ENGL 2105 : Workplace-Based Writing and Research

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Suggested Reading

Every great learning experience includes a list of resources, often books, for further learning. This section is ENGL2105's list of books worth reading. Hover over a cover and you will see a link to the book on Amazon (you might be able to get it cheaper elsewhere) and, in many cases, some key highlights from the book. The purpose of the highlights is to give you a clear sense of what the book has to offer and a memory aid to key ideas.

A common class assignment is to give a short presentation on a book related to the learning objectives of this class; you might find a worthy book here. A word of warning: if you are in a hurry, you might be tempted to choose a book for which there are extensive highlights and use them as an alterntive to reading the book. This strategy will fail because you won't be able to answer questions effectivley, having no context for interpreting the questions asked. READ THE BOOK. Use the quotations to poke your memory and improve your understanding.



Gary Provost

Notable Quotations

  • So if you have a writing job, write in your head. Clear up the inconsistencies while you’re brushing your teeth. Get your thoughts organized while you’re driving to work. Think of a slant during lunch. And most important, come up with a beginning, a lead, so that you won’t end up staring at your typewriter as if it had just arrived from another galaxy.
  • Bierman brought his story immediately to life by giving the reader something to care about.
  • Cross out every sentence until you come to one you cannot do without. That is your beginning.
  • When you rewrite your early drafts, ask how each sentence in a paragraph supports the topic sentence of the paragraph. If the answer is “It doesn’t,” then ask what other work the sentence is doing in the paragraph. If the answer is “None,” get rid of the sentence.
  • A bridge word is a word that is used in one paragraph and then repeated in the following transition.
  • A dense word is a word that crowds a lot of meaning into a small space. The fewer words you use to express an idea, the more impact that idea will have. When you revise, look for opportunities to cross out several words and insert one. Once a month is
  • monthly; something new is novel; people they didn’t know are strangers; and something impossible to imagine is inconceivable.
  • But you should also replace short words if they are so rare that your reader might not know them.
  • Turn look into stare, gaze, peer, peek, or gawk, Turn throw into toss, flip, or hurl.
  • Before you write a noun that is modified by one or two adjectives, ask yourself if there is a noun that can convey the same information. Instead of writing about a black dog, maybe you want to write about a Doberman.
  • When you take out a general word and put in a specific one, you usually improve your writing.
  • because he is telling the reader his conclusions instead of providing the facts from which the reader can draw his own conclusions, the writing will not have impact.

  • Norman M. Bradburn, Seymour Sudman, Brian Wansink

    Notable Quotations

  • Asking Questions: The Definitive Guide to Questionnaire Design -- For Market Research, Political Polls, and Social and Health Questionnaires (Research Methods for the Social Sciences)
  • Norman M. Bradburn, Seymour Sudman, Brian Wansink
  • Questions must be precisely worded if responses to a survey are to be accurate;
  • We must depend on pretesting to weed out ambiguities and to help reformulate questions as clearly as possible-to ask about what we want to know, not something else.
  • Loaded Words Produce Loaded Results
  • Frugging (fundraising under the guise) surveys, are often primarily intended to raise funds rather than to collect survey information.
  • Sometimes questions are simply complex and difficult to understand.
  • Yet even when there are no deliberate efforts to bias the question, it is often difficult to write good questions because the words to describe the phenomenon being studied may be politically charged.
  • Respondents ... must be persuaded to participate in the interview, and their interest (or at least patience) must be maintained throughout.
  • Their only reward is some measure of psychic gratification-such as the opportunity to state their opinions or relate their experiences to a sympathetic and nonjudgmental listener, the chance to contribute to public or scientific knowledge, or even the positive feeling that they have helped the interviewer.
  • (1) a survey is a transaction between two people who are bound by special norms; (2) the interviewer offers no judgment of the respondents' replies and must keep them in strict confidence; (3) respondents have an equivalent obligation to answer each question truthfully and thoughtfully; and (4) in the survey it is difficult to ignore an inconvenient question or give an irrelevant answer.
  • In general, although respondents are motivated to be "good respondents" and to provide the information that is asked for, they are also motivated to be "good people." That is, they will try to represent themselves to the interviewer in a way that reflects well on them.
  • Techniques for helping respondents resolve this dilemma on the side of being good respondents include interviewer training in methods of establishing rapport with the respondent, putting respondents at their ease, and appearing to be nonjudgmental.
  • Investigators should try to avoid asking respondents for information they do not have.
  • The term informed consent implies that potential respondents should be given sufficient information about what they are actually being asked and how their responses will be used. The intent is for them to be able to judge whether unpleasant consequences will follow as a result of their disclosure.
  • The fact that the researcher has promised confidentiality to the respondents will not protect the researcher from having to produce the individual records if required by legal action.
  • First you will need to identify the concepts involved in the research question. Then you will formulate specific questions that, when combined and analyzed, will measure these key concepts. For example, if you are interested in the attitudes of potential voters toward a particular candidate, you will have to decide which attitudes are important for the topic at hand: attitudes about the particular positions the candidate holds, attitudes about the candidate's personality, or attitudes about the candidate's likability.
  • As a general rule, when constructing a questionnaire, you must continuously ask "Why am I asking this question?" and must, in each instance, be able to explain how the question is closely related to the research question that underlies the survey.
  • Given our biases toward more information, a game of "Wouldn't it be nice to know?" can quickly ensue, and soon there are many more questions than the budget can afford or than respondents can endure.
  • Every time you write a question, ask yourself "Why do I want to know this?" Answer it in terms of the way it will help you to answer your research question.
  • Bias refers to an estimate that is either more or less than the true value. Variability is measured by the susceptibility of measurements to differences in question wording.
  • The incorrect placement of events in a particular time period is called telescoping.
  • Forward telescoping typically results in overreporting of events; backward telescoping typically results in underreporting.
  • Another source of error arises from the deliberate overstating or understating.
  • Another source of error stems from the respondent's failure to understand the question in the way the researcher intended.
  • Finally, respondents may simply be ignorant [and because people don't like to appear ignorant, they may just make something up or guess or say what they think is wanted.]
  • The most direct and probably the most common questions asked of respondents relate to their behavior.
  • When asking a closed-ended question about behavior, make sure that all reasonable alternative answers are included.
  • Make the question as specific as possible.
  • The time period of the question should be related to the saliency of the topic. Periods of a year (or sometimes even longer) can be used for highly salient topics, such as purchase of a new house,
  • Periods of a month or less should be used for items with low saliency, such as purchases of clothing and minor household appliances. Periods that are too short, however, should be avoided,
  • For regular, frequent behavior, respondents will estimate the number of events by using the basic rate they have stored in memory.
  • Where detailed information on frequent, low-salience behavior is required, providing diaries will result in more accurate results than memory.
  • Use words that virtually all respondents will understand.
  • Do not assume that the shorter questions are necessarily better.
  • Respondents may not know what is meant by the word "regularly." y specifying "on a daily basis," the question removes or reduces the uncertainty.
  • A general finding is that as the number of experiences of an event increases above five, respondents are more likely to estimate than to count.
  • Vary question formats where possible, to make the interview more engaging for the respondent and also to decrease the chances of respondent anticipation.
  • One simple reason for making each question as specific as possible is to make the task easier for the respondent, which, in turn, will result in more accurate reports of behavior.
  • The "when" question should specify the time period by using actual dates instead of terms such as "last week" or "last month."
  • If general or global questions are used, they should be tested to determine what respondents think they mean.
  • The more important the event, the easier it is for the respondent to remember.
  • there appear to be three dimensions that distinguish between events that are more and less salient: (1) the unusualness of the event, (2) the economic and social costs or benefits of the event, and (3) the continuing consequences of the event.
  • Diaries have been used for frequent, nonsalient events that are difficult to recall accurately.
  • The general principle is simple: use words that everyone in the sample understands and that have only the meaning you intend. Writing questions that satisfy this principle is a difficult art that requires experience and judgment.
  • Explain the word first and then provide the word itself.
  • Slang and colloquialisms should normally be avoided, not because such words violate good usage but because many respondents will not know what the words mean.
  • When surveying unfamiliar groups, an initial group interview with a small (nonrandom) sample of that group may be helpful in indicating the types of words to use or avoid.
  • even more troublesome than an unknown word is a word that has multiple meanings in the context of the question being asked.
  • For socially desirable behavior, the extent of overstatement depends not only on the level of desirability and the wording of the question, but also on the proportion of the population who have not behaved in the socially desirable manner.
  • There is, a general tendency for respondents to avoid extreme answers and to prefer an answer in the middle of a list
  • Setting out rules for formulating questions about attitudes is more difficult than for behavioral questions because questions about attitudes have no "true" answer.
  • Attitudes exist only in a person's mind.
  • Context in which questions are asked has a greater impact on attitude measurement than on behavior questions because the meaning of the questions may be strongly influenced by the context in which they appear.
  • The terms opinion and attitude are not clearly differentiated from one another. In general, opinion is most often used to refer to views about a particular object such as a person or a policy, and attitude is more often used to refer to a bundle of opinions that are more or less coherent and are about some complex object.
  • People are less likely to believe something derogatory about something they like and are in favor of, and they do not usually act in support of things they disapprove of.
  • Similar (if not synonymous) terms that indicate a positive orientation toward an attitude object may have somewhat different connotations and yield different responses.
  • Strongly held attitudes are generally more resistant to effects of question wording than are weakly held attitudes.
  • The fundamental idea behind Likert scales is that an attitude can be thought of as a set of propositions about beliefs, evaluations, and actions held by individuals.
  • Another commonly used scale type is the Guttman scale. Items in a Guttman scale are ordered such that some items should be agreed to only by those who are low on the attitude and others should be agreed to only by those who are high on the attitude scale.
  • Various methods for combining responses can be used. The simplest is to count the number of "yes" and "no" answers as appropriate.
  • Unipolar items, when rephrased into what appear to be their opposites, often produce surprising results. A famous study by Rugg () showed that even such apparently opposite words as "allow" and "forbid" can produce dissimilar results.
  • "Do you think the United States should allow public speeches against democracy?" and "Do you think the United States should forbid public speeches against democracy?" When the question was one of allowing public speeches, percent of the respondents supported free speech; when the question was phrased that the United States should forbid free speech,
  • The potential biasing effect of the positioning of questions in a questionnaire has long been recognized.
  • The order of questions provides a context within which questions are answered.
  • When a general question and a more specific-related question are asked together, the general question is affected by its position, whereas the more specific question is not.
  • If the specific question triggers positive associations, it appears to increase positive responses to the general question. If the thoughts aroused by the specific question are negative, the effect appears to be negative. The specific question may narrow the interpretation to the meaning of the general question and have a corresponding effect on answers to the general question.
  • Unintentionally Activating Norms and Values that Cause Biases
  • Questions involving the same underlying value (reciprocity) are asked about objects with differing degrees of popularity. When the more popular item comes first, it appears to have the effect of heightening the value, so that it applies in the second and less powerful instance.
  • Use open-ended questions sparingly; they are primarily useful for developmental work, to explore a topic in depth, and to obtain quotable material. Closed-ended questions are more difficult to construct, but they are easier to analyze and generate less unwanted interviewer and coder variance.
  • Although not so common as behavioral questions, knowledge-related questions have many uses in surveys. They can be used to help explain political behavior, which is strongly impacted by one's level of knowledge.
  • Before asking attitude questions about issues or persons, ask knowledge questions to screen out respondents who lack sufficient information or to classify respondents by level of knowledge.
  • If yes-no questions are appropriate, ask several on the same topic to reduce the likelihood of successful guessing.
  • The line between knowledge and attitude or opinion questions is often blurred.
  • The question that asks respondents to guess about the proportion of welfare chiselers is really an attitude question in the guise of a knowledge question.
  • Customer ratings are becoming more common as organizations become more customer-oriented. In addition to controlled, formal surveying of target populations, most large companies now have continuous
  • Feedback mechanisms involving comment cards, toll-free hot lines, and on-line Web surveys.
  • A mechanism used to assess service across a wide number of units is "mystery shoppers," people who are evaluating the company by simply behaving like a shopper (or diner) and whose identity is not known to those they are evaluating. The primary job of mystery shoppers is to frequent the franchised restaurants to ensure that food quality, timing, cleanliness, and other standards are being met.
  • In many cases, customers are often in a better position to evaluate the quality of products and services offered than are managers or fellow employees.
  • This third-party performance rating can be critical for accurate product or service ratings in an industry.
  • When the term psychographics was introduced by Emanuel Demby in the s, it was generally defined as "the use of psychological, sociological, and anthropological factors, self-concept, and lifestyle to determine how the market is segmented by the propensity of groups within the market-and their reasons-to
  • The most obvious use of psychographic research is to draw portraits or profiles of target groups.
  • Psychographic questions are typically used to segment people by the way they think or behave.
  • Using psychographic questions involves using one or two hypothesized characteristics (or personality traits) to explain differences in choice or behavior. For instance, one study hypothesized that a trait called "venturesome" was related to the probability that "venturesome" people would try new and different products. Researchers found that people with this trait were more likely to choose a new and different flavor of toothpaste
  • List of Values (LOV), which is gaining favor among academics because it is in the public domain and relates closely to consumer behavior and to trends
  • For instance, a study attempting to understand (and deter) binge drinking interviewed bartenders to try to develop personality profiles of those most predisposed to binge drinking. Similarly, a study of men who spent a lot of money on business shoes used shoe shiners in airports to get a better idea as to how a "Cole-Haan" man differed from an "Allen-Edmunds" man (Wansink, c).
  • Conduct in-depth interviews or focus groups.
  • Although correlations between psychographic variables and preferences seldom get higher than .3 or.4 the same is true of the relationships between demographics and product preference. [0 is no correlation and 1 is absolute correlation.]
  • Ultimately, every questionnaire must be tested and refined under real-world conditions. Testing takes the form of pretest interviews and of soliciting peer feedback of draft questionnaires
  • Ask respondents if the questions were straightforward and whether the format made logical sense.
  • It is always useful for questionnaire designers to play the roles of respondents and answer their own questions.
  • One common mistake is to include modifying adjectives and adverbs that are somewhat unclear, such as usually, often, sometimes, occasionally, seldom, and rarely. These words have highly variable meanings, as do such words as many, most, numerous, a minority of, a substantial majority, a considerable number of, a large proportion of, a significant number of, and several.
  • And. The word and can signal that you might be combining two questions and asking them as one question.
  • Or. Similar to the word and, the word or is often associated with a double question or with a false dilemma.
  • If. The word if is often associated with confusing directions or with skip patterns.
  • Not. Avoid using not in your questions if you're having respondents answer "yes" or "no" to a question. Using the word not can lead to double negatives and confusion.
  • A good question is one that yields a truthful, accurate answer.
  • A Good Question Asks for Only One Answer on Only One Dimension
  • Each question should be about one topic. Do not include questions that require a single response when two would be more appropriate.
  • Asking a multiple choice question that does not accommodate all possible responses can confuse and frustrate the respondent,
  • A good question leaves no ambiguity in the mind of the respondent.
  • A Good Question Produces Variability in Response
  • When a question produces no variability in responses, we learn very little.
  • Writing a questionnaire is similar to writing anything else. Transitions between questions should be smooth. Questions should be grouped so that they are similar and easier to complete.
  • People generally look at the first few questions before deciding whether or not to complete the questionnaire.
  • Make respondents want to continue by putting interesting questions first.

