Thursday, September 30, 2010

Virtual Meetings

The “Career Column” in the 9/26 issue of The New York Times was devoted to professional virtual meetings. Good advice was given: don’t eat potato chips during the meeting; take your headset off before you head for the bathroom; don’t wear stripes.

But, as I thought about why virtual meetings can be so deadly and why we would have to be warned not to eat potato chips, one of the answers was because it’s not a “real” meeting. We’re not meeting; we’re not able to pick up, assess, build on, or counteract the energy of others.

We’re advised in the column to “use the same kind of body language and facial expressions as in a face-to-face meeting,” which implies that a virtual meeting, like a virtual world, is theatre and requires the suspension of disbelief. We need to “act” as though we’re in a meeting, even though we’re not.

If all the participants were acting (or pretending), then potato chips and bathrooms would no longer be issues.

But we would still have the problem of technology usage. If we look at the camera and talk to the microphone, we are substituting pieces of equipment for the people we would be looking at and talking to in a meeting. The speaker must also be an actor, speaking through the technology with his or her imaginary audience.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Limbic Resonance is Real, But . . .

Limbic resonance seems to be the new fad term. If the first dozen googled items are any indication, most people don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t trust people who are quoting from quotes–it’s like the rumor game, distorted because they’re out of context.

And it becomes more fodder for the motivational crowd. Never occurred to me before reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided that the positive-thinking business is Calvinism revisited.

Does limbic resonance exist? Absolutely. We have all those clichés in our language–”she gave me the cold shoulder”; “an icy glare”; “a cool reception” or “a warm reception”; “fiery glance”; “hot mama”; “he’s a cold fish”; and on and on–that, like most clichés, are literally true. We respond physically to the emotional energy of other people.

But I worry that the term is going to be used to guilt us into thinking that we have to be happy all the time.

All the emotions have to be available to the public speaker. How can we speak up about injustice without anger? How can we give a eulogy without sorrow? And don’t we want our audiences‘ limbic systems resonating to our anger and sorrow?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Creativity and Aging

A truth that I hadn’t known before came out of my mouth yesterday.

I have a client who’s probably in his 60s (I’ve never asked), with a good deal of physical pain, recent knee surgery, recent mouth surgery–the list goes on. He performs poetry professionally, but we always warm up first with vocal exercises.

I said, Your voice sounds as though you’re about 32. Then I heard myself say, Inside you is a healthy body.

Then I had to figure out what I’d said. What I could “see” was an inner “lining” of his body that was in a vibrant, young, healthy condition. If that were not so, it’s aural manifestation would not have been vibrant, young and healthy.

So what I’m wondering is, Is that what any creative activity does for us? Keeps us young? Not just “young in spirit.” Might creativity actually keep some parts of our body young?

That’s what some recent research on the relationship of creativity and aging is saying–less visits to the doctor, less falls.

Worth pondering.