Tag Archives: communication

Political perspective: Liberals and Conservatives really ARE different (but maybe not how you thought)

Most people don’t want to talk, or even think about politics. It’s too divisive, and rarely pleasant. Unfortunately, politics is a part of our lives whether we like it or not, and we’re better served to not stick our heads in the sand and hope everything just works out.

That said, I found an article recently that finally seems to bring some clarity to the age-old Liberal vs Conservative debate. I’ve been really into the idea of emotional intelligence lately – understanding someone else’s situation, point of view, why they feel the way they feel. In doing this, it’s easier to relate, empathize, and maybe even work together (compromise), rather than just saying “I don’t agree with you, you’re stupid, I’m going to make your life harder”.

From Vox.com comes “Why Democrats and Republicans don’t understand each other”, and I think it does a good job of explaining some key differences that we hear about, and we perceive ourselves, but they’re finally presented in a more “tangible” way.

First:

Democrats are more focused on making policy to appease their various interest groups and Republicans are more focused on proving their commitment to the small-government philosophy that unites their base.

As Speaker John Boehner put it when he was asked about the slow pace of lawmaking in his House, “we should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”

As one example I can think of (though I’m sure there are better ones), I watched a documentary years ago about Ralph Nader called “An Unreasonable Man”. The title is derived from the quote “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself, thus all progress depends on the unreasonable man”. In this documentary, it chronicled how Nader initiated several organizations and committees to protect various groups – workers, consumers, families… and he was making quite a bit of headway, until the next Replublican president was elected and quickly squashed and stagnated his efforts.

This next bit speaks to a point that Chris Rock made in one of his stand up specials, about being liberal on some issues, and conservative on others:

On its face, this presents a puzzle: how can conservatism be the more popular ideology even as the Democrats are the more popular party?

Grossmann and Hopkins disagree. They see this not as a puzzle about American politics but as an explanation for why it works the way it does. They note that 73 percent of Republican voters say they’re conservative but only 42 percent of Democratic voters say they’re liberal. And they note that while voters tend to agree with Republicans on the philosophical questions in American politics (should government be smaller?) they tend to agree with Democrats on the policy questions in American politics (like should Social Security be smaller?).

The Republican Party, in other words, has a very good reason to base itself around philosophical conservatism, while the Democratic Party has a very good reason to base itself around policy deliverables.

This next part is pretty interesting, and gives you an idea of the broader, longer-term implications of this:

The chart above shows the results: Democrats consistently prefer politicians who compromise and Republicans consistently prefer politicians who stick to their principles.

What’s remarkable is that held true even when Republicans controlled the White House. “Though they voiced strong disapproval of Bush, Democrats still expressed a preference for compromise in government — a tendency that has carried over to the Obama era,” write Grossmann and Hopkins. “Republicans have been consistent in their elevation of principle over moderation, regardless of which party is in power.”

That is…extraordinary. Even when a Republican president was facing a Democratic Congress, Republicans did not choose the answer that would have helped their president get more done. And even when a Republican president was facing a Democratic Congress, Democrats did not choose the answer that would have stiffened their party’s spine against passing Bush’s bills. I would have bet money against surveys showing this kind of stability between Democratic and Republican administrations. This is a difference between the two parties that runs deep.

This is something I do tend to find frustrating about more pure conservatives, some might call it “stubbornness”, and it’s important to be able to tell the difference between stubbornness (refusing to budge no matter what) and sticking to principles because you don’t feel you’ve been giving satisfactory reasoning for a change.

“Democrats and liberals are more likely to focus on policymaking because any change that occurs is much more likely to be liberal than conservative. New policies usually expand the scope of government responsibility, funding, or regulation. There are occasional conservative policy successes as well, but they are less frequent and are usually accompanied by expansion of government responsibility in other areas.”

The cleanest way to shrink the size of government is to repeal laws and regulations. But it doesn’t happen very often. In the American political system, Grossmann says, “it’s hard to pass anything, but it’s particularly hard to repeal a law that already exists.” Systematic analyses show it’s rare for laws to be repealed wholesale. “That creates perpetual disappointment among the Republican base,” Grossmann continues. “They correctly perceive that their party does not succeed in enacting their professed ideology.”

