In one study, researchers asked participants to complete one of two tasks; one was simple, the other difficult. After the participants finished the tasks, the researchers accused them of doing it incorrectly. The study showed participants who were falsely accused reported higher feelings of anger than those who were rightly accused.

These studies show how most people are not able to detect a lie. Anger is often a sign of innocence.

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Anger can make people seem less trustworthy

New research published in Psychological Science found that being angry at a false accusation can make the accused come off as untrustworthy, and therefore, guilty. However, their anger is usually a sign that they're innocent.

The study noted that we pay attention to other's emotions to understand social situations. It's particularly true when deciding whether we should trust someone.

Across six studies, researchers explored how laypeople and experts make guilt judgments when the accused person is angry.

The results showed that study participants were more likely to rate angry defendants as guilty. When defendants were silent, participants rated them as most guilty. But it is not just laypeople who view anger as a sign of guilt. Professionals such as fraud investigators and auditors also rated an angry response as a sign of guilt and remaining silent as an indicator of guilt.

We like to talk about topics that interest us. But to have better conversations, step out of yourself for a moment and think more about the other person.

Ask open-ended questions, starting with who, what, when, where, why or how. "What was that like?" "How did that feel?" Research shows that people who as questions tend to be better liked by their conversation partners.

  • Self-expression - the sharing of key aspects of who you are as a person. Most of us are hungry for an opportunity to share what we're thinking and explore things that matter to us. Sharing them with an interested listener who validates those thoughts make us feel understood.
  • It enables us to understand ourselves better.
  • A sense of connection. Meaningful conversations make us feel connected to other people.

There is a critical moment of transition in the development of any relationship - it is the moment when you decide to share something more personal about yourself.

Exposing a part of your inner self will encourage your partner to open up too. If it feels daunting, remember that you don't have to reveal everything at once. Start with sharing a small part of yourself - a goal, or a value or belief or a life experience.

Suppose you know that you're going to meet a particular person or group of people. In that case, the chances are that meaningful conversation will not so much be derived from an exchange of personal information but from having a satisfying conversation about an interesting topic or issue.

You may have to prepare by reading up a little on someone else's interests or reading up on the topic of the planned conversation. Come prepared to admit what you don't know and be ready to learn.

A good conversation is only possible if you are really listening. Stephen Covey writes that most of us don't listen with the intent to understand; we listen to reply.

Part of the pleasure of better-quality conversations comes from being curious. If you struggle listening to others, consider how much the other person will appreciate it. Asking follow-up questions will make people feel like they're being heard and listened to.

While we know the value of small talk, it still falls short of what many people are craving: meaningful conversation, where we can dive deeper.

A key feature of deeper conversations is that you get absorbed in the conversation and learn something important about yourself, the other person, or the world.

To break the ice with a stranger or an acquaintance, comment on your shared situation. For example, commenting on the conference talk you've both just listened to, or the traffic or weather. You can also try giving a compliment, or ask the other person something about themselves.

Then take things further by drawing on your shared experiences. Not every conversation will be a hit, and that's fine.

While small talk doesn't produce intellectual reflection or arouse reflection, the initial conversational exchanges fulfil a social function.

Small talk can be seen as the inactive ingredient in a medicine that holds the pill together. In other words, small talk lays the foundations for something richer.

The value of small talk

Small talk can be defined by how much information is exchanged. If you know nothing more about the other person than you knew before the conversation, then it is small talk.

Research shows that small talk with people, even with strangers, can boost our mood. While small talk often feels boring and awkward, one can turn it into enjoyable small talk by commenting on a shared experience or asking open-ended questions.

A good conversation is more likely to happen if you follow this simple rule: I will give you the space to speak and will listen to what you say. You show interest in the other person, and the person shows interest in what you have to say.

This is not easy and perhaps the reason why meaningful conversations are so rare. But if you remember the give and take principle and come prepared, you're more likely to find meaningful conversations.

With dating, there is an assumption that you are on the back foot, and the other person holds all the power.

  • Pay attention to what people talk about. If your date is sharing negative information, it could be a sign they're not ready for a relationship.
  • Try to focus on if you like them, instead of if they like you.
  • Don't fear silent moments. Instead, see how the other person reacts. Does your date help you out and respond positively, or not?
  • When you're on a date, you're both gathering information to work out whether you'll fit well together.

For doctors, half their game is trying to find out why the person is there. Do they want medication, tests, want to be signed off work, worried they have a more severe illness?

At an appointment, try to mention the most important thing at the beginning. Try to be descriptive. If you have pain, is it dull or sharp, burn or throb? Have you been getting pains for a few days, weeks, or at certain times of the day?

