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Test Your ‘Face Reading’ Skills

For many folks, emotional intelligence equates to empathy. In reality it is much more. But empathy is an important component. And part of empathy is the ability to ‘read’ the expressions of others.

Neuro-scientists tell us that we have specific neurons which allow us to look at someone and understand what they are feelings. Peop0le who can do this well, according to the scientists, have more of these neural endings and are more empathetic.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the research is that it is cross cultural. In other words, regardless of your ethnic background, the emotions displayed by the human face are the same in say, the United States, Japan, China, or the Middle East. Happiness, for example, has a universal set of facial characteristics.

If you want to test your skill the Center for Greater Good at University of California at Berkeley, has put out a new little quiz. Take a minute or two and see how you do. Then drop me a note and tell me if you think it was accurate. But remember, another component of Emotional Intelligence is self awareness – the ability to look at yourself objectively.

As the center says, you can improve your score over time with practice. Your ability to read the faces of others can come in handy in any situation where you deal with another human being. Which is just about all day, every day.

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An Era Ends Here

August 2, 2011

Filed under: Coaching,Journalism,Management,observations — Tags: , — admin @ 7:13 am

After 62 years, a daily newspaper will no longer be delivered to my house. This is a big deal for me and for the newspaper industry.

As someone who grew up with the Haverhill Gazette and The Boston Globe and then spent 30 years in the business, giving in to digital dominance was like saying good-bye to an old friend.

My dad, who will be 91 in a few weeks, beat me to the punch. When his poor eyesight forced him to give up reading a few years ago the newspaper was a casualty as well. For him the iPad was a savior and heĀ  now reads four papers a day because he can make the print as large as he wants.

For the newspaper industry, losing a reader like me is a sure sign that they have lost a major battle. If someone from a generation like mine gives up, I guess it’s a foregone conclusion that the newspaper printing business is pretty much over.

I guess I’m the last to admit it.

My wife asked what it will mean. I’m hopeful that reporting and publishing news online will remain strong. In an age of Twitter, Facebook and Google+, legitimate news sites where editors actually make judgements about what is news, are needed. These sites will, hopefully, continue to set the agenda that reasoned consumers need.

Our political climate, including the soon-to-be concluded debt ceiling debate, is largely a product of the unedited, extremist debate that takes over when no-one is in charge.

I could go on about the reason this has happened. The newspaper publishers have no-one to blame but themselves. Their unwillingness to change on a wide range of issues has led to their own demise.

Thankfully, news is still alive. Weekly and small daily publications seem to be thriving. The kind of information that has always been important – the stuff that makes the front of the refrigerator – is still in demand.

I will continue to consume news online, so I guess the final chapter is a long way off, but my small step is still painful.


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Making Money From Emotions

March 25, 2011

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:27 pm

A week or so ago, I posted an item about identifying emotions by reading facial expressions. It was a local test that expanded on some well-known international studies about the universality of emotions.

To me it was an interesting exercise in emotional intelligence, but, as we all know, there may be other uses. Leave it to the folks at the MIT Media Lab to figure out a way to monetize your smile. Yes, there’s an App for that.

This week’s Science Friday on NPR has all the details. I don’t have any comments beyond, it figures. Let me know what you think.

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Ending Overeating

April 9, 2010

Filed under: observations — admin @ 9:07 pm

I finally finished one of those books sitting next to my bed. “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler, MD.

Dr. Kessler,was the former head of the FDA before returning to the Bay Area for a short stint as head of the Medical Center at U.C. San Francisco. The fact that he’s currently the center of a long running legal battle over his firing, has nothing to do with the book, but it’s an interesting local note.

In his book, Dr. Kessler lays out his case that overeating has become an epidemic in the US, aided by food manufacturers who have figured out how to get Americans to buy more of their product.

Dr. Kessler maintains that by focusing on the addition of sugar, fat and salt, food producers have found a sure-fire way to tap the psychological impulses that create overeating. American consumers don’t have a chance unless they figure out a way to avoid prepared food at the grocery store and fast food everywhere else.

He lays out the physical, psychological and emotional basis for overeating as a disease and like others, notably Michael Pollan, he suggests that eating less processed food is the answer to beating the health issues which have already surfaced in this country and are starting to show up around the world.

The book is well written with logical arguments and consistent conclusions. Dr. Kessler, in his position at the FDA clearly had access to sources that might not talk to you and I so he’s able to lay out the industry’s side of the story, in disturbing detail.

My only criticism is that he puts most of the responsibility for solving the problem on individual Americans, asking them to develop strategies for avoiding the traps spread by the food industry.

Maybe Dr. Kessler knows first hand that the politicians are unwilling to face the issue, but it seems to me the fight against overeating has to start in Washington. Despite that, Dr. Kessler’s 250 pages add another voice pleading to fix the American food supply and it’s worth reading.

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East Bay Coaches

February 4, 2010

Filed under: observations — admin @ 4:09 pm

I joined East Bay Coaches this week. If you’re looking for a specific type of coach this is the place to look.

The group is part of the San Francisco Bay Area coaching network with chapters in San Francisco, North Bay and Silicon Valley.

My next goal is to find groups which share my interest in gardening, roses, orchids and wine.

It does seem that joining these kind of groups, who actually meet face to face, is now a bit old fashioned. I guess the new question is, “who do you follow on Twitter.” Maybe that’s the new version of what are you reading. I only follow 20 folks on Twitter – everything from wine and cheese to technology and, of course, The Boston Red Sox.

I get enough posts to waste hours of what could be productive time. How do people follow hundreds of other people.

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