  • Anne Lamott

    Notable Quotations

    The act of writing turns out to be its own reward. LOCATION: 248 My writer friends, and they are legion, do not go around beaming with quiet feelings of contentment. Most of them go around with haunted, abused, surprised looks on their faces, like lab dogs on whom very personal deodorant sprays have been tested. LOCATION: 302 I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. LOCATION: 563 Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it. LOCATION: 567 In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts. The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. LOCATION: 575 Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. LOCATION: 612 Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy. LOCATION: 613 Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. LOCATION: 639 Vonnegut said, “When I write, I feel like an armless legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” LOCATION: 684 But by all means let someone else take a look at your work. It’s too hard always to have to be the executioner. LOCATION: 978 Metaphors are a great language tool, because they explain the unknown in terms of the known. LOCATION: 1195 if you’re having a bad day, you’re going to crash and burn within half an hour. You’ll give up, and maybe even get up, which is worse because a lot of us know that if we just sit there long enough, in whatever shape, we may end up being surprised. You get your confidence and intuition back by trusting yourself, by being militantly on your own side. LOCATION: 1554 Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly. LOCATION: 1582 If you are not careful, station KFKD will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo. Out of the right speaker in your inner ear will come the endless stream of self-aggrandizement, the recitation of one’s specialness, of how much more open LOCATION: 1593 “A critic is someone who comes onto the battlefield after the battle is over and shoots the wounded”? LOCATION: 1882 Here’s the thing, though. I no longer think of it as block. I think that is looking at the problem from the wrong angle. If your wife locks you out of the house, you don’t have a problem with your door. LOCATION: 2268 The discouraging voices will hound you—“This is all piffle,” they will say, and they may be right. LOCATION: 2294 What you are doing may just be practice. But this is how you are going to get better, and there is no point in practicing if you don’t finish.

    John Medina

    Notable Quotations

  • It is literally impossible for our brains to multitask when it comes to paying attention.
  • stressed brain is significantly less productive.
  • If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom.
  • I have come to believe that people with advanced Theory of Mind skills possess the single most important ingredient for becoming effective communicators of information.
  • existing Theory of Mind tests could be used like Myers-Briggs personality tests to reveal good teachers from
  • bad, or to help people considering careers as teachers.
  • The more attention the brain pays to a given stimulus, the more elaborately the information will be encoded—and retained.
  • For example, urban Asians pay a great deal of attention to the context of a visual scene and to the relationships between foreground objects and backgrounds. Urban Americans don’t. They pay attention to the focal items before the backgrounds, leaving perceptions of context much weaker. Such differences can affect how an audience perceives a given business presentation or class lecture.
  • Posner hypothesized that we pay attention to things because of the existence of three separable but fully integrated systems in the brain.
  • Emotionally charged events persist much longer in our memories and are recalled with greater accuracy than neutral memories.
  • Studies show that emotional arousal focuses attention on the “gist” of an experience at the expense of peripheral details.
  • Words presented in a logically organized, hierarchical structure are much better
  • remembered than words placed randomly—typically percent better.
  • If we can derive the meaning of the words to one another, we can much more easily recall the details. Meaning before details.
  • “[Experts’] knowledge is not simply a list of facts and formulas that are relevant to their domain; instead, their knowledge is organized around core concepts or ‘big ideas’ that guide their thinking about their domains. (John Bransford, How People Learn)”
  • Whether you are a waiter or a brain scientist, if you want to get the particulars correct, don’t start with details. Start with the key ideas and, in a hierarchical fashion, form the details around these larger notions.
  • Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth. The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially.
  • The most common communication mistakes?
  • Relating too much information, with not enough time devoted to connecting the dots.
  • Starting with general concepts naturally leads to explaining information in a hierarchical fashion. You have to do the general idea first.
  • The linkages [between the main idea and the current details] must be clearly and repetitively explained.
  • The more repetition cycles a given memory experienced, the more likely it was to persist in his mind.
  • There are at least two types of memories: memories that involve conscious awareness and memories that don’t.
  • Declarative memories are those that can be experienced in our conscious awareness.
  • Nondeclarative memories are those that cannot be experienced in our conscious awareness, such as the motor skills necessary to ride a bike.
  • The more elaborately we encode information at the moment of learning, the stronger the memory.
  • The more a learner focuses on the meaning of the presented information, the more elaborately the encoding is processed.
  • The greater the number of examples in the paragraph, the more likely the information was to be remembered.
  • The more personal an example, the more richly it becomes encoded and the more readily it is remembered.
  • Information is more readily processed if it can be immediately associated with information already present in the [reader's mind].
  • Introductions are everything.
  • If you are a student, whether in business or education, the events that happen the first time you are exposed to a given information stream play a disproportionately greater role in your ability to accurately retrieve it at a later date.
  • The process of converting short-term memory traces to longer, sturdier forms is called consolidation.
  • Thinking or talking about an event immediately after it has occurred enhances memory for that event.
  • Repeated exposure to information in specifically timed intervals provides the most powerful way to fix memory into the memory.
  • Dan Schacter to say: “If you have only one week to study for a final, and only times when you can hit the subject, it is better to space out the repetitions during the week than to squeeze them all together.”
  • Deliberately re-expose yourself to the information if you want to retrieve it later.
  • Deliberately re-expose yourself to the information more elaborately if you want the retrieval to be of higher quality.
  • Deliberately re-expose yourself to the information more elaborately, and in fixed, spaced intervals, if you want the retrieval to be the most vivid it can be.
  • [People] learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.
  • If information is presented orally, people remember about 10 percent, tested 72 hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65 percent if you add a picture.
  • two-dimensional pictures are quite adequate; studies show that if the drawings are too complex or lifelike, they can distract from the transfer of information.

  • Alul Gawande

    Notable Quotations

  • Failures of ignorance we can forgive. If the knowledge of the best thing to do in a given situation does not exist, we are happy to have people simply make their best effort. But if the knowledge exists and is not applied correctly, it is difficult not to be infuriated.
  • Every day there is more and more to manage and get right and learn. And defeat under conditions of complexity occurs far more often despite great effort rather than from a lack of it.
  • We need a different strategy for overcoming failure, one that builds on experience and takes advantage of the knowledge people have but somehow also makes up for our inevitable human inadequacies. It is a checklist.
  • We believe our jobs are too complicated to reduce to a checklist.
  • In a complex environment, experts are up against two main difficulties. The first is the fallibility of human memory and attention, especially when it comes to mundane, routine matters that are easily overlooked under the strain of more pressing events.
  • People can lull themselves into skipping steps even when they remember them. In complex processes, after all, certain steps don’t always matter.
  • Checklists seem to provide protection against such failures. They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit. They not only offer the possibility of verification but also instill a kind of discipline of higher performance.
  • They helped with memory recall and clearly set out the minimum necessary steps in a process.
  • Checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized. They provide a kind of cognitive net. They catch mental flaws inherent in all of us—flaws of memory and attention and thoroughness. And because they do, they raise wide, unexpected possibilities.
  • You want people to make sure to get the stupid stuff right. Yet you also want to leave room for craft and judgment and the ability to respond to unexpected difficulties that arise along the way.
  • The value of checklists for simple problems seems self-evident. But can they help avert failure when the problems combine everything from the simple to the complex?
  • Under conditions of true complexity—where the knowledge required exceeds that of any individual and unpredictability reigns—efforts to dictate every step from the center will fail. People need room to act and adapt. Yet they cannot succeed as isolated individuals, either—that is anarchy. Instead, they require a seemingly contradictory mix of freedom and expectation—expectation to coordinate, for example, and also to measure progress toward common goals.
  • They supply a set of checks to ensure the stupid but critical stuff is not overlooked, and they supply another set of checks to ensure people talk and coordinate and accept responsibility
  • Requirements—simple, measurable, transmissible.
  • Bad checklists are vague and imprecise. They are too long; they are hard to use; they are impractical.
  • Good checklists ... are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything—a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps—the ones that even the highly skilled professionals using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.
  • The checklist cannot be lengthy. A rule of thumb some use is to keep it to between five and nine items, which is the limit of working memory.
  • Even the look of the checklist matters. Ideally, it should fit on one page.
  • A checklist has to be tested in the real world, which is inevitably more complicated than expected.
  • They are not comprehensive how-to guides, whether for building a skyscraper or getting a plane out of trouble. They are quick and simple tools aimed to buttress the skills of expert professionals.
  • Just ticking boxes is not the ultimate goal here. Embracing a culture of teamwork and discipline is.
  • Good checklists could become as important for doctors and nurses as good stethoscopes (which, unlike checklists, have never been proved to make a difference in patient care).
  • It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist, an embarrassment. It runs counter to deeply held beliefs about how the truly great among us—those we aspire to be—handle situations of high stakes and complexity. The truly great are daring. They improvise. They do not have protocols and checklists.
  • Discipline is hard—harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even than selflessness. We are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. We can’t even keep from snacking between meals. We are not built for discipline. We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail. Discipline is something we have to work at.

