The Wrong Toothbrush: Your Communication Kit

Yesterday I used my husband’s toothbrush.

It was an accident, honest, guv. You see, we share one toothbrush base and have different coloured rings on our brushes to distinguish each one. Trust me, it’s the kind of thing you do when you’ve been married for 33 years.

I have yellow, he has red. It's a simple system that's worked well up until yesterday.

Yesterday, he changed his brush for a new one. His new brush has a blue ring.

So, why did I take his blue brush instead of my yellow one?

Communication with myself
It was all the fault of communication, but not his communication with me. After all, my toothbrush ring is still yellow. He had not touched it. There was no reason why he should mention he had changed his own brush. 

Unfortunately, the language of the subconscious monologue that runs in my head gave me a mixed message.

In my mind, I distinguished my toothbrush ring not as “YELLOW”, but as “NOT RED.” Instead of using a positive description, I had a negative idea floating in my mind.

I grabbed the toothbrush with a ring that was "NOT RED", and used it. What I missed was that there was now a choice of two "NOT RED" brushes. I had a 50-50 chance of getting it right and I chose the wrong option.

After I finished brushing my teeth I put the brush back on its little holder and realised my mistake. I noticed the ring was blue. That was a head-scratching moment.

“Blue.” I thought, perhaps a little slowly. “We don’t have a blue toothbrush.” Then, light dawned on me.

At least it was my husband’s toothbrush. It would have been much worse if it had belonged to a stranger.

So take care with negatives, even with the words you use to yourself. In fact, avoid negatives altogether if possible. Here's more about the horrid effects of negative language.

Negatives are unreliable and confusing and they bring you down with a bump. Think positive.

From now on, my toothbrush ring is YELLOW. Have you got that, brain? YELLOW.

PS I confessed and yes, we are still talking, thanks.

I write this Communication Blog

My photo

Frances Evesham: on the run around Europe for years, with only a husband, three children and a succession of opinionated cats to keep me out of trouble. Somerset stopped me in my tracks. Now I walk in the country and breathe sea air. I will get around to cleaning the house soon.

I've been a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. I sometimes work in the criminal courts to uphold fair questioning of people with special needs.

I smell the roses, lavender and rosemary as I cook with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. Writing historical romances and books on communication leaves enough time to enjoy bad jokes and puns and wish I’d kept on with the piano lessons.