Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Concentration of an Airplane Pilot

There is a poem I cannot find at this time, about pilots ... about a boy looking up in the back yard as a plane flies over ... about "the concentration of good men."

I like analyze non-verbal communication. In the photo which is, to me, incredibly beautiful, someone to our left is taking the photo. There is someone to the right.

In this photo, there is one person looking directly at the camera - like you should be - and he is a pilot.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Proximate Cause is not Ultimate Cause

Writes Jared Diamond, in The Third Chimpanzee:
I could have warned Professor Presbury that his myopic obsession with proximate causation would lead him astray.

Let's unpack this!

Diamond is talking about ultimate causation v. proximate causation in terms of aging. A chemical or molecular biologist, he says, would answer the question "Why do skunks smell bad?" with "Because they secrete chemical compounds with certain particular molecular structures..." (proximate causation)

While, he says, the evolutionary biologist would say "Because the skunk would be easy victims for predators if they didn't defend themselves with bad smells." (ultimate causation)


It seems to me that these are answers to two different questions. Further, that one of them is "meta." I chose to work in the field of emotional intelligence because it is "meta" - it covers and subsumes many other fields, such as leadership, communication, etc.

OK. So it seems to me that the question answered by proximate causation is "How does the skunk do this 'smelling bad'?" and the question answered by ultimate causation is "Why does the skunk emit an odor?"

It is interesting to know the mechanism -- the emission of a bad odor. It is also interesting to know the reason or purpose -- self-defense.

Diamond adds that "the chemist and the evolutionary biologist would each dismiss the other's answer as not being 'the real explanation.'"

And this is where communication goes afoul. And why emotional intelligence is META. As Jared says, back to our topic, or his topic, of aging -- "Aging can't be understood unless we seek both explanations simultaneously."

Because these things can be looked at as left-brain and right-brained, or whole-brained. Left-brained dominant people (LBDP) tend to answer questions with details and lists.

Querant: How can I be a good leader?

LBDP: Stand tall. Talk loud and low. Maintain eye contact 5 seconds, then move eyes sideways, never down.

My Response: A leader is someone who others want to follow. You want to follow someone because they are trustworthy, appear to know more, have confidence ... Good leaders are generally ... (list traits)

You see the difference.

if you want to learn something you need to know the reason why the details that you observe work to create the whole picture. After all, there are very tall people who are not leaders. Very big people, loud and low-talking people. Would you want to follow Mike Tyson's lead?

Some people prefer to know "why" first. Then they can digest the "details". I don't see how you can 'learn' something like 'leadership' by just following a list. Do you think so? Share your thoughts.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

To Jargon or Not: Do You Know When You Are?

The use of jargon ... emotional intelligence rides on SELF-AWARENESS. So the first point on this topic is -- do you know what jargon is, and when you are using it? From there, we go to: Do you know WHEN and WHY to use it.

This article I quote from thinks the topic is particularly relevant to written English. I think it is just as much so with spoken English. Words are words. "Jargon," to me, means the special words used within a certain field that include those in the field, and exclude those not in the field. When I was in marketing, I learned to say "two-sided, one up" when talking to the printer. The client would have no idea what I meant. In psychology, I learned to say "passive-aggressive personality." Those in the field know the parameters; the danger of that one is that people outside the field think they know what it means, and generally do not. But the same could be said for all jargon.

Another example of "jargon" is grammatical. In some fields, it is common to "verbalize" nouns. In others, it is not. In some fields, one must be grammatically correct. In others, it is gauche to care about how you write.

We proceed, with the addition that - the purpose of words is supposed to be to communicate. If what you say is not understood by the others, you have not communicated.

Here's a classic. Years ago the only thing PMS meant was the color charts people in marketing used when designing brochures, logos, etc. Since more people are color-blind than would like to admit, and since - well I just had lunch and that lime green shirt, sir, is NOT "teal." (and so it goes)

Well the acronym PMS has been pre-empted.

Some notes from "Are You on the Inside Or the Outside of Jargon?" by Jeanie Marshall, a colleague in personal development coaching:

Jargon is a powerful time saver, if you are inside the circle of people who know its meaning.

