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"Was it something I said?"
Who of you can identify with this scenario? Someone is telling you about a new phase in their life and how excited they are. You're really into the conversation as well. You think about how brave they are. How entrepreneurial, even! They may be writing their first book or planning their engagement. You can hear the hope, the anticipation, and above all the desire to share it with you, their good friend!
You want to know all about it, so you ask a question. Maybe something like, "Wow, so who did the manuscript editing for you?" or "How sure are you she'll say yes?"
Silence... and then a whole new tone of voice from the other end. "You don't believe in me much, do you?"
This time the silence is yours. Your sincere curiosity about the writing project or your fear that your friend's best life moment to date could somehow go wrong got twisted into a question mark that now hangs between the two of you and casts a shadow over your intentions.
That's why the trees. When you ask a Rosebush where he got help, or whether he has considered a failure, he hears a vote of no confidence and inwardly shifts into counterattack mode. When you ask a Boxwood the same, he easily absorbs the uncertainty from those questions and loses whatever confidence he may have had. The Pine Tree hears an exhausting "fishing" session coming on and will likely start giving gray rock answers such as "I'm still working on that" or "I don't know," hoping you'll give up on the rest of the interrogation. The Palm Tree is the only one who is likely to keep going regardless of your silly questions and get cues from those to keep the story flowing.
So, to answer the question in the title, "No it was something you asked and perhaps the way you asked it."
It is almost always safer to use a statement that conveys your best intention as clearly as possible, instead of the equivalent question.
"Hey, I hope everyone with you on the project does a great job to make your writing shine!" or "I hope the moment is as special as you dream it will be."
P.S. If you enjoyed this short series of tree-type blogs, you'll like That Tree Lady podcast too! New episode coming next week! Find it here and on your favorite podcast app:
by Hettie Brittz

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