Drop The Pink Elephant by Bill McFarlan

16 12 2007

This book describes 15 ways to say what you mean and mean what you say. Coming from his journalistic background, Bill McFarlan shares with the reader what he means by “Pink Elephant” and pointers for us to take note in our daily communication.

What is a “pink elephant”?

It is described as an unnecessary, and normally vivid, negative. It usually pops up unprompted because it’s part of the mental baggage we always carry around with us.

A famous example of Pink Elephants: (remove the word in bold letters to reveal the picture in each phrase creates.

I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky.’ — US President Bill Clinton in January 1998 on his relationship with the White House intern.

The book is divided into 5 main sections

1. Drop the Baggage and Create Clarity
– Drop the Pink Elephant
– Every Picture Tells a Story

2. Be Principled in What You Say
– Staying on the Louisiana Highway
– Sorry seems to be the Hardest Word
– Tell the Unpalatable Truth, Rather than the ‘White Lie’
– Thank You and Well Done
– Who Looks Stupid when You Criticize in Public?

3. Positively Assert Yourself
– Flush Out the Watering Down Words
– Talk Positively About Yourself

4. Think of the Audience
– It’s All Relative
– Email and Text – Bullets or Boomerangs
– Three Little Questions

5. Create Deeper Understanding
– Listen First to Understand
– Powerful Words
– Think, Talk, Act…Then Tell the World

From the table of contents, it would seem that most of these are what should be “common sense”, but “common sense” happens to be the most uncommon thing in the world. In most situations, many of us are not as conscious of our own speech or overly-sensitive about the impact of telling the truth. In certain situations, telling “white lies” seem to be the best way out, so that we avoid possible repercussions.

Thoughts on the book:

There were parts of the book that I felt more interested in, for example, describing how to spot “Pink Elephants” so that we can be aware and drop them off from our own conversations. The writing can be dry after awhile, and I find myself skimming through the book in the middle sections.

This is partly due to the similarities of another book that I read, “Getting Real”, which covers the same topic, though the angle of writing is different.

I won’t buy the book (even though it’s mentioned on the book cover that it’s a best seller). If you can get this at the library, it’ll make an interesting read.