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”
What is an argument?
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”
Look at those two down there on the ground. Humans, they’re called. Not a brain between the two of them. They spend the entire day running about, giggling, or wrapped in each other’s arms. What nonsense! I’m going to s-s-shake things up. Continue reading “Fable: Why rhetoric gets a bad name”
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.
“Any organization that won’t take the trouble to be both clear and personal in its writing will lose friends, customers, and money.”
— William Zinsser, in his 30th anniversary classic, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
Reviewed by Christopher Richards
A dangerous book
Which messages cause people to comply? Robert Cialdini’s new book addresses this question. Pre-Suasion is a revolutionary way to influence and persuade. Pre-suasion operates by creating favorable conditions a few moments before trying to influence. This is a powerful book, and not without its ethical concerns. Continue reading “Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini”
Perfectionism isn’t excellence, diligence, or accuracy. Neither is it tenaciously doing the best you can. Perfectionism is intolerance of a necessary learning process.
Think about how an infant learns to walk. He doesn’t give up the first time he falls down. He doesn’t think to himself, “This walking stuff is not for me. I’m no good at it. I’ll crawl through life.” Continue reading “Perfectionism will kill your writing”
Reviewed by Christopher Richards
Your message won’t speak for itself
Whether you’re speaking to a child about putting on her shoes, or you’re head of an organization trying to solve a global problem, you need to understand and be understood. Continue reading “The Master Communicator’s Handbook”