There have been several different instances throughout the course of the day when I have stated inferences as if they were facts. There has also been an instance in which my mother stated an inference to me as if it was a fact. Tentative statements involving words like ‘could’ and phrases like ‘there is a possibility’ could have been used in order to convey a more accurate representation of the level of certainty involved in these items of speech.
Throughout the course of this assignment, the extent to which inferences/assumptions were stated as if they were facts during conversations that I have had today will be identified. Specific examples will be included and conclusions will be drawn. Alternative tentative statements that would possess a greater degree of accuracy than the inferences that were used will also be provided.
Observations and Analysis
In Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, Julia Wood defines an inference as ‘an interpretation that goes beyond the facts’ (2007). Several things that I said throughout the course of the last twenty-four hours fall into this category but yet were stated as if they were facts. This morning, I told my mother that she would ‘definitely not be ready in time’ for an event that she was attending. The use of the word ‘definitely’ left no ambiguity; I was expressing this point as if it conveyed a certainty. However it was my opinion rather than a fact and did not transpire to be true, as she actually did manage to get ready in time. I should have said, ‘There is a possibility that you won’t be ready in time’, as this would have been a tentative statement that more accurately conveyed the reality of the situation. It would have implied that there was a possibility that she would not be ready without asserting that this state of affairs would definitely come to pass.
Another example of an inference that I made was when I told my father that he would get a headache if he watched any more television. I said this as if it was a fact, whereas in reality, I was merely attempting to emphasize how long he had been sat in front of the TV for. It was also an assumption on my part, as he might not have got a headache at all. A more accurate way of phrasing this would have been to say, ‘You could get a headache if you watch any more television’. The word ‘could’ would have implied that it was a possibility as opposed to a certainty. It would have made it clear that I was warning him about something that had the potential to happen rather than telling him that something was definitely going to occur.
As well as having stated inferences to other people as if they were facts throughout the course of the day, other people have also done the same to me. My mother told me that I would ‘never learn to be sensible’ when I told her about some risky behavior that I had engaged in earlier in the week. In reality, she had no way of knowing what my future was going to entail. She was assuming that my behavior would not change, whereas there is a strong possibility that it might do. It would have been more accurate if she had said, ‘I don’t think you are a very sensible person’. The phrase ‘I don’t think’ would have made it clear that she was simply expressing her opinion and in no way attempting to convey a definitive reflection of reality, as she was passing comment upon a subjective issue. She would also have been talking about the present as opposed to making predictions about the future.
Throughout the course of the last twenty-four hours, I have communicated several different inferences as if they were facts despite them being based upon assumption. By using the word ‘could’ instead of ‘will’ and specifically stating that the outcomes that I was describing were possibilities as opposed to inevitabilities, I could have avoided doing this. I was also on the receiving end of an inference being stated as if it was a fact by my mother. She both communicated an opinion about a subjective issue as if it was a completely accurate reflection of reality and made a statement about the future that may or may not transpire to be true. She should have conveyed the fact that what she was saying was simply her point of view and commented on my current behavior rather than stating what was still to come.
- Wood, J. (2007). Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.