But they’re a reminder that American politics is fundamentally rational. Republicans are uncompromising because compromise tends to expand the scope of government. Democrats are willing to make deep concessions because policy moves in a generally liberal direction. Republicans have a clearer message about government because their message about government is fundamentally popular. Democrats talk more about policy because what they have to say about policy is fundamentally popular.

I think that’s a good distinction, and I think if more people were aware of it, it could help grease the gears a bit better and perhaps lead to a little more getting done. I think it suggest that partisanship is at least partially misconceived. Yes some people are truly stubborn and unwavering for personal and/or selfish reasons, but I’m sure that’s actually a minority.

This next bit feels a bit like the whole “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” idea, but applied to politics:

The data also explains why Democratic and Republicans have so much trouble understanding each other. Democrats tend to project their preference for policymaking onto the Republican Party — and then respond with anger and confusion when Republicans don’t seem interested in making a deal. Republicans tend to assume the Democratic Party is more ideological than it is, and so see various policy initiatives as part of an ideological effort to remake America along more socialistic lines.

This is really why effective communication is so important. If you make assumptions that are wrong, you obviously won’t get the results you expect. As frustrating and broken as the 2 party system often seems, perhaps there is a healthy balance hidden in there.

I’ve been “liberal” and “socialist” for a long time, and used to be much more ideological than I am now. If I was given political power in my 20s, I probably would have made a bunch of laws which were well-meaning, but not fully or properly considered/researched. Now I feel like I would think longer and more carefully before setting a policy for something.

Life without a cell phone

Tom Grotewohl did something that I’m sure many of us have nightmares about these days. He spent 16 months, not only without a smartphone, but without any phone at all. As my friend Steve has said “[as a society] we are better prepared for a zombie apocalypse than we are for 24 hours without the internet”.

So, why did Tom do it, and what did he learn? He answers those questions in his article .

You’re probably reacting to that line as if it read, “I’ve spent the last year and a half without breathing air.” Cell phones have become such a crucial part of our daily lives that most folks rely on them more than the majority of organs in their bodies. In fact, you can get your spleen removed and continue living a normal existence, but the same cannot be said of a cell phone.

For this last period of my life, I haven’t had those things because I’ve been traveling. I’ve been crossing borders too frequently to hold on to friends, and sleeping anywhere that offered a free bed or a bit of floorspace so I didn’t have to work. It’s what has allowed me to conduct this experiment.

So, there’s the why. What about the lessons learned? Well, since I don’t want to give everything away (you should actually read the article!), here are the headers:

  • Being in two places at once means you aren’t anywhere.
  • Instant communication has transformed us all into paranoid, over-protective moms.
  • Eye contact is the 21st century dodo [bird]
  • We’ve mistaken being alone for loneliness

I think he makes some good and interesting points, though I would say not everyone is as addicted to and reliant upon such technology. Personally, having GPS on my phone was a lifesaver as I was always bad with directions and getting “lost” made me extremely anxious and stressed. Even with GPS, I still get anxious sometimes.

One thing I have done, to try to manage the chaos, I’ve turned my phone ringer off completely, and turn off all notifications except email (that’s my weakness). Whether at work, at home, or out with friends, unless I’m waiting for/expecting a call or text, I do my thing and my phone just sits there quietly and doesn’t bother me. This allows me to concentrate better, and not be constantly checking my phone like a junkie looking for another fix.

In fact, when I am at work, if I’m checking my phone or my email, it’s either because I’m bored/understimulated, or because I have had an idea that I need to send to myself for later. I truly enjoy being engaged enough in an activity that I don’t feel the need to check messages. So I’m trying to be better at keeping myself productively engaged. When I started tracking my activities and time allocation with an app IronFX recently, it made me realize, on the positive, that most of the time I spend on sites like YouTube or Reddit are actually not “distracted” time, but I’m usually researching, learning, or otherwise informing myself. Not always, but more often than not. I don’t really play “games” very much, because in part, I feel like there are far more enriching things I could be using that time/technology for.