  • Francis-Noel Thomas, Mark Turner

    Notable Quotations

  • Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose
  • Francis-Noël Thomas, Mark Turner
  • Writing is an intellectual activity, not a bundle of skills. Writing proceeds from thinking.
  • When style is considered the opposite of substance, it seems optional and incidental, even when it is admired. Style, conceived this way, is something fancy that distracts us from what is essential; it is the varnish that makes the truth at least a little harder to see. Any concept of style that treats it as optional is inadequate
  • The styles we acquire unconsciously remain invisible to us.
  • The styles we acquired unconsciously do not always serve our needs.
  • Even the best-educated members of our society commonly lack a routine style for presenting the result of their own engagement with a problem to people outside their own profession.
  • Classic style is focused and assured. Its virtues are clarity and simplicity; in a sense, so are its vices. It declines to acknowledge ambiguities, unessential qualifications, doubts, or other styles. It declines to acknowledge that it is a style. It makes its hard choices silently and out of the reader’s sight. Once made, those hard choices are not acknowledged to be choices at all; they are presented as if they were inevitable because classic style is, above all, a style of presentation with claims to transparency.
  • The style rests on the assumptions that it is possible to think disinterestedly, to know the results of disinterested thought, and to present them without fundamental distortion. In this view, thought precedes writing. All of these assumptions may be wrong, but they help to define a style whose usefulness is manifest.
  • [Classic style] displays truth according to an order that has nothing to do with the process by which the writer came to know it.
  • No personal history, personal experience, or personal psychology enters into the expression.
  • Consider the gradient between plain style and classic style. “The truth is pure and simple” is plain style. “The truth is rarely pure, and never simple” is classic style. The plain version contains many elements of classic style without being classic; the classic version contains all of the plain version without being plain.
  • The classic version introduces a refinement, a qualification, a meditation on the plain version that makes it classic.
  • The classic writer wants to be distinguished from others because she assumes that truth, though potentially available to all, is not the common property of common people.
  • Unlike plain style, classic style is aristocratic, which is not to say artificially restricted, since anyone can become an aristocrat by learning classic style.
  • Elementary does not always mean easy. It often means fundamental.
  • The domain of style is what can be chosen. A fundamental stand is a choice open to the writer.
  • The elements come under five topical headings: truth, presentation, scene, cast, thought and language.
  • Classic style treats external objects, contingent facts, and even opinions as if they too are beyond doubt or discussion.
  • The writer does not typically attempt to persuade by argument. The writer merely puts the reader in a position to see whatever is being presented and suggests that the reader will be able to verify it because the style treats whatever conventions or even prejudices it operates from as if these were, like natural reason, shared by everyone.
  • There is probably nothing more fundamental to the attitude that defines classic style than the enabling convention that truth can be known.
  • The concept of truth that grounds classic style does not depend on what might be called “point of view” or “angle of vision".
  • The classic attitude, especially in its origins, acknowledges human inadequacies: we are victims of our ambitions; fully accurate self-knowledge is unavailable; self-interest leads to self-deception; we are inconsistent, unreliable, impure. Yet the classic attitude is never despairing:
  • We recognize truth when we see it, even though the encounter with truth is brief and difficult to sustain.
  • The aphoristic quality of classic prose concerns observation (“No one is ever so happy or unhappy as he thinks”), not morality (“Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”), or behavior (“Look before you leap”), although it tacitly conveys its expectations about both.
  • When the classic writer’s motive is persuasion, he is reluctant to admit it overtly, and even when he admits it, he does so conditionally, noting that persuasion can never take priority over the abiding motive of presenting truth.
  • The subject is conceived of as a “thing” distinct from the writing, something that exists in the world and is independent of any presentation.
  • The language of classic prose never draw attention to itself.
  • Classic prose never has to be puzzled out.
  • Classic style is perfect performance, with no hesitation, revision, or backtracking. Its essential fiction is that this perfection happens at the first try.
  • Its corollary fiction is that the performance cannot be prepared because it has no parts that could be worked on separately or in stages. It is seamless.
  • It is helpful to remember that these are fictions.
  • The classic writer spends no time justifying her project.
  • Does not compare its worth to the worth of other projects.
  • There is no hierarchy of importance of subjects in classic writing. Everything is in close focus.
  • It is possible to skim certain styles.
  • Browsing is different from skimming. In browsing, we look from thing to thing, deciding what to choose. Classic style allows browsing but not skimming.
  • Classic style contains crucial nuances, which can be lost in skimming. Clarity Everywhere Is Not Accuracy Everywhere. What is subordinate to the main issue can never be allowed to obscure that issue or distract attention from accuracy becomes pedantry if it is indulged for its own sake.
  • The Model Is One Person Speaking to Another.
  • The ideal speech of classic style appears to be spontaneous and motivated by the need to inform a listener about something.
  • Something occurs to him and he says it. He takes another moment’s brief but perfect thought and says the next thing. As a consequence, the rhythm of the writing is a series of movements, each one brief and crisp, with an obvious beginning and end.
  • The pretense is that this global organization is the natural product of the writer’s orderly mind.
  • [The classic writer] banishes from his vocabulary phrases like “as we shall see,” “three paragraphs ago,” “before I move to my next point I must introduce a new term,” “the third part of our four-part argument is,” and all other “metadiscourse” that proclaims itself as writing rather than speech.
  • The prototypical scene in classic writing is an individual speaking intimately to another individual. What the classic writer has to say is directed entirely to that one individual. But it can be overheard.
  • The classic writer does not appear to have written things in a way she would not had she known others were listening.
  • She takes the pose of authenticity.
  • The language is clear and direct and memorable. It is written so as to be understood the first time it is heard.
  • Classic writers are independent, not concerned to protect members of a bureaucracy. They are not controlled by policy, interests, or an organization, or at least they give no appearance of being controlled in such a fashion.
  • [The classic writer] does not make distinctions between members of the audience,
  • Energetic but Not Anxious
  • The elitism of classic style is not the result of natural endowment. It is the result of effort and discipline ending in achievement. No one willing to make the effort is excluded from joining this elite.
  • Classic Style Is for Everybody
  • [Classic style] writers are not arguing, they are presenting.
  • In classic prose, the relationship between writer and reader is never asymmetrical in this way because classic style appeals to a standard of perception and of judgment assumed to be general, rather than special.
  • People believe a conclusion more readily if they think they have helped to reach it or have reached it themselves.
  • The classic writer is not like a television cook showing you how to mix mustard and balsamic vinegar. She is like a chef whose work is presented to you at table but whose labor you are never allowed to see, a labor the chef certainly does not expect you to share.
  • In the classic stand on the elements of style, writing is neither a way of thinking something out nor an art that exists for its own sake. Writing is an instrument for presenting what the writer has already thought.
  • Abstractions Can Be Clear and Exact
  • A writing instructor or consultant who advises us to write concretely and avoid abstractions offers shallow and impractical advice because the distinction is simpleminded.
  • When a classic stylist presents an abstraction—cultural reality, heroism, historical causation, the nature of representation, taste—it is first conceived as independent of the writer, exhaustively definite at all levels of detail, visible to anyone competent who is standing in a position to see it, immediately recognizable, and capable of being expressed in direct and simple language.
  • When a classic writer deals in abstractions, it takes an effort to remind ourselves that she is not talking about a stone, a leaf, a statue.
  • In the classic view, thinking is not writing; even more important, writing is not thinking.
  • The classic writer does not write as he is thinking something out and does not think by writing something out.
  • Classic style avoids colloquialisms, neologisms, periphrases, and slang
  • New thoughts do not require new language.
  • There is a phenomenon in English known as the stress position: whatever you put at the end of the sentence will be taken, absent direction to the contrary, to be the most important part of the sentence.
  • The end of the sentence seems to be the reason the sentence is written; everything leads to it; and the sentence stops confidently when it reaches that end because the image schema of both thought and expression is complete.
  • A common perceptual image schema is focusing-and-then-inspecting. First we locate the object or domain of interest, and then we inspect its details.
  • A classic sentence is often a nuanced version of a sentence that otherwise might have been plain.
  • Plain style values simplicity but shuns nuance. Classic style values both simplicity and nuance.
  • “Seeing is believing” is plain. “Seeing is believing only if you don’t see too clearly” is classic.
  • Classic Style Is Not Practical
  • In the model scene behind practical style, the reader has a problem to solve, a decision to make, a ruling to hand down, an inquiry to conduct, a machine to design or repair—in short, a job to do. The writer’s job is to serve the reader’s immediate need by delivering timely materials. [The writing is] instrumental to some other end.
  • [Plain] writing is an instrument for delivering information with maximum efficiency and in such a way as to place the smallest possible burden upon the reader,
  • In classic style, by contrast, neither writer nor reader has a job, the writing and reading do not serve a practical goal, and the writer has all the time in the world to present her subject as something interesting for its own sake.
  • Brevity comes from the elegance of her mind, never from pressures of time or employment.
  • The writer wants to present something not to a client, but to an indefinite audience, treated as if it were a single individual.
  • Practical style values clarity because it places a premium on being easy to parse.
  • Most writing in schools and colleges is a perversion of practical style:
  • Practical style rests on a set of answers to basic questions; other styles rest on different answers to those same questions.
  • The [practical style] reader reads not for personal reasons but to accomplish a job.
  • The writer is not an individual writing to another individual but a job description writing to another job description.
  • optimistic, pragmatic, and utilitarian.
  • There is a surface mark of practical style that derives from its fundamental stand and distinguishes it sharply from classic style. The style permits skimming, highly useful in certain practical situations: It will be a great help if you can rely upon the memos to present their main points in the expected places;
  • [With] a classic sentence, you will recognize that the sentence was true to its direction, but that does not make the sentence predictable.
  • In contemplative style, the distinction between presentation and interpretation is always observed:
  • Contemplative style presents an interpretation of something.
  • In contemplative style, writing is itself the engine of discovery: the writing is a record of the process of the writer’s thinking,
  • Contemplation is a superior achievement by a superior individual who talks about the difficulties of contemplation, contemplative style splits into two modes that are not incompatible and that can be used alternately.
  • But sometimes, the contemplative writer fails in his achievement, and feels compelled to settle for what is merely his best effort.
  • Classic Style Is Not Romantic Style
  • Romantic style, is always and inescapably about the writer. Romantic prose is a mirror, not a window. The romantic writer therefore cannot be an observer who sees something separate from himself;
  • If contemplative style views writing as an engine of discovery, romantic style looks upon it as an act of creation that both comes from the self and reveals the self.
  • In romantic style, creation replaces discovery and always depends on the writer for its existence. In the theology of this style, the only things anyone can know are personal and in principle private. In the romantic perspective, writing is not a craft that can be learned, because it is an activity co-extensive with the writer’s person;
  • In romantic style, clarity can be achieved only at the price of falsification.
  • The classic writer can be told that he is wrong, because the truth he presents is available to everyone, and can be tested by anyone. Of the styles we have discussed, classic and romantic are furthest apart.
  • Classic Style Is Not Prophetic Style Despite a shared affinity for unqualified assertion, classic style has little in common with prophetic or oracular style because prophetic style cannot place the reader where the writer is.
  • Classic Style Is Not Oratorical Style
  • its effects are meant for the ear.
  • its units are periods and are defined by sound.
  • Its prototypical occasion is the assembly of a group of people faced by a public problem—
  • This scene creates a cast. Leadership is necessary, and the assembly’s job is to respond to a candidate who puts himself forward.
  • The successful orator molds the audience into one body with one voice and one governing view.
  • Since oratory is designed to unite many listeners, whose attention may flag, it cannot be either very flexible or very subtle. Nuance is always risky, a few points with the help of a lot of music.
  • A characteristic strength of classic style to persuade by default. The classic writer offers no explicit argument at all. He offers simply a presentation. If the reader fails to recognize that the ostensible presentation is a device of persuasion, then he is persuaded without ever realizing that an argument has occurred. It is always easier to persuade an audience unaware of the rhetorician’s agenda.
  • The theology behind classic style does not admit that there is anything that counts as truth that cannot be presented briefly and memorably.
  • the classic writer is above mere personal interest; he has no motive but truth, or at least, his highest and governing motive is truth.
  • Etiquette books on conventions of usage and other surface features that proceed from the tacit assumption that someone who masters all these points of etiquette will be able to write “English.”
  • Writers in professional or business worlds who want something from readers normally use practical style.
  • The most persuasive of all rhetorical stances is to write as if one is not trying to persuade at all but simply presenting truth. The most seductive of all rhetorical stances is to write as if of course the reader is interested in what is being presented, as if the issue could never possibly arise. In general, the best rhetorical stance, if one can get away with it, is to speak as if no rhetorical purposes are involved.
  • Classic style is a style of distinction and was used by its seventeenth-century French masters usually for aristocratic concerns, it might mistakenly be thought of as somehow reserved for aristocratic subjects. Quite the contrary.
  • Classic prose is a window to its subject.
  • When a classic writer presents his own experience, it is neither private nor merely personal.
  • We cannot see heroism, cultural moments, or severity in the same way we can see a hand, but classic writers assume that we see them in the same way.
  • the perception of truth is independent of social status, education, wealth, or any other qualification. It is not exclusive.
  • The writer knows when he has finished revising.
  • Thorstein Veblen suggested in a classic work of sociology that spelling is meant to indicate a form of social distinction based on the leisure to learn an arbitrary and inefficient system.
  • In writing, you lose the effects of the charm you may have in person. You lose the effects of gesture, proximity, warmth, intonation. In person, you can command and hold attention by being attractive, but all of that is gone in writing.
  • A style, after all, is defined by a coherent and consistent stand on the elements of style, expressed as a short series of questions about truth, presentation, writer, reader, thought, language, and their relationships.
  • The conventional advice to think of “style” as a final touch leads to disaster because style is not a surface decoration that can be added during revision.
  • Forget entirely the idea that “working on your writing” begins after you have something down on paper.
  • Résumés often appear simultaneously pushy and defensive, with ungenerous margins, scarce white space, compressed fonts, hyperbolic and aggressive vocabulary.
  • A classic résumé, by contrast, is one whose writer, stylistically, is self-possessed, unconcerned, merely presenting. Stylistically, the writer has no anxiety. The writer does not want anything from the reader.

  • Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

    Notable Quotations

  • The mistake most of us make in our crucial conversations is we believe that we have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend.
  • Get all relevant information (from themselves and others) out into the open.
  • Openly and honestly express their opinions, share their feelings, and articulate their theories.
  • The time you spend up front establishing a shared pool of meaning is more than paid for by faster, more unified, and more committed action later on.
  • The greater the shared meaning the better the choice, the more the unity, and the stronger the conviction—
  • The first step to achieving the results we really want is to fix the problem of believing that others are the source of all that ails us.
  • The best way to work on “us” is to start with “me.”
  • We do something to contribute to the problems we’re experiencing.
  • Skilled people Start with Heart. That is, they begin high-risk discussions with the right motives, and they stay focused no matter what happens.
  • They’re steely eyed smart when it comes to knowing what they want.
  • Skilled people don’t make Fool’s Choices (either/or choices).
  • When under attack, our heart can take a similarly sudden and unconscious turn. When faced with pressure and strong opinions, we often stop worrying about the goal of adding to the pool of meaning and start looking for ways to win, punish, or keep the peace.
  • Desire to win is continually driving us away from healthy dialogue.
  • You must step away from the interaction and look at yourself—much like an outsider.
  • First, clarify what you really want.
  • Second, clarify what you really don’t want.
  • We get so caught up in what we’re saying that it can be nearly impossible to pull ourselves out of the argument in order to see what’s happening to ourselves and to others.
  • When you fear that people aren’t buying into your ideas, you start pushing too hard. When you fear that you may be harmed in some way, you start withdrawing
  • people rarely become defensive simply because of what you’re saying. They only become defensive when they no longer feel safe.
  • Not the content of your message, but the condition of the conversation.
  • Crucial conversations often go awry not because others dislike the content of the conversation, but because they believe the content (even if it’s delivered in a gentle way) suggests that you have a malicious intent.
  • The first condition of safety is Mutual Purpose.
  • Find a shared goal, and you have both a good reason and a healthy climate for talking.
  • Others don’t make you mad. You make you mad.
  • You make you scared, annoyed, or insulted. You and only you create your emotions.
  • Even if you don’t realize it, you are telling yourself stories.
  • Storytelling typically happens blindingly fast.
  • Any set of facts can be used to tell an infinite number of stories.
  • If we take control of our stories, they won’t control us.
  • The first step to regaining emotional control is to challenge the illusion that what you’re feeling is the only right emotion under the circumstances.
  • Separate fact from story by focusing on behavior.
  • Spot the story by watching for “hot” words.
  • Either our stories are completely accurate and propel us in healthy directions, or they’re quite inaccurate but justify our current behavio—
  • Victim Stories—“It’s Not My Fault” make us out to be innocent sufferers. The theme is always the same.
  • When you tell a Victim Story, you intentionally ignore the role you have played in the problem.
  • Villain Stories—“It’s All Your Fault”
  • In Victim Stories we exaggerate our own innocence. In Villain Stories we overemphasize the other person’s guilt or stupidity.
  • Helpless Stories—“There’s Nothing Else I Can Do
  • Facts form the foundation of belief. So if you want to persuade others, don’t start with your stories. Start with your observations.
  • While we’re speaking here about being persuasive, let’s add that our goal is not to persuade others that we are right. We aren’t trying to “win” the dialogue. We just want our meaning to be added to the pool to get a fair hearing.
  • If your goal is to help others see how a reasonable, rational, and decent person could think what you’re thinking, start with your facts.
  • To avoid overreacting to others’ stories, ask: “Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person say this?”
  • Mirror to Confirm Feelings
  • Stay focused on figuring out how a reasonable, rational, and decent person could have created this Path to Action.
  • when you watch people who are skilled in dialogue, they’re looking for points of agreement.
  • Don’t allow people to assume that dialogue is decision making. Dialogue is a process for getting all relevant meaning into a shared pool.
  • “One dull pencil is worth six sharp minds.”

