Speed Review: Winning Decisions

Review Tools and a Process For Making Decisions As everyone says, “Work smarter, not harder.” In Winning Decisions: Getting It Right the First Time , authors J. Edward Russo & Paul J.H. Schoemaker, two experts and professors in the field of decision making, provide a direct route to working […]

New Term – Motive Attribution Asymmetry. Add this to “Confirmation Bias,” “Selective Perception,” and “Motivated Reasoning” as Reasons For Our Political Disfunction.

I found a new term, “Political Motive Attribution Asymmetry” that adds to, “Confirmation Bias,” “Selective Perception,” and “Motivated Reasoning” as the reason our political problems seem to be so intractable.  The term came from a Study called “Motive attribution asymmetry for love vs. hate drives intractable conflict.” Click here to see the Study.

It seems obvious to me that there are a lot of reasonable compromise solutions available to us.  Yet, we seem to always end up yelling at each other, rather than work to find solutions to our problems.  The Authors of the Study suggest that “Motive Attribution Asymmetry” means that:

“Adversaries attribute their ingroup’s actions to in-group love more than outgroup hate and attribute their outgroup’s actions to outgroup hate more than ingroup love. This biased attributional pattern increases beliefs and intentions associated with conflict intractability, including unwillingness to negotiate and unwillingness to vote for compromise solutions. … Understanding this bias and how to alleviate it can contribute to conflict resolution on a global scale.”

“Although people find it difficult to explain their adversaries’ actions in terms of love and affiliation, we suggest that recognizing this attributional bias and how to reduce it can contribute to reducing human conflict on a global scale.”

The current position of Senate Conservatives that they will not hold hearings on the US Supreme Court Nominee is a great example of how ideological and Political actors are willing to risk the health of their Country, because they are unwilling to make political compromises.  This is just one recent example.  There are unfortunately too many other world wide examples of political, economic, ethnic, and religious groups across the world rejecting solutions of mutual benefit that involve sharing power, land, or religious sites.

Why are so many conflicts so intractable when people on both sides could gain from a compromise?  I lay the blame for intractability at the foot of “Confirmation Bias,” “Selective Perception,” “Motivated Reasoning,” and now the new term, “Motive Attribution Asymmetry.”

This study supports the notion that:

“A fundamental barrier to conflict resolution may be simple pessimism toward compromise. If adversaries believe inflexibility on the other side renders mutual compromise impossible, they will be unlikely to adopt seemingly rational strategies for conciliation. In other words, the perception of conflict intractability may be an independent cause of a stalemate. Here, we identify a fundamental cognitive bias that contributes to the belief in conflict intractability, and may therefore contribute to conflict spirals.”

“People will attribute ingroup engagement in conflict to love more than hate, but they will attribute outgroup engagement in conflict to hate more than love. We term this pattern the “motive attribution asymmetry.” We use the term “bias” to mean response tendency (rather than error); in this case, a tendency to attribute love vs. hate to one’s in-group to a greater degree than to one’s outgroup and to attribute hate vs. love to one’s outgroup to a greater degree than to one’s in-group.”

7 Communication Skills to Succeed in Work and Life

7 Communication Skills to Succeed in Work and Life.

Communication is a requirement for almost any job and almost any life activity.  So the better you are communicating the better you will be in life.

Here are my top 7 communication skills to succeed in Work and Life: 1) Understand the intent of your communication, 2) Listen well,  3) Construct the Right Message and use the right channel, 4) Be short and to the point, 5) Understand nonverbal, 6) Look for and provide feedback, & 7) Be more attractive.

1. Understand The Intent of the Communication
We all begin communication with an intent to achieve some purpose. The Intent of what you want to achieve is the most important thing to focus on when you communicate. And you should also think about the intent of the person and/or group participating in the communication.  The more both sender and receiver agree on the Intent of the communication the more likely the outcome of the communication will be successful.

2. Listen Well
#1 above is the Intent of the communication. In order to achieve your intent you have to listen to the other person. You have to listen to the community. You have to listen to the Experts. You have to know if they understand your intent.

