Archive for the ‘Platform Skills’ Category
Kendra Cherry gives a very nice overview of nine distinct communication channels apart from the words we choose:
Nonverbal communication plays an important role in how we convey meaning and information to others, as well as how we interpret the actions of those around us. The important thing to remember when looking at such nonverbal behaviors is to consider the actions in groups. What a person actually says along with his or her expressions, appearance, and tone of voice might tell you a great deal about what that person is really trying to say.
I love the fine distinctions. Master these and send ten different messages at once.
Bill’s, not Hillary’s. Um… obviously.
I wasn’t a fan of Bill. But there’s something to the fact that I feel comfortable calling him “Bill” in my own mind. I don’t think of any other President by their first name. His personal power is undeniable. And Michael Ellsberg has been studying it:
“I have a friend who has always despised Bill Clinton,” a person at a cocktail party told me during the time I was writing my book […]. “Yet, somehow my friend found himself at a function that Bill Clinton was attending. And, within the swirl of the crowd, he was introduced to Clinton.”
“In that moment, face-to-face, all of my friend’s personal animosity towards Clinton disappeared, in one instant,” my new acquaintance at the party continued. “As they were shaking hands, Clinton…”
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a charismatic guy; I’ve actually taught myself to not be, though I didn’t realize I have been doing so. Ellsberg’s three-step model looks like it’d be very powerful to me. I’m going to play with it.
Note: I searched for a while for a candid image of Bill Clinton looking at the camera. I found only one, and it was unflattering. Isn’t that weird?
Amanda Ripley, author of the truly excellent book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why, is, it appears, also interested in the education of children. In a very recent blog post titled “What Makes a Teacher Great?“, she refers us to some conclusions on the subject:
Finally, we can identify extraordinary teachers—with data, not hearsay—and investigate what they are doing differently. We can even make more of them. The question is, Will we?
Her blog entry points to an extensive and well-written article in The Atlantic, also written by Ms. Ripley.
(See also: Teach for America)
Do you know any teachers like this?
I recently got ahold of Jonathan Altfeld’s “Automatic ‘Yes'” CD set, the subject of which is the powerful skill called “state chaining”. (I won’t define or describe it here. Hit the link for a full description of the course, and buy your copy before the special sale ends.) I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to the basics of Jonathan’s approach in the Master Practitioner training he co-trained with Doug O’Brien a little while back, and it was something I wanted to play with and get better at doing. Before the end of the training, I realized I’d been doing it in certain contexts all along, in shorter chains, and I hadn’t realized it.
Listening to the CDs reminded me that I’d never really spelled out how I think about how I do it, so I resolved to put it here. I’ll start with one particular aspect: how to shift someone from a high-energy unresourceful state, such as anger, to something a little more flexible.
Many years ago, I was an Emergency Medical Technician working for a private ambulance company, and I was stationed at a state psychiatric hospital. I happened to walk in on a training they were having for their nurses and technicians: Bruce Chapman’s Handle With Care Behavior Management System. I was immediately captivated by Master Bruce’s teaching style and his philosophy. I arranged to take the training for myself. What I’m about to share here is roughly based on something I learned in that class and in much subsequent reading of Chinese philosophical work such as the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu and The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Here we have the Tai Chi Tu, commonly known as the “Yin/Yang symbol”. This is the Taoist in-a-nutshell representation of the way the universe works. You’ve seen it many times, no doubt, but I imagine nobody’s really explained it. I’ll give it a shot.
First, you’ll notice that it’s a circle. No beginning, no end. Now, pick a spot, either at the top or the bottom, where either the black or the white is almost non-existent. Moving clockwise, you’ll see that the color you chose increases while its opposite color decreases… and that as soon as it gets to the point where it can’t hold any more, you’ll see that the opposite color starts to kick in, PLUS, there’s a little “seed” of the opposite color contained in the fullest part of the swell.
Now, I can’t find the citation at the moment, but there’s an old saying that hard winds don’t blow all morning and heavy rains don’t last all day. Physics tells us that energy constantly changes form. Biology tells us that we change or we go extinct. It isn’t just that change always happens; it’s that it must happen. So when I’m in front of an angry person, I know I don’t have to do anything at all to get them to stop being angry. All I have to do is get rapport, pay close attention to when their angry state changes to another state, catch the transition point, and steer it to where I want it to go. The best part is, if I can figure out what the “seed” of the next state is, knowing that it’s already there, I can speak to it… drawing attention, and therefore the other person’s energy, toward it… making sure that it really is what’s next.