  • Sally Hogshead

    Notable Quotations

  • Lust, Mystique, Alarm, Prestige, Power, Vice, and Trust
  • LUST creates craving for sensory pleasure. MYSTIQUE lures with unanswered questions. ALARM threatens with negative consequences. PRESTIGE earns respect through symbols of achievement. POWER commands and controls. VICE tempts with “forbidden fruit,” causing us to rebel against norms. TRUST comforts us with certainty and reliability.
  • If you tell a lie big enough, and keep repeating it, and deny any contradicting input, eventually people will come to believe
  • Once you understand how fascination works, you might realize that your behavior is being driven by something far different from what you think.
  • Memory, the scientists learned, works whether we realize it or not. All day, we passively take in messages from the world around us, even if we’re not overtly conscious of those messages. Enough messages, drilled in over decades,
  • “The traditional advertising model was built upon this principle of passively absorbing information, slowly ingraining and embedding it.
  • challenge
  • move
  • change
  • steps outside the norms
  • fascination has little to do with what you say, and everything to do with
  • what you inspire others to say about your message.
  • The true measure of fascination lives not in your own communication to the world, but in how the world communicates about you.
  • Fascinating companies create more opportunities for people to connect with each other, through the brand.
  • it’s a little too easy to proliferate hype. “We don’t stop to think critically about whether a media spectacle is contrived (as in Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch just before a movie in which he plays a crazed guy), or a family celebration is actually a marketing push (Hallmark’s new holidays like National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day), or a politician’s controversial ‘I’m running’ moment is consciously put out on day one of his new book (that’s Newt Gingrich).
  • My team and I developed the F Score to objectively evaluate the level of fascination generated by a product, brand, or idea.
  • Those with a high F Score can sway opinion and action far more effectively than those with a low F Score, because they use triggers with unusual vividness and intensity. They get their message across.
  • exaggerating one or more of their triggers.
  • People with the highest F Scores often earn our attention with their lack of propriety, values, or common sense.
  • Personalities with a low F Score tend to avoid extremes, and avoid volatility.
  • Because they don’t particularly enjoy standing out, low scorers can easily get lost in the crowd, and rarely command a great deal of influence.
  • It’s not enough to have a better product, or better performance, if nobody notices or cares.
  • Fascinating people generate a lot of curiosity
  • Trust is the most powerful trigger in relationships, and the low F Score group often earns more trust than their high F Score counterparts.
  • Maximize existing strengths and remove barriers to communication.
  • No matter how important your message, it still must be heard in order to be effective. That’s where the seven triggers come in: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust.
  • Nothing is, in itself, fascinating. When something activates a trigger, we’re compelled to focus.
  • It’s not the shoe itself that’s fascinating, but the meaning given to the shoe.
  • Meaningless things fascinate consumers all the time,
  • unsolved mysteries send us on fact-finding missions for resolution.
  • Each trigger adds a different type of energy to your message. Alarm adds a sense of adventure, or immediacy, or even danger. Mystique adds curiosity. Power adds respect or fear. Vice adds irreverence. And then there’s lust. Ah, lust.
  • lust captivates our desire for sensory fulfillment.
  • Lust can make people temporarily willing to ignore everything else around,
  • Rather than the usual PC blinking sleep light, which turns on/off/on, Apple’s sleep light resembles the human characteristic of a beating heart.
  • Lust conquers the rational evaluation process, freeing us to stop thinking, and start feeling.
  • Albert Mehrabian, who found that within spoken communication, audiences draw percent of communication cues from the visual, percent from the tone of voice, and only a measly percent from the words themselves.
  • Lust is a promise of pleasure.
  • “the chase” really can be more exciting than the prize.
  • Maximum pleasure occurred at the moment of getting the desired object, rather than at the moment of consuming
  • As a motivator, desire is more powerful than fulfillment.
  • Lust engages our imagination.
  • “It seems that sexual appetite causes a greater urgency to consume anything rewarding.”
  • The appetites appear to become intertwined in the brain.
  • Combined with the vice and prestige triggers, lust compels people to buy products with higher sensory fulfillment, even if they’re irrationally expensive.
  • Lust and mystique
  • are good friends, and often work in tandem. They both revolve around unfulfilled interest, piquing curiosity and
  • the desire for more.
  • Mystique invites others closer, without giving them what they seek.
  • Spark curiosity. Withhold information. Build mythology. And limit access.
  • Spark Curiosity
  • the answers can’t be as interesting as the questions themselves.
  • Reveal that information very carefully, if at all. Show a glimpse without giving away the money shot.
  • our natural desire to fill in missing information.
  • Withholding information, as we know, is vital to mystique.
  • They allow others to participate, and draw their own conclusions.
  • cultivate legend and lore.
  • When people feel that they’re part of the select few, they’re more committed.
  • demands push us to achieve more.
  • There are five pillars for instilling alarm: Define consequences, create deadlines, or increase perceived danger. Along the way, we’ll also want to focus—not on the risks most likely—but on the ones most feared. And finally, we’ll need to use distress to steer positive action.
  • The more clearly a message points to consequences, and the greater those consequences, the more urgently people focus on the message.
  • Whether gentle or rigorous, deadlines heighten immediacy.
  • diminishing returns
  • at a certain point, the brain shuts down and we lose the ability to problem solve.
  • rather than shielding people from their own natural fear, we should heighten
  • Rather than overcoming our so-called flaws, we should push them into service for our higher purpose.
  • Focus Not on the Crisis Most Likely, but on the One Most Feared
  • Generating a sense of urgency often has less to do with rational threats, and more with understanding human behavior.
  • Managed correctly, creating a sense of crisis can develop immediate motivation, unite groups, and cost-effectively get large numbers of people involved.
  • Prestige
  • , at the height of the Dutch hysteria for tulips.
  • rarest
  • This trigger applies to any form of social position that demonstrates one member’s position relative to others.
  • achievement,
  • implied “value” to the group.
  • Develop emblems, set new standards, limit availability, and earn it.
  • the need to feel important, respected, and recognized as an achiever.
  • People inherently compete within their peer group.
  • a manager can create an environment in which people compare themselves to one another, they often naturally seek to achieve just slightly more than those around them.
  • prestige of a different sort: scarcity.
  • Increasing Price to Decrease Accessibility
  • Forcing others to wait
  • limiting availability only works when people get something worthwhile
  • Quality, not quantity.
  • limited-edition
  • As the alphas of the pack, powerful people control our behavior in a myriad of ways. Wordlessly, they set the rules.
  • powerful people share an ability to both make decisions and influence decisions.
  • controls its environment.
  • Power offers three paths: dominate, control the environment, and, finally, reward and punish.
  • “people value praise more when it comes from people who don’t give it out easily.”
  • Marketers kindle insecurities
  • The alarm trigger shows that negative consequences prompt action.
  • provoking insecurities
  • when people are no longer in charge of basic elements of a situation (such as where they sit, or when they go to the restroom), they must give over some degree of control that they normally use to define their independence, and thus themselves. Many researchers have proven that once people have agreed to let go of small details, they become more willing to submit to the more significant changes.
  • destabilization, according to experts, makes people more open to new interpretations.
  • choosing which pieces of information to reveal.
  • To ratchet up control even further, we wouldn’t ask participants just to turn off phones, but to surrender them for the duration of the program.
  • praise gains affection but not necessarily respect.
  • Rules are not often fascinating, but bending them, very much
  • When we’re tempted to push a boundary, or deviate from standard norms, we’re in a vice grip.
  • The word “vice” comes from the Latin vitium, meaning “failing or defect,” because vices reveal our weaknesses.
  • break out of strict norms, or bend the rules a bit.
  • We have four pillars of vice at our disposal: Create taboos. Lead others astray. Define absolutes. And give a wink.
  • Every process of vice starts by getting someone to consider what he could have, and desires to have, but doesn’t have. Yet.
  • Rules and policies are an important
  • but can backfire
  • when employees
  • don’t
  • understand the reasoning behind them.
  • enforce rigidly black-and-white behavioral codes. Speak in absolute terms
  • Develop a strict, authoritative relationship, with punishment that seems unjustifiable. Exaggerate negative consequences.
  • Give a firm “no” without a reasonable reason why.
  • Tell them what not to do, without telling them why they shouldn’t do it.
  • NOTE: Don't piss on the frog
  • To overcome vice, adjust three other triggers: decrease mystique, and increase power and trust.
  • make your group feel more powerful, by giving them control of some aspect of their environment.
  • free PR and buzz, which benefits from controversy.
  • Used wisely,
  • vice can offer a fresh sense of unexpectedness to an otherwise straightforward message.
  • surprises us with a potential change in direction,
  • not only commemorated, but broke with conventional norms
  • Allow Your Audience’s Imagination to Do the Work for You
  • With power, studies show, comes an entitlement to break the rules. If power makes people more likely to indulge in unrestrained behavior,
  • Familiarity and repetition
  • You can dabble in prestige, or experiment with power, but you can’t dip in and out of trust. It must be established consistently.
  • Continuity makes us feel safe.
  • develop preferences based on pattern repetition.
  • , Gustav Fechner
  • described this phenomenon, calling it the “exposure effect.”
  • Trusted brands carefully pay attention to detail, reinforcing consistency between expectations they set and results they deliver.
  • little conflicting input,
  • If you’re a propagandist, this presents a real problem. Propagandists don’t want opposing viewpoints. That is especially true of a propagandist whose message violates his audience’s deeper beliefs.
  • Propagandists use information control to enforce exact consistency.
  • “The greater the lie,
  • the greater the chance that it will be believed.”
  • Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
  • more specific your promise, the more urgent the need to deliver.
  • It’s a risk to remain unchanged.
  • linking a new message to one that’s already firmly trusted, we can shorten the time frame needed to develop trust.
  • Banning unhealthy practices, or rejecting negative beliefs, will only spark vice, creating “forbidden fruit.”
  • turn around negative habits or beliefs by replacing those beliefs with a new set of trusted experiences.
  • Pinpoint shared values with your audience, since people bond more quickly with others who
  • An idea is only as valuable as its ability to solve a problem.*
  • Fascination lives not in your own communication to the world, but rather in how the world communicates about you.
  • If you’re not generating a negative reaction from someone, you’re probably not fascinating anyone.
  • What opportunities do you create for people to connect with one another?
  • The degree to which you are willing to step outside your category norms is the degree to which you’ll fascinate others.
  • When customers buy a product, what they’re often actually buying is something more than the utility of the item—they’re buying a trigger.
  • People pay more for brands whose beliefs connect with their own.
  • fascination isn’t measured in what you say, but in what others say about you.
  • Trust, as we know, is confidence based on prior experience.

