If You Think Communicating Effectively Is Easy, Consider This….. Reply

Did you knowBy Chris Simmons

The 500 most-commonly used words in the English language have:

a). over 5,000 different meanings &

b). comprise over half of your word usage.

Maximize your ability to be understood by remembering the “Three Vs.”  Every spoken message has three key components: the verbals (i.e., words), the visuals (body language), and the vocals (voice speed, volume, and tone). When integrated,  the three compliment one another and increase the likelihood of being understood. As such, always use caution with email and texts, as they strip away key aspects of your message — significantly increasing the probability of miscommunication.

A Washington Post Story About Reading Went Viral – But How Many People Actually Read it? 1


Michael S. Rosenwald on how readers consume news online (Hint: quickly)

The above graphic is the answer to a riddle for our digital times: Did readers actually read a story about reading?

The story in question — about how scanning and skimming our way through the Internet appears to be messing with how we read deeper, longer works — went viral earlier this week, with insane numbers of page views, a gazillion tweets, and even a starring role in Craig Ferguson’s late-night TV monologue.

Though there were many chants of “me, too” about the story on Twitter, there were also many jokes that took this form: “I skimmed it.”

So we decided to actually test this. The good folks at Chartbeat, which tracks how people read digital content, performed an analysis and found that 25 percent of readers stopped reading this story before they even reached the article text. A smaller percentage of other readers dropped off somewhere toward the middle. And 31 percent made it all the way through. I have a lollipop for all of them.

As the writer, should I be happy about those numbers or deeply, deeply sad? I asked Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s chief data scientist. Then I held my breath.

“Anytime I talk to journalists they always ask that question,” Schwartz said.

Not an answer. This felt not good.

And then: “Those are very good numbers, though,” he said.

This felt great! But perplexing. If, say, only 31 of 100 readers made it to the end of my piece, how is that good?

Schwartz said that, on average, about one-third of news readers never start reading the page after they open it. The worst-of-the-worst articles see up to 90 percent of visitors saying goodbye without reading.

And here’s the scary, fascinating conclusion: “The fact that the numbers on this story are so good,” Schwartz said, “show that most people don’t read the article they land on.”

They do what my original story said. They bounce around. They look for key words, and if something excites them, they read. If not, they scamper around. There is, apparently, a lot of scampering. This is how we deal with the superabundance of information online. The problem that I’ve found in my own reading life — and with readers I interviewed — is that I am beginning to read this way with novels and other longer works.

Cognitive neuroscientists are worried about this. I think they are on to something.

The Immediate Trust-Building Power of Reciprocity Reply

By Chris Simmons

Earlier this month, I shared The Manipulative Power of Reciprocity. Now, I’d like to revisit this topic and discuss how reciprocity is legitimately used to create and build rapport and trust. As noted in the original post, reciprocity is a highly effective persuasive tool. As such, it can be used to quickly gain influence by following this time-tested technique.

Begin by sharing something personal with the other party. That said, discretion is the key to success. Share too much and the other individual runs off screaming “TMI!!!!” Worse yet, you’ve lost all credibility because now he/she doubts your mental state for having shared so much with a complete stranger. The personal story you confide must be pertinent to the experience both parties are sharing at that precise moment. In doing so, you’ve demonstrated your trust in them and triggered a psychological need for reciprocity.

Your new friend is now drawn emotionally and psychologically closer to you and will generally respond by sharing something personal about themselves. This can unleash the real power behind psychological reciprocity because the more you share, the deeper you trust. As a result, complete strangers can rapidly find themselves in a legitimate bonding experience.

Reciprocity even works with reserved individuals, although the approach must be much more indirect. In this scenario, begin with questions about abstract issues like his/her thoughts on the ghost tours given in a nearby town or a new restaurant that opened nearby. The conversation-adverse party will generally answer the queries because they are perceived as nonthreatening and seemingly impersonal. In reality, one’s opinion is actually a deeply personal issue. As such, their sharing prompts the reciprocity effect, but on a slower path than in a “normal” setting.

Exercise caution in using reciprocity in this fashion. These approaches are not appropriate, or even possible, in all situations. Instead, view them simply as some of the many available options for building trust and enhancing rapport.

