Friday, December 14, 2007

Communicating to Survive

Since it is likely that I will be unable to maintain this blog until the first of February, I need to review what Communicating to Survive is about. It is enormously simple from one point of view and enormously complicated from another point of view.

First, the simple view: we all have certain goals and through communications we can achieve those goals. The goals are:

1) to live with the person of our choice.
2) to live in the community of our choice,
3) to work at the job of our choice,
4) to work at the level of our choice and
5) to work at the pay of our choice.

As with all goals, depending on a wide range of variables, we may achieve them with ease or with great difficulty. This discussion is the beginning of a trip through some ideas that should make achieving these goals more likely.

From the complicated point of view, this process will require our attention for the remainder of our lives. To not pay attention to the details of effective communication will slow or even stop the process toward our goals.

Here are some basic assumptions that will be discussed.

1) Every person is unique if for no other reason than the genes that make us come together in a unique fashion constructing a unique body. For example, two people in the same family can take a medication and have different results. You might reason that since they are from the same family their reaction should have been the same. But experience indicates that members of the same family have different bodies and minds depending on what the genes from mom and dad accomplish within our body. One more example, you study hard and your brother or sister spends half the time and has a higher GPA.

2) Our experiences in life are different. One of the main reasons for that is we are wrapped in our skin and view the world from that point of view. Even when we travel together we are seeing the world from a slightly different point of view. That doesn’t even consider that fact that your eyes and ears work better than mine since your genes built them differently from mine. But, I make take pride that I’m stronger than you are.

3) We are limited on channels of communication. We might be able to use reflected light, sound waves and touch, but again our bodies are different and we can’t be certain that what we have experienced and now named will be understood the same way by the other person. I wear glasses and you don’t need to. I can eat anything and intend to and not put on weight. You pass by a donut shop and gain 5 pounds. Your view and mine about food is bound to be different. I love blue cheese and you can’t stand it. Again our genes have an impact and now another consideration—culture. What I have gotten out of my cultural exposure is different.

4) One of the best tools for communication is the creation of common ground. Doing things and thinking things together gives us additional insights into one another. That is not the same as saying that we agree on everything. The more time (a communication device) we spend together the easier it is for us to predict the others behavior. The middle American culture makes every effort to limit the amount of time we spend together doing the same interactive things. Work, entertainment, other folk and computers to name a few, tend to keep us from spending time with one another.

Did I mention that the second view point is much more complicated? It is what Communicating to Survive will be discussing.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Now, Is That Ethical?

That’s a question that should be on our mind all the time. Within the context of speech presentation it is very important. Since all speech is limited to time available, you must take into consideration what your purpose is and how best to achieve it given the audience you are addressing.

Somewhat easier in the case of the informational presentation: what need you say in providing adequate information to allow the listener(s) to understand? Your purpose is to instruct, you are a teacher and when you are finished your “students” will have acquired information that they can understand and use. With this type of presentation is the sharing of information. (Keep in mind that all information has a biasing quality.)

In the case of persuasive presentation there are additional concerns such as, because of time constraints am I favoring (leaning toward coercion) one side of this issue over the other? Is the presentation fair and balanced? This can be a problem. When you “know you are right” and you believe that it is in the best interests of your audience to agree with you, there will be a temptation to lean toward coercion. Here’s the problem: in the long run you want to be effective so you have already adopted the concept of always telling the truth. (Once spotted lying the listener will always be suspicious.) Once caught coercing (unethically attempting to control others behavior) listeners will always be suspicious. In a lifetime, it is not worth the risk to coerce.

Back to the time available when using the persuasive presentation: you must be fair and balanced to the best of your abilities in order to maintain your effectiveness. Since you feel this constraint you must take great care in the selection and presentation of all materials. You never can mention, let alone discuss all of the data that can be part of your presentation—there isn’t enough time.

To better understand the problem consider what has happened to the current administration in Washington DC over the last few years. They have moved from a position that was very close to “If you say so, it must be true,” to “Didn’t you tell us that Iraq had WMD and it turned out that they didn’t?”

Damaged credibility is difficult (impossible) to repair. Build your credibility carefully over the years and do nothing to damage it. Remain fair and balance in all presentations.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Media Today

Traditionally we have viewed the things that media does for us as follows:

1) Surveillance,

2) Correlation,

3) Cultural Transmission, and

4) Entertainment.

Surveillance is something that media has done better or worse over the years. Right now it seems to be doing it a little worse than it used to do it. As accountants have gained increasing control over the media we have seen that there really isn’t as much demand for surveillance as you might think. In stead, there is more profit in other things such as entertainment. When profits become the goal why would you provide news, information and interpretation to an audience that seems to prefer entertainment?

Correlation helps media consumers understand the steady stream of data that is coming at them. Isn’t it a bit too much like going to school? Wasn’t the goal to get and education and then get on with life? Why do we need all these people telling us what the news and information means? Well, the biggest reason is that we don’t have the time to find out for ourselves and the world is constantly changing as are we. With all this change we need all the help we can get just trying to keep up with the world outside our everyday lives.

Cultural transmission is one of the significant tasks of media. But, when you’re dealing with an audience that doesn’t really want to be educated in every area possible then entertainment is going to win. And after all we are being socialized through the entertainment we choose to spend our time with. Put another way, why spend your time learning more about your own culture when as far as you are concerned you already know enough. And what is the advantage of knowing all about somebody else’s culture anyway?

Entertainment is the biggest winner in this short list above. We all love entertainment and go our of our way to get as much as we have time and money for. If you’re going to try to educate me, please make it as entertaining as possible. As a nation we seem to be saying if I am warm, comfortable and have plenty of food and sufficient entertainment I really don’t care what is going on around me. Bread and circuses is a phrase which has though history been used to describe either governments or their citizenry when it appeared that human beings appeared to abandon more significant goals. It could be that to a large extent that applies to us now.


Joseph Conrad is credited with saying “Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.” Short quotations often make very complicated and difficult tasks seem “easy” or “simple.” When it comes to persuasion there is very little about it that is easy. It takes broad based understanding of people; focus on the processes that are used by those people to arrive at conclusions. Then you mix in your ethical understanding so that long-term good results from your persuasion.

