'Whatever' can give you the upper hand

AND ANOTHER THING

PAT VELTKAMP SMITH
Last updated 08:07 17/02/2014
Pat Veltkamp Smith
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
Columnist Pat Veltkamp Smith was Southland Times women's editor until 1997 and is a former president of the Southland Justices of the Peace Association.

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OPINION: You can tell the company we have been keeping over the holidays. Teenagers.

Last year we came home with "cheers," the most used word in our vocabulary ever since.

Cheers says it all - thank you, bye for now, see you again, it's been nice, I'm OK , you're OK - all of that packaged in one word with a smile - cheers.

Now we have picked up that seemingly most irritating of all responses to absolutely everything - whatever. It is truly unanswerable, irritating beyond belief. It suggests the conversation is over and it can be "whatever you want and see if I care".

We have no answer to that, none at all .

But after a while it sounded all right, quite acceptable, an answer we in turn might give - peaceable, I will not argue the toss, have it this way if you must, whatever you do, think, say - that'll be OK by me.

By adopting this laissez-faire tone - whatever - life does change and we with it.

I no longer feel a need to defend a stand, to explain a position, even insist on what may be a right, the correct change.

If it is not right I may point if out and if there is no immediate agreement, shrug my shoulders, say "whatever", and leave.

It is so laconic, so dismissive of others, a really quite queer thing to be on the receiving end of.

But say it yourself and you can feel quite good, unargumentative, peaceable , slightly smug, perhaps one-up on the quarrelsome world about you.

Try it, today, heading off argumentative teens maybe or just the naysayers of every day, on the bus, at work, queuing in the supermarket checkout, disputing who ordered the first drink in the pub, the first fish and chip parcel order.

It says how petty of others to argue.

I am above that: I will just let it go.

Criticism that we may resent because it is harsh, unfair or, worse, petty - that too can be dealt with.

"Whatever," you say grandly remaining outwardly unprovoked, and giving not an inch.

It is a very effective tool if used carefully.

See how you go!

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- The Southland Times

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