Art of Conversations: The Order of Words


Imagine a situation. Your girlfriend or wife or friend shows five of her photographs to you. Now out of those five, you liked three but you didn’t like the other two.

She wants to share some of these photographs on Facebook and is asking you which ones she should share.

What would you say? What will your first words be?

You know that those two photographs are not worth sharing. You also know that the other three are actually good and definitely worth sharing. Which would you say first?

At this juncture, depending on your stage of relationship, mood, understanding of the other person, and your own nature, you will have the following two options:

  1. Tell her that two of her photographs are not good and why you don’t like them. Then tell her the other three are good according to you and she should share these ones.
  2. Appreciate her appearance on the five photographs, tell her that she looks good in three photographs which she should definitely share and then tell her she doesn’t look good in the other two which she shouldn’t really put across on Facebook.

As you can see, all we have done here is change the order of the answer. Now let’s see what happens in the mind of our girlfriend in both these situations.

Situation #1: Bad news first, Good news later

If the first thing that you tell to a girl is about the pictures you didn’t like, and if she doesn’t agree with you, she’ll become defensive. She will try to defend her point of view by commenting on your taste, on your attitude towards her and/or your attitude towards women in general. As she gets defensive, she will try to break your opinion. At that moment, you will be presented with a clear choice, either to stick to what you felt or to give in.

To mitigate the risk, you now decide to appreciate her on the other three photographs and the fact that she should share these ones. The moment you do that, what would her instantaneous reaction be? “Yeah, whatever.”

In short, the answer made her move from defensive to repulsive.

Situation #2: Good news first, Bad news later

Although what you felt at that particular moment was that you didn’t like those two photographs, you still appreciated her by commending on her looks on the other three. From the beginning itself, you didn’t go with your feelings.

You told her she looked good, you told her about the three photographs which she should share. The moment you did that, she gets comfortable. She sits in a comfortable situation that you liked her photographs. And then you subtly tell the truth about the other ones. She is still in that comfort zone which you put her in the beginning before telling her the truth about the other two photographs.

And in this situation, her reaction will be, “Okay. You think so? Perhaps I won’t share these ones.”


You see, just by changing the order of the same two things you were going to say, you could change the reaction of the other person from “Yeah, whatever”, to “Okay. Perhaps I won’t share these ones.”

Words have a powerful impact on us. As we see here, even the order of the exact same words has an equally powerful impact. That is the reason why it is important to understand that speaking is a responsibility. Not just what but the way you speak also has an effect on the mind of the person listening to you.

Speak Responsibly. Live Happily.