Start with “the right word.” This implies an understanding of the people you are addressing which allows you to come very close to how they mean about that “right word.” For example, in the news recently we have heard about a teacher that let “her class of 7-year-olds name a teddy bear Muhammad. The teacher is back in England now, but she experienced first hand how people might react to a lack of understanding of public reaction to one word. Of course, it isn’t only the word.

“The right accent” is also part of their reaction. They might even be able to allow their children to name a teddy bear Muhammad within the context of their own home. But, to have someone that carries the context of a visiting professor from England allow, read encourage, their children to use Muhammad in any way might lead to a negative reaction.

In simpler terms, you might call you significant other “Funny Face” with only a positive reaction. But, if I tried to refer to your significant other as Funny Face you might very well slash my tires.

Persuasion may seem like a fairly straight forward and uncomplicated subject when it is viewed casually and from the point of view of a single sentence, but when it comes right down to it, persuasion is a difficult task and deserves a great deal of our attention.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Two Extremes In Human Communication

It has been assumed for many years that human communication can be placed on a continuum with informative at one end and persuasive at the other end. It isn’t an unreasonable idea and it helps us to make decisions about what we ought to do under specific circumstances.

For example, you are trying to explain to your spouse how to mix flour with liquid to create something like smooth gravy. In most cases one spouse tells (definitions, examples, demonstrations, examples) the other spouse, often step by step what needs to be done to successfully make the gravy. If the spouse succeeds we can all give thanks and enjoy our meal. But, even if there are delicious lumps throughout the gravy we can still put it on the mashed potatoes. After all, one spouse is teaching the other spouse how to make gravy.

It is likely that the spouse making the gravy has already heard a persuasive speech which caused them to attempt the gravy experiment in the first place.

When we speak primarily to share information then we are teaching. All of us are teachers all of our lives. We may even be unaware that we are teaching some folk because they never bother to tell us that they are learning from our teaching. When we raise children, we are teaching. We teach constantly and not only when we elect to teach. Our children, for example, learn from us how to walk, drive, swear and work. That’s one of the reasons all of us have heard at one time or another “Do as I say, not as I do.” We want to teach only when we choose to and not all the time. That would be nice if were possible.

Often grand parents think that they have the best of all worlds. They visit and can elect to share whatever they like and they won’t be around to reap the results of their teaching. Speaking to inform, teaching, is something we all do all the time. We must become effective at it for the success of those around us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Part of communication is listening. We tend to think that if we can hear we are listening. Listening takes constant mental growth, fitness, sleep, good health and general awareness about the world around us. Nobody I know is really looking for more work and responsibility. Instead, what many of us want is less work and more fun, less responsibility and some sort of relaxing plateau.

The corollary that goes along with those wishes is that people and organizations will follow “our rules and expectations” in dealing with us and our community. That not only won’t happen it can’t happen. So the responsibility for our success falls on our shoulders. When we think, “They shouldn’t have done that,” “They had no right to say that,” we should be reminded that our success is our responsibility and it’s going to take our full attention.

We need to ask ourselves simple questions all the time which will aid us to put communication into our system with a real chance that we can succeed. Questions such as: 1) why are they talking to me? 2) why are they talking to me now? 3) why are they saying what they are? 4) what do they hope to accomplish? 5) who am I? 6) who do they think I am? 7) who are they? 8) who do they think they are, etc. These questions and others like them will help you to think about communications you are involved with. The review of communications in light of these questions will only take a second once you’ve become accustomed to thinking critically. But it will take practice getting there.

When you begin to practice these methods you will become increasingly able to use persuasive communications no matter what their origins. We all use persuasion in order to achieve even the simplest of goals. We constantly have others practicing their persuasive communication on us. It pays us to learn as much as possible about persuasion.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Methods of Presentational Communication

The biggest fear many of us have is public speaking, giving a speech, talking to a relatively large audience and so on. To avoid raising our fear levels we’ll call it presentational communication. There are four.

1) Impromptu

2) Manuscript

3) Memorized

4) Extemporaneous

Each one of these methods has strengths and weaknesses. I have arranged them this way to make a point. First, let’s look at impromptu speaking. Simply put, that speech is “off the cuff” and there has not be time to prepare. That means it is probably the most dangerous form of presentational communication. This method should b avoided at all costs.

To avoid impromptu presentational communications you must anticipate the occasions when they might be necessary. Anticipation includes briefly but clearly preparing the communication in advance and practice is important.

The last on the above list is extemporaneous. That is the method most audiences would prefer according to research. Look at your own experiences and decide which of the above four you would rather sit through. A more complete answer to the problems presented us by the impromptu method lies here with the extemporaneous method. In fact, the preparation of a short clear interesting extemporaneous communication is the answer to the problems presented by the impromptu communication.

So, if you want to win the friendship of another person and/or their families prepare extemporaneous communications to be delivered on demand. You already can predict most situations that will expect an impromptu speech. Things such as, “What are you planning to do with the education you’re getting at college?” The real question is “Are you just another bum or did our daughter find somebody worthwhile for a change?” A short, clear interesting answer will blow them away.

Hang in there.

Monday, November 12, 2007


There are always several ways to look at situations. Presentational communication is no exception. There is a way that might be described as the “ideal view.” In the ideal view you know how to organize anything and everything. You may have learned it in classes or you may have learned it by life exposure, but in any case you know all about organization. That doesn’t really fit most of us. Instead, we tend to learn as much as we need to in order to achieve our immediate goals. The problem with this method is that you don’t know all the goals you might have by the time you die.

Another way to look at organization is “apparent organization.” You ask yourself several questions that you will need to answer in order to reach your goals. For example:

1. What do they need to know?

2. Can that material be broken into several component parts?

3. What do they need to know first in order to understand other elements?

4. Have I explained this before and if so what made it successful?

The first element, “What do they need to know?” is basically the central idea that you should express in a simple declarative sentence. Since you probably will be using a computer, open and save a document to the desktop with a recognizable name based on the central idea. The more direct and easily understood your central idea the easier the communication will be.

Can that central idea be broken into several parts? Open your document on the desktop of your computer and list as many of those parts as you can think of. They must always support the central idea that is written across the top of the page. Later when you visit this page you may discover that one or more of these parts can be combined without doing any violence. We’re going to call these ideas that support the central idea, main ideas.

What things do they need to know and understand before they can be successful comprehending or taking action on the material being presented in the presentational communication? Can you arrange those things in some order that will enhance or make likely that those listening will understand what you’re talking about?

