The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. Alan Alda uses this epigraph, usually attributed to George Bernard Shaw, to orient the reader. If I understood you, would I have this look on my face? My adventures in the art and science of relating and communicating by Alan Alda is a must-read for anyone who seeks to be understood. Continue reading “Book review: If I understood you… by Alan Alda”
Do you hate to wait? Most of us do. Yet we wait for trains, in doctors’ offices, at airports. We flee from unstructured time. We try to fill every fatiguing moment with a host of distractions. And that leaves us time poor. Continue reading “Time poverty”
Lawyer and politician, Arlen Specter, started as a Democrat, then became a Republican, and then went back to being a Democrat again. As you can imagine, he resisted being labeled. What he actually said was, “I don’t like labels. I think they conceal more than they reveal — sort of like a bikini.”
I was browsing in a New York bookstore when I overheard a man ask for a book on how to win an argument. The two young women behind the counter giggled. I wondered if they knew about Demosthenes. Persuasion is a serious subject, and this bookstore customer wasn’t just a victim, he was doing something about his problem. Continue reading “After losing an argument”
You can’t acquire confidence by reading about it. You become confident by doing. Before you succeed you may have to fail for a while. You need a safe place in which to practice and get constructive feedback.
It’s all very well to “say” step out of your comfort zone, but each one of us is unique. A big step for one person might be a small step for someone else. It all depends on where you’re coming from, your history, and your unique personality. If you’re just learning to swim, you wouldn’t want to enter yourself for an Olympic swimming event. If you go too far too soon you’ll become overwhelmed. At that point you just give up. Continue reading “Communication confidence”
In the 1987 comedy, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, stressed marketing executive, Neal Page (Steve Martin), is reluctantly trapped in a shared hotel room with an optimistic and talkative curtain-ring salesman, Del Griffith (John Candy). Del can’t stop talking about the boring details of his life. Eventually Neal loses his cool. After a long tirade, he shouts, “And here’s another thing: Have a point! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener.” Continue reading “Purpose, relevancy, and ideas”
In the Argument Clinic, a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, an absurdist comedy series, a man pays for a five-minute argument. The customer goes to a room where a man behind a desk hurls abuse at him. The customer interrupts saying he paid for a five-minute argument, and this is not an argument. The abuse hurler apologizes explaining this is Abuse, Argument is next door. Continue reading “The art of persuasion 2: How to argue”
George Orwell once wrote that a classical education would be impossible without corporal punishment. Maybe that’s why it isn’t taught in school today. A classical education was demanding. It included rhetoric: the art of effective speaking and writing.