I recommend practicing active listening. Active listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing what the person says to ensure understanding (“So, what you’re saying is…”). Through active listening, you can better understand what the other person is trying to say, and can respond appropriately.

3. Constructing the Right Message and the right channel to Achieve your Intent
Once you know the Intent of your communication you need to construct the message and pick the best channel to achieve your intent. For example, some serious conversations (layoffs, changes in salary, etc.) are almost always best done in person. You should also think about the person with whom you wish to speak – if they are very busy people (such as your boss, perhaps), you might want to convey your message through email. People will appreciate your thoughtful means of communication, and will be more likely to respond positively to you.

4. Short and to the Point
I use the “2” sentences and shup-up strategy.  Here is the strategy I use:

  1. I figure out my intent.
  2. I construct the best message and pick the best channel to achieve my intent.
  3. I make my point in as few sentences as possible and then shut up and listen.

The fundamental key to effective communication is to state your intent in as few words as possible. Think of communication like a faucet or fire hose with “Data” as the water.  It is important to meter the flow of information to the context.  And it is ALWAYS better to use the least about of water to achieve the goal.

Say what you want clearly and directly, whether you’re speaking to someone in person, on the phone, or via email. If you ramble on, your listener will either tune you out or will be unsure of exactly what you want. Think about what you want to say before you say it; this will help you to avoid talking excessively and/or confusing your audience.

  • Verbal Communication Skills

5. Understand Nonverbal Communication
Your body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone all color the message you are trying to convey. A relaxed, open stance (arms open, legs relaxed), and a friendly tone will make you appear approachable, and will encourage others to speak openly with you. Eye contact is also important; you want to look the person in the eye to demonstrate that you are focused on the person and the conversation (however, be sure not to stare at the person, which can make him or her uncomfortable).
Also pay attention to other people’s nonverbal signals while you are talking. Often, nonverbal signals convey how a person is really feeling. For example, if the person is not looking you in the eye, he or she might be uncomfortable or hiding the truth.

  • Nonverbal Communication Skills

6. Look for and Provide Feedback
Giving and looking for feedback is critical to communication success. Managers and supervisors should continuously look for ways to provide employees with constructive feedback, be it through email, phone calls, or weekly status updates. Giving feedback involves giving praise as well – something as simple as saying “good job” to an employee can greatly increase motivation.

Similarly, you should be able to accept, and even encourage, feedback from others. Listen to the feedback you are given, ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of the issue, and make efforts to implement the feedback.

7. Be “More Attractive” and “Less Repulsive”
My father used to say that “you catch more flies with honey, than vinegar.”  Essentially the moral is: on average its better to be “Attractive” then “Repulsive.”  That is particularly true about communication.

Communication is about information.  And the more information you have the better the communication.  You will receive more information if you are open and attractive than if you are closed and/or repulsive.  So as a general rule, since we want as much information as we can get, it is better to be open and attractive.  The question I would have is why would anyone think being closed are repulsive be better for communication?

There are specific traits to enhance attractiveness:

  1. Friendliness: Through a friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile, you will encourage your coworkers to engage in open and honest communication with you. This is important in both face-to-face and written communication. When you can, personalize your emails to coworkers and/or employees – a quick “I hope you all had a good weekend” at the start of an email can personalize a message and make the recipient feel more appreciated.
  2. Empathy: – Even when you disagree with an employer, coworker, or employee, it is important for you to understand and respect their point of view. Using phrases as simple as “I understand where you are coming from” (And of course actually understanding where they are coming from) demonstrate that you have been listening to the other person and respect their opinions.
  3. Open-Mindedness: – A good communicator should enter any conversation with a flexible, open mind. Be open to listening to and understanding the other person’s point of view, rather than simply getting your message across. By being willing to enter into a dialogue, even with people with whom you disagree, you will be able to have more honest, productive conversations.
  4. Respect: – People will be more open to communicating with you if you convey respect for them and their ideas. Simple actions like using a person’s name, making eye contact, and actively listening when a person speaks will make the person feel appreciated. On the phone, avoid distractions and stay focused on the conversation.Convey respect through email by taking the time to edit your message. If you send a sloppily written, confusing email, the recipient will think you do not respect her enough to think through your communication with her.