Your past experiences will be useful to you. What have you tried that seemed to work when it comes to ordering what needs to be presented first, second, third, etc.? Now you may have the answer to the question, “Which main idea should be first?”

This is apparent organization and all of us use it from time to time in life. Perhaps you recall what the ideal looks like.

Outline for a speech

Title of your speech


Date of presentation


A. Capture your audience’s attention with a quote, anecdote, or personal experience

B. Build up to your case or the main reason for your speech

C. Summarize the main idea of your speech. Quickly state your three main points

1. First Main Point

2. Second Main Point

3. Third Main Point

II.First Main Point: Working with outline numbered text in Microsoft Word

A. You can move an outline numbered item to the appropriate numbering level

1. On the Formatting toolbar:

a) To demote the item to a lower numbering level

(1) click a list number
(2) click Increase Indent.

b) To promote the item to a higher numbering level

(1) click a list number
This is part of the template library which is available to Microsoft Word users and it is useful to any of us who are trying to do a good job of presentational communication.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Don’t Listen If Nothing Is Being Said

That almost says what we should do when people around us insist on saying nothing. A more accurate thought would be, don’t listen to the content only when a speaker appears to have nothing to say. Instead, listen with great care to what they choose to talk about and what they avoid talking about. You may learn more from that process than “listening” to the speech in the traditional sense.

Think back to that one time you came home way too late and you just knew that you were going to be grilled about what you were doing, with whom and where. You started to think of what you could say that might protect you from telling your parents what they really wanted to know. You hit on a plan.

Talk at length about things you know already that they have an interest in and invite them not only to listen but to participate. When the time for discussion has been used up, excuse yourself and head off to school. That way there never was a moment when your parents had the opportunity to talk to you about things you really didn’t want to discuss. OK, I’m the only one that ever did such a thing.

Unfortunately, it appears to me that in the political arena that is exactly what we are witnessing. There are two main points to this obfuscation.

1) Talk for no more than 30 to 60 seconds. During that time you should be able to say things that your audience will be able to use to build an “appropriate” context around.

2) Create fear about things that might or might not be done which will negatively impact the listener’s life. The listeners will again build a context around what is being said and may even vote that way.

What we are not seeing is free and open discussion/debate about the issues facing the world now. For example, would a list of key issues facing you in your everyday life look something like this?

1) Employment—am I going to get a job that will allow me to marry have children, educate them and retire?

2) Education—will the costs of education eventually deprive me or my children or grand-children from the education they need?

3) Health—will I be able to maintain my health and the health of my family thus assuring us of a long and happy life?

4) Environment—will the earth be substantially like it was when I was a child. Will it produce enough food, water and pure air to sustain the life I would prefer to live?

5) National posture—will nations around my country fear, hate or at least not come to the support of my nation as a result of things that my government does?

I would assume that your list would be different, but night very well include some of the issues my list does. It might even have a different order. But, most of the things we’re now hearing “discussed and debated” on the political stage in the United States includes almost nothing about those issues.

Listening to what is not being said and what is being said leads me to believe that most of the candidates are more interested in being elected than they are is making college more affordable and health care possible for my family not o mention jobs that I can work and while earning a living that might permit me to retire comfortably.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Don’t Talk If You Have Nothing To Say

President Franklin D Roosevelt was a skilled communicator. When he spoke about communication it was usually important. For example: “Freedom of speech is of no use to a man who has nothing to say.” We all have heard speeches that seemed to go out of their way to actually avoid saying something. We almost always wished we hadn’t been present. I should be clear that we need to have something to say when we make a speech.

It is very likely that a bulk of us don’t volunteer to make a speech (public speaking/presentational speaking.) Instead, something that we have done or are doing catches someone’s attention and that leads to the speech. In your social circles it may have been noticed that you have been traveling and taking photos. Your associates decide that they would enjoy seeing the photos and listening to where you have been and what you’ve been doing. And so the pressure begins to prepare a presentation and deliver it to a group of friends and colleagues which will number around 28. Please note: it is always easier to say yes and then hope something happens and you never have to speak. But, with friends and colleagues that is probably not going to happen.

The next thing that is easy is to assume that you there is no need to prepare. And whatever preparation you do need won’t take very much time. Big mistake. With all communication you need to setup a procedure and then stick to it. If you’re talking to your boss, a fellow employee, your best friend, your spouse, your child and so on, you need to have a procedure that you follow so that you always have something to say. Remember, life is a process, and so is communication.

Setup the process immediately and begin work on what you are going to do and say. That way, no matter how much you fear the occasion you will know that you have something to say. In most cases, this thought or one like it will be useful: provide for your listeners what they need in order to appreciate and understand what you’re talking about. If you can have more concern about them than yourself, you will do better.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Freedom of Speech

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 address to Congress reminded those listening of four freedoms he felt basic to humanity. The President of the United States began his speech with these words: “In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.” Much has happened over the intervening 66 years, but the truth of those words remains. We say of life “Use it or lose it.” Certainly that applies to the freedom of speech. Mostly in the recent past we have taken that to mean that I can say anything I like because I have freedom of speech. That is true of course, but much more importantly, we have the reason to prepare ourselves to be able to use the freedom of speech to create a more perfect world. That implies a great deal.

We need to prepare ourselves to say things that will improve our lives and the lives of those around us. That means we will be aware of issues facing us all and having thought about those issues be prepared to speak to audiences of all sizes about those issues. The freedom of speech isn’t to protect those who prefer to jabber about nonsense alone, but also the those who are willing to take the risks necessary to point out basic needs facing us all.

In addition to making constant and intelligent use of the freedom of speech we need to defend vigorously the rights of others to the same freedom. That would mean we do not attempt to silence those who disagree with us. That would apply on the job, in board rooms and from the highest office in the land. Free and open discussion provides a wealth of information from many points of view to all of us.

When any group or nation follows this kind of process their freedoms are more likely to survive in the long run. It also will prod all organizations that we create or are part of to do the same thing. That will assure us of a more useful and effective media. By gathering and reporting on the intelligent and important discussions, addresses and forums going on around us all the time, the media increase the likelihood that even more of us will be aware of the content.

