Category Archives: Communications

Social Presence

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Are there specific attributes in an environment that make you feel more present? Not necessarily that enable you to navigate the environment better or communicate with another person better, but something more subtle than these?

Nothing beats talking to another person face-to-face, but a group of researchers are considering whether a life-size projection of a person who appears to be sitting across from you in an actual chair might be a close second.othing beats talking to another person face-to-face, but a group of researchers are considering whether a life-size projection of a person who appears to be sitting across from you in an actual chair might be a close second.

lottie doll

Identity Resonance

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By what I think is coincidence, I came across many examples of design that have as part of their missions to help users either develop a stronger self-identity or display and reinforce the identity they have. I am a huge proponent of using identity resonance as a design tool, so I really enjoyed selecting a few good examples for this article.

That’s why the Lottie Doll looks, well, just like a typical nine-year-old girl. She doesn’t wear makeup, high heels or jewellery, she’s ethnically diverse with tactile hair and clothes, and she can stand on her own two feet. Lottie is feisty. She occasionally makes mistakes. She loves adventure and the outdoors. She has a wild imagination – just like a real child. Even her clothes are made to get dirty.

palace guards

Improving Communication Through Reverse Power Poses

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This paper by James Detert and Ethan Burris in Harvard Business Review has an interesting take on something that has been in the news a lot lately (and even a TED talk). The topic is “power posing” and the basic message is that if you adopt a power pose you exert a wide range of influences. It creates an internal frame by making you more confident in yourself. Even if you can’t see yourself in the pose, you know you are doing it.

Studies on power posing show that intentionally adjusting your body posture, facial expressions, and voice can help you express your ideas and concerns and win greater influence. This is true no matter what title or position you hold. Simply comporting yourself as if you’re a rung or two higher makes people act more deferentially toward you. Often, they’re not fully aware that they’re responding this way, yet the effect is in full force in any kind of hierarchy, whether it’s based on formal or informal status.

classroom

Peer Pressure and Learning

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There have been many studies on the influence of peer pressure on behavior. One consistent finding is that many of us are influenced by the presence of others. Of course there are wide variations based on the context, the personality of the individual, the age of the individual and the peers, and the difficulty of the task. But peer pressure is often an 800-pound gorilla in the room.

As he and other researchers examined the question of why teens were more apt to take risks in the company of other teenagers, they came to suspect that a crowd’s influence need not always be negative. Now some experts are proposing that we should take advantage of the teen brain’s keen sensitivity to the presence of friends and leverage it to improve education.

Two cats arguing

Agreeing to Disagree

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When two people or organizations can’t resolve a conflict, they often defer to the option of “agreeing to disagree.” This is not very satisfying to either side, but at least you can walk away from the negotiating table (or battle zone) with at least a temporary pause in active combat. I can’t convince you; you can’t convince me; so let’s just go our own ways and ignore the disagreement.

Controlling the channels of communication never prevents communication: it just makes stark the lack of permission and prompts creative attempts to subvert the authority. Opening up spaces to communicate and collaborate is a key aspect of eroding resistance and building a foundation for change.

Google Search bar

The Search Effect

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Throughout history, we have relied on other people to reduce our personal memory load, a phenomenon called transactive memory. If we know that someone else knows a particular piece of information, we don’t have to remember it ourselves. We just need to ask them. But there is a significant germane load to do this. We have to remember who knows what we need, find them, hope they are available, ask them, and process the answer. A similar germane load exists when we use reference sources. We have to remember what source has the information, go to the library (or our personal bookshelf), get the encyclopedia/dictionary/textbook, look up the information, and process it.

Transactive memory is a psychological hypothesis first proposed by Daniel Wegner in 1985 as a response to earlier theories of “group mind” such as groupthink.[1] A transactive memory system is a mechanism through which groups collectively encode, store, and retrieve knowledge.

car dash

Revenge of the End User License Agreement

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There are so many cases where we see customers having trouble with befuddling and legalistic user agreements that get them into trouble. Perhaps a customer reveals more personal information than she realized to an advertising aggregator. Perhaps he ceded the intellectual property rights for something he created while using a development environment. Perhaps I agreed to transaction fees and automatic services I never intended to.

In a later call from emergency services made to Bernstein directly, the driver denied all knowledge of any accident. The driver told the dispatcher that “everything was fine,” before the dispatcher said, “Ok but your car called in saying you’d been involved in an accident. It doesn’t do that for no reason. Did you leave the scene of an accident?”

texting while driving

HUDs Don’t Solve the Problem

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My Take I have been following the public debates about distracting driving and cell phone use with some dismay. The biggest problem seems to be the intuitive attractiveness of handsfree cell phone usage. The general public wants to use their cell phones while driving. But the distraction they cause is hard to deny. So hands free is a very alluring solution. And since they don’t know much about cognitive attention and distraction, the fact that the driver can keep his or her eyes on the…

Team working together

Employee Behavior Analytics

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Can we use simple design changes in a workplace to improve employee teamwork, communication, and performance? We have talked here several times about some interesting innovations such as aligning the chairs, creativity spaces, and so on.

While it is widely acknowledged that effective communication and knowledge transfer are crucial to an organization’s success, these behaviors are very difficult to measure. Surveys and human observers provide biased, limited views into communication behaviors, which is of little practical usefulness for organizations.

Man in suite thinking

This is Serious Stuff

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Case One: e-signatures The Hidden Brain had an interesting study that highlights the importance of framing. There is a strong trend towards the use of e-signatures to promote ease of signing contracts on digital media. But new research shows that even if the regulations for e-signatures are identical and the security is at least as good as with handwritten signatures, people are more likely to cheat when they use e-signatures to sign a document. Note – this is not a question of a third party…