You are in a conversation with your friend, and he says, “Good friends make personal sacrifices for their friends”. Is he talking about you? You begin to wonder, but you can’t just say to him, “I DO make personal sacrifices”. Maybe he wasn’t talking about you. There is no way to refute or address the comment without stepping into potentially dangerous ground. This is irrefutable communication.
Another example is most of the television ads you see where the people drinking a particular beverage always seem to be having a good time. It implies that those who drink this, have fun, but it’s presented in a form that can’t be refuted. What logical argument do you lob against a picture?
This is communication by implication. It doesn’t make claims that can be disputed. Occasionally, this can be a subtle way of saying something that allows another to save face. But if this becomes the de facto standard of communication, it makes every message you make possibly filled with subtext that must be deciphered. If you don’t communicate in direct ways, then you start sending signals that can be easily misinterpreted and breed distrust.
Relationships are best built with direct communication. This is especially important when stakes are high because you can’t afford the politics that go along with irrefutable communication nor the resulting aftermath when months of miscommunication finally come to a head.
So maybe the best response is to turn to your friend and ask them directly, “Are you talking about me?”
“Are you talking about me?”