How To Talk About Things You Care About

It’s not always easy to talk or write about what you believe in (especially if you really care!), but this might help.

George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist (please keep reading, it gets better!). When I first heard the title of his book, Don’t Think Of An Elephant, I’ll confess, I thought of an elephant.

The idea is that when we’re talking to each other, we’re putting (sort-of) pictures in each other’s heads.

He calls the pictures “frames”. You have a frame for an elephant. You just saw your elephant picture, I just saw mine. They might be different.

Now say, for example, when you hear the words “capitalist”, or “socialist”, or “Christian”, or “atheist”, other pictures and emotions (frames) will pop into your head. Probably quite powerful ones.

They’ll vary from person to person. None are more correct than others. They just exist. They’ve been under construction since you were a baby, so you’re probably stuck with them.

About half of Americans believe that “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is in their Constitution. Who could argue with that? Did Jesus say that?

It’s actually from the Communist Manifesto! I guess lots of people like the statement, but they don’t like the frame that pops into their head when they hear the word “communist”.

If you care about your idea being heard (political or not), it might be food for thought.

Here’s five minutes of George Lakoff talking about frames, if you have time. It’s really interesting!

If you want to think about something else…



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