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Feeling Certain? How Our Brains Betray Us

Within seconds, an expert can look at a fake painting and know it is not the work of a master. So wrote Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Blink. How? Because the expert’s gut feeling is “perfectly rational.” Not so, writes Robert A. Burton, M.D.in his book, On Being Certain. Even though we may feel certain (“objective”) about our conclusions, we are often “subjectively” wrong. Just like love or anger, certainty is an emotion, not a rational process. Burton’s book provides a warning for the times we dig in, knowing we are right and they are wrong. As Deborah Tannen pointed… Read More

Why and How to Look Out for Your Life’s Turning Point Stories

She’d been fidgeting for some while. Suddenly, she turned and started talking to me. For two hours we’d sat silently, side by side at the airport gate, waiting for our airplane to arrive. Leaning on the narrow metal armrest that divided our seats, she looked at me hesitantly yet determined. “Now I need to be brave for my father. I’m not sure I know how. I’ve always leaned on him for help, you see,” she nodded briefly at the man across from us. She continued, “We haven’t been on a plane since we flew here from Bogota last November. My… Read More

How to Not Act Like a Jerk When With Someone Who Is

Perhaps one of the most vital ways to sidestep hassles and to become more sought-after is to strengthen your capacity to stay cool when under fire. For starters, discover how can you make someone feel heard and respected – and cool off — when they start acting hostile, blaming or worse. Here are some behavioral “tools” to add to your “toolbox” for the next time someone is upset and taking it out on you. None will work all the time, and some will work better for your personality style than others: Lighten Up When others begin to act “hot,” we… Read More

Want a Way to Get Out of Your Filter Bubble on Facebook?

A recent research finding by Morning Consult that only 5% of adults seeing social media posts on Facebook from those with a much different world view is recent sign of how social media can reinforce our living in “filter bubbles” – meaning a tendency to surround ourselves with likeminded people and ideas. Way back in 2013 I wrote in my Forbes column about Eli Pariser’s insight book on this topic. And in my blog in 2012 I cited his book and two others that warned of this tendency – The Big Sort and On Being Certain. According to the Morning… Read More

How Many Personalities Are Inside You?

That irritating co-worker you’re stuck sitting by (again!) sees a decidedly different side of you than your best friend does. That’s because you have many people inside of you (no they’re not imaginary). That’s what veteran science writer, Rita Carter discovered as she began reading about bi-polar personalities for Mapping the Mind. Emerging research shows that several, “personalities are made and kept separate in the human brain” … of everyone. Want a glimpse of how many you have? Depending on the situation and who you’re are around, different people pop out and speak for you. If it is of some… Read More