Anger, and most other high-energy emotional states, cannot last long. It’s physically impossible to maintain it. It costs too much. Anyone who claims they’ve been angry about something for years and years… they aren’t angry. They may be bitter, but they aren’t angry. Anger is a flash, not a smoulder. (This is one of the ways the psych nurses know when someone is faking a condition, and why we keep people for observation for up to 72 hours.)
Jonathan suggests in the Automatic “Yes” CDs that, to move someone out of a high-energy unresourceful state, we should turn it up rather than try to turn it down. I agree. Several times I’ve been called to the psychiatric unit where I work because a patient is scaring the staff and the other patients despite the fact that he isn’t actually doing anything. He’s got a clenched jaw, closed fists, and knitted brow, and he’s pacing, and he’s been doing it all day. When I respond, all I do is engage the guy in some sort of conversation and then do something that I think will annoy him. Not anger him; just irritate him. It adds energy to his stuck state, and then he has to choose which side of the fence he’s going to crawl off on. Is he going to start throwing things and kicking walls and cursing, or is he going to start talking? As soon as he gets to the decision point, I lead him to the state I want him to have. Usually I just tell him what it is: “It’s gotta be frustrating,” I say, or “I’d be scared too if I were in your place.” Sometimes I offer a path to follow instead: “You just have to wonder what’s going on, but the more questions you ask the more answers you get.”
(Of course, I’m ready if he decides to go the other way, too. It’s never actually happened, but if it does, at least he’ll have resolved his stuck state and can work from there.)
I can take these more energetic states and ride/drive them to something a little more useful for the other person and a lot safer for those around them. Which is, essentially, what state chaining is about.
I strongly recommend Jonathan’s “Automatic ‘Yes'” CD set to you and to anyone else who wants to take their social skills to the next level. And I want to thank him publicly for helping me to think more clearly about one of the things I’ve been doing without realizing it.
The US Federal Trade Commission requires that I add: While Jonathan did ask me for a product review, it should also be noted that I bought my copy of this audio program directly from his Web site, and that my recommendation is not a form of payment for the product.
I don’t ordinarily pay much attention to Psychology Today magazine, but their RSS feed pointed me to a couple of articles on the basics of persuasion.:
How does a car salesman get you behind the wheel? By being a keen observer of human behavior—and not letting you say “no.”
Bargaining techniques and making bad decisions: why smart women don’t want sugar daddies and how to avoid erectile dysfunction.
The second article is only partially about persuasion, but it has some good stuff about paraverbal and nonverbal framing. The rest of the article has to do with other good stuff. I especially appreciated the idea of group therapy for impotence (woohoo!) helping a man “hold his head up” <adolescent snicker> .
No matter what your response to Barack Obama, you’ve got to admire his amazing skill with language. His ability to stay both engaging and content-free is astounding.
Here’s a transcript of his convention address. I was just working through it. It’s got everything a hypnotist could want in a trance induction. I wish now that I’d watched it so I could experience his paraverbal and nonverbal stuff too.
And pretty much everywhere else, too. If you’re looking for a room for a training or conference, not just any old four walls and tables will do. Seth Godin suggests that you think about your audience’s existing anchors:
“What does this remind me of?”
That’s the subliminal question that people ask themselves as soon as they walk into a room. If it reminds us of a high school cafeteria, we know how to act. If it’s a bunch of round tables set for a chicken dinner, we know how to act. And if there are row upon row of hotel-type chairs in straight lines, we know how to sit and act glazed.
He goes on to suggest the size and shape of your ideal room (which may be smaller and narrower than you think it is!) and how to make it work well.
Read the rest at Seth’s Blog: How to organize the room.
We learned in our Practitioner and Master Practitioner training that metaphor is a powerful way to teach stuff. Did we get, though, that it’s a powerful tool for learning? It should go without saying, I suppose, but I didn’t really think about it until I read an article by Scott Young at Lifehack.org:
The storyteller’s art of metaphor is crucial in holistic learning. Remembering mathematical concepts is easier when you have metaphors that relate them to real life events, not just symbols and equations. Becoming a storyteller with your subjects and using powerful metaphors can make even the driest subject stick.
It’s a simple and straightforward idea: if you want to learn something, structure the lesson as if you’re teaching it to yourself using metaphor. While I’m slapping myself on the forehead, you can go over to Lifehack.org and read What Storytellers Can Teach You About How to Learn Faster. The tips on how to create a compelling metaphor are alone worth the time and effort.
Dave Munger over at Cognitive Daily points to some interesting research:
There’s another factor that has been demonstrated to have a significant effect on whether a face is remembered: the facial expression. In 2004, Arnaud D’Argembeau and Martial Van der Linden found that people who viewed a series of photos of faces were more likely to remember smiling faces compared to angry faces — even when the faces they were later asked to recall had neutral expressions.