I was introduced to this Italian idiom through the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I digress just to say that there are many hidden gems in that book. Although a search of the internet suggest some dispute about the actual meaning, both Ms. Gilbert and www.wordsense.eu offer that parla come mangi means speak the way you eat and is an invitation to use simpler and clearer language when speaking.
In my profession I talk to lots of people every day. One of the things I notice is that people make a big deal out of the things they are trying to tell me. They often resort to jargon or labels rather than simply saying what is on their mind or describing a situation. This generally complicates things. Parla come mangi often comes into mind as I listen to them. As in food, simple is often so much better.
When I pause to consider how or why this happens I land upon several possibilities. Perhaps the individual has been shaped to believe that what they have to say is unimportant and so try to use words, expressions, and descriptions that they believe might give their words more weight or importance. Another possible explanation is the saturation of labeling from social media. I have done this before desiring some sort of a short cut. I have also intentionally utilized medical jargon when interacting with other medical professionals to try to prevent them from talking down to me, a sort of elevating my believability if you will. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
I now strive to embrace the concept of parla come mangi in social communication. I also try to model it in in my psychotherapy work. There is much less chance of a chance for misunderstanding when I interact in that manner.
“No is a full sentence.” ~ Jessica Ortner
Most people I know struggle with saying no. We often feel that we must give an explanation, particularly if we are giving what seems to be an answer that might upset or disappoint someone. The reality is that NO is a full sentence. It is ok to offer an explanation if you want to. It is less helpful if you feel an explanation is required. Have you ever said yes when you wanted to say no, primarily because you didn’t want to tell someone why you were saying no? I have.
There may be multiple reasons why we are uncomfortable saying no. The first one that pops into my head is the response 2-year-olds get when they say no to adults. I can’t think of a single example when the adult (including me) didn’t immediately ask why. We have been programmed from an early age to explain so that we don’t get in trouble. And that explanation really needed to be a good one. Admittedly, although I’m working on it, I still have a tendency to ask why when someone tells me no. More often than not, but not always, it stems from curiosity rather than entitlement these days.
Offering an excuse or explanation before being asked can be an attempt to do an end run around the potential for conflict. This may include a belief that our reasons are not valid or acceptable, or a belief that other people’s feelings are far more important than our own. Habit? Sometimes low self worth? Often necessary? Not always.
It bears repeating, it is ok to explain a reason if it adds anything to the situation. Let it be purposeful. This requires mindfulness about the situation and one’s own motivations and emotional responses. I don’t really recommend that you walk through your life just saying no. Life is often more fulfilling if you say yes frequently. I do recommend that you begin to say no without explanation to people that you are not really close to since they won’t have any real expectations about how you generally operate. When this gets more comfortable try some people that know you well, but that you feel safe with. Notice what happens.
Why is this important? It is important since it contributes to a strong sense of self worth and confidence that will enhance how you interact with the world and other people. Go ahead. Get in touch with your inner toddler. NO!