How does one person have a positive effect on another? How can we better understand the ingredients and limitations of helping relationships?
Let me start with a quick story.
Meghan watches as her mother finish a telephone call.
“Mommy, why are you crying?” she asks gently.
“I’m okay,” mommy sighs, “I’m okay.”
Meghan leaves the room and comes back moments later.
“When I’m sad, I hold on to Mr. Brown,” she says, handing over a teddy bear to her mother.
Meghan does a lot of things in this little exchange. Her actions encapsulate what it means to help others. She empathizes with, holds, or acknowledges her mother’s sadness, without being overwhelmed by it. She doesn’t implore her mother to stop crying. She doesn’t burst into tears herself. In addition, Meghan’s able to share her treasured toy (which is also a coping mechanism) with her mother. …
Cooperation is the foundation of human civilization. Yet it can be fragile, easily undermined by distrust, bias, ignorance, and short-sightedness. How can we promote cooperation and synergy at home, at work, in society, and beyond?
Let me tell you a story. A few years ago I had to go downtown to meet a client. It was around 9:30 in the morning. Along the way I noticed there was a shoe store that was open. Not only was it open, there were customers inside.
This great consumer demand for shoes puzzled me, and it took me days of wondering before I could sort it out. I thought about fashion. I thought about women’s clothing and how many different kinds there are. The breakthrough came when I realized how complicated everything was. There are many options for each article of clothing. Sleeves can have different lengths and styles. …
Being heard is like sex. There’s a buildup of tension, until you’re understood, and you achieve release.
Listening is like lubrication. A little bit can go a long way in reducing friction. Frankly, it’s painful when there’s not enough of it.
People get grumpy when they haven’t been heard in a while. …