The Forensic Profile of a True Statement Reply

By Chris Simmons

When interviewing a person, bear in mind that every truthful narrative consists of five components which follow a predictable pattern: Start, Minor Details, Main Information, Minor Details & the End.

1. During the interview, the Minor Details you encounter will be blocks of the interviewee’s personal time or movement that smoothly guide you into and then out of the Main Information.
2. The Main Information, naturally, is the core focus of the interview and answers what are known as the basic interrogatives: who, what, when, where, how, and why.
3. As a rule of thumb, a true account is always told chronologically, like a novel.
4. The interviewee will inevitably include information unrelated to the focus of the interview/discussion.
5. In response to questions or comments, the interviewee’s body language will often be more subdued than their normal behavior.
6. Once the individual has presented his/her story, you can review events with them and their timeline will remain intact.

Questions as Verbal Tools – What’s in YOUR Toolbox? Reply

By Chris Simmons

“Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers” (the French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, Voltaire)

Whether questioning a child about a fight on the playground or persuading a work colleague to support your latest initiative, HOW you ask questions directly shapes the answer you receive. Questions are tools, and like any tool, designed for specific jobs.

For example, closed-ended questions should result in very brief and precise answers. A “Yes/No” inquiry is the simplest form of this style. Other viable closed-ended questions would include “what’s your name,” “when were you born?” and so forth. This means is often used to verify information. It is also effective in a hostile interview, such as a parent and teenager discussing a broken curfew. In this scenario, closed-ended questions can help set the framework for the discussion AND build momentum with the defensive party by getting them used to answering your questions. The downside of this device, however, is that it does not create/enhance rapport, nor will it calm down the other individual.

One common mistake to avoid is the two-part question, such as “Did you fly to New York or take the train?” By giving the respondent a choice, if he/she took either mode of transportation, they could correctly answer with a simple “Yes” or the more sarcastic, “Yes, I either flew or took the train to New York.” Ask a focused question – get an exact answer.

Like a carpenter building a room, closed-ended questions can set the boundaries of the discussion. You can then use open-ended questions to allow the other party to add narration to your inquiry (e.g., “Tell me what happened.”). By its very nature, this approach encourages him/her to respond. In doing so, they will add detail, context, and insights to the topic of discussion. Additionally, the other party will now tend to relax as they have a greater role in the conversation.

That said, you should always be wary of this classic “red flag” — anytime the other party answers your question with a question, you are about to be deceived. This is especially true when their response is simply a restatement of what you just asked. This trick, especially common among children, is simply a stall. Its sole purpose is to buy time so that he/she can come up with a better answer.

Using Stories to Persuade Reply

By Chris Simmons

Storytelling influences another’s feelings or emotions by allowing a person to identify with a character in a similar situation. Even if the narrative is exaggerated or abstract, the listener understands that he/she is not the first person to have undergone a particular scenario. The storyline reassures him/her that the stress, anxiety, doubt, and other feelings they are experiencing are not unique – others in their situation have felt the same emotions. The teaching point is that others have shared the individual’s dilemma and undertaken a specific action(s) with demonstrable results. By using a story to deliver this lesson, the core truth is more easily remembered because of the listener’s emotional involvement.

In sum, a storyline is a highly effective communicative tool to gently guide the behavior of others. In addition to their inspirational role, stories can fulfill a very practical function – that is, to help get the truth from someone suspected of wrongful behavior. In this setting, the use of a parable can allow the guilty party to admit to an act and save face at the same time. However, the listener’s fear of a bad outcome requires the storyteller to have established solid rapport for the “confessional story” appeal to have any chance of success.

Why Rate Your Marriage? A Numerical Score Can Help Couples Talk About Problems Reply

Therapists Say They Learn a Lot When Couples Commit to Numbers in Areas Like Trust, Teamwork, Physical Intimacy

By Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal, Bonds@wsj.com

When marriage therapist Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill met with new clients recently, she asked them why they were seeking therapy. The couple told her they’d spent years arguing over finances and recently had their worst-ever blowup. The husband complained about how much money his wife was spending; the wife said her husband was controlling. They hadn’t slept in the same room for months.

Ms. O’Neill, whose practice is in Mount Kisco, N.Y., then asked the question she often poses in a couple’s first session of marriage therapy: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you each rate your marriage?”

The spouses’ answers? “7.5” and “almost an 8.”