  • Scott Berinato

    Notable Quotations

  • Visualization is an abstraction, a way to reduce complexity,
  • Seven “visual variables” with which we “encode” data: position, size, shape, color, brightness, orientation, and texture.
  • The principle of expressiveness: Say everything you want to say—no more, no less—and don’t mislead.
  • The principle of effectiveness: Use the best method available for showing your data.
  • Research shows that charts help people see and correct their factual misperceptions when they’re uncertain or lack strong opinions about a topic. But when we understand a topic well or feel deep opposition to the idea being presented, visuals don’t persuade us.
  • Charts that present ideas counter to our strongly held beliefs threaten our sense of identity; when that happens, simply presenting more and more visuals to prove a point seems to backfire. (The research goes on to suggest that what’s more persuasive in those situations is affirmation—being reminded that we’re good, thoughtful people.)
  • Representation is sometimes a more intuitive and human way to understand values than statistics
  • We do math with our eyes
  • Communicate ideas, not data sets.
  • [When reading a chart] We don’t go in order.
  • A chart reader may not get to the title at the top until well after she has started scanning the visual middle. She may jump around.
  • We go where our eyes are stimulated to go.
  • Although the challenges of producing good visual communication—to achieve clarity, focus, and simplicity—are in some ways no different from those of producing any other communication, they’re in other ways distinct and more difficult.
  • We see first what stands out. Change and difference—peaks.
  • Despite their position, titles aren’t usually the first thing a chart reader sees. Rather, they’re clues to help us find the meaning that started to emerge when we looked at the picture.
  • We see only a few things at once.
  • A good guide is that with more than five to ten variables or elements, individual meaning begins to fade.
  • Bad complexity neither elucidates important salient points nor shows coherent broader trends. It will obfuscate, frustrate, and ultimate convey trendlessness and confusion to the viewer.
  • Good complexity, in contrast, emerges from visualizations that use more data than humans can reasonably process to form a few salient points.
  • We seek meaning and make connections.
  • We process visual information thousands of times more efficiently than we do text.
  • The ability to find meaning so efficiently may be a blessing in a fire, but it can also lead us to construct false narratives from data visualizations.
  • We can’t help making connections in what we’re presented with. Anything that stands out becomes part of the narrative we’re trying to form,
  • Good visual communication should be used not just to produce better answers but also to generate better conversations.
  • We rely on conventions and metaphors.
  • Time visualizations can move in any spatial direction and remain factually accurate. But we’ve learned to think of it as moving left to right on a page or a screen, and back to forward in three-dimensional space.
  • Conventions are a form of expectation, and our brains use experience and expectation as cognitive shortcuts so that we don’t have to process everything anew every time we see it.
  • Up is good, down is bad. North is up, south is down. Researchers have found that we even connect those metaphors to value judgments. For example, because south is “down,” we think it’s easier to go in that direction than to go north, which requires us to go “up.” There are others: Red is negative, green positive. But red sometimes means “hot” or “active” (which can be thought of as positive), and in those cases, blue means “cold” or “inactive.” Hierarchies move from the top down. Lighter color shades are “emptier” or lower than darker ones.
  • Like colors mean like items—the
  • Color saturation indicates higher and lower values—lighter
  • Categories are arranged and plotted from one extreme to another—we
  • Like colors mean like items.
  • Color saturation indicates a progression of values.
  • Categories are arranged and plotted from one extreme to another.
  • If something is hard to perceive, people not only struggle to find the right meaning, but judge it less favorably.
  • It’s not the chart that they’ll judge harshly if the meaning is hard to find; it’s the information itself. They’ll consider it less credible.
  • If you don’t understand these basic tenets of how we see information—if your charts don’t make what’s important stand out; if complex data doesn’t coalesce into a few clear ideas; if the information visualized fosters a false narrative; if unconventional visual techniques confuse your viewers—then you’ve promised music but delivered noise.
  • Visuals aren’t read in a predictable, linear way, as text is. Instead, we look first at the visual and then scan the chart for contextual clues about what is important.
  • Our eyes go directly to change and difference, such as unique colors, steep curves, clusters, or outliers.
  • We seek meaning and make connections.
  • If visual elements are presented together, they should be related in a meaningful way; otherwise, viewers will construct false narratives
  • A good way to start thinking visually is to consider two questions about the nature and purpose of your visualization: . Is the information conceptual or data-driven? . Am I declaring something or exploring something?
  • Either you’re visualizing concepts and qualitative information or you’re plotting data and information.
  • There are three broad categories of purpose—declarative, confirmatory, and exploratory—the second two of which are related.
  • Managers most often work with declarative visualizations.
  • Declarative viz shouldn’t preclude conversation about the idea presented; a good one will generate discussion.
  • But let’s say you think but you’re not sure. Now your purpose is confirmatory, and you’ll dip into the same data to create visuals that will show whether or not your hypothesis holds.
  • [In such cases, your visuals] don’t always have to be presentation-worthy.
  • If your hypothesis is confirmed, it may well lead to a declarative visualization you present to the boss.
  • Or maybe you don’t know what you’re looking for. Instead, you want to mine this workbook to see what patterns, trends, and anomalies emerge.
  • This is exploratory work—rougher still in design, usually iterative, sometimes interactive.
  • It’s a kind of data brainstorming that can deliver insights.
  • Other ways to ask the purpose question: “Do I need to give the answers, to check my answers, or to look for answers?” Or “Am I presenting ideas, researching ideas, or seeking ideas?”
  • declarative, conceptual visualizations simplify complex ideas by drawing on people’s ability to understand metaphors (trees, bridges) and simple conventions (circles, hierarchies). Org charts, decision trees, and cycle diagrams are classic examples of idea illustration.
  • Because the discipline and boundaries of data sets aren’t built in to idea illustration, they must be self-imposed.
  • The skills required here are similar to what a text editor brings to a manuscript, channeling the creative impulse into the clearest, simplest thing.
  • Visual discovery. This is the most complicated category, because in truth it’s actually two categories.
  • A hypothesis can’t be confirmed or disproved without data.
  • Confirmation is a kind of focused exploration, whereas true exploration is more open-ended.
  • What am I working on? • What am I trying to say or show (or prove or learn)? • Why?
  • What am I trying to show or say (or learn, or prove)?
  • Just as rough drafts improve even staff memos and other prosaic writing, sketches will make even simple charts better.
  • Line graphs are usually a good starting point for trends.
  • clarity can be achieved by removing nonessential information.
  • Each element is unique and supports the visual.
  • lack clarity because elements are used to describe the chart’s structure rather than support the idea being conveyed.
  • Supporting elements that have a finer purpose—that augment rather than just repeat—enhance clarity.
  • Describe the chart’s idea rather than its structure.
  • Ambiguity forces us to stop, refocus, and think about the visual rather than the idea.
  • But simple isn’t always clear, and clear doesn’t have to be simple.
  • relative simplicity—how little you can show and still convey your idea clearly.
  • obvious path to simplicity is to remove unnecessary things from the chart, leaving only what’s valuable to communicating your message.
  • It’s also hard to edit yourself. If you didn’t think some element was necessary, you probably wouldn’t have included it.
  • A chart presented on paper or on a personal screen—a format in which viewers can spend time with the visual—may benefit from more detail that allows the viewer to reference individual values and explore
  • a chart broadcast in a presentation—when you want the audience to understand the visual in seconds—fewer structural elements will reduce distractions and make it easier to focus on the broad ideas.
  • Are we meant to focus on the specific values, or on the overall shape of the thing we’re looking at?
  • If you feel that it’s necessary to show every value, a table may be a better option:
  • There’s no right answer here without knowing the context.
  • In general, a design will feel simpler if you apply as few unique attributes as possible.
  • The more color differences they see, the more they have to work to figure out what the distinctions represent.
  • This deep-seated belief that more is better, that complex equals smart, must be eradicated. That’s not what makes charts good.
  • You’re trying to reveal truths dormant in the data;
  • A play-by-play announcer calls the action, describing mostly what’s actually happening on the field; a color commentator influences our sense of the game’s narrative.
  • What often makes a chart persuasive is how easily you draw people’s attention to the main idea so that they can process it.
  • If you make an idea easy to access, viewers will often find it more appealing and persuasive.
  • Words that describe statistical trends (increasing, declining, underserved) naturally give way to words that describe feelings (hurting, helping, hungry).
  • Make it stand out.
  • Emphasize and isolate your main idea.
  • The most obvious and common form of emphasis is color.
  • When every variable gets a bright color; no one variable stands out.
  • Once it’s time to talk, discuss the idea, not the object that shows the idea.
  • Notice how discussing ideas instead of explaining the data and structure naturally leads to more human-centered language.
  • Stories increase empathy, understanding, and recall. Storytelling is persuasive.
  • our brains grab on to narrative, and we need it to make sense of statistics. And narrative emerges much more quickly when it’s visual.
  • Braess’s paradox, a principle of traffic management developed by the mathematician Dietrich Braess, which states that adding route options (new roads, new lanes) to congested roadways can decrease traffic performance.
  • It has been applied to phenomena other than traffic, including power transmission (performance declined after systems were decentralized), protection of endangered species (the prospects for many species improve when one species goes extinct), and crowd control (multiple paths from a concourse to a seat in an arena make it take longer to get to seats).

  • Dale Carnegie

    Notable Quotations

  • It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.
  • Don't be afraid of enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you.
  • You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
  • Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
  • When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.
  • Everybody in the world is seeking happiness—and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn't depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.
  • Talk to someone about themselves and they'll listen for hours.
  • Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.
  • When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
  • Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn't bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: "Wouldn't you like to have that?" Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?
  • You can't win an argument. You can't because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it.
  • Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  • To be interesting, be interested.
  • If You Want to Gather Honey, Don't Kick Over the Beehive
  • I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument— and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes.
  • If some people are so hungry for a feeling of importance that they actually go insane to get it, imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity.
  • All men have fears, but the brave put down their fears and go forward, sometimes to death, but always to victory.
  • criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person's precious pride, hurt his sense of importace and arouse resentment.
  • By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.
  • Why talk about what we want? That is childish. Absurd. Of course, you are interested in what you want. You are eternally interested in it. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we want.
  • A barber lathers a man before he shaves him.
  • Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and
  • Winning friends begins with friendliness.
  • arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.
  • Once I did bad and that I heard ever. Twice I did good, but that I heard never.
  • Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.
  • If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent's good will.

  • David Eagleman

    Notable Quotations

  • When the brain changes, so do we.
  • Most of what we do and think and feel is not under our conscious control.
  • Although we are dependent on the functioning of the brain for our inner lives, it runs its own show.
  • Most of its operations are above the security clearance of the conscious mind.
  • Brains are in the business of gathering information and steering behavior appropriately. It doesn’t matter whether consciousness is involved in the decision making. And most of the time, it’s not.
  • Consciousness is the smallest player in the operations of the brain.
  • When an idea is served up from behind the scenes, your neural circuitry has been working on it for hours or days or years, consolidating information and trying out new combinations. But you take credit without further wonderment at the vast, hidden machinery behind the scenes.
  • The brain works its machinations in secret, conjuring ideas like tremendous magic. It does not allow its colossal operating system to be probed by conscious cognition. The brain runs its show incognito.
  • Almost the entirety of what happens in your mental life is not under your conscious control, and the truth is that it’s better this way.
  • Once you begin deliberating about where your fingers are jumping on the piano keyboard, you can no longer pull off the piece.
  • Consciousness gives you a summary that is useful for the larger picture, useful at the scale of apples and rivers and humans
  • We have no access to the rapid and automatic machinery that gathers and estimates the statistics of the world. We’re merely the beneficiaries riding on top of the machinery, enjoying the play of light and shadows.
  • Introspection has little meaningful insight into what is happening behind the scenes.
  • Vision does not simply exist when a person confronts the world with clear eyes. Instead, an interpretation of the electrochemical signals streaming along the optic nerves has to be trained up.
  • We see not with our eyes but rather with our brains.
  • Internal models generate expectations about when and where
  • Awareness of your surroundings occurs only when sensory inputs violate expectations.
  • When the world is successfully predicted away, awareness is not needed because the brain is doing its job well.
  • When these new situations cause your normal expectations to be violated, consciousness comes online and your internal model adjusts.
  • Your perceptual world always lags behind the real world.
  • The bottom line is that time is a mental construction, not an accurate barometer of what’s happening “out there.
  • Just because you believe something to be true, just because you know it’s true, that doesn’t mean it is true.
  • Consciousness is useful, it is useful in small quantities, and for very particular kinds of tasks.
  • gut feeling was essential for advantageous decision making.
  • So what role does the conscious mind play, if any, in all your know-how? A big one, it turns out—because much of the knowledge stored in the depths of the unconscious brain began life in the form of conscious plans.
  • Consciousness ... sets the goals, and the rest of the system learns how to meet them.
  • Nothing is inherently tasty or repulsive—it depends on your needs. Deliciousness is simply an index of usefulness.
  • the brain, like the heart, doesn’t require a particular culture in order to express social behavior—that program comes pre-bundled with the hardware.
  • The more natural and effortless something seems, the less so it is.
  • The rule of thumb is this: when you cannot rely on your own rational systems, borrow someone else’s.
  • we harbor mechanical, “alien” subroutines to which we have no access and of which we have no acquaintance. Almost all of our actions—from producing speech to picking up a mug of coffee—are run by alien subroutines, also known as zombie systems.
  • Some alien subroutines are instinctual, while some are learned; burned down into the circuitry.
  • We are constantly fabricating and telling stories about the alien processes running under the hood.
  • This idea of retrospective storytelling suggests that we come to know our own attitudes and emotions, at least partially, by inferring them from observations of our own behavior.
  • If you hold a pencil between your teeth while you read something, you’ll think the material is funnier; that’s because the interpretation is influenced by the smile on your face.
  • Once you have learned how to ride a bicycle, the brain does not need to cook up a narrative about what your muscles are doing; instead, it doesn’t bother the conscious CEO at all. Because everything is predictable, no story is told; you are free to think of other issues as you pedal along.
  • Storytelling powers kick into gear only when things are conflicting or difficult to understand,
  • consciousness exists to control—and to distribute control over—the automated alien systems.
  • As long as the zombie subroutines are running smoothly, the CEO can sleep.
  • your conscious awareness comes online: in those situations where events in the world violate your expectations.
  • Consciousness seems to be this: an animal composed of a giant collection of zombie systems would be energy efficient but cognitively inflexible. It would have economical programs for doing particular, simple tasks, but it wouldn’t have rapid ways of switching between programs or setting goals to become expert in novel and unexpected tasks.
  • only a few species (such as humans) have the flexibility to dynamically develop new software.
  • Within the team-of-rivals framework, a secret is easily understood: it is the result of struggle between competing parties in the brain. One part of the brain wants to reveal something, and another part does not want to.
  • Many of us like to believe that all adults possess the same capacity to make sound choices. It’s a nice idea, but it’s wrong.
  • People’s brains can be vastly different — people do not choose their own developmental path.
  • Although our decisions may seem like free choices, no good evidence exists that they actually are.
  • Like your heartbeat, breathing, blinking, and swallowing, even your mental machinery can run on autopilot.
  • As far as we can tell, all activity in the brain is driven by other activity in the brain, in a vastly complex, interconnected network.
  • Could it be true that the conscious mind is the last one in the chain of command to receive any information?
  • If our brains were simple enough to be understood, we wouldn’t be smart enough to understand them.

