Say what you mean, mean what you say

The Americans I know are in the habit of saying things like “Come on over anytime!” or “Keep in touch!” when we know it will be difficult to follow through on such sentiments. But to refrain from using these warm words would almost seem impolite. So, on one visit to Finland, I wielded this strategy—and it backfired, leading to the following exchange with my wife:

“Tim, I just spoke with my mom. Her friend is still waiting to hear back from us. Did you really say that you wanted to meet up again? You know we don’t have the time.”

“I never said I wanted to meet up,” I explained. “I just said ‘I’d love to meet up again.’ It’s like an expression.”

Johanna was not satisfied with that. “Tim,” she said, “you can’t speak like that here. In Finland, people take you at your word.” [link]


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