If all we are interested in is “bread and circuses” then we are repeating what the Roman poet Juvenal said was the basic problem facing the Roman Empire. It is for certain that we are busy, but it may not be as productive as we need. We have enough food and drink and maybe Juvenal's observation applies to us today. We have enough activities and food that we see no real need to protect our rights and our own future.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

When It Is Good To Work Individually

There are times when groups may not be as useful as others. It is important to know about that as well. So let’s look at some of these circumstances.

When you have limited time, it may not be a good idea to use a group. As you have already discovered when your plans involve you and several others there is always a problem of coordination and time. When you are worried about a decision and it must be made quickly you’re pretty much stuck with you and if you’re lucky someone you are with who is informed. That isn’t the same as quick decisions are better. Often they are not better. Keep in mind that there are many situations that call for a decision made quickly to avoid disaster. Later, upon reflection you may think of several other possibilities than the one you chose. Put another way, whenever possible anticipate and plan ahead. Avoid backing into situations that call for quick decisions.

When an expert already has the answer, why would you call a meeting to find the answer? Contact the expert and ask for the answer. The suggestion here is simple: the better you are connected and/or networked the more likely you can rely on an expert. Becoming connected is a communication process and it is never too early and seldom to late to build a network of folk you may need in the future. We need each other and often we need experts.

When the information is quickly available from research resources it may not be necessary to tie up a group’s time. Often what we learn in classes tells us where to look for information and we sometimes think that education requires us to remember information. What you remember as being important in life may now have several different answers rather than the one you recall. It may very well be more important to know where and how to look for information than it is to attempt to stay current with all the things you learned in college.

When conflict and tension in a group are unmanageable, at least within the time frame you have to work it may be best to work individually. As long as human beings have the ability to not work toward conflict reduction there is always the possibility that they will fight rather than switch. By the time you persuade them to set aside their conflict it may be too late for an effective decision.

In no way am I suggesting that the standard processes for enhancing groups and their performance is not important. I am suggesting that when we work with people who have the right to make their own choices and they may not choose the way you would like then we should recall that there are times when it is good to work individually.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Groups and Teams

It may not seem nearly so obvious why we need to learn about groups and teams. But, the fact is that one of the most important reasons for effective communication is to seek and hold employment. Without money we are at the mercy of others. With money we can pursue goals that we select for ourselves.

Businesses exist in a highly competitive situation. There was a time when you could run a business badly and still make a living. More and more, we are finding big box and internet businesses making it nearly impossible to successfully run a business. Under these circumstances, businessmen are being forced to learn about the use of employees in areas that used to be considered the sole domain of owners and managers. Employees were trained and told what to do and they had little or no latitude in making decisions.

Now owners and managers are being forced into the area of asking employees how the business might make profitable changes in operation. The employees are often able to supply critical information that enables the business to continue. We have more examples of successful use of employee thought outside the United States than we do within. But, that is changing because of the increasing need for employees that can think critically and communicate well. No employer really wants to be without these capable and qualified people. They probably all ready went out of their way to hire you because of your above average communication skills.

Now, because you understand what your business organization is doing and the terminology that is required, you have an excellent chance to remain employed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stages of Relationships

The model that appears in Beebe, Beebe and Ivy’s book, Communications: Principles for a Lifetime, depicting the various stages in relationships has at least one serious flaw. The escalators/elevators depicted seem to indicate that when we arrive at the top level, “Intimacy,” we have reached the top. Since the page is finite the model appears to be finite. But, in fact, the concepts of intensification as well as intimacy are potentially able to build and expand as far as we are willing to take them. They will continue to enhance meaning within you as long as you continue to add them to your meaning.

With that thought in mind we can make excellent use of this Relationships Stages model to think about and analyze our own existence aiding us to achieve our goals (managing relationships.) Somewhere along the way we sense (see, hear, touch and/or talk to) an individual that catches and holds our attention. It could be at work, a party or in some common area that each of you has visited. This first awareness (pre-interaction awareness) of the other is often exciting and filled with anticipation of fun. (And there is a red flag waving here: much of this process is nonverbal and that indicates that you must provide a bulk of the “meaning” that is attached. Put another way, you must project your “meaning” from your own experiences onto the other person. You have no real idea of how the other person means until you can check your perceptions.)

To satisfy your curiosity (desire, anticipation, hopes) you approach the person to find out more about the person. When you introduce yourself (initiation) the other person is beginning to understand that they have had an impact on you (or they have been communicating nonverbally.) As you begin to introduce yourself (self-disclosure) the other person has the opportunity to turn and walk away or hang around and see where this contact leads. Their first impressions will also be what they sense (nonverbal.) They too will project what they hope you are onto to you. This will be the standard by which you are judged to be worthy of continued contact or not. This makes your nonverbal communication extremely important (be aware of your communication with yourself and others.) Keep the conversation/negotiation light and shallow. That way you can watch (listen) for reactions from the other person which will guide you in what you choose to say and do thereafter.

If the two of you are interested in following your interests, then both of you will be ready for the next stage in establishing a relationship, which is exploration. Nearly anything that the two of you choose to do will permit you to observe (listen) the other’s actions and reactions, giving you additional insights into what to say and what to do. There is no reason this process needs to stop. One way or another, the two of you can continue to explore giving each of you additional meanings for the other and yourselves. There is no way to put relationships on “hold” and not have them being to dissolve. If you want the relationship to continue then you must continue to explore. (Here is another red flag. In the American culture we tend to think of many things, including relationships as things which can be set aside under certain special circumstances. For example, marriage may be an indicator that now is the time for you to concentrate on your career and thus leave little of no time for exploration. That may be the beginning of the dissolving of this relationship.)

The next stage is obvious to all our relatives, friends and acquaintances because we are spending so much time with one another that there is no time for them. That is because we are trying to satisfy our curiosity about each other at the highest possible rate and that indicates that we are now in the intensification stage. This stage can be somewhat flexible, but it cannot be omitted without the threat of serious damage to the relationship. For example, if by my nonverbal communication I tell you that I cannot be without you for any extended period of time and then suddenly begin to go back to my old ways and start spending time with my previous friends, you will be upset and want to know what is going on. The change in behavior indicates the potential for change in how they feel about you and how important this bond really is. None of these stages are necessarily discrete, and may overlap. But, it is still a strong indicator of the progress being made in the relationship.

