How to communicate

with humans

The skill of communicating in the highly artificial situations of the modern human! Such crucial skills. Often not taught. Here are the things I use to work on my skills in this area.

Dave Bailey does an executive summary of Marshall B. Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication which TBH feels more practical than the original. Looks similar to the FBI Behavioral Change Stairway Model, which they use for hostage negotiations and suicide threats, so it is a literally battle-tested system in that regard.

Back and Back’s classic (and very cheap) Assertiveness at work has practical exercises. I buy copies of this in bulk and give them to friends with workplace friction challenges.

Also interesting, The feedback fallacy:

The first problem with feedback is that humans are unreliable raters of other humans. Over the past 40 years psychometricians have shown in study after study that people don’t have the objectivity to hold in their heads a stable definition of an abstract quality, such as business acumen or assertiveness, and then accurately evaluate someone else on it. Our evaluations are deeply colored by our own understanding of what we’re rating others on, our own sense of what good looks like for a particular competency, our harshness or leniency as raters, and our own inherent and unconscious biases. This phenomenon is called the idiosyncratic rater effect, and it’s large (more than half of your rating of someone else reflects your characteristics, not hers) and resilient (no training can lessen it). In other words, the research shows that feedback is more distortion than truth.

Online comment moderation (I woudl like this to be data backed): A Pragmatic Approach To Thorny People Problems:

Back, Ken, Kate Back, and Terry Bates. 1991. Assertiveness at Work: A Practical Guide to Handling Awkward Situations. 2nd ed. London ; New York: McGraw-Hill.

Cheng, Justin, Michael Bernstein, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, and Jure Leskovec. n.d. “Anyone Can Become a Troll: Causes of Trolling Behavior in Online Discussions.” Accessed February 9, 2017.

Goel, Sharad, Winter Mason, and Duncan J. Watts. 2010. “Real and Perceived Attitude Agreement in Social Networks.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 99 (4): 611–21.

Tan, Chenhao, Vlad Niculae, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, and Lillian Lee. 2016. “Winning Arguments: Interaction Dynamics and Persuasion Strategies in Good-Faith Online Discussions.” In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on World Wide Web, 613–24. WWW ’16. Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland: International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee.

Vecchi, Gregory M., Vincent B. Van Hasseltb, and Stephen J. Romano. 2005. “Crisis (Hostage) Negotiation: Current Strategies and Issues in High-Risk Conflict Resolution.” Aggression and Violent Behavior 10 (5): 533–51.