Models of Communication

In order to understand how all this fits together I offer the following.

Simple Standard Model (Based on Shannon-Weaver Model)


Communication as a Process


 

 

7 Important Communication Skills to Get and Keep a Great Job

Communication is a requirement for almost any job and almost any life activity.

Here are the top 7 communication skills that will help you succeed in work and life.

1. Understand The Intent of the Communication
We all begin communication with an intent to achieve some purpose. The Intent of what you want to achieve is the most important thing to focus on when you communicate. And you should also think about the intent of the person and/or group participating in the communication.  The more both sender and receiver agree on the Intent of the communication the more likely the outcome of the communication will be successful.

2. Listening
#1 above is the Intent of the communication. In order to achieve your intent you have to listen to the other person. You have to listen to the community. You have to listen to the Experts. You have to know if they understand your intent.

I recommend practicing active listening. Active listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing what the person says to ensure understanding (“So, what you’re saying is…”). Through active listening, you can better understand what the other person is trying to say, and can respond appropriately.

3. Constructing the Right Message and the right channel to Achieve your Intent
Once you know the Intent of your communication you need to construct the message and pick the best channel to achieve your intent. For example, some serious conversations (layoffs, changes in salary, etc.) are almost always best done in person. You should also think about the person with whom you wish to speak – if they are very busy people (such as your boss, perhaps), you might want to convey your message through email. People will appreciate your thoughtful means of communication, and will be more likely to respond positively to you.

4. Short and to the Point
I use the “2” sentences and shup-up strategy.  Here is the strategy I use:

  1. I figure out my intent.
  2. I construct the best message and pick the best channel to achieve my intent.
  3. I make my point in as few sentences as possible and then shut up and listen.

The fundamental key to effective communication is to state your intent in as few words as possible. Think of communication like a faucet or fire hose with “Data” as the water.  It is important to meter the flow of information to the context.  And it is ALWAYS better to use the least about of water to achieve the goal.

Say what you want clearly and directly, whether you’re speaking to someone in person, on the phone, or via email. If you ramble on, your listener will either tune you out or will be unsure of exactly what you want. Think about what you want to say before you say it; this will help you to avoid talking excessively and/or confusing your audience.

  • Verbal Communication Skills

5. Nonverbal Communication
Your body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone all color the message you are trying to convey. A relaxed, open stance (arms open, legs relaxed), and a friendly tone will make you appear approachable, and will encourage others to speak openly with you. Eye contact is also important; you want to look the person in the eye to demonstrate that you are focused on the person and the conversation (however, be sure not to stare at the person, which can make him or her uncomfortable).
Also pay attention to other people’s nonverbal signals while you are talking. Often, nonverbal signals convey how a person is really feeling. For example, if the person is not looking you in the eye, he or she might be uncomfortable or hiding the truth.

  • Nonverbal Communication Skills

6. Feedback
Giving and looking for feedback is critical to communication success. Managers and supervisors should continuously look for ways to provide employees with constructive feedback, be it through email, phone calls, or weekly status updates. Giving feedback involves giving praise as well – something as simple as saying “good job” to an employee can greatly increase motivation.

Similarly, you should be able to accept, and even encourage, feedback from others. Listen to the feedback you are given, ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of the issue, and make efforts to implement the feedback.

7. Be “More Attractive” not “Less Repulsive”
My father used to say that “you catch more flies with honey, than vinegar.”  Essentially the moral is: on average its better to be “Attractive” then “Repulsive.”  That is particularly true about communication.

Communication is about information.  And the more information you have the better the communication.  You will receive more information if you are open and attractive than if you are closed and/or repulsive.  So as a general rule, since we want as much information as we can get, it is better to be open and attractive.  The question I would have is why would anyone think being closed are repulsive be better for communication?

