Archives for Communication


Why Great Minds Gossip

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Well pooh-pooh, la-di-da, and phooey on this quote, which shouldn’t even be allowed on a psychology website. Because really, what is psychology if not discussing people? People are endlessly fascinating, they are responsible for ideas and events, and you couldn’t figure them out in a lifetime of study. What’s so small about discussing people?

What about Freud? Didja ever think about him, Eleanor? He couldn't have gotten to all his ideas if he hadn't first thought about and discussed  people.

And can you even separate ideas from events and people? Aren’t the three all completely intertwined in this big glorious mess that is life? Ideas don’t exist in a vacuum, they are the product of people’s minds. To fully understand them, you have to understand where they come from. And events are the result of behavior. People again.
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Shaddup Already!

It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them. -- Dame Rose Macaulay

Is this true? I need to know.

I’ve always believed that talking things out is the right thing to do, but I am doubting, doubting, doubting these days. And here's this dame (a novelist and travel writer) telling me my belief is delusional.

But I need explanations. Is nothing made better by talking, or are some things made better...
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Three Ways To Process Criticism

How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.― Benjamin Disraeli

How are you at taking criticism?

I’ve gotten pretty good at it. If you’re going to put yourself in the public eye, you have to take your lumps.

I usually let rotten tomatoes land where they will. Readers often have unpleasant things to say to those of us with the audacity to put our thoughts in print. I’ve been called names, been accused of unspeakable acts, had my fitness for my job questioned. I hardly even consider that kind of thing criticism. Most of the time, it’s just people flapping their gums. I can imagine their red-faced sputtering and I hope they can imagine my eyes rolling.  Those rotten tomatoes miss me by a mile.

(I’ve also noticed that when someone agrees with something I’ve written, it’s because the idea is good and great minds think alike. When someone disagrees, it’s because, obviously, I’m an idiot.)
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In Defense of Denial

Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy. -- Kurt Vonnegut.
Ah yes, the little white lie. I'm all for it. You're haircut looks great! The party was a blast! No, I don't mind doing you a favor at all!

Life is indeed nicer with harmless untruths like those.

But this quote also makes an argument for what I think of as benign denial.

I grew up in a family mired in unhealthy denial, which convinced me that denial must be avoided at all costs. Denial can be a terrible problem. It keeps people in unhealthy relationships, reassures them that lung cancer only happens to other people, causes financial ruin, and all kinds of other bad things.

But  there are other kinds of denial that are no big deal.
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Arguing with Audrey Hepburn

"Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible." —Audrey Hepburn

Nothing against the lovely, late Audrey Hepburn. I love her movies, her look, her philanthropy. But this motivational quote? Not so much.

This is one of those clever sayings that sounds great until you really think about it.

Nothing is impossible? OK then—flap your arms and fly.

No, not even Audrey Hepburn could do that.
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Speak For Yourself

"One conversation at a time."

I was talking to a friend recently about a complicated situation and doing my usual over-thinking thing, trying to figure out what I would say and what he would say and what that would mean and then what I should say about that thing he said and then what he would probably say about that and what that would mean and whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing and what it might lead to and how I should address that and how me might react and so on and so on and so on until finally my friend told me to slow down.

“One conversation at a time,” she counseled.

That certainly shut my mouth. In a good way.

Being thoughtful and analytical about my own actions is not a bad thing, if I don’t get carried away and descend into pointless rumination. But talk about pointless--writing scripts for another person’s side of a conversation doesn’t do me, the other person, or the situation any good. And jumping three conversations in the future, before I even know how the first will resolve, is counterproductive.
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