How to talk to children
  • Children often cannot formulate their words to express what they're feeling. If you ask, "How was your day?" they may shrug because they don't know what part of their day you're interested in. Making your questions more specific can help: "What was the best thing about your day?"
  • Try to meet your child's emotions, rather than telling them how to feel. If your child says, "I hate everyone in my class", you may want to tell them that it is not a nice thing to say. Instead, help them find other words to draw out their emotions. "It sounds like you had a really bad day."

Most people want more contact. Employees often feel out of the loop.

  • Try to put yourself in your boss's shoes. How does what you need to say affect them?
  • Question if you should send an email or say it in person.
  • Remember that your boss may not be the one making the final decision. You may need to convince them to convince others.
  • If you're together in the same place, you have something in common. If we can be aware that others also feel uncomfortable, we can think about what we can do to make them feel comfortable with us.
  • Ask people how they know the host or how they got there.
  • Borrow stories if you can't relate. If you're not a dog person and someone else wants to talk about dogs, talk about your friends' dog.
  • Suppose you feel ready to move on, interrupt yourself, not them. "It's been so nice talking to you about..."

When you're a grownup, you will probably need to initiate conversations as your parents won't want to interfere with your independence. The best way to re-establish a relationship is to give them a regular update on everyday details of your life.

Parents who are getting older need to feel as if they have lived for a reason. It can be very therapeutic to make time for those stories and to share them with each other.

  • With younger children, visual cues and games are helpful to piece things together. Let them draw pictures. If you're talking about difficult topics, break them down into smaller pieces.
  • Teenagers will respond better if you're doing something alongside a conversation, even if it is washing up. Humour can help diffuse a situation.

Every personality has an if ... then profile: a pattern of responding to a particular scenario in a specific way. A dominant manager becomes submissive when interacting with a superior. A procrastinator gets their act together when the deadline is coming up.

It is then also possible to use this to encourage a know-it-all to recognise when there's something to learn or change.

Disagreeableness is a trait often expressed through argumentativeness. Disagreeable people are determined to squash the competition. When you want them to change their mind, you become the competition.

Because disagreeable people are energized by conflict, they don't want you to bend to their will immediately. They want you to fight for your ideas.

Stubbornness is an obstacle to changing people's opinions. Stubborn people will outright reject forceful arguments. They think outcomes can be subject to their will.

Instead of giving answers or forceful arguments, ask questions. This way, you're not telling your boss what to think or do. Questions like "what if?" and "could we?" can make people curious about what's possible.

Narcissistic leaders believe they're superior and special, and don't want to be told they're wrong.

Careful framing can coax them toward admitting they're flawed. Praise them first, but in a different area from the one in which you hope to change their minds. We all have multiple identities. When we feel secure about one of our strengths, we become more open to accepting our shortcomings elsewhere.

In a series of experiments, students were asked to rate their knowledge of everyday objects. The students were overconfident until they had to write out step-by-step explanations. Then they realised how little they understood.

Overconfidence often stands in the way of change. But if you point out someone's ignorance directly, they may get defensive. A better way is to let them recognise the gaps in their own understanding.

Influencing A Change

At first, Steve Jobs insisted he would never make a phone. It took two years for his team to persuade him to reconsider. Within nine months, the App Store had a billion downloads, and a decade later, the iPhone had generated over $1 trillion in revenue.

While many leaders have studied the genius of Jobs, few have studied the genius of those who managed to influence him. While too many overconfident leaders reject worthy opinions, it is possible to get anyone to open their minds.

  • Moderately positive emails have a higher response rate than boring, neutral ones.
  • A neutral tone can be considered rude or demanding while a cheery, appreciative tone with subtle amount of flattery helps getting the job done.
  • Keeping the language short and simple, with the word limit being 75 to 100 words yields the highest response rate of 51 percent.
  • It also helps to be persistent in your follow ups, as asking for what one needs reduces anxiety and helps with one’s self-esteem.
Waiting For The Email Response

A common scenario in the world of remote working is waiting for a response for the email one has sent, looking for the information, input or conversation that is required from a coworker or a client.

While we start to think that we are being ghosted, it is common for people to delay email responses as they are juggling work and personal commitments, and our email does not make it to their top 10 list of must-do work. We can keep a few things in mind while reaching the person again in a follow up email.

Being clear without being rude is an art, and one cannot beat around the bush in an email with an ambiguous response. Asking a question creates the next step in the process, and is crucial.

That being said, one also needs to give the recipient an ‘out’ option, demonstrating how you understand their position and presenting yourself as humble and humane. This will make them feel less cornered, increasing the chance of their replying back. Example: Please let me know if you are too busy to provide the requested feedback or if you need more time.

  • Almost half the emails are not opened due to their subject line alone.
  • The subject line has to be short, preferably four words to have a better response rate.
  • Avoid writing ‘follow up’ or ‘checking in’ in the subject line as it can make the person feel that he or she is being blamed for not responding on time.
  • The subject line can also preview the main content of the text, so the person knows what is there in the email.

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