Intimacy, the final stage in the building relationship process involves nearly every aspect of your life or meaning. Certainly it is physical, because of the trust built up over time each of you knows what a touch means and what an appropriate reaction would be. But, probably more important is the awareness of each other’s thought processes and what is likely going on inside their minds. They probably can talk to each other in abbreviated sentences and understand one another. People listening to their conversations will not have enough understanding of what is being said to take any action at all. Now that is intimacy.

Effective communication is tough. It requires thought and action. You can’t ever just coast and be assured that you are going to be on course toward your goals. What changes do you think you’re going to make when you are talking to anyone after you have understood the potential consequences? What actions may now seem to be filled with potential problems? For example, if you’re not feeling well and don’t want to concentrate on your communication, what is it going to cost you when you’re no longer ill?

Appropriate Self-Disclosure

What should I say? This is a serious and appropriate question. There are days when we’re feeling less self esteem than others. We may feel the need to talk to someone and we might have warm feelings about the person to whom we are talking. In general, when we feel the need to talk to someone, older and more established relationship are safer. That would mean the stronger the bond between the two of you the better for you. When you’re feeling more confident and have greater self esteem you’re in a position to listen carefully with all your senses. That will put you in a position to accept and process the information you receive in self-disclosure from the other person. It will also aid you when you’re deciding what can or should be said at this moment.

Please let me say again that time is necessary to aid you in all communication. Things that are hurried almost always leave important gaps. You won’t notice the gaps, because you won’t want to see them. When human beings want to they can construct and defend some very elaborate structures which will eventually come tumbling down and leave us in much worse shape than we were in at the beginning. Take things slowly so that you can listen, ask for clarification, organize and store the information coming your way. Your brain does a lot in this area while you’re sleeping, which is another reason why we should be getting more sleep on a regular basis. The American way is to get too little sleep and that predisposes us to dangerous thought processes.

So, what should be said? Start with questions of position such as: “Where are you from?” “Where did you go to school?” “What do your parents do?” “Of the places you have lived, which appealed to you the most?” “Do you have a large family?” “Are you affiliated with a church?” “What is your favorite activity?” What is your favorite food?” This line of questioning will allow you to learn about the other person in ways that are fairly public and might be known through nonverbal communication had you had the opportunity. If the other person doesn’t have any idea of what to ask and is just sitting there like a bump on a log, then these questions become your script to talk about yourself. They are largely harmless potentially and can be discussed safely.

Move very slowly toward the things you seldom talk to others about. Keep in mind that you may never get to the point you where you want to talk to the other person about some of the things that you have thought about or are thinking about now. There are some things that we should only talk about to qualified professionals in an attempt to understand why we’re thinking about them in the first place. These things are extreme and without a doubt you haven’t acted on them anyway. If you have acted on them you can bet that somebody saw your nonverbal communication and have already assigned some unfortunate meaning to your actions. Put another way, don’t act on everything you think.


Through nonverbal communication, observation, we can tell quite a bit about one another from a comfortable and safe distance. That permits us to avoid some folk that we don’t think we would care to know and allows us to approach others that seem to be appealing to us. The problem with nonverbal communication is that it is ambiguous and we don’t really know how much they weigh, how tall they really are or that they really have an education. We can only apply what we have learned through experience over the years. Unfortunately it is still ambiguous.

We’ve all heard, if not said, that you can’t tell a book by its cover. We could add that we’ve seen movie trailers that indicated that the movie was going to be hilarious. When we went to the movie we discovered that we had seen all the funny parts in the trailer. With this thought in mind, how can we help those that we want to be attracted to us to approach us so that we can begin to reduce their ambiguity . . . or answer they’re questions more precisely? First we attract their attention, usually nonverbally and hope that they want to follow-up on their curiosity.

Then comes the more difficult part: self-disclosure. You know a great deal about yourself and could talk for literally hours about yourself and that would not be wise. Instead, you must employ some critical thinking while you’re talking to the other person. In many ways conversation is negotiation. You tell me a little and I’ll tell you a little (reciprocity.) I’ll probe, with a well placed question, areas that are of particular interest to me and you will do the same. After a period of time, we are beginning to build a skeleton of knowledge about one another. Please be aware that this should take some time. Also, be aware that you should keep the amount of information shared fairly short at first.

Beware of information overload. When you talk for a long period of time and expect that the other is going to recall everything you’ve said you’re wrong. They will be like you and selective about what they recall. Probably both of you will recall the good stuff, things you really wanted to hear. Many shorter conversation mingled with activities is a good plan. Churches, social clubs, mutual interests and projects allow the two of you to observe (nonverbal) on another while thinking about the things that you are already aware of. Be aware, this takes time. Moving quickly in human communication indicates trouble ahead. Take your time and that means you’ve made time to communicate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


In the Beebe, Beebe and Ivy book, Communication: Principles for a Lifetime, they define “attraction” as “A motivational state that causes someone to think, feel, and behave in a positive manner toward another person.” There are many reasons why we might find ourselves attracted to another person. Some of them Mom would have thought to be worthy. Many things drive us all the time and in that mix we find ourselves trying to figure out , “What attracted me to that person?”

In general, we need to examine ourselves in a wide range of behaviors. Understanding more about these areas should help us in the process of training our brain to pursue those things which will be most positive. For example, there is general agreement that we should have a shopping list and then avoid shopping while we are hungry. That way we’ll stay on budget and make more positive contributions to our overall fitness.

This also applies to attraction during various phases of our physical development. For example, five to seven year old boys have a tough time appreciating the hugs and kisses they see. But, as they approach adulthood, they become aware that some of the those “awful” and “embarrassing” activities just may be worth a little first hand investigation. The difference appears to be the introduction of certain hormones into their system. Once those elements are present in the system, there is a whole range of behaviors that “require” their thought and may even lead to experimentation.

Sp attraction appears to vary from time to time and year to year and we should be aware of the elements that cause the attraction as possible so that we can allow our carefully trained brains to protect us from some really stupid errors.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Interpersonal Communication Is Most Important

If we accept the definition for interpersonal communication shared by Beebe, Beebe and Ivy as “Communication that occurs between two people who simultaneously attempt to mutually influence each other, usually for the purpose of managing relationships,” then several things seem to follow.

1) It is the most important social skill needed in life.

Those of us who do an excellent job of interpersonal communication are able to reach our goals in life more often than those who are not. Each of us would like to be able to live with the person of our choice, live in the community of our choice, work at the job of our choice, and work at the level of our choice and at the pay of our choice. All of those goals can be enhanced through effective use of interpersonal communication.

