Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good words

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all. -- Thomas Szasz

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Face facts

Wonderful article in Discover Magazine this month about facial expressions. Humans, it seems, have a "deep instinct" to mimic faces. When we see an expression on another person, we make the same face, fleetingly -- which helps us understand what that person is feeling. Mirroring facilitates empathy.

I'm trained as an actor, and actors have long understood that assuming a facial expression can create the emotion associated with it. Try it right now. Allow the inner edges of your eyebrows to rise up. Feel the corners of your eyes pull down. In other words, make a sad face. And stay with it for a little. Suddenly feeling sad?

Now look at the kid in the picture. Grin along. Feel better?

As Carl Zimmer says in the Discover piece, "When humans mimic others' faces...we don't just go through the motions. We also go through the emotions."

What implications does this have for communications training? It's fascinating to think.

Photo by CARF, Creative Commons

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bad blogger. Bad. Bad!

So sorry for neglecting you for so long. What can I say? It's been a busy fall, with Workplace designing a bunch of new programs. And then the hard drive fried...don't ask!

Anyway, I have a new book review up at the Perdido website. If you've thought about reading Dan Roam's The Back of the Napkin, I recommend it -- and I'm not exactly what you'd call a visual thinker. Great stuff.

I'll try to stay with you better during the weeks ahead. Been reading lots of fascinating stuff about emotion and learning, faces, and neurological whizbang. Let's talk!
Photo by Morten Skovgaard, Creative Commons