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Don't ya just hate it when people tell you they are giving 110%!

by Rick Baker
On Feb 13, 2017

Subtitle: Death by hyperbolic hyperbolas of hyperbole

When I was a child, the adults in our neighbourhood had a habit of stopping me and asking me to answer math questions. As one example, they would hold out a hand, open it to show a bunch of coins, and ask me how much money was in the hand. I would provide the answers. Then, they would smile at me, congratulate me, tousle my hair, put their money into their pockets and walk away. When I was about 6 years old, after it was crystal clear none of them were ever going to give me any of their money, I concluded none of the adults in our subdivision knew how to count their money. I brought that to my parents' attention. My parents told me the neighbourhood adults did understand basic math and went on to explain I possessed a bit more math skills than the other kids in our neighbourhood and the adults got some sort of kick out of it. With that new perspective, an idea hit me. I asked my parents if they would show me their coins, which they did. I added up my parents' coins, gave them the accurate totals and, much to my surprise, they too smiled, congratulated me, tousled my hair, put their coins back into their pockets and walked away. That was my early exposure to zero-sum gaming. And, perhaps, in some puzzling way, that story of my early math experiences has something to do with the point of the little tirade to follow.


Later in life I found myself answering math questions during university level exams. I wrote dozens of those exams. So I now understand, somehow, at an early age I developed a habit of knowing how to answer math questions. Math habits have persisted. 

And, my modest but persistent knowledge of math has produced a few side-effects.

One side-effect is, when people make claims like they are doing things beyond 100% it catches my attention and my thoughts. I have thoughts like, "Don't these people know when you've got 100% you've got it all & when you've given 100% you've given it all?" 

Giving 100% is superlative-enough territory...I mean...that's all the way...that's the limit of your giving.

Giving more than 100% - well, that's defying the laws of at least mathematics...probably, the laws of physics...and possibly even the Laws of Nature.

How can you trust a person who makes claims like, "Boss - I'm giving 110%!"?

Some people go even farther. You often hear people talking about their 150% performances and you hear a small but noticeable group of people, apparently of boundless ability, making performance claims at preposterous levels such as 1000%.

Don't ya think these people are going overboard?...I mean, being excessive?...being exorbitant?...really going overboard?...over-killing things...and beating them to death too?...I mean, really, really, really going overboard...with those hyperbolic hyperbolas of hyperbole?


Communication: Improving Communication | Humour

Comments (2) -

A Straus
2/22/2017 2:38:28 PM #

I agree with you 100%!

rick baker
2/25/2017 11:49:20 AM #

Anne - thank you for the feedback on this 'pet peeve'.

I enjoyed your family-business presentation yesterday. As always, you and Lewy presented important messages packaged with personal stories...often, touching emotions...real life! Your family faces the tough challenges, does great work and does it with talent and progressive attitude. Well done!

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