Body language exists on the border between our internal and external worlds, but things don’t always translate clearly across the borders

Are you someone who has the habit of crossing your arms? Do you furrow your brow so you have RBF? Have others told you you need to work on your attitude? Does this describe something you see in your colleagues? When someone else crosses their arms or furrows their brow does it make you feel […]

Nouns or verbs? Labels and categories are easier to talk about than social dynamics and behavioral patterns, but what are the implications of relying on them too much to explain people’s bahavior?

Recently, I had a skeptical reaction to a TED talk in which Adam Grant seemed to be encouraging us to categorize each other into three categories of people: givers, takers and matchers. It was my sense that people’s behavior is probably too socially-embedded and fluid to be captured through this sort of categorization. I also […]

Can we really be categorized into givers, takers and matchers? Or are we just learners adapting to the cues we pick up as we wend our way across organizational minefields?

As I listened to this highly engaging and entertaining TED talk, I kept wondering what assumptions about organizations and people led Adam Grant to believe that it would be helpful to suggest we can (should?) divide our peers up into givers, takers and matchers. I believe he is onto something important, and I agree that […]

Our emotions reflect the stories we generate to explain and survive the broad range of situations we encounter in life

Our brains seem to cue our affective states (including extremes ones like depression) through a continuous series of predictions of what physiological state will most efficiently promote our short-term survival. The symptoms are physiological, but the emotional label is psychosocial. The physical symptoms that accompany emotions – such as a racing or slowing heartbeat, flushed […]

Autonomy is illusory; what you really need is more experience of agency

We tend to say we want more autonomy (right to make choices regarding our own lives without external pressures or interference) when what we really want and need is more experience of agency (ability to take meaningful actions, make decisions, and influence the world around us). Conversations about autonomy tend to focus on our resistance […]