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  • Writer's pictureLaura Fedolfi

Embracing your Duh

We were watching TV the other night (remember TV? That thing that is "broadcast" by "networks" on "channels") and an ad for Wells Fargo came on (remember Wells Fargo? That bank that made up fake accounts under your name and got busted by the USCFB back in 2016?) encouraging people to use their financial advisor services. The ad shows a young couple eating out at several different restaurants and having a great time, until they look at their bank statement, frowning. The voice-over tells us, "Michael and Katie didn't realize that their eating out was keeping them from meeting their goal to buy a house...the new Wells Fargo can help you with that." My daughter gets up from the couch and throws this zinger back over her shoulder, mimicking the voice-overs tone,"Michael and Katie didn't know that if they spend money, they will have less money. We can charge them some money to explain it to them."

That does sound like Wells Fargo. Always so helpful.

I was talking with my brother about my week ( we have one of those communication styles that relies more often on texting each other links to things that made us laugh, along with deep dives into South Park, followed by intermittent phone conversations where we talk about what has made us laugh and which South Park episode the other has to watch, along with occasionally talking about our real lives, when we need to), and I was explaining that I was not really worried about my kids- which, if you know me well, sounds like a lie, but it was true- I wasn't worried about them- and then I said, "And I feel really good." As soon as the words were out of my mouth I was reminded of my daughter's apt skewering of the obvious stated like it was a revelation and felt sort of stupid. There is nothing really new expressed between those two statements; it is common knowledge that worry feels bad, so it would be a given that the absence of worry would feel good. (Spending money means you have less money) I was the Wells Fargo of communication.

I laughed at what I had done, and then, after explaining to my brother the context of why I found this funny, I thought about it some more. Why do we- I definitely include myself- feel the need to denigrate the statement of the obvious? I hate the use of "duh"- mostly because I have found myself on the receiving end of it- and once you have received a "duh" you are less likely to use it. The noise the word "DUH" makes is one of the most efficient ways to express disdain for the obvious. If you have ever used it, you have felt the disdain roll of your tongue- maybe draw out the "uhhhh" for emphasis, or raise both eyebrows as you roll your eyes. There is no way you can use the sound "duh" with a positive connotation. On top of that, "duh" has a chilling effect on communication. No one comes back from receiving a "duh" encouraged to share more.

But here's where I am proposing a change. When I was talking to my brother, I stated the obvious, "and I feel really good," because, in that moment, it was a revelation to me. I hadn't connected the dots between how the change in my relationship with worry had impacted my overall well-being. Saying it out loud was an external confirmation of an internal truth. In this circumstance, I was the one who said "duh" to myself. What if my response to someone- even myself- telling me "duh" isn't to be embarrassed but to say YES? Frame your own response as if their "duh" is actually empathetic as opposed to judgmental, and you chime back in agreement? We might hear more from people- more of their own internal truths. We could reclaim "duh" from the world of conversational roadblocks, and make it more of a conversational crossing-guard, there to help you get to the other side of the obvious: truth. That is not to say that it can't be used to highlight a truth- as my daughter did with Wells Fargo, but it can also be an affirmation of the value of the obvious.

I am going to embrace my "duh" moments, and if someone says "duh" to you, try embracing it. In the end, it all boils down to something attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt,"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."


(that felt good to me! ;-)

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