2) Has a huge impact on our lives.

By adjusting our interpersonal communication throughout life we are able to remain flexible and can maneuver through situations that might derail other individuals. When we spot those in our lives who have a positive influence we can elect to move in their direction. We will also be aware that other successful people will be moving in directions that aid them in achieving their own goals. There is no assurance of success in all cases.

3) With thought its impact can aid us in building our lives.

Just because you have acquaintances does not mean you have friends. Some folk might be present in our everyday lives, but that does not obligate us to listen to and follow their advice. Instead, it is probable that seeking out and establishing relationships with those we can trust and care about our future because they see themselves in that future and want it to be as optimal as possible for both of us.

You are the person that is building your life. Nobody else knows how to do it for you and you are in the best position to redirect your energies so that you have the best possible chance to achieve your goals. Who are you aware of in your life that is best suited to advise and direct you in reaching your goals? At the moment, are they comfortable with you and able to communicate with ease about a wide range of subjects? Is there trust between the two of you? What do you need to do to enhance the relationship so that it might be optimal for you and the other person?

Are there ethical concerns about taking such a deliberate course of action? How can I look out for my own well being without damaging those around me?

Sunday, October 21, 2007


“Ethnocentrism is the belief that our own cultural approaches are superior to those of other cultures” according to Beebe, Beebe and Ivy. And why wouldn’t we believe that? From birth until about 5 years old our moms and dads have been telling us how things should be done. What reasons might they have to lie to us. No reason. They are simply telling us how things work for our own good.

If the way we think things should be done are different from other folk, we still know we are right. And if we are right, that makes them wrong. And at 5 years old that make perfect sense. But, at twenty years old, that shouldn’t make sense nearly as much. Again, we should allow for the fact that we are going to think what ever we like. But, there is a huge difference between thinking and acting. Do not act, unless forced to and then learn everything you can about your background and the other culture’s background. Now you will be in a better position to decide which system is better.

In addition, having been wrong for years is a heavy burden. Many of us choose not to pick it up. Instead, we continue to maintain the “correctness” of what we have been taught. That way we imagine ourselves to be superior to others, if for no other reason, we haven’t been wrong. This whole thought process is divisive and counter productive.

What would be wrong with a position that assumes that you will always try to follow the data toward the best possible solution? That indicates that your current positions are practical but tentative and with the addition of new data, you are able to efficiently change. Wouldn’t that make more sense?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Adapting Communication to Others

If we accept the idea that each of us is unique, then we can see that our work is really cut out for us when it comes to communication. If what you’re saying must be fit to each person then it really is a huge task. There are high priority communications and are most important to us, and in these situations we need to take the utmost care. The risk is the prioritizing process is that none of us know the future and what you thought of as a lower priority may turn out to be very high.

If we could achieve the ideal in every situation then we would know enough to properly choose symbols (words), how these symbols should be ordered (grammar) and how and when to deliver the communication. We don’t live in an ideal world. So we must begin as soon as possible to pay careful attention to people. According to C. S. Lewis, “There are no ordinary people.” But as we observe people, we begin to discover that there are patterns and adaptations that can be used that help in the process of communication. Be a student of people.

The more you know about the people you are communicating with the better the chance of effective communication. So there is a whole range of considerations of which we can be aware. Here are some of them:

1) What is their culture or cultures?
2) What is their gender?
3) What is their age or age range?
4) What is their level of education/experience?
5) What media do they spend their time with?
And in a few minutes on your own and you can easily double the length of this list.

You are beginning to understand the complications present when you are attempting to “Ethically adapt your communication to others.” Of course it is important to “know” what you’re trying to say. But keep in mind that people may or may not allow you to say what you want to say. If you don’t appear to be the kind of person who can say what you are trying to say, they will just ignore you. That means in a very real way, you’re working on your next speech everyday of your life. If your audience appears to believe that you can say what you want to say, then you are on the way to adapting what you have to say to your audience.

The more you know about them, the better the chance that you will say what you need to say in a way that they can accept, understand and adopt. Some questions to ask yourself:

1) Who am I?
2) Who do they think I am?
3) What do I know about the subject?
4) What do they know about the subject?
5) What do I think I can tell them?6) What do they think I can tell them?

Sunday, October 14, 2007


In our heart of hearts we know that listening is extremely important. The problem is, it is difficult and often when you listen to things you find yourself struggling to understand and then help some poor soul out of some painful situation. It is odd though that we expect others to listen to us and we speak very highly of those who do. So, I’m thinking that listening is a valuable skill and really deserves our full attention. So what are the basic elements of listening, at least according to Beebe, Beebe and Ivy?

These are listed as basic elements of listening:

1) selecting

2) attending

3) understanding

4) remembering

5) responding.

As you look at this list it hits you that this looks a lot like work. It is a lot like work. There are several things you need to be productive at the process of work and listening. Let’s list a few of them. We need to be: rested, physically fit, free of preoccupations, able to focus our attention, clear about what is being said (verbally and nonverbally), able to recall what has already been said, and finally our reaction to what has been said. This is such a tough assignment that we have hired psychiatrists and psychologists to listen to us for years. When we can’t afford them we ask those who love us most, our friends and relatives to listen to us.

Does it pay off? Yes. This is how we build relationships and maintain them. This is how we find people we can live with for our entire lives. This is how we get and hold our jobs and get occasional raises. This is how we are able to raise our children and merit their love and support throughout our life times. But, we will have to make adjustments in order to accomplish the task of listening.

We will have to get enough rest. We will be fit and take/make the time select what is being said. Rested enough to focus on what is being said. Ask questions when we aren’t clear about what is being said so that we do understand. Hold the entire discussion in our heads long enough to clearly respond to what is being said.

It is a tough task and deserves our full attention and it is clear that we can’t do it for lots of people. Instead, we will have to narrow our field of contacts or fail at listening. We can’t do everything and this one concept, listening is proof.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nonverbal Cues

Nonverbal cues give us information that can greatly aid us in communication. First, imagine these circumstances: Ever since you walked into the classroom there have been classmates looking at you and talking quietly to those around them. Once in a while there is a giggle and often there are smiles. The key thing that doesn’t ever happen is they include you in the conversation. In fact, you’re certain at this point that the discussion going around the room is about you. Then it dawns on you that you have a job interview after class and there is no time for you to go to your room and change. Instead of wearing your regular student uniform (blue jeans, hoodie sweatshirt that says “No Fear”, and tennis shoes) you’re wearing a light jacket, white shirt, black dress shoes and a tie. Finally, one of your classmates asks, “Are you going for a job interview after class.”

