Friday, November 26, 2010

The Immediacy Rule

The Immediacy Rule is a communication rule I use when training people who work with others for a large part of their time. The rule is:
Other people don't care about your intentions.
Living day-to-day life, the interpersonal rule of thumb is that we simply interact and then react, caring only about about communication results we get from another: what we feel or understand.

To care about other people's intentions is a luxury that is afforded only when taking the time to have a longer conversation about communication with someone else, usually stemming from a misunderstanding or argument we had with them. Too often, "You misread my intention," is something people use as a defense about why their communication created a problem.

This is not to say that intention is unimportant. I believe intention is the primary driver of the emotional response we get from others. Yet as a rule, people do not consider your intention when they are experiencing how clear or impactive you are. They are just reacting to your verbal, vocal, and visual choices.

On a note regarding the receivers of communication, there are x-factors. Sometimes we develop what are called "filters" in our mindset that cause us to more easily and/or severely misread another person's intentions. For example, as we listen to a colleague who has broken our trust in the past, our reticular activating system actively - yet unconsciously - seeks phrases that could be lies, and our confirmation bias hijacks our decision making to decide that they are lies.

Thinking and learning about communication skills assists growth in becoming more conscious in clarity of intention, and also to listen with more openness to others intentions, too.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Funny: instinct > calculation

I am nobody famous. I am not a standup or a comic actor. But, like you and any convict with Internet access I can start a blog for free and write my opinions on things, pretending I am smart and that I know what I'm talking about.

As a life-long standup lover and of comedy in general, I can be awesomely nerdy when it comes to analyzing why things are funny. Style, content, timing, all of it fascinates me. And I am not a comedy snob. I enjoy a good baby farting on Grandma just as much as I enjoy Woody Allen.

So of all the things I believe about comedy, my thesis is this:

Funny: instinct > calculation

Here are some of my beliefs about humor that have tended to hold true over time.
  1. Being consistently referred to as a funny person is not something that is able to be trained. It is a way of thinking we get from our parents and friends from a very young age. 
  2. One's Level Of Funniness can be sharpened with the right kind of experience.
  3. Being funny with family = Level 0; being funny with friends = Level 1; being the funniest of your friends (as decided by them) is level 2; being funny with strangers casually/socially is level 3; being consistently funny in front of crowds of strangers is the ultimate level 4. 
  4. Improvisation is not the same as telling pre-crafted jokes - they are different humor skill sets with only a little overlap. 
  5. Being able to analyze humor is a million times easier than actually being funny. 
  6. Writing funny is a different skill set than talking funny or 'doing' funny.
To earn the phrase of having a "sense of humor" you should have to actually be able to make people laugh. A lot. Otherwise you don't have a sense of humor, you just appreciate humor, like every human on the planet.
    That's it.