Archive for July, 2012

When Being Understood Becomes Manipulative

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Tara Langella has fun with the Robot MillenniaA little while ago I talked to a consultant at Google who wanted to help me improve my web presence. The conversation was helpful, but what struck me most on a psychological level was how the customer service rep responded to me.

Whenever I asked a question, however short it was, the first thing that came out of his mouth was: “Got it.”

Me: “If I call my website something other than my name, does that mean anything?”

He: “Got it. No it probably doesn’t because…” blah blah blah.

I have mixed feelings about this way of responding.

The intention seems to be to make the customer feel that he was understood, which is a smart way to think. We all want to be heard and understood.

The principle behind it is making use of the mirror neurons in our brains. When we talk to someone, we ideally want them to mirror back what we said, so we can be sure they heard us. The other person puts himself into our shoes, which builds trust and makes us like the person on the other end of the phone line.

Writing down this thought, I spontaneously googled “companies mirroring customers,” and sure enough, what came up is a manual in “advanced selling techniques,” that works by building trust.

About Being Free

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

FLOWERS #4Last night I was sitting with my colleagues at the New York Person Centered Resource Center, and the talk turned to emotional freedom.

What does freedom mean to us? As a society, we have moved beyond the shackles of restrictive speech and we are free go wherever we want.

But are our minds really free? Don’t we all restrict ourselves by our constant worries, or guilt, or even desire, and prevent the feeling of true freedom?

It is easy for many of us to feel free when we are alone. Unless there is loneliness or disorientation, we are empowered to pursue our own goals. But it’s another story in groups.

Expand Your Creative Side

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

figaro - close up of detail

Every one of us has a creative side. We don’t always know that we have it, because we don’t pay attention to it. Or we think others are so much better, so there’s no point in even trying.

There will always be someone who is better at what we do. We can’t allow ourselves to compare the talent we have to what others do. It’s about your own innate expression of self.

As the great artist Martha Graham said:

“There is a vitality, a life force, that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to compare it with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Tapping into your creativity doesn’t mean that you have to be the next art sensation or rock star. It simply means to expand your own creative side, and with care.

Nothing Is Precious Until It’s Gone

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Plum BlossomsI listened to an interview with Roseanne Cash, Johnny Cash’s daughter, the other day. She is a singer songwriter herself and recently published a memoir.

One remark of hers, which she made casually and in passing, stuck in my mind. During her career she had lost her voice, a vital element of her existence, for a period of about two years.

After she regained it, she vowed never to take it for granted again and every day to be grateful for having it. And the way she did it was to not be so critical about her voice anymore.

It reminded me of our usual habit to be unappreciative of what we have until we’ve lost it. What a sad state of consciousness!

Stop Making Assumptions

Thursday, July 12th, 2012


Everybody makes assumptions; we do it all the time.

In part, we have to do so in order to navigate our environment. We assume that everybody will accept the US dollar as our common currency. We assume that we will have a job tomorrow.

If we wouldn’t make assumptions, we’d be a nervous wreck all day long. It’s a part of learning how to be in the world.

But then there are the kind of assumptions that are destructive. Especially in relationships.



photo credit: Ikhlasul Amal

The Gentle Self Buddha Betrayed
Gerti Schoen is the author of The Gentle Self
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