“Whoa,” Ms. O’Neill remembers thinking. “What they are saying doesn’t match those numbers.” She would have given their marriage a 4, she says. “Those scores are very telling.”

How would you rate your relationship?

QUIZ: Rate Your Marriage

Researchers often rely on rate-your-relationship questionnaires in studies of why some marriages last while others crumble. Therapists say couples can benefit from occasionally using these tools to step back and get a clinical view of behaviors, healthy and unhealthy, in their relationship. The rating process can help start a discussion, clarify strengths and weaknesses and, hopefully, lead to marital growth.

“Rating helps you be honest with the reality of what you are feeling,” says Karen Ruskin, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Sharon, Mass. “And the only way to fix something is to first know what the problem is.” Some experts, rather than assign one overall number to a relationship, encourage couples to examine and rate a number of aspects of the marriage that researchers and clinicians agree are most important.

Clinicians say they learn an enormous amount of information by asking a couple to rate their relationship—including the spouses’ individual perceptions about the level of crisis they have reached, and their willingness to be honest. It is helpful to see which partner states the number first: Often, it is the person who is angrier. The order in which a couple presents their problems suggests the order in which the problems should be addressed, like a road map. “That’s worth six months of therapy right there,” says Paul Hokemeyer, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York and Boca Raton, Fla.

Attaching hard numbers to the most important relationship in your life comes with some risk, of course. It can be sobering to actually quantify which areas aren’t working well. “You can’t hedge a number,” Dr. Hokemeyer says.

But for couples seeking help for a troubled relationship, a rating serves as a baseline, Dr. Hokemeyer says, a point from which to move upward.

Story continues here: Why Rate Your Marriage?

The Role of Physical Attraction in Your Relationship Reply

Can you get it if you’ve never had it?

By Stephen J. Betchen, Psychology Today

The concept of attraction has been defined in many ways by many different experts in the field of relationships. Some look to biology to explain why we are attracted. Others believe we unconsciously replicate our attraction to our opposite sex-parent. Some believe we’re attracted to those with the same level of emotional maturity or differentiation of self. And still others believe that our unconscious, internalized conflicts choose our partners. These are plausible theories that have been supported by research and clinical experience. And all are deterministic. The biological theory offers that our nature chooses our partners for us (e.g., hormones in love); the latter two psychological explanations contend that partner choice is rooted and shaped in early youth, in relation to our parents. Relationship therapists usually abide by the theory that they were initially trained in. It’s no surprise that it’s impossible to get a unanimous agreement between them on attraction. Nevertheless, the question that seems to create the biggest debate, even bringing experts from different orientations together against those who share their theories seems to be: Can a partner who’s never been physically attracted to his/her mate grow this attraction with time? This question has produced some very interesting, and sometimes heated debates at professional organizations.

I have to admit that I err on the side of the naysayers. In nearly 35 years of practicing couple’s therapy I’ve never seen a partner “get it” when they “never had it” to begin with. I’ve seen a few who “had some” and “grew more.” Even those who were attracted to non-physical aspects of their partners (such as intellect) couldn’t seem to grow a physical attraction. In this sense, you either have it from the beginning or…

Let me be clear, I’m not saying that a lack of physical attraction will necessarily mean the demise of a marriage. Many people live together without physical attraction and/or little to no sexual relations. Other things outweigh physical attraction to these people such as companionship and security. Some find their mates interesting and stimulating. But to many, this type of relationship may be a so-called “house-of-cards.” Consider the following examples:

Janie, a very attractive woman in her middle forties came for couple’s therapy with her husband Tim. Janie lost the desire to have sex with Tim but couldn’t give a good reason. Tim seemed very much in love with his wife. He also kept himself in great shape and was a good provider. Even Janie sang his praises. Sensing something was awry, I separated the couple only to find out that Janie was having an affair. She told me: “Tim is a great guy who treats me like a queen. But as nice and handsome as he is, I’m just not attracted to him.” When I asked Janie the magic question: “Have you ever been physically attracted to Tim?” “No, not really,” she answered. “I needed to get out of my house because my parents were both terrible alcoholics and Tim promised to take care of me—the rest is history.”

Wendy and her husband Larry presented for couple’s therapy…. The Role of Physical Attraction in Your Relationship