Reciprocity at the Car Dealership

I can barely feel my fingers. The wind whips while I work in the wintry 6° weather. Fahrenheit.

My car’s alarm won’t stop sounding since I tried, and failed, to jumpstart the car. It’s a constant blast of the horn.

Cars have been trouble since the day they were invented. Photo "Changing a Tire" by Don O'Brien, Flick, CC-By-2.0
Cars have been trouble since the day they were invented. Photo “Changing a Tire” by Don O’Brien, Flick, CC-By-2.0

Now I’m trying to silence the alarm with some key trickery that the dealership is suggesting over the phone. I can barely hear anything over the car’s alarm.

“Turn it left for ten seconds,” he says. “No, wait, try turning the key to the right.” Continue reading “Reciprocity at the Car Dealership”

Kanye West Reminds Us He’s Running for POTUS 2020

Kayne West, fashion designer and hiphop mover, recently interrupted his San Jose, California show to tell his audience that Trump is a Genius.

Amid boos from his fans, Kanye spent about 20 minutes discussing the election and current events. Kanye said he supports Trump’s non-political history and his communication style. He also suggested people need to focus less on racism.

Kanye West in Saint Paul, Minnesota, 2016. Photo by Jeffrey Thomas,
Kanye West in Saint Paul, Minnesota, 2016. Photo (c) Jeffrey Thomas

If you read the headlines and Twitter reactions, you’d think Kanye had joined the KKK. People think that Kanye no longer believes racism is a problem. Their cognitive dissonance is showing:

Of course, the headline is never the true story. It’s an emotional hook — you click because you can’t believe that’s really what happened. And it’s not. Continue reading “Kanye West Reminds Us He’s Running for POTUS 2020”

The Echo Chamber of Social Media Divides Us

Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are great tools for reaching a lot of people… right? Yes, but often new information only reaches those already in agreement.

Social Media sites like Facebook use complex computer software to filter and sort headlines and posts. Do you like the White Sox? You’ll get stories about the White Sox. This software ensures that most people get news that interests them — including headlines and ‘evidence’ that match their current preferences and worldviews. Facebook’s role is to engage you (and show you ads), not to challenge your belief structure.

When every headline you see supports your existing belief structure, of course the other side of a political argument is going to be ‘wrong’ — everyone is working from a different set of ‘facts!’

If you tried converting anyone to your preferred presidential candidate using Facebook, you probably made more enemies than converts.

There are two likely scenarios here.

If you tried to introduce new information to your discussion, it was probably overwhelmed by the existing information on the other side, and lead to cognitive dissonance. When someone confronts an uncomfortable idea, they’ll rationalize it away, ignore it, or refuse it. They want to remain internally consistent with their belief structure. People don’t like to disagree with their former selves.

If that new information did make it into your conversation, it possibly made things worse. Rather than an objective look at a situation when new information comes to light, people will often dig in deeper to their currently-held positions. They want to be seen as socially consistent. Being labeled a “flip-flopper” in light of new evidence is portrayed as a bad quality in presidential politics. People are publicly tied to their identity. They won’t easily give that up.

Social Media filters prevent people from seeing the same information you see. This has been the case for years now. Our nation is growing apart because of it.

Any attempt to sway others by highlighting news stories probably never made in front of their eyes. If it did, they dismissed it outright.

Anything that contradicted someone’s existing beliefs probably caused them to dig in deeper.

People don’t want to think.

Those Big Ears Will Give You Confidence

In highschool we had to vote for a student government representative for our homeroom, the room we started and ended each school day. There were two candidates in our homeroom. One candidate was studious and seriously wanted the job — she had plans!

The second candidate was a goof who spent most of his school day talking with people. He was charismatic, but he didn’t have any plans for the school government if he was elected (but let’s be honest, those organizations don’t accomplish much anyways).

Who do you think won?

Everyone is drawn to a charismatic personality. Many of us believe charismatic people are born this way, and their leadership skills are an effortless result of their charisma.

The leader fights for the interests of her group. Photo "IMG_2810_1" by Allie, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
The leader is a member of her group. Photo “IMG_2810_1” by Allie, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

This is the story we tell ourselves. This story keeps us from looking at our own skillset to see where we fall short. But this story is not true.

You, too, can develop charisma and become an effective leader.

Charisma isn’t about being high-energy. It’s not about striking out in bold new directions or making perfect decisions. How can you develop charisma? Continue reading “Those Big Ears Will Give You Confidence”

How Social Consistency Helps Make the Sale


A friend recently told me that, despite having no ability to play the banjo, he recently outbid others at a silent auction. Once he expressed a minor interest in the instrument, he found it hard to walk away. Combine this with the scarcity of the item and the time crunch, and he found himself drawn into an impossible situation. He was asking if I had any tips to pass along. Nope! Do you have any banjo tips to share?

Last week I introduced Social Consistency. As you saw, people want to remain consistent to the public statements they’ve made. They don’t want to eat their words! Pointing out someone’s inconsistent statements will often force them to revert to those previous attitudes. People like to agree with their previous selves, don’t you think?

People also work to maintain consistent behavior, and use words that reflect those behaviors. No one wants to appear erratic. Erratic is synonymous with crazy, and crazy is dangerous. Continue reading “How Social Consistency Helps Make the Sale”