Lastly, with my plans for international travel in the not too distant future, I may have to go without a phone myself, since I do not have a plan with a larger carrier, the carrier I’m with won’t be able to give me any service where I go, so I’ll either be paying out the nose for service, or I’ll be doing what Tom did. Of course I think it would be a different thing being “home” without a phone, vs away, where you’re supposed to be exploring anyway, not tweeting or facebooking. I like to connect with people, and after a long time of doing that mostly electronically, I’ve been feeling good about connecting with people more in the flesh.

At the end of the day, it’s important and healthy to not be too dependent on anything. Technology certainly makes life more convenient, but I don’t think very many people make an effort to regulate themselves, so convenience can and does develop into an unhealthy habit that can persist for a long time and be hard to break out of.

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Director : Patty Jenkins.
Writer : Geoff Johns.
Producer : Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle.
Release : May 30, 2017
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Dune Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, Cruel & Unusual Films, TENCENT PICTURES, Wanda Pictures.
Language : Deutsch, English.
Runtime : 141
Genre : Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction.

‘Wonder Woman’ is a movie genre Action, was released in May 30, 2017. Patty Jenkins was directed this movie and starring by Gal Gadot. This movie tell story about An Amazon princess comes to the world of Man to become the greatest of the female superheroes.

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There’s socially awkward, and then there’s creepy. It’s an important difference.

I was recently turned onto a blog called Dr. Nerdlove. That latest article (at least as I write this) is titled “Socially Awkward Isn’t An Excuse”. I think this is a fantastic article for anyone who isn’t so great with the social skills. It may help your self-awareness and learning to better moderate your behaviour and interactions.

Believe me, I was one heck of a socially awkward duck as a teenager (I have some seriously embarrassing stories I could tell). It took me 6 months just to build up the courage to talk to a girl I thought was cute (this is not an exaggeration, I swear). I would start classes in September, get a crush on a classmate, and if I was *lucky*, I’d manage to say more than “Hi” to her by April. In fact, I asked out one of my best friends when I was in college, and I was so awkward about it that she had no idea that I was asking her out. I told her later and she was like “you asked me out? when?!“. In her defense, “I’d like to hang out with you more often” is definitely not the same thing as “I like you romantically and would like to go on a date with you”.

As guys, I think we are given the impression by TV and movies (and the often sleazy and creeptastic “Pick Up Artist” movement) that men have to be direct and aggressive (and not take no for an answer, and be really degrading), but when you honestly don’t know what to say or how to say it, it’s easy to make some really epic screw-ups. I have chased countless women away and got really frustrated, until I just forced myself to slow the heck down, and try to be honest (and a little bit of humility can go a long way!). It was definitely hard at first, and I wasn’t sure if it would work. As my friend Heather puts it “make a clear statement of intent, giving them the ability to easily opt out”. Oh, and don’t freak out or be deflated if they say no!

Anyway, this article basically sums it up like this:

Here’s the thing about the socially awkward: they don’t want to trip over people’s boundaries. You can almost always track the exact moment they realize that they’ve done something wrong by the way they desperately try to backtrack, apologize and generally try to reassure the other person that they didn’t mean to and they’re so embarrassed and are kind of freaking out and, and, and…

You know what you don’t see? You don’t see them justifying their behavior. Or turning it around and making it about the person whose boundaries they just blew past.  They don’t rely on social pressure – either through making a scene or through other people justifying their actions for them – to make the other person submit to their demands. They don’t argue that the other person is obligated to forgive him, to give him a second chance or otherwise pretend that the awkwardness just didn’t happen. Creepers and predators rely on other people insisting that their social awkwardness is a mistake because it gives them cover. When the “socially awkward” exception is in play, other people are less likely to call him out on his creepy behavior .2 It becomes a way of isolating somebody from potential allies and tricking others – people who might otherwise object to his bad behavior and assist his target – into being complicit in his actions. The Awkward Exemption teaches other people to tolerate, even expect creepy behavior… and to forgive it because hey, “he means well.” It gives the creeper cover and allows him to continue being part of the community; he’s not “Johnny the creepy predator”, he’s “Johnny the decent guy, a little weird sometimes but harmless.”

