Stuff you must read today (Fri, 11 Oct 2013) – The Psychology of Language Edition

  • The psychology of language: Which words matter the most when we talk | The Buffer Blog
    “By always focusing on ‘How will this make someone feel?’ whenever [we wrote] even a single line, we immediately improved the amount of responses we got from our users”.
  • The Power of Names | The New Yorker
    “…words carry hidden baggage that may play at least some role in shaping thought. What’s surprising, perhaps, is how profoundly a single word can shape material outcomes over time”.
  • The Power of a Word | The Dilbert Blog
    Observe how an argument is transformed when a loaded word is substituted with another word that reframes the discourse.
  • What It Should Have Been: Edition #3 | Vox Nostra: A Voice Of Our Own
    Part of the Disabled People’s Association, Singapore’s public education initiative on the use of proper terminology to describe people with disabilities. Find out more about how this started here.
  • Are You a Language Bully? | Slate
    “Those who engage in public corrections of this sort often are looking to feel good about themselves, and…displays of language all-knowing-ness provide a ready-made, two-pronged opportunity to do so. ‘The way we evaluate our competence is relative to other people,’ he says. ‘If I need to feel good about my language skills, one way that I could do that would be to give myself evidence that my language skills are awesome. Another is to give myself evidence that other people’s language skills suck. So by putting down other people, I can feel better about myself.'”.

    Whoops :S

The thing about love

Face off

So, many of my friends and loved ones have paired off or are pairing off.

I’m happy for all of them. Unfortunately, not all of them are happy, and some want out.

In a case like this, what’s the best way to decide?

The conventional decision-making process utilises happiness to decide whether to stay or to go.

That’s not wrong, but the focus is – because it usually tends to be on: are you/am I happy with X?

I’ve come to realise – from both conversations and experience (recent and otherwise) – that this question needs to be reframed so that we address the more pertinent issue at hand – that of added value.

Because the thing about love is that it isn’t merely about value i.e. happiness with X; the thing about love is that it’s about added value i.e. how happy X makes us feel about ourselves.

Assuming ceteris paribus – i.e. we’ve cleaned up our act and sown all the wild oats we need to sow, we’ve let go of any issues or people that need to be let go of, etc. – the real question we should be asking ourselves is:

Does X make me more awesome than I already am?

I’ve seen it in the friends and loved ones who are happy, and I’ve felt it for myself too: a good partner is someone who explicitly supports you in becoming better than you already are.

And rightfully so – if being with someone constrains you; curtails your development as a human being; turns you into a shadow of your awesome self, then is that person really good for you?

It’s applicable to not just love, but at work and in friendships and family relationships too.

For as hard as it may be, all of us will need to cut the strings to relationships that are toxic or stunting at various points of time in our lives.

In making those decisions, we shouldn’t let past happiness or promises of future bliss cloud our vision.

What we should be doing, really, is focusing on the fundamental issue of how much X will be able to help us grow.

And if that growth is going to be minimal, negligible – or even negative – then I’d say you know the answer for what you need to do to be happy.