Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, January 15th 2008

Speak out, and Listen
Pardon my French
It seems last weeks article trying to advertise the Zoning Department’s training classes by panning the hilarious Chinese-to-English translations found in some owners manuals was misconstrued by some folks to be a real translation. Nope. I can’t read a word of Mandarin and just made up the piece by playing fast and loose with the English version of the Training Class announcement in an attempt to be entertaining and to get the word out about the class schedule.

My apologies for any inconvenience or hurt feelings.

I do hope you had a chance to attend the classes given for free by the Zoning Administrator, Steve Tilley, to clarify the new law and how it will be administered and enforced. If not, you may still drop by their offices on the 2nd. Floor of the Joeten Dandan building and get your questions answered. You can also call 234-9663/7 or go online to for more information. Email questions can be sent to .
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Hillary is Dead!
No, they didn’t let Sirhan Sirhan out of jail. So it’s not Hillary-the-one-who-doesn’t-want-to-use-her-last-name Clinton who’s on the slab. It’s Sir Edmund Hillary of Mount Everest fame. The guy who “climbed it because it was there”. The guy who made himself and Tenzing Norgay famous by being the first to climb up the biggest hill on the block back in 1953.

In the intervening 50 odd years since his famous climb, Sir Edmund (an informal guy who liked to be called Ed) went back to Nepal over 100 times to raise funds for schools and health clinics for the Sherpas and other residents of the mountainous country. He also led huge expeditions to clean up mountains of garbage, equipment and trash left behind by the many climbing teams that followed in his wake. (Sort of the Angelo Villagomez of the Himalayas).

This man was a hero to thousands, maybe millions of kids and adults the world over, not so much for climbing the mountain, but for persevering in the face of adversity and for getting the job done even though the going was difficult. There was no ‘quit’ in Sir Edmund. He epitomized the ‘finish the job’ credo that makes successful civilizations successful.

Thanks Sir Edmund Hillary for inspiring multitudes to be better than they thought they could be.
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Speak No Evil
I sat down to write an article about the importance of effective communications as it relates to the newly inaugurated Legislature and their ability to keep track of where their constituents stand on issues and events. To generate effective input, the electorate also needs to communicate with each other and with the Legislative bodies regularly. The topics of the day need to be discussed intelligently and rationally. What we find in most non-formal discussions about local, national or international politics is communication hampered by impolite and often uninformed bullying tactics.

I realized I had read an outstanding article by Mr. Michael Cloud about effective communications a few months ago and rather than only paraphrase him or just use his ideas it would be better to reprint the majority of his thoughts on the matter here with only minor editorial input. He states the case with rational clarity:

Gresham's Law of Communication -- and How to Reverse It.
"Bad money drives good money out of circulation," says Gresham's Law of
Money, "when there are legal tender laws."

Imagine that you have two coins, each with a face value of $10. One has ten dollars worth of silver or gold in it. Good money. The other is made from cheap metals and has, perhaps, ten cents' worth of metal in it. Bad money. Now imagine that the government legally requires you and everyone else to accept both coins at their face value. Ten dollars. You can spend either coin for ten dollars worth of goods or services. It might seem like no big deal.

But there's a wrinkle. The government starts coining billions of dollars worth of the cheap metal money. Increasing the money supply. Inflating the currency. The purchasing power of money falls. You and everyone else expect the government to print and coin more money every year. And the next. And the next.

Imagine that you receive $20 for work. Two coins. One with gold or silver in it. The other without. Which coin do you spend? And which do you keep? Right! You spend the bad money. And save the good money. And so does every other sensible person.

That's Gresham's Law. Gresham's Law only operates when there are legal tender laws. When government decrees that "this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" and legally requires people to accept it.

The corollary, Gresham's Law of Communication, says, "Bad communication drives out good when both are equally acceptable." Rude, insulting, profane, and inflammatory discussions drive out those which are courteous and respectful. Shouting and name-calling discussions drive out those that are conversational and reasonable. Talking-without-listening discussions drive out those that are open-minded and thoughtful.
We can see it on political talk shows. Hear it on talk radio. Read it on the Internet. We especially see it in blogging and chatting. We see it around tables where people gather to discuss political ideas. We spend our vices, and hoard our virtues. Because bad communication drives out good.

But there's a way to reverse Gresham's Law of Communication. There is NO "legal tender law" of communication. You do NOT have to accept bad communication. You do NOT have to accept profanity, rudeness, shouting, inflammatory language, insults or any other kind of communications you find offensive. Conversations and discussions are based on mutual consent. You can negotiate the terms and conditions of your communications. How? Tell people what you want -- and ask if they will do it.

* "John, I really want to talk with you about this, but when you raise your voice, when you call me names, I feel insulted and talked down to. Are you willing to lower your voice and stop name-calling -- so I can carefully consider your arguments and evidence?"

* "Janet, I know you're passionate about global warming, and I respect that.
But when you call people who disagree 'deniers,' you are putting them in the same category as Holocaust deniers. Your language is designed to stigmatize and silence them. Are you willing to stop using the word 'denier,' and show us your evidence? Will you do that?"

* "Tom, I know you feel very strongly about the Iraq War. I want to hear you out. But when you condemn the character and motives of those who disagree with you, when you loudly insult and revile them, I find it almost impossible to listen to your actual arguments and evidence. I need you to stop insulting people who disagree with you. And I need you to calmly lay out your thinking. Will you do that for me?"

You can explain what kind of language and behavior is and is not acceptable to you. Ask the other person what kind of language and behavior is and is not acceptable to her. You can negotiate. Work it out together.

What if they refuse to converse in a way that's acceptable to you? What if they continue to engage in offensive language and behavior? Tell them what is unacceptable. Tell them why. Walk away.

Requesting, negotiation, and walking away are three powerful tools for creating good communications, for building courteous and civil conversations. You can use them with your family, friends, and co-workers, and with casual acquaintances and strangers. And you will begin to make a difference. As will others who do likewise. From such small beginnings, we can set in motion a social trend of courtesy and cooperation. You and I and others can reverse Gresham's Law of Communication.
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Quote of the week:
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Bible, 1 Corinthians xv, 33

The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said. Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005)


bradinthesand said...

just de-lurking. see you in a few days when i can check out the car of destiny...

bigsoxfan said...

If all else fails there is always;

Deece said...

Paul the Apostle and Peter Drucker are right!

(I haven't read the entire post, I don't have time to yet - I will. I'm falling way behind on the blossip...)

Boni said...

totally reminded me of my counseling group therapy class and how we tried our darndest to be "Rogerian".

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Blossip...HEHEH, that is an apt description, Deece.

lil_hammerhead said...

Hey, just wanted to congratulate you guys on the great turnout at the clown parade today! Good job!


Bruce A. Bateman said...

Hey, the sleezy slut crawls out from under her oh so superior rock. Yes folks, he/she is a legend in her own (rather narrow) mind.

Thanks for the congratulations. We'll be growing and working hard trying to keep the colonizers from taking ever more control of the CNMI due to sell out clowns like you.

bigsoxfan said...

On Sir Hillary. I ran into a New Zealander at the Grand Khan Kempinski Hotel bar yesterday afternoon and he shared his thoughts on the man. Sir Hillary was a very humble type in his opinion and made sure to include Tenzing Norgway in all the hoopla for his entire lifetime. He even went so far to take the picture of Tenzing holding the flag at the Summit. Most definetely an extrodinary man, both in his will and actions.