Sunday, May 12, 2019

Increasing Social Isolation

Dateline 2007, with dramatic overtones twelve years later:

"Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago," says Shankar Vedantam, a Washington Post staff writer. "And a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties -- once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits -- are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone.

Has Facebook, Twitter, or social sites picked up some of the slack?  A little but not much. The implication for meeting professionals: the need for face-to-face meetings will never die. People will be amenable if only to stem some of the tide of the growing feeling of isolation in their personal lives.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Perilous Conference Room Air

In the New York Times, columnist Veronique Greenwood writes: "You’re holed up with colleagues in a meeting room for two hours, hashing out a plan. Risks are weighed, decisions are made. Then, as you emerge, you realize it was much, much warmer and stuffier in there than in the rest of the office."

"Small rooms can build up heat and carbon dioxide from our breath — as well as other substances — to an extent that might surprise you. And as it happens, a small body of evidence suggests that when it comes to decision making, indoor air may matter more than we have realized." 

"At least eight studies in the last seven years have looked at what happens specifically in a room accumulating carbon dioxide, a main ingredient in our exhalations. While the results are inconsistent, they are also intriguing. They suggest that while the kinds of air pollution known to cause cancer and asthma remain much more pressing as public health concerns, there may also be pollutants whose most detrimental effects are on the mind, rather than the body."

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

To Be Available and Responsible

For any large meeting you’re holding, the responsiveness and availability of the AV staff can be crucial:

* Is the staff immediately accessible and located on the meeting floor?

* Is the AV specialist able to handle all equipment problems?

* How responsive is the staff to requests from the coordinator, trainer, or speaker?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Meetings with Decorum

The Indianapolis Public School system has warned parents not to cheer when their child's name is read out at this year's high school graduation ceremonies. A letter from the superintendent reminded families that attending a graduation ceremony is a privilege, not a right, and warned that up to 30 police officers would be present at each ceremony to ensure good order. Graduation "is a joyous time, a proud time, and a formal time," he write. "It is not a party. It is not a pep rally."

Amen. I've personally witnessed graduation ceremonies that have turned into pseudo-popularity contests with raucous cheering for some students.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Peace whie Flying

Even if mobile devices prove to be safe in the sky , from an interruption standpoint making them freely available during flights is a terrible idea, infringing on the rights of OTHER passengers:

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Promise More than Fulfilled

When it comes to selling and effective human relations, promise only what you can deliver and always deliver more than you promised. It's so easy to get into an over-promise situation and we've all grown so accustomed to the hype and over-salesmanship that abound in our society. Thus the person who under-promises and over-delivers, or promises accurately, quickly rises to the top.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Ask to Gain Understanding

Trainer and mentor Don Thoren, CPAE, writes:  "Has someone said something and you weren’t sure what to say back? Seconds tick by and your mind screams, 'What do I say now?!' or 'Why did I say that?!'"

"My wife, Kathleen, taught me to say, with curiosity, 'Isn't that interesting' and then...STOP TALKING.

The beauty of this neutral comment is that it turns the conversation back to the other person and...
   * Gives you a chance to think.
   * Gives you an immediate response, but you haven't really said anything or expressed an opinion yet.
   * Gives you a chance to change the way you are listening from a JUDGE OF what was said to an INVESTIGATOR INTO what they meant."

Don says "It's best to ask questions to gain understanding when you are not sure how to respond. However, avoid the 'why' question, as it is often received as argumentative. Now, you have your best chance of feeling comfortable with what you say back."