Shooting from the hip? Expect to be shot.

Lately I’ve heard the expression, “I just shoot from the hip.” Usually, this expression is conjoined with speaking or posting in a way that would be considered rude and hurtful to most people. Do most people even know what this means? I believe that when people use this particular idiom, they are just trying to cover their callous and demeaning practices and make themselves sound better than what their words imply.

Take, for example, the wonderful definition for this idiom found on wisegeek.com, “To shoot from the hip means to make a snap decision in a matter of seconds. There is no time for the conscious mind to weigh options or look deeply into the situation” (Tatum, Michael, 2003-2010). I agree with this statement in more ways than one.

Let’s take a look at the first part of the statement above. The conscious mind is our guide, the logical part of the brain that separates reality from fiction. If the reality of these “hip shooters” is that they may say whatever comes into their brain immediately, it is time to make a reality check.  If the conscious mind does not have time to react because the mouth overtakes it first, then there is a control problem. The tongue is a two-edged sword. Words can injure people in more ways than most realize. The ones that don’t realize it are the ones shooting from the hip. They don’t realize it because their mouth runs away with their brain and when it does finally catch up, the brain has to cover for it with false apologies and excuses.

Secondly, people who have this tendency also don’t realize that they are usually only seeing the surface of  a situation or statement. They have tunnel vision in that they can’t see or imagine another’s perspective. I’ve been on forum boards where these hip shooters can run others off that began with very good intentions. I believe the worst part about it is that they refuse to listen to the explanation that is given and continue on with their first assessment.

Another good definition is from the Urban Dictionary.

     an expression which suggests the described person
     a. speaks or behaves in a brusque, honest fashion
     b. does not censor their actions or words
     c. speaks tersely; communicates with the fewest number of words

Now I realize that there are people who are proud of their inability to discriminate between harshness and honesty and just be able to “tell it like it is.” But I’m going to try this out and tell everyone what I truly think of this phrase. You don’t make yourself look cool or sound better when you say this. All you’re really saying is that you don’t have the time, the energy, or the intelligence to figure out how to say something truthfully, but in a way that is not injurious to another person.

No, I don’t have a vendetta I’m trying to play out. Honestly, I hurt for the others that I have seen hurt by these people. Too humanitarian? Maybe. But I also think that in this age of electronic communication people should realize that you are not just typing words on a keyboard and talking to a computer. There is someone on the other end reading what you type. Real, breathing, feeling people who may have meant no harm or foul in what they wrote.

So the next time you’re tempted to use the “I just shoot from the hip” idiom, think about what you’re saying. Are you really saying, “I’m sorry, I was not conscious and can’t take the time to think deeply enough about this.”

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Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 12:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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