  • Steve Portigal

    Notable Quotations

  • The goal here is to make it clear to the participant (and to yourself) that they are the expert and you are the novice.
  • You should definitely talk about yourself if doing so gives the other person permission to share something.
  • Stories are where the richest insights lie, and your objective is to get to this point in every interview.
  • Falling back on naturalistic observation is disingenuous; it’s not easy for participants to pretend you aren’t there and just go on as they would normally.
  • Instead, leverage the constructed nature of your shared experience.
  • you are joined together in this uncommon interaction.
  • “What I want to learn today is...”
  • Listening is the most effective way you can build rapport. It’s how you demonstrate tangibly to your participants that what they have to say is important to you.
  • you can also demonstrate that you are listening by what you do say.
  • follow-up
  • “Earlier, you
  • told us that...” or “I want to go back to something else you said....”
  • signal your transitions: “Great. Now I’d like
  • learn to silently affirm with facial expressions and head-nods, and throw in the vocalization only occasionally.
  • Check your worldview at the door.
  • cultivate your own general, non-specific curiosity.
  • Embrace how other people see the world.
  • Focus on them and be very selective about talking about yourself.
  • There’s a significant amount of preparation involved before you begin asking the users anything.
  • You probably don’t know what you don’t know, which is why you are using interviews as your research method.
  • contextual research
  • make the objectives your initial priority.
  • first interviews
  • should be with the
  • stakeholders—these
  • consumers of the research findings
  • History with the organization
  • Current beliefs about the customer,
  • Organizational or other barriers to be mindful
  • Business objectives for the project and specific questions the research should answer
  • Concerns or uncertainty around the methodology
  • created a document that summarized the project as we understood it at the time, including the agreed-upon methodology and the complete set of five research goals.
  • facilitator guide
  • many organizations truly don’t have the time or budget required for full-blown research.
  • The prototypes served more as props to foster discussion about visions of the future than actual artifacts to be evaluated.
  • Finding participants is a crucial part of preparing for fieldwork,
  • “guerilla”
  • “intercept”).
  • The first step
  • is to identify
  • the key characteristics for your sample.
  • RECRUITING IS DATA
  • The field guide (sometimes
  • called an interview guide or more formally, a protocol) is a document that details what will happen in the interview
  • The general flow of most interview guides is: • Introduction and participant background • The main body • Projection/dream questions • Wrap up
  • I prefer to write most questions as I might ask them
  • rather than as abstracted topics
  • As I’m writing the field guide, I’m leading a mock interview in my head.
  • Remember, this is not a script. It reads very linearly, but it’s really just a tool to prepare to be flexible.
  • , two interviews a day is reasonable. The schedule is at least partly informed by participant availability, so you may end up with an early morning interview, several hours of free time,
  • Participant Releases and Non-Disclosure Agreements
  • • Consent: Being in the study is voluntary, and the participant can stop at any time. • Incentive: The amount
  • Model release: Images and video will be used without giving the participant any rights of approval. • Non-disclosure: The participant is obligated not to reveal anything about concepts he may see.
  • BE CREATIVE ABOUT INCENTIVES
  • You want a simple and direct way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and appreciation.
  • You should consider the interview itself as a platform and try to organically integrate a larger set of techniques.
  • By asking, “What is your process for updating your playlists?” we are actually learning the answers to the (unasked) “How do you feel about the process for updating playlists?” and “What are the key steps you can recall in the process for updating playlists?” That information is very important, but it may not be sufficient to really understand the user’s situation.
  • Participatory design,
  • There’s a difference between what you want to know and what you ask.
  • Interviewer Sidestep and turn the question back to them: “Is that important to you?” “What would you expect it to be?”
  • I urge clients to represent their ideas in lower, rather than higher, fidelity.
  • lower-fidelity prototypes are best for getting reactions earlier in the process
  • High fidelity is not an all-encompassing term.
  • “looks like” versus “works like.”
  • high fidelity along one dimension but not another.
  • • Storyboard: An illustration, typically across multiple panels, depicting a scenario.
  • • Physical mock-up: A representation of a physical product that can be touched, opened, and so on.
  • storyboards showing the different scenarios
  • Physical mock-ups
  • make the conversation about a future product tangible.
  • Wireframe: A simplified version of an on-screen interface. This could be printed, sketched on paper, or a combination.
  • • Casual card sort:
  • a way to prompt a discussion about a large set of items.
  • Images that resonate:
  • Laminated image cards are used to provoke individual reactions and uncover hidden associations.
  • use homework as a way to prime participants about a topic
  • more introspective about something they may not pay attention to otherwise.
  • self-documentation (sometimes called journaling or a diary study)
  • Not only do you have an extensive set of examples to discuss, but you also have a participant who has been thinking about a topic a lot more than she normally does.
  • beat sheet
  • From social psychology, we know that even the presence of others will influence behavior,
  • We aren’t the experts. The people we are interviewing are the experts. We want to gather their stories and opinions, and to hear what they have to say without influencing them.
  • Use open-ended questions.
  • Less good: “What are three things
  • you liked about using the bus?” Good: “Can you tell me about your experience using the bus?”
  • assign explicit roles
  • Once You Get On-Site Once you get on-site, you’ll find these different stages: .   Crossing the threshold .   Restating objectives .   Kick-off question .   Accept the awkwardness .   The tipping point .   Reflection and projection .   The soft close
  • Before you arrive, figure out what you are going to say.
  • social graces matter.
  • “Before we get started.” Specifics will vary depending on the study, but in general, ethically and legally, the interview shouldn’t start until your participant has signed whatever forms you’ve planned for.
  • don’t project
  • Let the participant know what to expect by giving a thumbnail outline of the process:
  • Engage your participant: “Do you have any questions for us right now?”
  • Kick-Off Question
  • “Maybe introduce yourself and tell us about what your job is here?”
  • Accept the Awkwardness
  • Be patient and keep asking questions and keep accepting, acknowledging, and appreciating her responses.
  • The Tipping Point
  • the participant shifts from giving short answers to telling stories
  • Reflection and Projection
  • The Soft Close
  • After you ask a question, be
  • silent. This is tricky; you are speaking with someone you’ve never spoken to before.
  • One way a novice interviewer tries to counteract nervousness is by preemptively filling the silence.
  • novice interviewer is suggesting possible responses,
  • After she has given you an answer, continue to be silent. People speak in paragraphs, and they want your permission to go on to the next paragraph.
  • rest for another beat.
  • By simply not asking your next question, you can give your interviewee time to flesh out the answer they’ve already given you.
  • With some participants, it takes me most of the interview to align my pacing with theirs.
  • Skype effect.
  • Some people just have different natural rhythms. There’s no magic fix,
  • signal your lane changes.
  • acknowledges the most recent answer and points the way toward the next,
  • be vigilant.
  • Using silence as a mechanism to elicit participants to talk
  • three broad categories: setting-the-stage silence, effort silence, and failure silence.
  • indicate readiness for a shared experience.
  • Setting-the-stage silence is created partly because silence is considered a more deeply shared experience than talking—a version of that exists in many cultures—and partly showing mutual respect and mutual humility for the other’s expertise.
  • silence indicates making an effort to help the cause along.
  • The tones of silence to watch for are silence indicating resistance and silence indicating confusion.
  • silence has the possibility to enrich mutual comprehension.
  • successful Japanese silence is a roomy empty space that, created by both parties, helpfully exists to allow communication.
  • Are you asking the question in a way they can answer?
  • Questions that gather context and collect details:
  • • Ask about sequence.
  • • Ask about quantity.
  • • Ask for specific examples.
  • Ask about exceptions.
  • • Ask for the complete list.
  • This will require a series of follow-up questions—for example, “What else?”
  • Ask about relationships.
  • Ask about organizational structure.
  • Ask for clarification.
  • Ask about code words/native language.
  • Ask about emotional cues.
  • Ask why.
  • Probe delicately.
  • Probe without presuming.
  • • Explain to an outsider.
  • • Teach another.
  • Compare processes.
  • Compare to others.
  • Compare across time.
  • There’s a lot that can happen without verbalization—posture, gestures, breath sounds, eye gaze, facial reactions, and more.
  • collaborative use of silence
  • We work in a society that judges us primarily by our own contributions, rather than the way we allow others to make theirs. If the collaborative silence is not
  • shared value in a group, there can be a real challenge for those who default to listening, not speaking.
  • Managing the Ebb and Flow of the Interview
  • your job also includes managing this tree.
  • Wait patiently until these threads come up again
  • Jot quick notes on your field guide
  • so you don’t forget.
  • Prioritize
  • be opportunistic
  • Triage based on what makes the best follow-up, in order to demonstrate listening and further the rapport.
  • Embracing Your Participant’s Worldview
  • Use Their Language
  • Letting go of being right is something to pay attention to in most interviews;
  • Assume Your Participant Makes Sense
  • Don’t Presume They Accept Your Worldview
  • Don’t Enter Lecture Mode
  • If You Have to Fix Something, Wait Until the End
  • you simply can’t catch everything by taking notes.
  • you should be recording your interviews—something
  • some people find that taking notes helps them filter, synthesize, and ultimately better remember what is being discussed.
  • maintain eye contact while writing.
  • When taking notes, you should be descriptive, not interpretive.
  • If it’s crucial to capture your interpretations, be sure to separate them from your observations, using capitalization or some other visual cue,
  • Pick a space that is quiet and bright enough to see the color of your respondent’s eyes.
  • People tend to look best when light comes from the side and slightly in front of them (up to a ° angle).
  • When setting up your camera, place it in front of your respondent, with the moderator in between it and the light or window
  • avoid having your participants in front of a window;
  • When you make the deliberate choice to point and shoot, you are building the story of your participant.
  • Sketching can be an appropriate medium when you can’t take pictures.
  • Collect tangible examples from your fieldwork experience—buy an item from the company store, ask for a brochure, save your security pass, or keep the sample printout. These artifacts can go up on the wall in your analysis room,
  • allow time for debriefing after each interview.
  • The longer you wait
  • the less you will remember, and the more jumbled up the different interviews will become.
  • make sure that someone takes notes
  • use a debrief worksheet
  • As soon as possible after an interview, I write a rapid top-of-mind version of the session.
  • This chapter looks at some of the more common challenges that you will face in the field.
  • When the Participant Is Reticent
  • If you conclude that he is indeed uncomfortable, try to identify the cause and make a change
  • If you aren’t giving your participant enough verbal space to reflect and respond,
  • slow down and let him talk.
  • If all else fails, consider asking your participant outright to identify the source of his discomfort.
  • GETTING THE RIGHT PARTICIPANT AND THE RIGHT CONTEXT
  • From this interview, it emerged that we all had different ideas of what “sharing” meant.
  • When the Participant Won’t Stop Talking
  • Give them space to tell the story they’ve chosen to tell you and then redirect them back to your question.
  • Your last resort is to interrupt.
  • frame it appropriately—“Excuse
  • When You Feel Uncomfortable or Unsafe Unless you are going to a public
  • or familiar corporate location, don’t conduct interviews on your own.
  • Pay attention to the difference between unsafe and uncomfortable.
  • Phone interviews are a fairly common alternative to face-to-face interviews,
  • Ask participants
  • During a phone interview, a lack of facial cues makes it a bit harder to adjust your pace and rhythm to the participant. Experiment with giving your participant an extra beat of silence to ensure she feels permitted to speak,
  • If you use technologies like Skype
  • Not everyone is fully literate in video conferencing. Consider your audience. You might want to warm up the interview with a discussion of the communication context
  • When Your Interview Is in a Market Research Facility
  • It would be a mistake to consider these facilities as neutral third places.
  • Even if you don’t feel settled in this new environment yourself, you must welcome
  • them into your space.
  • When Your Interview Is Very Short
  • Get them thinking about your topics by emailing them some key questions to think about.
  • Depending on what you need to do when interviewing professionals, you need to be very specific in your interview request—duration, environment, role, and so on.
  • Interviewing Multiple Participants
  • If need be, you can break the interview into separate chunks for each participant individually and for the group together.
  • using eye contact and specific probes directed at individuals to encourage them to contribute.
  • spend the first part of the interview understanding the participant’s workflow, objectives, pain points, and so on.
  • If you aren’t interested in that amount of detail and just want reactions to your prototype, you’re better off doing usability testing, not interviews.
  • Don’t forget that interviewing is like any skill: the more you practice, the better you get.
  • Take advantage of brief everyday encounters (say, that loquacious taxi driver) and do a little bit of interviewing, asking questions and follow-up questions.
  • each interview is also a learning experience.
  • Seek out opportunities to be interviewed yourself.
  • Sign up for market research databases or volunteer for grad student studies.
  • watch someone’s technique. Teach someone else
  • Check out interviews in the media:
  • Watch and listen as an interviewer, not just an audience member.
  • Exchanging these stories is a way of sharing techniques and creates learning opportunities for both the tellers and listeners.
  • Take an improv class.
  • meditation can help you be present
  • It’s not only to learn about people, but also to take the information back to the organization in a way that it can be acted upon.
  • new products, features, services, designs, and strategies, but also new opportunities for teams to embrace
  • Working with research data is a combination of analysis,
  • and synthesis,
  • Topline is based on early impressions, not formal analysis of data. This is a chance to share stories and initial insights from the fieldwork; to discuss what
  • jumped out at us and list questions we still have.
  • I create topline reports in Microsoft Word. A Word document is more formalized than an email but less formal than a
  • PowerPoint presentation, and this is the balance I’m trying to strike. Ongoing dialogue is usually in email; the final presentation is in PowerPoint. This deliverable is right in the middle.
  • Each team member should go through his portion of the transcripts quickly, making short
  • marginal notes on patterns, key quotes, or whatever seems interesting
  • Discuss each interview briefly, and then create a sticky note that summarizes the key point of that interview.
  • As you are accumulating stickies, take a few moments to create groupings.
  • A precise articulation of that point of view, including the implications for business and design, becomes the Presentation of Findings, which is the main research deliverable.
  • You shouldn’t just be looking for opportunities to do user research yourself; you should be trying to get the company to embrace this overall approach.
  • The most impact for the least effort comes from your colleagues joining you in the field.
  • Make your process visible.
  • Articulate research findings in
  • ways that are most relevant to your stakeholders.
  • articulate specifically what the engineers should do,
  • User research starts to look like design, doesn’t it?
  • Look for as many possible audiences and venues to share your results.
  • profile posters, telling an engaging, visual story about an individual customer. The accumulated set of posters in the user research team’s workspace raised awareness of that team’s role.
  • plenty of face time with the teams that will use your research.