There are specific traits the enhance attractiveness:

  1. Friendliness: Through a friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile, you will encourage your coworkers to engage in open and honest communication with you. This is important in both face-to-face and written communication. When you can, personalize your emails to coworkers and/or employees – a quick “I hope you all had a good weekend” at the start of an email can personalize a message and make the recipient feel more appreciated.
  2. Empathy: – Even when you disagree with an employer, coworker, or employee, it is important for you to understand and respect their point of view. Using phrases as simple as “I understand where you are coming from” (And of course actually understanding where they are coming from) demonstrate that you have been listening to the other person and respect their opinions.
  3. Open-Mindedness: – A good communicator should enter any conversation with a flexible, open mind. Be open to listening to and understanding the other person’s point of view, rather than simply getting your message across. By being willing to enter into a dialogue, even with people with whom you disagree, you will be able to have more honest, productive conversations.
  4. Respect: – People will be more open to communicating with you if you convey respect for them and their ideas. Simple actions like using a person’s name, making eye contact, and actively listening when a person speaks will make the person feel appreciated. On the phone, avoid distractions and stay focused on the conversation.Convey respect through email by taking the time to edit your message. If you send a sloppily written, confusing email, the recipient will think you do not respect her enough to think through your communication with her.

Models of Communication

In order to understand how all this fits together I offer the following.

Standard Model (Based on Shannon Weaver Model)


Communication as a Process


Putting the Standard Communication Model into a Process Flow.

 

The 2 Most Important Things we Always Need to Learn to Be Successful

The two most important things we always need to learn to be successful are: 1) how to use the tools available to us, and 2) how to use our minds to best use the tools. And the important reality is that while the tools we need to learn to be successful change all the time, how we use our minds to best use those tools has never changed.

Clearly the tools we need to learn have changed from learning how to use a horse and plow to learning to use a gas station and the Internet. But, how we use our minds to best use those tools has not changed. Competencies like critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, self-awareness, control of impulsivity, executive function, caring about yourself and others, were as important to the cave men as they are to use today.

Look at the evolution of the competencies we need to learn. The cave men did not need to learn to read or write. However, today, reading and writing are basic competencies that cross all activities. Additionally, today we need to learn to use proper online etiquette, recognize how our personal information may be collected and used online, and leverage access to a global community to increase our changes for success. Mastering these skills requires a basic understanding of the technology tools and the ability to make increasingly sound judgments about their use.

A key to make this happen is to learn how to use the technology available to us as tools to engage in creative, productive, life-long learning rather than simply consuming passive content.

Social Skills Are As Important today As They Ever Were

While it might seem that only specialized technical skills like Java programming or network engineering are the best way to get a good job in the 21st Century, that’s not the case. To really get ahead, what a worker needs is social skills.  One needs the ability to talk and listen and translate and act in common with others.

How’s that? Over the next two decades, nearly half of U.S. jobs may become obsolete due to automation, one recent study found. What are workers to do? Become more human, suggests David J. Deming of Harvard. Deming argues that social skills have already become increasingly important in recent decades, especially for those looking for high-wage, competitive positions.

According to Deming,  positions that require both cognitive and social skills have shown more wage growth in the past few decades than those that require high-levels of mathematical or analytical training but little social prowess. And those wage gains hold true across all levels of employment.

In the future, the jobs that are least likely to be automated increasingly are those that demand lots of interaction with coworkers or clients, not just the performance of rote analytical tasks. These jobs also call for the ability to perform innately human exercises—like pondering another person’s point of view. These nuances of human interaction are something that computers have yet to master.

Social skills have the most value when it comes to the ability to work on a team, trading off tasks based on skill sets or ability. “Human interaction in the workplace involves team production, with workers playing off of each other’s strengths and adapting flexibly to changing circumstances,” Deming writes. “Such nonroutine interaction is at the heart of the human advantage over machines.”