The last section I highlighted in James Harmon’s book, Take My Advice, was written by writer Chris Kraus who spoke mostly of obsession in her letter to Harmon. Near the end of her letter Kraus wrote, “Human Speech is driven, always, by the desire to achieve a goal. Realize you are constantly being manipulated.” When we look at political speeches we are good at understanding that there is a goal or agenda behind the rhetoric used by politicians, but I am not sure we extend that to a lot of other areas in our life. Television and commercials are nothing but influence machines, and speech in the workplace often focuses on what we want or need others to do for us. I think a big area where I am able to grow from this quote is by reflecting on my own speech. By building a base of self awareness I can think more about what I say and evaluate what goal lays beneath my speech.
Krause also writes, “Nothing exists without a source. It is important to contextualize everything.” I think this is important to consider when we are looking at the goals behind other people’s speech. The more focus and awareness we have the better we can be at understanding what goals people have, but keeping Kraus’s second quote in mind helps us see that there is a deeper level than just the goals of another person. We can dive even deeper and start to evaluate where the other person’s goals came from, and just what they will gain when they reach those goals. Seeing the context behind the goals will help us understand the motivation for others, and will help us react better to the other’s attempt to manipulate us. If their goal is positive and pure, then jumping on board to help them and follow their goals may not be a bad idea. If their motivation is purely self serving then perhaps it is better if we shy away from their goals and influence.