  • Stephen King

    Notable Quotations

  • rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
  • write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.
  • One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.
  • The basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful.
  • My first kiss will always be recalled by me as how my romance with Shayna was begun. Oh, man—who farted, right?
  • Writing is refined thinking.
  • The hours we spend talking about writing is time we don’t spend actually doing it.
  • Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones.
  • One learns most clearly what not to do by reading bad prose.
  • Writing is at its best—always, always, always—when it is a kind of inspired play for the writer.
  • For the beginning writer in particular, it’s wise to eliminate every possible distraction.
  • [Writing is] just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks.
  • It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to.
  • I think locale and texture are much more important to the reader’s sense of actually being in the story than any physical description of the players.
  • It’s not about the setting, anyway—it’s about the story, and it’s always about the story.
  • see an old thing in a new and vivid way.
  • Fresh images and simple vocabulary.
  • Never tell us a thing if you can show us
  • I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event [or product], which is to say character-driven.
  • Once you get beyond the short story,
  • The story should always be the boss.
  • Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch once said, “Murder your darlings,”
  • When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.
  • Your job during or just after the first draft is to decide what something or somethings yours is about. Your job in the second draft—one of them, anyway—is to make that something even more clear.
  • take a couple of days off—go fishing, go kayaking, do a jigsaw puzzle—and then go to work on something else. Something shorter,
  • a complete change of direction and pace
  • in the second draft I’ll want to add scenes and incidents that reinforce that meaning.
  • All that thrashing around has to go if I am to achieve anything like a unified effect.
  • Pace is the speed at which your narrative unfolds.
  • (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings).
  • 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”
  • If you can’t get out ten per cent of it while retaining the basic story and flavor, you’re not trying very hard. The effect of judicious cutting is immediate and often amazing
  • You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.

  • Sam Ladne

    Notable Quotations

  • Good explanations provide general principles that can then be applied to other design problems.
  • Classic anthropological approach: long-term, embedded observation within the community, interviewing, the methodical collection of data, and most importantly, the constant attempt to explain what life means to these people.
  • The participants’ viewpoint— Businessweek calls it the “new core competence.”
  • Ethnography is conducted in context, providing new insights into the other objects, people, and products that consumers are currently using.
  • Ethnography puts consumer needs first, which means a product based on ethnographic research will solve real consumer problems.
  • Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz, [says] that the company does not sell coffee so much as the experience of coffee.
  • Ethnographic truth” is a distinct kind of truth that differs from traditional market research.
  • Facts and prediction are not the only value research can bring. Renouncing that school of thought leads to a whole new world of insight and a different kind of truth—truth about understanding, unriddling, decoding, and deciphering.
  • Accurate prediction is so rare that it virtually never happens. So forget prediction. Go for deep understanding.
  • An interpretivist is interested in understanding what the world means to people.
  • The private-sector ethnographer’s task, then, is not to find the “truth” about products and services, but the meanings consumers ascribe to them.
  • Most marketers, business strategists, and product managers don’t understand the interpretivist point of view, not because it is incorrect, but because it has an unfamiliar conception of truth.
  • A product’s meaning is a function of a consumer’s perception of two broad concepts: ) his own identity; and ) the system of meaning in which he finds himself.
  • ethnographic research begins with questions such as, how does a consumer see himself? In which context does he use this product? How do identity and context interact to affect this sensemaking process?
  • Fixed identities such as “women” or “Latinos” are not categories that determine behavior so much as they are roles that individuals must interpret, find meaning in, and grapple with.
  • So we must unriddle how the consumer’s identity shapes his interpretation of a particular product, and the social context in which this meaning is negotiated.
  • The Urban Hipster is the contemporary personification of cultural capital. She has very little money but exercises her knowledge of cool to exert her class dominance. Her capital is her knowledge of art shows, vintage clothing stores, little-known Italian bike designers, and, of course, “bands you haven’t even heard of.” The Hipster’s “wealth” is not in her bank account; it is in her superior knowledge. She will use this knowledge to dominate others by restricting access to exclusive knowledge. She will not tell just anybody where she bought her vintage cowboy boots. She will nod at you knowingly if you somehow find your way to her favorite bar. She will sneer at those who do not have this knowledge. It is her way of exerting dominance, not with mere money, but with cultural know-how.
  • Luxury goods are not simply a function of how much they cost, but the meanings that consumers ascribe to them.
  • expensive—but not exclusive—are not true luxury.
  • The psychologist (particularly the social psychologist) focuses on the individual and his interactions with others, but it is the ethnographer that provides insight into the influences culture has on that individual.
  • We can operationalize culture as values, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • Values
  • Time orientation:
  • Activity:
  • Human relations:
  • Human nature:
  • Human-to-nature:
  • Beliefs
  • The product’s design and marketing must match the ways in which consumers think about that product.
  • Alternatives are behaviors that are considered outside the norm, but within the realm of personal taste.
  • Your job as a practical ethnographer is to discover that which appears true. What do consumers believe about this product?
  • discover how people interpret that perception and how this product may—or may not—fit into their lives.
  • Today’s corporate touchstone is the “project.” A project is the temporary organization of people marshaled around a shared goal (Lundin and Soderholm, ).
  • create something within a discrete period of time (Boltanski and Chiapello, ).
  • recruiting participants is by far the most labor-intensive stage of the research project.
  • It’s good practice, therefore, to keep records of these benchmarks across projects. Are you tracking above or below what would typically be expected?
  • never forget that the method itself is not designed for this rigid projectification.
  • The goal is never to achieve “the numbers,” but to achieve the explanation of your participants’ cultural practices.
  • You may find there are stakeholders in the wider organization that are hoping for the project to fail because they subscribe to another form of truth or validity.
  • Consider some of the typical successes an ethnography can have: transformed client mindset, an overarching mental model for the product, deep insight into customers’ mind sets, metaphors for design, and so forth.
  • ethnography failures: poor recruiting, not enough participants, shallow insight, findings that aren’t actionable, client dissatisfaction, lack of impact in the client organization, misunderstanding of the project goals by clients.
  • add the post mortem to your initial project plan.
  • As Hubert Dreyfus and his brother Stuart tell us elsewhere () the difference between competence and mastery is that masters are able to quickly discern the nature of the problem at hand and swiftly bring to mind several potential solutions to that problem. Just as quickly, the master then selects the right solution for the problem. The leap from competence to mastery is not a function of faster brain processing, but of faster pattern recognition; the higher order thinking of a master ethnographer relies on his ability to consider—and dismiss—potential paths without
  • The Livescribe recording pen is a tool uniquely suited to the private-sector ethnographer.
  • private-sector ethnographers rarely have the time or budget to transcribe interviews in their entirety.
  • private-sector ethnographers need is the ability to pluck out quotes quickly.
  • Health research has shown that computer use can lessen rapport, so laptops should be used with care.
  • audio can produce rich and illuminating stories, particularly when you hear participants’ voices or the sounds of their environments.
  • Hindenburg desktop editing system, which allows you to mix up to three tracks into a single audio file.
  • Understanding what you’re doing in the field is one thing; understanding what your client thinks you’re doing is a completely different thing.
  • must constantly consider what can be improved in the current state of affairs, and specifically how to improve it.
  • it is a research project designed to uncover contextual insights for use in design and marketing.
  • ethnography is essentially an epistemological shift, forcing its practitioners to empathize with participants and adopt their standpoint.
  • Asking what consumers truly believe about a company’s product is a bold act because it begs a self-examination of what the company believes about that same product.
  • Ethnographic projects represent a fundamental threat to identity if they focus on the gap between the customer’s experience and the organization’s own identity pillars.
  • cultivate a healthy disinterest in the outcome of the research,
  • Standing in a room and looking at things is not ethnography.
  • the first priority is to create rapport, which essentially boils down to trust. A good interview is like a dance—with the interviewee leading.
  • Allen Batteau and Carolyn Psenka () argue that business anthropology dates back as many as years,
  • In academic ethnography, informed consent involves telling participants what data will be collected, how it will be stored, and what ultimate outputs will be created (which usually means articles and books).
  • Sampling, at its heart, is a shortcut. If you had time to ask everyone in the country the same questions, you would actually be conducting a census. That’s what “census” means— asking absolutely everybody.
  • large samples are not always necessary, and good samples aren’t always random.
  • Certainly, there is value in predicting patterns. Unfortunately, it has become the only thing that most people expect from social research.
  • your job as an ethnographer is to find participants who offer the greatest potential for understanding the phenomenon at hand.
  • qualitative researchers don’t care about comparing their results to random results. As a result, they don’t tend to care about probability sampling.
  • Qualitative researchers tend to select their participants based on the needs of the study.
  • create a set of recruitment criteria that are relevant to the research question.
  • In a typical private-sector study, an ethnographer is seeking what Anselem Strauss and Barney Glaser call “saturation,” or the point at which you begin to hear the same information repeated.
  • The sample is typically drawn from a list called the sampling frame. Finding the sampling frame is by far the most challenging part of sampling for either qualitative or quantitative research.
  • there is definitely a systematic difference between those that opt in and those that do not.
  • make it extra clear to participants what they can expect from the experience.
  • Consider offering a “comfort call” to the participants the day before the field visit, telling them what to expect
  • Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all offer great opportunities to recruit qualified participants.
  • ). The key to using social media for recruiting, therefore, is maintaining your network through direct engagement with other users.
  • The primary concern in ethnographic sampling is to gain access to participants’ contexts, and from there, derive insight about their attitudes, values, and beliefs and more deeply understand a particular product space.
  • The average and the extreme are wonderful examples to have in your sample.
  • find often in the private sector is that commissioners of research frequently decline to interview people of lower socio-economic status under the mistaken belief that their opinions are not relevant.
  • Ethnographers cannot offer what their quantitative colleagues can: prediction of what will happen.
  • your job is to show your clients and stakeholders that prediction is a poor substitute for deep understanding.
  • Unlike survey researchers, ethnographers find themselves physically in the middle of all sorts of situations. It’s impossible for them to escape squirm-worthy moments because that is precisely what ethnography is made up of.
  • Observation is indeed an ethnographic method, but in ethnography it is complemented by clarifying questions and sit-down interviews.
  • Ethnographic techniques discovered that what people say they want contrasts directly with what they actually need.
  • Budget sufficient time: There is nothing more forced, more contrived than an ethnographer arriving and expecting an immediate display of “normal” behavior.
  • Be quiet:
  • Hands-in-pockets: Nothing is more intimidating than a researcher with a notebook or microphone.
  • ethnographers must do two things: describe the data and interpret the data.
  • Ethnographers do not study products; they study how products fit (or do not fit) into people’s lives.
  • ethnographers answer questions about people, while business people expect answers about products.
  • Robust competitive analysis is best done through comprehensive surveys with large sample sizes.
  • Diagramming the “customer journey” (aka the “time-ordered display”) provides a quick way of showing your clients the consumption act and where it might be unpleasant for consumers.
  • The gap between what people say and what they do is a rich ground for finding contradictions.
  • Spotting contradiction is a first step toward explaining the true nature of a phenomenon.
  • The act of contrasting extremes allows you to understand a concept better.
  • Qualitative researchers actually use outliers as a tool to understand everyone else that does fit the pattern.
  • The “so what” question is the most important aspect to ethnography. It is what differentiates ethnography from journalism.
  • allows its audience to understand the topic in a new way.
  • take the participant’s “standpoint.”
  • “acquiescence bias,” must be considered in the research design. Providing participants with a list of tasks to be completed engenders a spirit of service, not one of genuine opinions or naturalistic behavior.

  • Gary Smith

    Notable Quotations

  • Now with data so plentiful, researchers often spend too little time distinguishing between good data and rubbish, between sound analysis and junk science.
  • Patterns in the data are considered statistically persuasive if they have less than a 1-in-20 chance of occurring by luck alone.
  • One out of every twenty tests of worthless theories will be statistically significant.
  • Selective reporting and data pillaging—are known as data grubbing.
  • If a theory was made up to fit the data, then of course the data support the theory! Theories should be tested with new data that have not been contaminated by data grubbing.
  • Some percentage changes are misleading, for example, when comparing the percentage change in something small to the percentage change in something big.
  • A statistical fluke can make a big difference if the base is small.
  • One way to deal with a small base is to use data for several years to get a bigger base.
  • There can be a statistical correlation without any causal relationship.
  • There isn’t necessarily any relationship between things that increase with the population—other than that they increase with the population.
  • A graph should reveal patterns that would not be evident in a table.
  • Watch out for graphs where zero has been omitted from an axis. This omission lets the graph zoom in on the data and show patterns that might otherwise be too compact to detect. However, this magnification exaggerates variations in the data and can be misleading.
  • Worst of all are graphs with no numbers on the axis, because then there is no way of telling how much the variations have been exaggerated. Watch out for data that have not been adjusted for the growth of the population and prices.
  • Graphs should not be mere decoration, to amuse the easily bored. A useful graph displays data accurately and coherently, and helps us understand the data.
  • We should be cautious about calculating without thinking.
  • A test may be very likely to show a positive result in certain situations (for example, if a disease is present), yet a positive test result does not insure that the condition is present. It may be a false positive. False positive are more common when the condition is rare (like a malignant tumor) or when there are a large number of readings
  • Misperceptions are part of our natural tendency to look for patterns and believe that there must be a logical explanation for the patterns we see.
  • When we see a data cluster, we naturally think that something special is going on—that there is a reason that these heads (or tails) are bunched together. But there isn’t.
  • When data are used to invent a theory, the evidence is unconvincing unless the theory has a logical basis and has been tested with fresh data.
  • A study that leaves out data is waving a big red flag.
  • Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. True believers settle for less.
  • Data without theory can fuel a speculative stock market bubble or create the illusion of a bubble where there is none. How do we tell the difference between a real bubble and a false alarm? You know the answer: we need a theory. Data are not enough.
  • If we have no logical explanation for a historical trend and nonetheless assume it will continue, we are making an incautious extrapolation that may well turn out to be embarrassingly incorrect.
  • Before we extrapolate a past trend into a confident prediction, we should look behind the numbers and think about whether the underlying reasons for the past trend will continue or dissipate.
  • A careful selection of when to start and stop a graph can create the illusion of a trend that would be absent in a more complete graph.
  • If the beginning and ending points seem to be peculiar choices that would be made only after scrutinizing the data, these choices probably were made to distort the historical record.
  • Theory without data—a semi-plausible theory that is presented as fact without ever confronting data. A theory is just a conjecture until it is tested with reliable data. For predictions decades or even centuries into the future, that is pretty much the norm.
  • We are hardwired to make sense of the world around us—to notice patterns and invent theories to explain these patterns. We underestimate how easily patterns can be created by inexplicable random events—by good luck and bad luck.
  • Experiments often involve changing one thing while holding confounding factors constant and seeing what happens. For example, plants can be given varying doses of fertilizer while holding water, sunlight, and other factors constant. In the behavioral sciences, however, experiments involving humans are limited. We can’t make people lose their jobs, divorce their spouses, or have children and see how they react. Instead, we make do with observational data—observing people who lost their jobs, divorced, or have children. It’s very natural to draw conclusions from what we observe. We all do it, but it’s risky.
  • Don’t overlook the possibility of errors in recording data or writing computer code.
  • Watch out for graphs that exaggerate differences by omitting zero from a graph’s axis.
  • Be doubly skeptical of graphs that have two vertical axes and omit zero from either or both axes.
  • Watch out for graphs that omit data, use inconsistent spacing on the axes, reverse the axes, and clutter the graph with chartjunk.
  • Before you double-check someone’s arithmetic, double-check their reasoning.
  • The probability that a person who has a disease will have a positive test result is not the same as the probability that a person with a positive test result has the disease.
  • Correlation is not the statistical term for causation. No matter how close the correlation, we still need a logical explanation.
  • Don’t be fooled by successes and failures. Those who appear to be the best are probably not as far above average as they seem. Nor are those who appear to be the worst as far below average as they seem. Expect those at the extremes to regress to the mean.
  • Good luck will certainly not continue indefinitely, but do not assume that good luck makes bad luck more likely, or vice versa.
  • Don’t be easily convinced by theories that are consistent with data but defy common sense.
  • Watch out for studies where data were omitted, especially if you suspect that the omitted data were discarded because they do not support the reported results.
  • If a theory doesn’t make sense, be skeptical. If a statistical conclusion seems unbelievable, don’t believe it. If you check the data and the tests, there is usually a serious problem that wipes out the conclusion.

