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Archive for the ‘Calibration’ Category

Coaching or Therapy via Internet?

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The Freakonomics Blog points to a recent article (Net Gains for Mental Health) in the London Times:

Type “online counsellor” into any internet search engine and hundreds of thousands of results will appear: with a click of the mouse, and a glance at a screen, you, too, can be cured of your depression, phobias and eating disorders, go the claims. Unbelieveable? Perhaps not. A growing body of research has found that when – and this is crucial – it is carried out responsibly, and kept specific, online therapy is one of the most effective ways of dealing with the rising levels of mental ill-health.

Some of us have been doing this sort of thing for a while. I’ve coached people via e-mail, Instant Messaging, and phone. I’m always careful to test — even more often than while face-to-face — and I’m far more likely to be explicit and overt. I can’t say I like doing it as much as face-to-face, but it can work.

I wouldn’t want an inexperienced or poorly-trained person doing it, though.

What do you think?

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 14th, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Celebrate the lies of your children

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The American Psychological Association has a relatively recent article on lying, and it has an interesting perspective:

As humans, we are as much defined by our economy with the truth as we are by our cooperation. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, say psychologists. Lying is a cognitive signal that people understand what others are thinking, the important cognitive milestone known as theory of mind.

Read more at Monitor on Psychology – Liar, liar, neurons fire

Written by Michael DeBusk

January 18th, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Calibration,Psych


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Some recent conversations led me to do some Web browsing, and I found a couple of very interesting sites I want to share.

Eyes for Lies: The Human Lie Detector Blog:

Scientists have identified only 50 individuals who are able to spot deception with great accuracy after testing more than 15,000 people over several decades. Eyes for Lies is one of the 50 people.

This lady is able to detect lies 80% of the time, and she does a pretty good job of explaining how she does it. What she sees, hears, and feels, internal strategies she uses, and so on.

Truth About Deception: An Honest Look at Deception, Love and Romance

Discovering infidelity, or deception by a loved one, creates a lot of uncertainty. We try to help people work through their questions and concerns by providing a detailed look at deception, love and romance.

This site is slanted heavily toward deception within romantic relationships, but the information I’ve read there is applicable outside those as well. I particularly appreciate their article on how to get people to tell you the truth.

Written by Michael DeBusk

November 22nd, 2007 at 3:16 am

Understanding Others

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Four great presuppositions for your daily interactions can be found in the article, Four Rules to Understand What Makes People Tick. The high points:

  1. People Mostly Care About Themselves
  2. People are Motivated by Selfish Altruism
  3. People Don’t Think Much
  4. Conformity is the Norm

I think these fit nicely with Cialdini’s principles of persuasion.

Written by Michael DeBusk

November 4th, 2007 at 4:24 am

Posted in Articles,Calibration


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Another article I wrote for Persuasion 101, this one from 2003:

Sometimes you’ll be faced with the task of persuading someone who is being, shall we say, unreasonable. Their emotions have gotten the best of them, perhaps, or maybe they just don’t like what you represent to them for whatever reason. I know what it’s like to be there. I work in a hospital and spend most of my “persuasion time” in either the locked Psychiatric Unit or the Emergency Department. You don’t get more “unreasonable” than some of the patients I’ve seen.

I’m a lazy persuader. I tend to realize that most of what people know about communicating is intuitive and natural, so I have learned to pay attention to my own other-than-conscious signals and trust them. Your unconscious can keep track of much more information than you think.

The psych nurses called me to help them with a man who was very angry with them for reasons that only he knew. When I got there, he was sitting (which is a good thing, generally speaking, for an angry person to be doing when you’re in front of them) and ranting to himself. The charge nurse stood aside and waited for me to say some magic words. (She’d seen me work before.) I listened for a bit and then opened my mouth to say something I thought was particularly persuasive, and I received a little nudge from the back of my mind. It went something like this here:


So I did.

I listened for a little while longer, got some more information, thought to myself, OK, it’s time to talk now, opened my mouth to say something I thought would be even more persuasive than the first thing, and there was that, um, still, calm, gentle voice again:


OK, OK, so I shut up and listened some more while he ranted. Then he gave me what I thought was a truly important bit of information, and I was glad I had paid attention to my unconscious urgings to be quiet. With that key information, I again went to open my mouth to say something powerfully persuasive, and you’ll never guess…


Now, I consider myself an intelligent fellow, and I can take a subtle hint. So I shut up for good. I sat and listened, just as I had before, making the little facial expressions and nods and grunts that demonstrated I was honestly listening to what he had to say. And within a minute or so he calmed down. And then he realized he was out of line.

The truth is, that’s all he needed. Someone to hear him out, to take in what he was saying without trying to convince him he was mistaken. The more he talked, them more I listened, the more he talked himself out of what he was saying. And I didn’t have to say a thing.

Because, you see, inside every “unreasonable” person, there’s a calm and peaceful person who’d rather be in charge.

Written by Michael DeBusk

October 27th, 2007 at 5:11 pm