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Thursday August 19, 2021
Everything is personal. Everything. Even whatever happened 13.8 billion years ago -- if it weren’t personal you wouldn’t be here to read these words.
Or, to put it another way, there is no such thing as impersonal information. Abstract terms describing theoretical concepts -- like civil rights, climate change, government corruption, and foreign aid -- take on meaning only in a personal context.
Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not advocating personal attacks on someone’s appearance or morals. Rather, recognize that whatever you say, the person you’re speaking to will take it personally.
If they don’t, they’re not listening.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: communication, Language, personal
In our social culture, we tend to use our eyes differently, depending on whether we’re speaking or listening. (Other cultures have different, and therefore often disquieting, customs.)
I tend to watch someone else most closely while they’re speaking. That’s how I show I’m paying attention. I watch your eyes, your mouth, the crinkles on your forehead, to confirm visually what I think my ears are hearing. If I start looking somewhere else – at the TV set, for instance, at the dog, or, umm, at your cleavage – you can reasonably assume that I’m no longer paying as much attention as I should.
But when I’m speaking, I’m more likely to glance away occasionally.
Tags: communication, Eyes, teleprompters
You remember those jokes, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The jokes assumed that a chicken actually had a reason for crossing a road. California quail don’t. When a car comes, they scuttle across, then decide they preferred other side, and reverse direction just as the car reaches them.
In the muted light of dawn or dusk, they sometimes move in such numbers that it feels as if the earth itself is moving.
They land on my bird feeder the same way they travel on the ground -- en masse. They shoulder each other off the platform. They climb over each other. They can empty the feeder in a day. Last winter, I put out an estimated 300 pounds of sunflower seeds. Quail got most of it.
This year, I decided to outsmart them. I made a wire cage to cover the feeder. Its mesh had holes big enough for chickadees and finches, but too small -- I thought -- for bulkier quail.
I was wrong.
Tags: communication, imitation
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: communication, letters to the editor