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19 October 2012

The non-existent debate

15 October 2012

What are the 5 keys to a good apology?


Apologies do make a difference. People often prefer them over money, even if they’re just cheap talk.
What does the research say about the best way to apologize?

Don’t apologize for what you think you did wrong. Apologize for what they think you did wrong:
…victims reacted most positively to apologies that were congruent with their self-construals.

The most effective apologies have four parts:
Aaron Lazare devotes two full chapters of On Apology and much of his subsequent research to questions of timing and delay. He finds that effective apologies typically contain four parts:
1. Acknowledge that you did it.
2. Explain what happened.
3. Express remorse.
4. Repair the damage, as much as you can.
This aligns with previous research on effective apologies:
Results indicated that relationships recovered significantly when offending partners used behaviors labeled as explicit acknowledgment, nonverbal assurance, and compensation.

Timing is crucial — and faster is not better. People need to feel they are heard and understood so a delayed apology is actually more satisfying.
The results were stark: “Apology timing was positively correlated with outcome satisfaction; when the apology came later in the conflict, participants reported greater satisfaction.” Statistical tests showed that, the greater the delay, the more a victim felt heard and understood. With more time, there was more opportunity for voice and understanding.

If it’s clear you intentionally did something wrong, you’re probably better off not apologizing. After intentional acts, apologies tend to backfire and make things worse:
An apology does not help at all after clearly intentionally committed offenses. On the contrary, after such offenses harmdoers do better not to apologize since sending an apology in this situation strongly increases punishment compared to remaining silent.

Are they not accepting your apology? A little guilting can be effective. Being reminded of times when they did something wrong makes people more likely to accept apologies and forgive:
…participants in the recall-self-as-wrongdoer condition were significantly more likely to accept the apology from the classmate and forgive the transgression.

A Final Tip
Hopefully you won’t need this list too often. However, you may want to keep the principles in mind for next time you get pulled over. Studies have shown that apologizing to the police is one of the few effective ways to get out of a speeding ticket.

09 October 2012

Lioness adopts calf



08 October 2012

What does the most comprehensive study of geniuses tell us about creativity?


For his book Creativity, noted professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi did interviews with 91 groundbreaking individuals across a number of disciplines, including 14 Nobel Prize winners.
In 50 Psychology Classics Tom Butler-Bowdon sums up many of Csikszentmihalyi’s findings. Here are some highlights:
  • The idea of the tortured creative person is largely a myth. Most of his respondents were very happy with their lives and their creative output.
  • Successful creative people tend to have two things in abundance, curiosity and drive. They are absolutely fascinated by their subject, and while others may be more brilliant, their sheer desire for accomplishment is the decisive factor.
  • Creative people take their intuition seriously, looking for patterns where others see confusion, and are able to make connections between discrete areas of knowledge.
  • Creative people are often seen as arrogant, but this is usually because they want to devote most of their attention to their exciting work.
  • Though creative people can be creative anywhere, they gravitate to centers where their interests can be satisfied more easily, where they can meet like-minded people, and where their work can be appreciated.
  • Beautiful or inspiring environments are better at helping people to be more creative thinkers than giving them a seminar on “creativity.”
  • School does not seem to have had a great effect on many famous creative people, and even in college they were often not stars. Many people later considered geniuses were not particularly remarkable as children, what they always had more than others was curiosity.
  • Most fell into one of two family categories: They were poor or disadvantaged, but their parents nevertheless pushed them to educational or career attainment, or they grew up in families of intellectuals, researchers, professionals, writers, musicians, and so on. Only 10 percent were middle class. The lesson: To be a powerfully creative adult, it is best to be brought up in a family that values intellectual endeavor, not one that celebrates middle-class comfort.
  • It is a myth that there is one “creative personality.” Something all creative people seem to share is complexity — they “tend to bring the entire range of human possibilities within themselves.”

07 October 2012

How much happiness does it take to make up for the sadness in life?

3 to 1.
Psychologist Barbara Frederickson is an expert on flourishing and has been an advocate of finding ways to bring more positive emotions into our lives. In her research she discovered a critical 3 to 1 ratio, indicating that we need to have three positive emotions for every negative one in order to thrive.
Frederickson has found out that if we really want to prosper, we shouldn’t try to eliminate negative emotions, rather, we should work on keeping the ratio at three positive for every one negative. Most of us, she has found, have two positive experiences for every negative. This gets us by, but it is effectively languishing.
How many people are at 3 to 1? Around 20%.
Frederickson and Losada pinpointed such “flourishing” mental health in 45 people from a survey of 188 university students. Forty-five out of 188 (23 percent) may seem very few, but several surveys have shown that only about 20 percent of Americans are flourishing in this sense.
Is you spider-sense tingling? If you’re a regular reader it should be: we’ve seen similar patterns with ratios and happiness before. While 3 to 1 keeps you happy, 5 to 1 keeps relationships smooth.
It turned out that the fifteen high-performance teams averaged 5.6 positive interactions for every negative one. The nineteen low-performance teams racked up a positive/negative ratio of just .363. That is, they had about three negative interactions for every positive one…
What’s even scarier is that Losada’s five-to-one ratio also appears to be essential when you get home and try to muster the energy for a successful marriage. John Gottmann at the University of Washington has found that couples with a ratio of fewer than five positive interactions for every negative one are destined for divorce.
This may be hard-wired. It’s seen in other primates:
Curiously, the magic number also seems to have a close parallel in the ratio of positive behaviors…and negative behaviors…among monkeys and apes. Thus the five-to-one ratio begins to look suspiciously like a basic primate need.
The specific ratio for different relationships varies, with the overall pattern indicating the more distant the relationship, the more good you need for every bad.  A full chart is here.
Just as well we’ve also seen in the past that it usually benefits us more to focus on increasing the good vs trying to eliminate the bad.
With friends:
The best way to maximize happiness when having meals with friends is for one person to take a turn each time paying for everyone’s dinner. It’s a big hit but it results in many more “free” meals for everyone, boosting happiness.
In relationships:
Divorce may have less to do with an increase in conflict and more to do with a decrease in positive feelings. It’s a better strategy for couples  to increase fun moments together rather than trying to eliminate the bad times.
Improving yourself:
As Pete Drucker said: “In identifying opportunities for improvement, don’t waste time cultivating skill areas where you have little competence. Instead, concentrate on—and build on—your strengths.”
When it comes to happiness, frequency beats intensity.

06 October 2012

What would happen to Obama if only men voted?

Thanks to Weasel ZIppers for the pics.


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