He started the call by asking me, “Have we met?”
[If my life were a beautifully-scripted play, I’d have responded coyly, “Oh, you’d remember me if we’d met!” But, alas, the dialogue of my life is not so tight.]
Of course, I was polite and continued with the conversation. (No, we had not "met" before that phone call.) But as we talked, I was silently processing the comment, “Have we met?”
Here’s what I took it to mean:
· Have we met? --> Because I cannot possibly be expected to remember you
· Have we met? --> Because you’d remember me for sure, but I have more important data to archive in my memory
Of course, there’s a chance he had no arrogant intent. And there’s a chance he is clueless as to how this question came across…but I can’t think of a better POWER PLAY to start off a conversation! Aside from the fact that questions in and of themselves are power plays—i.e., the person who asks the question sets the agenda, and dictates the focus of your response—in those three words, he’s in charge! At best, I am positioned to brief him. At worst, I am little spec he can’t be bothered to remember.
Positioning in conversation. It’s a powerful weapon! And you’re always positioned vis-à-vis something or someone else. There’s no way to position yourself in isolation. So watch where you point that thing!
And if, after reading this, you fear you may be clueless as to how you come across, please ask someone for feedback.
Davies, B. and Harré, R. (1990). 'Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves.' Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, 20 (1), 43-63
Harré, Rom and Van Langenhove, Luk (eds) (1999). Positioning Theory: Moral Contexts of Intentional Action. Malden: Blackwell