Your response, “Yes I am. How did you guess? Perhaps it was the clothes I am wearing. Wish me luck.”

Not know what the other students were saying and suspecting that they were talking about you could have been quite unsettling had nobody clarified the situation. You probably would have checked all you buttons and zippers and wished for a mirror to check things that can’t be seen without one. With that explanation in mind, much of the whispered conversations around the room have an explanation that allows you to relax.

When you’re feeling confident and your self-esteem is high, these little unexplained conversations around you aren’t very tough to deal with. On the other hand, when your self-esteem has just taken a hit and you’re feeling sort of down, then these conversations might make you feel resentful and uncomfortable. Those talking about you and not with you are not being particularly thoughtful. The person who chose to talk to you was being thoughtful and at the same time satisfying everybody’s curiosity. The nonverbal cues you picked up on do have an impact on you.

As is almost always the case, nonverbal communication is fuzzy and imprecise. How we are feeling about ourselves and the rest of the world can have a huge impact on how we interpret nonverbal communication. We need to keep that in mind. We have an obligation to ourselves and those around us to create the most positive world possible. We all live in our world and the more we can do to reasonably boost one another’s self-esteem the more likely our world will be a positive one.

Things we should ask ourselves. When we are talking about things that nobody should hear which would be better: talk quietly looking around to see if anybody is listening or talk in private so others can’t misconstrue what is going on? If you know another language and are talking to another person in a language unfamiliar to those around you, you may be having a negative impact. We don’t know what you’re saying but if it was “good” you would be speaking so anyone can understand. Of course, there are occasions when a different language must be used. Be aware of your communication’s impact on those around you.

And remember nonverbal communication is interpreted by the viewer. If you are concerned about the possible interpretation of your nonverbal communications do your best to structure them physically and/or verbally so that the fewest possible interpretations can be use. Its safer all the way around.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nonverbal Communication

It has been estimated that we communicate emotions nonverbally most effectively. In fact, it may be that as much as 65% of what we say is said nonverbally. Worse, as much as 93% of what we reveal about ourselves is done nonverbally. If we don’t get a handle on what we “are saying” and “how we are saying it” we will not be aware of what people know about us from a distance. They will know things that we may deny, but will still be correct. And we will probably continue to deny them because we never “told” them what they think they know. But, the fact is, we “talk” all the time and much of it is nonverbal.

So let’s review some of the ways we “talk” to others without proper personal awareness.

1) When we get dressed are we thinking about what the clothes we’re putting on are saying to everyone who can see us?

2) Walking toward our transportation, are we preoccupied and not really aware of our immediate surroundings?

3) If we are driving to work, is a late departure making us push the edges of the law and safety so that we can arrive on time?

4) If we are bored by what is happening, do we tell others by looking at our watch to check the time?

5) If we see someone who is “really interesting” walking by do our eyes reveal that we are no longer listening?

Any action to which I can attach a meaning completes a nonverbal communication. I may not want you to notice what I’m saying, so you don’t necessarily intend to “tell” me what I now know. Intent is not important here. But what is important, that we be aware that we are always talking and folk around us are “listening.” The biggest problem with nonverbal communication is our inability to control or adjust the meaning you attach to it. The communication may be inaccurate, but the chances are very high that those who receive the communication will act on their interpretation of your nonverbal communication.

Recently, Marcel Marceau died. He was often described as the world’s greatest mime: a person that could tell stories without ever saying a word and those watching would agree on the story’s content. You can learn to improve your nonverbal communication and make it work for you more often and reduce any negative impact some of your nonverbal may have.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Words Are Powerful

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That’s an idea that many parents have taught their children so that they wouldn’t feel so bad when they are attacked with words. That’s really a stupid idea. When we’re reviewing the events of our life we often think of things that were said to or about us that remains to this day as a painful memory. Words are extremely powerful and what is worse, their meanings vary from person to person. They vary because we acquired the words in ways unique to us and can’t know how that word really means to the person who is using it without extended contact. The kind of contact that happens over time and in a variety of circumstances is necessary to acquire an idea of how others mean when they use their words.

Most of us know someone who uses words to demonstrate that they are “brilliant.” They seem to use words to prove that they know the words. That communication then, might be perceived an expression of superiority and may not be very friendly or useful. Beebe, Beebe and Ivy point out that we need to adapt our communication to the person(s) with whom we are attempting to establish a connection.

It makes more sense to choose and use words based on what you know and what you have determined they know when attempting to communicate. This communication has a different goal: to establish a connection rather than demonstrate “brilliance.” Many things can impact word choice: culture, context, gender, age, class, race, religion to list a few. In short, words are powerful and require considerable knowledge and focus in order to select the proper ones at the proper time.

Each of us can recall a time that “misunderstandings” came up because of word choice. We wish we could call back some things that we have said. Unfortunately, we can only attempt to reduce the hurt of badly chosen words. We cannot call them back. We each have memories that work very well.

How do you prepare for an important situation? Do you ever practice what and how you’re going to say something? Have you discovered over time how to say some things in a more productive way? Do we sometimes view close acquaintances or friends as folk we don’t need to be concerned about when choosing our words? What are some of the risks involved with this kind of behavior?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Attitudes, Beliefs & Values

This is an area where choosing your parents carefully can pay off. Since none of us have that opportunity, the next consideration is how we can make the most of ourselves in spite of those around us from conception until we are aware of ourselves as individuals.

Attitudes: those things put into our brains before we have awareness making it impossible to filter. Put another way, our parents should teach us by example and with words what we need to know in order to maximize our lives. As a child it never occurred to us to say, “Really, mom, that just can’t be correct. I’m just not going to permanently store what you just did/said.” Instead, as babies we are data sponges and we soak up everything and store it for future use. That’s good as long as the data is accurate and useful for us in building out lives. That’s bad when it is not. As we grow older we find stuff in our memories that we no longer hold to be true or useful. Now we have the problem of deleting. That simply doesn’t work well. Instead we must build a new structure in our brains that represents what we believe to be correct/true. That is time consuming and difficult. Some ideas may never be tested and we may never be aware of the fact that they don’t fit reality as we intellectually believe it to be. Fact is that we need to be aware that we are always a work in progress and that it is entirely possible that we didn’t start with the best of data.

