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Posts Tagged ‘#NorthernSpark

What Would it Take to Change Your Mind?

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Let me draw you a picture

Howard Gardner, in his book Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2004) talked about the different kinds of intelligences he thinks exist. Dr. Gardner is a professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School, so he has solid reason to be espousing counter-intuitive theories of intelligence. Linguistic and logical-mathematical are two of the more primary and recognizable kinds of intelligence. And those two, in particular, are the focus of much our schooling.

But there are other kinds, says Dr. Gardner, including spatial intelligence, for instance, where one has “the capacity to form spatial representations or images in one’s mind, and to operate up them.” Sailors and airline pilots depend on this sort of intelligence, as do chess players. Or bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, where a person has “the capacity to solve problems or to create products using your whole body.” Artists, craftspeople, surgeons, dancers, football players, basketball players and many others work out problems in a very physical way.


Early in the book Gardner cited this important factor in changing one’s mind:

Presenting multiple versions of the same concept can be an extremely powerful way to change someone’s mind.

–Howard Gardner, Changing Minds, p. 16

I’m not yet to the end of Gardner’s full argument, but I suspect none of us are just one intelligence. We each have several (perhaps many) ways of knowing and depend on our different intelligences to walk through life. So hearing multiple versions of a concept may trigger something inside us that suddenly opens our eyes or our empathy. As advertisers well understand, presenting the beautiful woman next to the car or perfume bottle spurs an emotional leap that can bypass rationality. Words alone don’t do that as often.

My own daily experiments with drawing, though uniformly not up to par, have still showed a way forward with understanding. When stuck with words, I can switch to dumb sketch mode and begin to move forward again.

All this makes me wonder about the work we each need to do to find new ways to express those deep things inside that need to come out but have so far fallen on deaf ears.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

“Sure, that’s an outdoor restroom,” he said.

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“Just go right in there.”


He lied.


Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

June 19, 2015 at 11:49 am

Help: My Friend Talks Past Me! (Dummy’s Guide to Conversation #19)

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Vary Your Response to Train Your Friend

Q: My friend and colleague stops by many times a day to chat. We do a similar job but in different areas so it’s helpful to compare notes. The interruptions are mostly welcome, save for this one habit of hers that drives me crazy: she cannot seem to hear me. It doesn’t always work this way, but when she gets agitated, she keeps saying the same thing over and over. She doesn’t seem to hear my answer and then she just keeps repeating herself. Sorta endlessly. I want to thump her forehead with my index finger to get her attention, but that seems improper behavior between two adults. What to do?


Wait--let's talk.

Wait–let’s talk.

A: It’s good you hold off from thumping your friend’s forehead. Treating each other as adults is a top-notch approach to human interactions and is definitely the right way to go. Your friend gets stuck in an endless anxiety-driven loop she cannot escape. The loop and anxiety are so strong she gets a little lost.

Help you friend by coaxing her off the endless merry-go-round of anxiety. Start by slowing her down—you are trying to break into the endless loop and it may take more than words. Stand. Look into her eye. Hold her shoulder. Speak slowly. Do what is necessary to get her attention. Bring the kind of attention you reserve for those serious situations where you might be delivering bad news, say.

Mind you: you are not talking down to her. Try not to say, “Calm down!” as you might a child who has lost control. This is not a time for condescension or disparaging or ridicule. Your adult friend just needs another perspective to intervene, that’s all. And that’s what you are going to provide. We all need another perspective—probably more often than we realize.

Deliver your response in slow, measured tones. Your point is not to solve the anxiety loop, but just to engage in conversation. Your goal is to work through the problem together, to discuss and sort out next steps. It’s the conversation that is the remedy.

That’s what friends are for.

Keep that up and—just possibly, given time—your friend may see the anxiety loop before she steps on.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

June 18, 2014 at 10:05 am

Words Make Stuff Happen

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What must you say today to move forward?

And who do you need to hear from?



Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

June 16, 2014 at 9:12 am

Northern Spark 2014: Don’t Freak

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Go, by all means. Just don’t freak out…


…at the…


weird stuff.


Northern Spark: June 14 9:01pm – 5:26am, Minneapolis

Worth every minute.


Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

June 14, 2014 at 5:00 am

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