Understanding the Human Personal Dictionary
by Peter Hyatt
Avinoam Sapir, founder of the SCAN technique (Scientific Content Analysis), or that which is commonly called "Statement Analysis" concluded a principle for us. The principle is as follows:
Everyone of us has a personal, internal, subjective dictionary. Everyone of us does. For us, a specific word may have a specific meaning. Therefore, if I say the word "boy" some of you will conjure up, in your 'mind's eye', a newborn baby boy, while another thinks of her 6 year old running track, while yet another thinks of her 21 year old son, fighting overseas with "the boys", yet still another is yelling out to his 30 year old ice hockey players in Canada, "C'mon, boys!" The spread of this single word, "boy" ran in this example from a 1 day old, to a 30 year old.
It's not very specific.
Each of us has a personal, internal, subjective dictionary. It is personal to us, and it is internal, within us. It is also subjective, indicating that follow up questions or use of context is needed to gain specific understanding. Most times, the context will suffice, yet not always.
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky" necessitates that the former president's personal, internal and subjective dictionary be accessed for specific meaning of the words "sexual relations." He could say this statement without the internal stress of direct lying, since he claimed (which was cooberated by his partner) that "sexual relations" was different than sexual activity, it was specifically, to him, intercourse.
Many doubted that Mrs. Clinton shared his personal internal subjective dictionary, as many husbands and wives often do.
Each one of us has our own internal dictionary, personal to us, and quite subjective. It is up to the skill of the analyst (journalist, investigator, therapist) to decode it.
There are two exceptions to this principle:
3. Objective time on the clock
1. Pronouns and Articles
Pronouns are instinctive and the most highly reliable form of speech. Even dating back decades, when someone recalls a story, they know, without thought, whether to start the account with "I" or with the word "we": they know if they were alone or with someone else.
The mind chooses the pronoun without hesitation. This is why pronouns "do not lie", as we say. "Follow the pronouns" is such amazing advice that if it was the only thing you ever learn from Statement Analysis, you'll know more than most. Hear the pronoun, and hear the pronoun disappear.
"Went to the park."
This sentence does not tell us who went to the park. A deceptive person, who did not go to the park, for example, is counting on you to assume and interpret. He is now allowed to avoid the direct internal stress of a lie, while still being deceptive. Maybe he did go to the park, and maybe he did not. He might have, but this sentence is not reliable, and it is a technique used in deception.
Turning point in a murder case.
Dennis Dechaine was on trial for the murder of young Sarah Cherry. He was found in the woods near where she was murdered and his story was full of deception. He did decide to take the stand on his own accord and, as is the case, revealed the truth.
He said he had never met Sarah Cherry (see articles on the word "never"; check under Lance Armstrong; he liked that word...a lot) and did not even know what she looked like before seeing her picture in the paper. When recounting his day he spoke about sitting under some specific trees that he admired.
"We were losing daylight" said Dennis Dechaine, who alleged to have been alone, yet we know from his instinctive use of the pronoun "we" that he was not alone; he was with his victim.
Pronouns don't lie.
"The", for example, doesn't like to lie, either.
"A man approached me to rob me. The man took my wallet." He was "a" man before meeting him and became "the" man afterwards. The same sentence, as a lie:
"The man approached me to rob me. A man took my wallet."
We call this an "oops!" moment where the "victim" actually knows "the" man.
2. Objective Time on the Clock
When someone says "4:15PM" it has the same meaning to each one of us: it is objective time found on a clock.
It is not subjective, nor personal. It is the same to you, as it is to me.
Example of the Personal, Internal and Subjective Dictionary.
Here is a single word that when misused, can cause quite a bit of fireworks.
The word jealousy is a great example of this principe, especially when used in relationships.
This word often depends upon the recipient!
Look at the various meanings:
1. "I was provoked to jealousy on how generous he was, so I am also going to give" indicates a positive impact of jealousy, where one is "provoked" (though an older word) to do good for others.
2. Tell your girlfriend that you are not the "jealous" type and she may be relieved. She does not need that sort of boyfriend.
3. Tell your girlfriend that you are not the "jealous" type and she believes you don't care if she dates other men.
4. Tell the word "jealous" to a victim of domestic violence and she is a terribly frightened of you because of her experiences.
5. For some, "jealous" actually is a compliment, while to others, it is a trap.
6. Still for others, the word "jealous" holds the meaning of "envious" which is something quite different:
The "envious" says, "If I cannot have that, I don't want her having that!" and is a powerfully destructive theme.
If you feel "jealousy" over a co worker's professionalism, you might work harder to imitate, yet if you feel "envious" over your co worker, you might want to attempt to portray him in a negative light to the boss.
Jealousy can be a wonderfully securing feature, or it could be a positive influence to do good in life, or it can be a mean-spirited, violent, terribly frightening thing in life.
The word "jealousy" is a good example of how context and personal experience matter in understanding.
In the polygraph pre screening interview, the skilled polygrapher will seek to enter the subject's own personal, internal subjective dictionary before the exam.
The skilled therapist does the same.
Each of us has our own highly personal and internal dictionary, that is subjective, that is, the meaning can change.
The skill of the analyst can be seen in decoding one's internal dictionary.
Think of the last time you said to your best friend, "I'm going to kill you!"
Was it when she ate your pizza, borrowed your favorite earrings, or teased you?
She's probably still alive, isn't she?
Your use of "kill" was quite different than that of a murderer.
Carefully decode those you speak with, listening carefully to context, while knowing that even when in jest, words do not come from a vacuum.
Next: Humor and sarcasm.