  • Olivia Fox Cabane

    Notable Quotations

  • As extensive research in recent years has shown, charisma is the result of specific nonverbal behaviors; like many other social skills, charismatic behaviors are generally learned early in life.
  • The equation that produces charisma is actually fairly simple. All you have to do is give the impression that you possess both high power and high warmth, since charismatic behaviors project a combination of these two qualities.
  • “Fight or flight?” is the power question. “Friend or foe?” is the warmth question.
  • A final dimension underlies both of these qualities: presence.
  • [A person who has presence is] completely here with you, in this moment.
  • Contrary to commonly held charisma myths, you don’t have to be naturally outgoing,[;] you can be a very charismatic introvert.
  • Through charisma training you will learn how to adopt a charismatic posture, how to warm up your eye contact, and how to modulate your voice in ways that make people pay attention.
  • Charisma is a skill that can also be developed through conscious practice,
  • Presence means paying attention to what’s going on rather than being caught up in your own thoughts.
  • Being charismatic does not depend on how much time you have but on how fully present you are in each interaction.
  • Warmth tells us whether or not people will want to use whatever power they have in our favor.
  • willing to impact our world in a positive way.
  • Someone who possesses warmth without power can be likable, but isn’t necessarily perceived as charismatic and can come across as overeager, subservient, or desperate to please.
  • make whomever [you are] speaking with feel intelligent and fascinating.
  • Projecting presence, power, and warmth through your body language is often all you need to be perceived as charismatic.
  • What Your Mind Believes, Your Body Manifests
  • most of us tend to interpret events—whether they’re personal or impersonal—as relating to us.
  • Our inability to tolerate uncertainty carries multiple costs. It can cause us to make premature decisions.
  • Anxiety is a serious drawback to charisma.
  • Anxiety, low presence, and low confidence can show up directly in our body language, as well as reduce our ability to emanate warmth.
  • It’s worth learning how to handle uncertainty, not just because it increases charisma but also because the ability to be comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of success in business.
  • Human beings are by nature driven to compare.
  • The very act of comparing and evaluating hinders our ability to be fully present.
  • Because our brain doesn’t distinguish between imagination and reality, these internal attacks are perceived by our mind just as a real, physical attack would be,
  • Self-criticism is one of the most common obstacles to great performance in any field.
  • Of course, some degree of self-doubt can be helpful in spurring us to action.
  • Knowing how to handle the impostor syndrome and the inner critic is essential to unleashing your charisma potential.
  • Skillfully handling any difficult experience is a three-step process: destigmatize discomfort, neutralize negativity, and rewrite reality.
  • Rather than seeing it as one big emotion felt by one person, see a community of people struggling with it—one difficult burden shared by many.
  • shame is the real killer. Of all the emotions that human beings can feel, it is one of the most toxic to health and happiness.
  • One of the main reasons we’re so affected by our negative thoughts is that we think our mind has an accurate grasp on reality, and that its conclusions are generally valid. This, however, is a fallacy.
  • Because trying to suppress a self-critical thought only makes it more central to your thinking, it’s a far better strategy to simply aim to neutralize it.
  • Deciding to change your belief about what happened (technically called cognitive reappraisal) effectively decreases the brain’s stress levels.
  • Techniques. One charismatic entrepreneur told me: “I decide to interpret everything favorably toward myself. It’s not just that I’m optimistic, I’m actually conveniently deluded.”
  • Deception may not be necessary for the placebo effect to take hold; it may work its wonders even when people know full well that they’re taking a placebo.
  • Writing accesses different parts of our brain and affects our beliefs in ways that other modes of expression do not. The act of committing things to writing has been shown to be critical both in changing a person’s mind and in making imagined stories feel more real.
  • Professional negotiators tell me that they could accurately predict the outcome of negotiations fairly early on using one simple clue: whoever has less endurance for silence loses.
  • Talk to strangers
  • “There is good evidence that imagining oneself performing an activity activates parts of the brain that are used in actually performing the activity,” Professor Stephen Kosslyn, director of Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences,
  • Due to the fact that people tend to accept whatever you project, if you seem inspired, they will assume you have something
  • One of the reasons that the Dalai Lama has such a powerful effect on people is his ability to radiate both tremendous warmth and complete acceptance.
  • Colin Powell and the Dalai Lama embody authority charisma, but so did Stalin and Mussolini. The human reaction to authority runs deep; it’s hardwired into our brains.
  • not necessarily likable.
  • If a low-status person is eager to please us, we may find this pleasant, but we don’t necessarily value their eagerness very highly. After all, they can’t do much for us; it’s rather we who can do things for them. On the other hand, if a high-status alpha grants us attention and warmth, we’re thrilled, because they can move mountains.
  • As the MIT Media Lab studies showed, what impacts people isn’t the words or content used. Rather, they remember how it felt to be speaking with you.
  • attentive listening, refraining from interrupting, and deliberate pausing.
  • Even if the other person is doing all the talking, you can’t let your mind wander while waiting for your turn to speak.
  • Presence is a cornerstone of effective listening.
  • pause before [you] answer.
  • let your facial expression react first,
  • people will associate you with whatever feelings you produce in them on a consistent basis.
  • Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming truly interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
  • Don’t try to impress people. Let them impress you, and they will love you for it.
  • You just need to make them feel smart.
  • When you tell someone, “No problem,” “Don’t worry,” or “Don’t hesitate to call,” for example, there’s a chance their brain will remember “problem,” “worry,” or “hesitate” instead of your desire to support them. To counter this negative effect, use phrases like “We’ll take care of it” or “Please feel free to call anytime.”
  • [The] longer you speak, the higher the price you’re making them pay,
  • strive to make your communications useful, enjoyable, and even entertaining.
  • Make people feel good, especially about themselves.
  • Being charismatic means making others feel comfortable, at ease, and good about themselves when they are around us.
  • “Powerful people sit sideways on chairs, drape their arms over the back, or appropriate two chairs by placing an arm across the back of an adjacent chair.
  • ask them for something they can give without incurring any cost: their opinion.
  • Asking for someone’s opinion is a better strategy than asking for their advice, because giving advice feels like more effort, as they have to tailor
  • Compliments are those that are both personal and specific.
  • Avoid making other people feel wrong.
  • When people feel that you have their best interests at heart, it can change the dynamic entirely.

  • Nate Silver

    Notable Quotations

  • The instinctual shortcut that we take when we have “too much information” is to engage with it selectively, picking out the parts we like and ignoring the remainder, making allies with those who have made the same choices and enemies of the rest.
  • We need to stop, and admit it: we have a prediction problem. We love to predict things—and we aren’t very good at it.
  • We must become more comfortable with probability and uncertainty. We must think more carefully about the assumptions and beliefs that we bring to a problem.
  • The most calamitous failures of prediction usually have a lot in common. We focus on those signals that tell a story about the world as we would like it to be, not how it really is. We ignore the risks that are hardest to measure, even when they pose the greatest threats to our well-being. We make approximations and assumptions about the world that are much cruder than we realize. We abhor uncertainty, even when it is an irreducible part of the problem we are trying to solve.
  • Risk, as first articulated by the economist Frank H. Knight in , is something that you can put a price on.
  • Uncertainty, on the other hand, is risk that is hard to measure. Risk greases the wheels of a free-market economy; uncertainty grinds them to a halt.
  • Too many investors mistook these confident conclusions for accurate ones,
  • There is a common thread among these failures of prediction. In each case, as people evaluated the data, they ignored a key piece of context:
  • There is a technical term for this type of problem: the events these forecasters were considering were out of sample. When there is a major failure of prediction, this problem usually has its fingerprints all over the crime scene.
  • The housing collapse was an out-of-sample event, and their models were worthless for evaluating default risk under those conditions.
  • We forget—or we willfully ignore—that our models are simplifications of the world.
  • Even if the amount of knowledge in the world is increasing, the gap between what we know and what we think we know may be widening.
  • Financial crises—and most other failures of prediction—stem from this false sense of confidence.
  • Big, bold, hedgehog-like predictions, in other words, are more likely to get you on television.
  • Harry Truman famously demanded a “one-handed economist,”
  • Ultimately, the right attitude is that you should make the best forecast possible today—regardless of what you said last week, last month, or last year.
  • There is wisdom in seeing the world from a different viewpoint.
  • But statheads can have their biases too. One of the most pernicious ones is to assume that if something cannot easily be quantified, it does not matter.
  • The key to making a good forecast, as we observed in chapter , is not in limiting yourself to quantitative information. Rather, it’s having a good process for weighing the information appropriately.
  • Collect as much information as possible, but then be as rigorous and disciplined as possible when analyzing it.
  • When we have trouble categorizing something, we’ll often overlook it or misjudge.
  • Perfect predictions are impossible if the universe itself is random.
  • What are your odds of being struck—and killed—by lightning? Actually, this is not a constant number; they depend on how likely you are to be outdoors when lightning hits and unable to seek shelter in time because you didn’t have a good forecast.
  • Most of you will have heard the maxim “correlation does not imply causation.” Just because two variables have a statistical relationship with each other does not mean that one is responsible for the other. For instance, ice cream sales and forest fires are correlated because both occur more often in the summer heat. But there is no causation; you don’t light a patch of the Montana brush on fire when you buy a pint of Häagen-Dazs.
  • Extrapolation is a very basic method of prediction—usually, much too basic. It simply involves the assumption that the current trend will continue indefinitely,
  • “A bubble is something that has a predictable ending. If you can’t tell you’re in a bubble, it’s not a bubble.”
  • The goal of any predictive model is to capture as much signal as possible and as little noise as possible. Striking the right balance is not always so easy, and our ability to do so will be dictated by the strength of the theory and the quality and quantity of the data. In economic forecasting, the data is very poor and the theory is weak, hence Armstrong’s argument that “the more complex you make the model the worse the forecast gets.”

  • Roy Peter Clark

    Notable Quotations

  • A writer composes a sentence with subject and verb at the beginning, followed by other subordinate elements, creating what scholars call a right-branching sentence.
  • Subject and verb are often separated in prose, usually because we want to tell the reader something about the subject before we get to the verb. This delay, even for good reasons, risks confusing the reader.
  • If the writer wants to create suspense, or build tension, or make the reader wait and wonder, or join a journey of discovery, or hold on for dear life, he can save subject and verb of the main clause until later.
  • Put your best stuff near the beginning and at the end; hide weaker stuff in the middle. Queen, my lord, is dead.”
  • Use passive verbs to call attention to the receiver of the action.
  • “It is interesting to note that,” or, “There are those occasions when”—pompous indirections bred by the quest for an advanced degree.
  • Use of the passive voice contributes to the defense of the indefensible.
  • A rich writing vocabulary does not require big or fancy words. LOCATION: 1097 All of us possess a reading vocabulary as big as a lake but draw from a writing vocabulary as small as a pond.
  • Dig for the concrete and specific, details that appeal to the senses.
  • The details that leave a mark are those that stimulate the senses.
  • More deadly than clichés of language are what Donald Murray calls “clichés of vision,” the narrow frames through which writers learn to see the world.
  • victims are always innocent, bureaucrats are lazy, politicians are corrupt, it’s lonely at the top, the suburbs are boring.
  • Writers collect sharp phrases and colorful metaphors, sometimes for use. Think of how many words have been adapted from old technologies to describe tools of new media: we file, we browse, we surf, we link, we scroll, just to name a few.
  • Set the pace with sentence length.
  • Write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences.
  • The ladder of abstraction remains one of the most useful models of thinking and writing ever invented.
  • Build your work around a key question. Stories need an engine, a question that the action answers for the reader.
  • Good writers anticipate the reader’s questions and answer them.
  • Quality comes from revision,
  • Writing is a social activity.