A friend recently shared a story of her traditional British upbringing that illustrates a universal problem in how we communicate.
It centered around an unspoken family rule about the last biscuit. During family gatherings, when only one biscuit remained on the plate, a subtle yet intricate dance would unfold.
If you wanted this final treat, you couldn’t directly say so. Instead, you would politely ask, “Does anyone want the last biscuit?”
This was an encoded way of expressing your own desire for it. If anyone else responded with a “Yes,” it was seen as rude, since the one who asked first was implicitly entitled to it.
This ritual, as humorous as it may seem, reveals how we often communicate our own desires—veiled in suggestion, rather than directly.
We ask, “Would you like to go to the movies this weekend?” when we mean, “I’d love to go to the movies this weekend.” We engage in a verbal dance where our true intentions are cloaked in suggestion and our desires are lost in implication.
This indirectness often stems from vulnerability and a fear of rejection. There’s safety in ambiguity—if you don’t get what you want, you can pretend that it wasn’t that important to you. By masking your desires, you also avoid the spotlight, reducing the risk of appearing demanding or selfish.
But in doing so, you lose a piece of yourself. And communication becomes a farce where true intentions are never fully revealed.
What’s more, people aren’t mind readers. Even the most intuitive partner or friend can’t always decipher our cryptic cues.
This assumption of telepathy in relationships often breeds confusion. Take my British friend: At one gathering, she performed her usual “last biscuit” ritual, asking if anyone wanted it. A houseguest, unaware of her family’s unspoken rule, said yes. Guess who left without the biscuit?
What if we chose a different path? What if we embraced directness not as a blunt instrument, but as a scalpel—precise, considered, and effective? Imagine the relationships built on such a foundation, where desires aren’t shrouded in guesswork but are laid out in the open.
What’s more, there’s an undeniable charm in someone who knows what they want and isn’t afraid to share it. It’s not just charismatic; it’s refreshing in a world where indirectness often rules the day.
The solution is simple: Own your desires, thoughts, and needs. Express yourself more directly. Use straightforward language like “I want,” “I think,” “I need,” or “I don’t want.”
Being direct doesn’t mean being insensitive. It means choosing clarity over ambiguity while remaining considerate. For example, saying, “I’d love to go to the movies this weekend. Up for joining me?” honors your wish while respecting the other person’s choice.
The clarity of your words can be the difference between misunderstanding and understanding, between a wish coming to life or disappearing.
So, the next time you find yourself eyeing the proverbial last biscuit, drop the roundabout questioning. Instead, try saying, “I’d love to have the last biscuit.” It’s a small step in language, but a giant leap in embracing and expressing yourself.
And if someone else also wants the last biscuit, therein lies a beautiful opportunity, not for conflict, but for connection. Literally breaking bread—or biscuit—could become a moment of bonding, born out of honesty and openness.