If you are outside that circle, though, the use of jargon can confuse, annoy, or exclude you.

The extent this is problematic to you will depend on how much you want to be in the inner circle.

Entering any new subculture requires getting acquainted with the vernacular.

Understanding acronyms, jargon, shortcuts, inside humor, and incomplete sentences are all part of getting acclimated to a subculture or inner circle.

It's a great article. Check it out and share your thoughts.

Marshall ends with an Einstein quote: "If you can't explain something simply, you don't know enough about it." It was given to us in clinical psychology graduate school (ah, the jargon) as: "If you can't explain it to your grandmother, you don't know what you're talking about."

No offense to grandmothers, I am one. But I think it gets the point across more clearly. The point is, when you are talking to someone clearly outside your "field," it behooves you to be able to switch your language accordingly. They'll like you a whole lot more, and people relax when they like and trust someone, and then they can hear and learn.

If you are not aware of how you speak, and how it is different from how others speak, or other ways of speaking, you will be lost. And that's what emotional intelligence is all about. Communication is just one of the many facets that will improve, when you learn the meta-field of emotional intelligence.


I invite you to join me for coaching. Email me at sdunn@susandunn.cc .

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Rumi, Barks, the expressive outlet of the Internet. It's all good.

I love the expressive possibilities of the Internet.

Listen to this man read Rumi ... with his southern accent, with his love of Rumi, with his desire to spread artistic beauty to al.

Here we have the voice of Coleman Barks. Who is he? From his his website:

Coleman Barks was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at the University of North Carolina and the University of California at Berkeley. He taught poetry and creative writing at the University of Georgia for thirty years. He is the author of numerous Rumi translations and has been a student of Sufism since 1977. His work with Rumi was the subject of an hour-long segment in Bill Moyers's Language of Life series on PBS, and he is a featured poet and translator in Bill Moyers's poetry special, "Fooling with Words." Coleman Barks is the father of two grown children and the grandfather of four. He lives in Athens, Georgia.

From Phil Catalfo:

There is a reason why the thirteenth-century Sufi mystic Jallaludin Rumi is the best-selling poet in America today: His words express the ineffable longing to merge with the eternal; they reach across eight centuries to speak to us, in our sullen era, and offer not just the vision but also the experience of what yoga calls union--with the Divine.

For coaching with Susan Dunn on emotional intelligence or other matters, email me at sdunn@susandunn.cc .

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Italian Trial, the non-verbals will count

Is it Amanda Knox or Foxy Knoxy?

12 year old Seattle honor student is on trial for murder in Perugia, Italy.

Compare the lead photo on msn.com with the one you are lead to from Newsweek here.

I don't know about you, but from looking at the photos, I would have a completely different "impression" of Ms. Knox depending upon which one I was shown.

The article on Newsweek (link above) is full of the importance of impression and nonverbal communication. Would this be moreso in a country that is relatively more right-brained, like Italy? You be the judge. But the nonverbals matter in any courtroom in any country. That's why lawyers study it, why there are mock trials, why there are experts who 'prepare' witnessess, and why there are expert witnesses called to testify. The jury watches carefully, listens carefully, forms opinions beyond what is said, what is termed in the article, "nonjudicial factors."

Examples from the article:

Murder suspect Amanda Knox has a lot of explaining to do. But what she says may not be as important as how she says it.

Says Alessandra Batassa, a criminal-defense lawyer in Rome who has served on defense teams in similar crimes. "The court will be absolutely influenced by nonjudicial factors like her demeanor. Her image has been painted in a very bad light in the trial so far, so she has to portray that she has normal sexual relationships and that she is just a normal girl. She has to be very convincing."

At times she is indignant, answering questions with her own questions.

... she is either serious or arrogant

... waffled between confidence and calamity

The article ends:

She will almost surely be less cavalier this time, as her lawyers prepare her for what will be a grueling day. The jury will be listening attentively, but more important, they will be watching her every move.

If you'd like to increase your understanding of emotional intelligence and nonverbal communication, take the EQ Course or sign up for EQ coaching. Email sdunn@susandunn.cc for more information.

P.S. How would someone portray that she is "just a normal girl"? Share your comments.

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