Basically – genuinely awkward people are genuinely sorry when they realize they screwed up. Creepers are not, they will try to justify their behaviour and hide behind a fake excuse. They may be a little bit awkward too, but they’re certainly not trying to fix that.

The article goes on to basically say “hey, some people are genuinely awkward, it’s a thing, but it’s a thing you can work on and improve, and you should try”. And that’s absolutely true. I’m living proof!

On a related note – The difference between introversion and shyness.

Introversion vs Shyness

It seems to me like the idea of introvert vs extravert has become a little more well understood in the general population in the last few years, which is positive. Introversion often seems to be confused by people because it can get mixed in with other things like being shy, having a social phobia, or just having communicative difficulties (perhaps due to a developmental disorder).

I am naturally an introvert, but at this point in my life I think it’s fair to say I’m “ambiverted”, meaning that I while I certainly need my alone time, I can really enjoy being social at times as well. And I’m trying to get more into public speaking, something that terrifies anyone who is shy. A little further explanation on Ambiversion:

What all this means is an introvert can want to spend time alone but also crave being social. Also, someone more extraverted can still crave alone time.

What I have actually found (and I’d be curious to know if other introverts feel the same way), is that if I am engaged in a conversation that I find really interesting (like if someone wants me to tell them all about something I’m really interested in or passionate about), that it doesn’t actually drain my energy, but sort of keeps it stable, or in some cases even energizes me (probably due to adrenaline or something). But when it comes to small talk, chit chat, or talking to someone with a dry or really low-key personality about something I have no interest in, I find that incredibly taxing and I shut down. This is part of why I enjoy family gatherings less than I enjoy discussion groups centered on intellectual topics.

There is a great little article from Conversation Skills Core, called “Difference Between Introversion and Shyness”, which I am drawing from here.

So, the key traits of an introvert:

  • Very self-aware and thoughtful
  • Enjoys understanding details
  • Interested in self-knowledge and self-understanding
  • Tends to keep emotions private
  • Quiet and reserved in large groups or around unfamiliar people
  • More sociable and gregarious around people they know well
  • Learns well through observation
  • Tends to have a smaller group of friends
  • Typically chooses friends much more carefully
  • Closest relationships tend to be profound and significant
  • Prefers to interact 1-on-1 rather than in large groups
  • Finds “small talk” tedious but enjoys deep, meaningful conversations
  • Thinks about things before talking to have a full understanding of a concept before voicing an opinion or offering an explanation

A caution for introverts:

While it certainly isn’t wrong to be an introvert, there are consequences to completely giving in to your introverted nature. Like it or not, humans are a social species. That’s how we interact and how our status is determined. I mean obviously humans can’t read minds (that I’m convinced of at least), so communication is necessary.

So extraverts have an advantage in that they more naturally play the human social game. The consequences of being TOO introverted are that less people get to know you, so you have less opportunities.

Here is where the difference starts to get explained:

It’s understandable shyness gets confused with introversion because, if you’re anxious about a social setting, you’ll likely avoid it. So similar to an introvert, a shy person avoids being social. The difference is the shy person does it out of fear, while an introvert does it out of a genuine urge to be alone.

Sociability refers to the motive, strong or weak, of wanting to be with others, whereas shyness refers to behavior when with others, inhibited or uninhibited, as well as feelings of tension and discomfort.

The point is, being introverted does not mean you are automatically shy. You can be extraverted and shy. You can also be introverted, bold and outgoing. It all depends on your experiences throughout life.

So, when it comes to shyness, it also runs on a scale, at one end being social phobia, on the other, being “bold and confident”. I have transitioned across this scale myself, when I was a teenager I could not talk to strangers to save my life, I had to be introduced and even then, they tended to have to steer the conversation. Now I interview people as a hobby, including reaching out to total strangers to see if they’re up for it, and have just started moderating a monthly discussion group.