Beliefs: our experiences tell us that certain things are true and we those beliefs often control our actions. For example, you find a political candidate that seems to think about things in a way that fits reality as you see it. You begin to follow what they are doing and saying and find yourself willing to vote for them. You can’t help but notice which political party they belong to and find yourself voting more and more for folk in that same party. You have come to believe that their view of reality and your view of reality are similar or at times the same. You become a believer. Problem is, it is very time consuming to keep up with all those politicians and it is just plain easier to vote the ticket than determine what is best for your world. In that respect, beliefs can become dangerous to us and our communities.

Values: expectations have caused us to accept that certain things are right. For example, several conservative friends of mine have said that they don’t think that individuals, businesses or nations should allow themselves to go deeply into debt. As a matter of fact, they think everybody at all levels should try to operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. These folk have beliefs that Republicans are conservative and they are in a difficult situation because their belief in the Republican Party is important to them and their belief that we should be operating on a pay-as-you-go basis is also important. They are in a quandary when it comes to the huge national debt that the United States has acquired. Be careful when trying to talk to them about this kind of topic, because it has become a major conflict in their minds and they have not yet decided what to do.

Do we have any attitudes that we don’t want others to know about? Could it be that we have discovered that our attitude does not fit with what we now believe to be true? Do our values match what we believe about ourselves and our communities? This internal conflict can be a major stress point, and can complicate communications.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Communication: Making Sense

All of our senses gather data all of the time. Our brain is dealing with sensations all the time. Clearly, one of our biggest tasks is to train our brain about what to do with this huge amount of information that is pouring in. That is probably one of the most important tasks facing educational systems. How can individuals best sense, sort and store the data that they’re going to need to make decisions about what to say and do.

Once we think that we have a concept properly ordered in our minds we are ready to make an attempt to communicate what we are thinking. We think that we have made sense out some of the information and now we want to share that sense with someone else. Since the words vary in meaning in each of us, it is difficult to “say” what you are thinking. That is one of the reasons that shared experiences are so valuable in aiding communication.

An example: grown men crying are able to talk about their experiences during World War II with their families after they have all attending Saving Private Ryan, a film released in 1998. Before the movie, most of these mean didn’t talk about their experiences on the Normandy invasion. They had tried to talk to people who weren’t there during the invasion and realized that for them to even begin to understand what they went through (their definition of the Normandy invasion) the people they were talking to could not understand what they were saying. The net affect was that they clammed up. In many cases they couldn’t be persuaded to talk about the Normandy. A case of, “You had to be there.”

Remember, our brains are gathering information all the time. People aren’t talking all the time. That means that we can divide the communication world into two parts: verbal and nonverbal. We will spend most of our time talking about the verbal and much more time should be spent on nonverbal. Perhaps you’ve already heard the Steely Dan song, What I Do. It underscores from the musical philosophical point of view that what we do is extremely important.

In any case, communication remains a very complicated process and it is extremely important to us as individuals as well as groups.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Human Communication

According to Beebe, Beebe and Ivy, “. . . human communication is the process of making sense out of the world and sharing that sense with others by creating meaning through the use of verbal and nonverbal messages.” This is one of many definitions for human communication. Consider that we almost always have problems with definitions. Take Christianity for example: many in the United States point to the Bible as the core document in their beliefs, but somehow they have come up with different definitions for their religions. We have to assume that if anyone were attempting to build the best possible definition it would be the founders of these denominations.

In discussions we do exactly the same thing. We can establish a basic definition from which our contributions to any discussion are drawn. Put another way, we decide what we think and then discuss from that position. In daily life application, probably all of us have had this experience. Mom asks us to clean our rooms. You set out to clean the room and in five minutes are finished. Mom comes by the room and says, “When are you going to clean your room?” Clearly there are different definitions of “clean” in those two minds.

Unfortunately, since we are all different and have had different experiences, we will always find that the starting point or definition in our mind is different from the starting point in the mind of others. For that reason, the definition above will be the one that should be used in discussions with classmates during the quarter. The definition is one of many possible definitions and should not be considered the best or only.

One last thought, words, like everything else, have to be defined by experience, real or vicarious. Each of us have had different experiences and that means that the words in our head don’t mean the same thing to everyone. They don’t even mean the same things to us over the years.

Communication is tough. To be successful each of us must spend a great deal of energy and time examining the communication process.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Human Communication

You and I tend to think that ideas clear and obvious in our heads will be every bit as clear and obvious to everyone around us. If we can understand it, they should be able to understand it as well. On the other hand, as we gain more experience we begin to discover that things we used to “clearly” understand just aren’t the way we thought they were and we are forced to change our thinking or ignore the problem.

When I was a kid, folk talked about the back country of the high Sierras in California. When I visited the high Sierras I was impressed. Nobody bothered to explain to me that the Sierras were a range of mountains and there was another side. (I knew there was an east side, but I just thought it was a very long way away.) It came as something of a shock to me to discover that the back country was much smaller than it seemed in my imagination. The experience of actually crossing the Sierras and seeing the other side forced me to change my thinking.

My home town of Mountain View, California, seemed to be quite nice and quite large as I was growing up. I didn’t have a lot of travel opportunities and so hadn’t visited a lot of places. When I went back recently to visit my old home town I was amazed at how small and average it had become. (It’s is still my home town and I have many fond memories from there.) Then it dawned on me that the “reality” in my mind was just plain different from the “reality” that I have now. Oh yes, and Mountain View has changed as much as I have.

It’s clear to me that the things that are “real” in my head are not always what I find them to be later on. That forces me to make changes in the way I think about things and what I say. Put another way, the “reality” that we are constructing in our minds is necessary, but not necessarily accurate. What is necessary to live a longer and more prosperous life is the acceptance of the fact that we all have partial grasp of “reality” and we are forced to accept that, until we can revise and update it.

And that has a huge impact on human communication.

I’m certain that you have discovered things in your “reality” that seem to have shifted. How fast can these shifts occur? Are there thought processes that might be useful in detecting these shifts before they embarrass us?