Sunday, November 25, 2012

Listen to Hear

A recent article about Hiliary Clinton “Hillary’s Next Move” “( mentioned that part of her success comes from listening.  “Lots and lots of listening.”
After reading that I was curious about Seth Horwitz’s article “The Science and Art of Listening”, that appeared several pages later in the same section of the paper.
(   In it he clarifies the difference between hearing and listening.  A distinction we don’t often make.  Hearing is one of our basic senses, on all the time, even when we’re sleeping, monitoring the world around us.  Listening is a skill, sorting out what we hear, focusing our brain so we can discern the meaning of the sounds we hear.

As we increasingly follow in Hillary’s path, engaging with people from around the world, we need not just to listen but to prepare for and think about the listening.  We first have to consider what we’ll hear.  The order of the words, the shape of the messages we’ll receive, how people convey information.  

In some places like the US, Germany for example, culture shapes communication that Is direct, based on data, facts, where the meaning is carried in the words spoken (known as low context).  In others such as China, Spain the appropriate approach is subtle, indirect, with the significant of the message shaped in part by gestures, the environment (known as high context).  

Remember that listening is a skill and we build skills with knowledge and practice.  Do some research.  Be prepared.  You'll be surprised how much you'll learn, how much you'll hear,  how effective the listening can be. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Give Thanks for the Harvest and remember the Jello

The American celebration of Thanksgiving is just days away.  In almost any conversation next week people will inquire about your plans for celebrating the holiday and ask what foods will be on the menu.  Every family seems to have a special dish.  For one of my friends it’s a recipe for green Jello mixed with  whipped cream.   (Jell-O is a brand that has become the generic name for gelatin dishes.)  In my family, the Jello is pink and the recipe is considered brilliant or odd depending on who you ask.    

Thanksgiving often seems as only an American holiday  - one that is concerned mainly with sharing elaborate turkey dinners and beginning the holiday gift shopping period. It’s history as a harvest festival, a time to give thanks is often lost in the preparation of the meal and stress of travel to reach ones family.  Certainly the idea that Thanksgiving takes places in other places is seldom considered.  But around the world, there are other celebrations. 

In Korea the holiday similar to Thanksgiving is Chuseok. It is also a fall festival but one that lasts three days.  It is a time to give thanks to ones ancestors for an abundant harvest.  Traveling home, sharing food and drink are an essential parts of the celebration with a crescent shaped rice cake a traditional dish.

There are also Thanksgivings, harvest festivals, in Canada, Germany and Grenada.  In The Netherlands, Japan and Liberia. And in the Australian territory of Norfolk Island where the holiday tradition came via sailors on American whaling ships.

No matter where you are, or what the holiday is called, its good to take a moment and remember to be thankful for the good things in our lives, enjoy the foods of the season and of the holiday.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ladies on Bikes

It’s so easy to take for granted our internet access.  Smart phones.  Tablets.  Laptops. Desktops.  We talk and tweet, chat and check facts, find recipes, and book our travel.

We forget the early moments when we first searched and found information without having to trek to a library.  When we could suddenly communicate by email instead of just by phone, or by writing a letter. 

A recent article about the Internet Bike Ladies in Bangledesh reminded me of what a powerful, sometimes life changing, tool the internet, or more properly, access to it, can be.    For people in these remote villages it provides a means to connect, find information.  It's allowed people to create new businesses.   Click on the link, read the story.  Take a minute to remember how your life has changed thanks to access to the internet.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What does the world think?

What do people from around the globe think of the US?  Read through the Pew Global Attitudes Report and you’ll be able to answer that question. 

But before you do take their Global IQ Quiz.  Check your impressions against the survey results.  Do you know what people around the world like most about the US?  You may be surprised at the answer.

But the report isn’t just about the US.  It looks at how people rate world leaders, countries and institutions.  When surveyed these respondents drawn from 20 countries expressed the most confidence in President Obama when compared to other world leaders,  a generally favorable impression of the United Nations and negative one of Russia. 

Check it out  - what do people in these 20 countries agree upon and where do they differ?