Why people only post kitten pictures and videos

Cute kitten!

If you express any kind of serious opinion about anything on Facebook, you bring out the trolls and the disagreements.

This is ironic, since Facebook tends to only show you posts that you have shown an interest in. Maybe Facebook with its unlimited post lengths draws people who are more into argument. In other words, maybe some people see the posts they see because Facebook has figured out they like to argue.

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Bonus: insight into breakthrough thinking

head-rendering from brain MRI

As I read this article on Surprisingly Simple Ways You Can Trick Your Brain Into Focusing, it strikes me how much of this has to do with effective communication strategies! I guess it really is the basic operating system!

Read the whole thing, but I can tell you that the gist of it is this:

  1. Don’t multitask.
  2. Take notes. But don’t try to write down everything you hear. Distill it and summarize.
  3. Consider other points of view.
  4. Take breaks.
  5. Narrow your focus and go deeper.

But get the details from the article. In the meantime, consider getting a copy of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. (affiliate link)




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Is selection bias limiting your story?

Hidden Subway Entrance

How do you know what you don’t know?

It can be one of the hardest tasks to get students to go beyond their own opinions, especially those in the traditional college age range. I speak from two-fold experience: 1) When I was that age, I pretty much knew everything. Over the years, I have realized that I still don’t know what I don’t know, but I can tell that there is a lot within that area of the mental map labeled “There be dragons here.” 2) I’ve worked with thousands of college students at this point in my life (rough estimate: about 7,000). Bonus experience: I have four kids over the age of 25. Most have gone from thinking Dad was just stupid to thinking that maybe he know something worthwhile.

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Connecting personally long distance

Video chat

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like using the telephone. I do all the time, because everybody else does, or at least everyone my age. Young people more and more just use texting, and I suspect some of that comes from the same telephone reluctance I have.

I’m not sure why more people I know don’t use the technology that makes telephone reluctance a non-issue: video chatting via computer or smart phone. I mean, the technology is everywhere, and it’s almost like being together in person. Not quite, and I still prefer face-to-face visits. But video chatting is the next best thing, and in some ways, it’s better.

If I am my camera right, I don’t have to worry about cleaning up the whole house before a visit. Plus, video chat only carries sight and sound–no odors so far.

Friends and family are now scattered everywhere. I’d rather visit in person, but I can’t. Things like appear.in, Hangouts, Skype are better than phone calls, emails, letters, etc.

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Suspend judgment for better relationships

Judge Judy

This is one of those posts that, if I could send it to my younger self, could have changed my life.

We’re going to deal with two related and yet entirely separate issues, but at the same time: judgment and rush to judgment.

Humans seem to have an innate need to form opinions and judgments. Do you agree with that statement? Do you see how quickly you form an opinion? Because almost inevitably, you immediately had a response to my question about agreement.

That’s not necessarily a problem. The problem for communication comes in because a judgment can get in the way of hearing.

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Bonus: Infographic guides your phone persuasion

Phone influence

OK, call it “phone selling.” You probably do it whether you realize it or not. You may not work on commission (or you might), but almost certainly there are times you need to move someone to action via telephone.

That’s where this infographic comes in. I’ve looked it over in detail, and realized it’s really about effective communication. Tada! Few of us (including me) use the phone effectively.

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‘Be kind’ depends on kin


It seems built into our biology that we are tribal creatures. Much of what passes for racism or nationalism or sports rivalries are simply specific applications of this human tendency: I prefer members of my own tribe over those of any other. Continue reading “‘Be kind’ depends on kin”

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Why are you not doing Toastmasters?


The headline makes an assumption, I suppose. But before you dismiss it with, “I am doing Toastmasters,” stick with me and read past the first three paragraphs. I can anticipate that you might have one of three reactions. Continue reading “Why are you not doing Toastmasters?”

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Bonus post: Dressing up affects audience and speaker

Suit guy

I’m using “speaker” in a loose sense here. I don’t just mean people who stand on a platform and talk to multiple people at once. I think most people know that telemarketers are advised to keep a mirror on their desks and smile as they talk to prospects on the phone, even though the prospect cannot see them. When people can see you, your appearance affects how your message is received. But it also affects how you feel about yourself as you deliver the message, which may have as great an effect on ultimate reception.

This concept is explored in some depth in Dressing Up the Brain: Wearing a Suit Makes People Think Differently found in The Atlantic. Check it out.

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