked!  You could simply tell her you don't want to discuss it.  You could ignore her question and move on to a more neutral topic.  OR...you could be specifically general.  You could tell her that it's going as well as can be expected.  You can, then, feel free to change the subject or tell her you were in the middle of something (whatever it was you were doing before she called) and you don't have much time to talk. 2. Facebook may not be the place to discuss personal issues so when someone posts on your wall and asks you something rather personal, what do you do?  Again, just because someone asks you something doesn't mean you have to answer.  You could delete the post if you think it might open up a can of worms you don't want to deal with in a rather public forum like Facebook.  You could reply to the question on the phone or in a direct message to the person who asked.  Or you could post a reply that is specifically general.  If Sally comments that she loves your new sweater and asks how your business did last year, you can reply only to the first part of her comment.  "Thanks!  My dd got it for me for Christmas."  and you could add, "We did well, thanks!" 3. Aunt Martha doesn't believe in homeschooling.  She asks how your son did this week with math.  Normally, he does well, but last week he had a big problem understanding fractions.  Instead of opening up a can of worms giving her the details of little Johnny's frustrating week with halves and eighths, you could just tell her, "He just finished studying fractions this week." 4. When leading a meeting or teaching a homeschool child there can sometimes come an obscure question that takes your conversation off track.  Just because someone asks a question that might be a good topic of discussion, doesn't mean now is the time to digress.   It's not rude to say, "That's a great question, but we really don't have time to go into that right now.  Let's discuss it tomorrow." As you can see, being specifically general has its advantages as does being oddly specific.  Each according to its purpose for the communication at hand.  Got any stories about being oddly specific or specifically general you'd like to share? *SUBSCRIBE HERE*: for More Communication Fun, FREE Gifts and Exclusive Offers! X

6 comments


  • Cindy Holman

    I totally agree with what you said about being ‘general’ when asked specifics and we all have those rather ‘concerned’ people in our lives that are just like you said – NOSEY!! I too have had to go to a private message or email with sensitive subjects and I know who to feel safe with and those I do not. Being a peacemaker and not gossipy is always a challenge especially in delicate family issues – and believe me – we have a really HUGE issue right now in ours. Ugh. Keep smiling :)


  • jojosblog

    You might be right about that, Carla! Good example!


  • Carla

    Actually, I think knowing when to be specifically general is more important than the other way around! I use it in my classes all the time. The kids love to drag me off track as they know I’m a storyteller and they can usually knock precious minutes off of the hated subject of history if they can get me talking about something else. I have learned to say things like, "You know, I have a great story about that. How about we meet in the cafeteria at lunch or you catch me in my free period and I’ll be happy to tell it to you. Now as to what we were talking about. . . "


  • hiculoseo

    thanks for this tips


  • liko

    Wow, what an in depth article but full of useful information


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