Back to the article, it offers two points about how shyness and introversion are related:

1. Introverts tend to get less social practice
2. Introverts are misunderstood

Some final advice from the article:

If you would like to be more social but feel anxious about meeting new people, this is a result of shyness. You don’t have to become extraverted to overcome shyness. But you can learn to be more outgoing and confident socially so you get your social fix. That’s just a matter of learning better social skills and overcoming limiting thinking about yourself in relation to others.

This was the best and most helpful article I have seen on this subject to date, so I wanted to share it here for the benefit of all my shy and or introverted readers.

Rare video footage of the infamous Helen Keller speaking

I don’t remember where I found this, but it is pretty interesting.

Helen Keller is famous for being blind, deaf and mute, but still managing to lead quite a life:

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.[1][2] The story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker. Her birthday on June 27 is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and was authorized at the federal level by presidential proclamation by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, the 100th anniversary of her birth.

A prolific author, Keller was well-travelled and outspoken in her convictions. A member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, she campaigned for women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, and other radical left causes. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971.

She was lucky enough to meet someone who was able to help her learn:

Pretty amazing, and humbling. I don’t mean to sound ableist, but it’s examples like this that tell me “if you want something bad enough, you will find a way”. Obviously that’s not true in every case, but for many of us, it is.

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  • Rings (2017)

  • Duration
    102 mins
    Genre
    Horror.
  • In Cinemas
    February 1, 2017
    Language
    English.
  • Country
    United States of America.
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‘Rings’ is a movie genre Horror, was released in February 1, 2017. F. Javier Gutiérrez was directed this movie and starring by Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz. This movie tell story about Julia becomes worried about her boyfriend, Holt when he explores the dark urban legend of a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after viewing. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a “movie within the movie” that no one has ever seen before.

DIRECTOR

F. Javier Gutiérrez.

Producer

Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald.

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The importance of perspective (experience vs observation)

Over the weekend a friend of mine alerted me to something she found in an OKCupid profile. One of the (many) questions the site uses to match you with potential mates, is “would you consider dating someone who hasn’t been in a relationship?”.

She found a guy who had answered “No, at this point my peers have been in a relationship, I’m not interested in coaching a newbie”.

I was taken aback by this response, which seemed short sighted and selfish to me. So I ran it by some other friends, and was kind of surprised by their responses, which largely agreed with him.

BUT, the interesting thing that I think is missing both in his response and in theirs, is perspective. Why? Well, on one hand yes – having a lack of experience can be problematic, but only if the person in question hasn’t learned anything on their own.

To tell you the truth, I have very limited “formal experience” in dating. But I know that I’m capable of it, for the same reason that I know that there are people who have lived twice as long as me, but are less mature – because I observe and I learn from the world around me, not everyone does. Same as you don’t have to go to college to be able to work or start a business. There isn’t only ONE way to learn.

So, my stance is, if I meet someone and I like them and they tell me they haven’t been in a relationship before, there are other questions I can ask (much like they ask you in a job interview) to find out if they understand the key concepts and best practices regardless.

My parents are divorced, both have remarried but one runs a healthy, communicative relationship, and the other just yells at and argues with their spouse all the time. From that alone, I have learned healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviour, even without being in one myself. Of course if both my parents were in the latter kind of relationship now, I would lack the perspective that there is a ‘better way’.

So I think this person’s answer to me speaks more of impatience and is short sighted in that it ignores this fact. While there are absolutely some things you can only learn how to deal with in the context of a relationship, most of what you need is just human relations 101 and some decent self-awareness. At least, that’s my bullsh$% opinion.

What do you think? Agree or disagree?

More great life advice in a handy list

Over at The Good Men Project, Alyssa Royse has compiled a list called “The 10 Absolute Truths Behind What Real Women Want”, though to be fair, most of the list applies both ways (that is to say, it’s pretty universally good advice).

Here are a few tidbits:

2. We want you to know that we are not all the same. There is no one thing that we all want. Some of us want romantic gestures, some of us think those are a silly waste of resources. Some of us are great at talking about our feelings, some of us are terrified by the prospect of having to do so. There is no one standard set of things that works for “real women” [Adam’s note: “real PEOPLE” works too] any more than there is one standard way to cook beef. Continue reading