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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Default Perils of Conviction

    Saw this from here and found it thought provoking and wondered how the typoc community would react to it. Does it jibe with you and how do you see it lining up with functional preferences?

    To improve learning - don't speak or write with conviction
    By David Gurteen
    Date Sunday 23 June 2013

    http://www.gurteen.com/

    I came across this blog post by Nancy Dixon recently Bringing the Flow of Knowledge to a Standstill by Speaking with Conviction in which she says

    One way of talking that inhibits the exchange of knowledge is speaking with conviction.

    That may seem contrary to what we've all learned in communication and leadership workshops, where one of the lessons often taught is to speak with confidence- “sound like you mean it”.

    Yet, as I examine conversations in the work setting, stating an idea with conviction tends to send a signal to others that the speaker is closed to new ideas.

    When speaking with conviction people sound as though no other idea is possible, as though the answer is, or should be, obvious.

    Credit: Bringing the Flow of Knowledge to a Standstill by Speaking with Conviction by Nancy Dixon
    I agree with Nancy. I think even when we are totally convinced that what we believe is true, it serves no useful purpose to say it with great conviction other than to annoy people. If you wish to convince someone then you have got be open to being shown to be wrong or to discover that you are talking at cross-purposes.

    Several people have told me over the years that when see someone doing or saying something wrong that they just to have to point it out to them in no uncertain terms- that they "have to learn".

    Now this might make them feel good but in my experience and from what I can see from the behavioural research it does not work. It only serves to harden their opinions and increase their dislike of you. If you wish to convince someone then you have to be open to a two way conversation of equals.

    Nancy's post also reminds me of the work of Ellen Langer and her book The Power of Mindful Learning. Ellen is a professor of psychology at Harvard University and her behavioural research challenges many myths about learning.

    One of the pervading views in education is that in order to learn a skill one must practice until the action takes place without thought. Performing a skill over and over again so that it becomes second nature may lead to thoughtless or mindless interaction with the skill or concept. Mindlessness is a hindrance to discovery. Discovery often occurs because of a variance of the "basics".

    Teaching in a conditional manner allows the learner to recognize that there may be varying situations that require a varied response. Teachers often eliminate factors that would lead students away from the "correct" outcome. We come to learn that events occur in a predictable manner and lose sight of some of the factors that contribute to the outcome. For example, physics students are instructed to neglect friction for most of the situations they deal with. This produces a discrepancy between actual and theoretical results and may dampen a students ability to see distinctions.

    Research has shown that information presented conditionally versus in absolute form enhances the creativity of the students. In a study done by Alison Piper, groups of students were given information on a set of objects conditionally and in absolute form. The students that were given the information conditionally had a tendency to be more creative than the students that had the information presented in absolute form.

    The standard approach to teaching new skills rely on either lecturing to instruct students or using direct experience to instruct students. Ellen Langer proposes a third approach which she calls "sideways learning". Sideways learning involves maintaining a mindful state that is characterized by openness to novelty, alertness to distinction, sensitivity to different contexts, awareness of multiple perspectives, and orientation in the present. The standard approach involves breaking down a task into discrete parts which may stifle novelty and alertness to distinction. Sideways learning makes it possible to create unlimited categories and distinctions. The distinctions are essential to mindfulness.

    Langer asks and answers the question, "Can a text teach mindfully?" She gives examples of obscure tax code and the ability of students to apply the code to a variety of situations. Students that read the section of tax code in its original language had a more difficult time adjusting to situations that weren't spelled out in the code. The group of the students that studied the code that was slightly altered with "could be" and "possibly" instead of "is" were more successful in application.

    Credit: The Powerr of Mindful Learning: Chapter One - When Practice Makes Imperfect: summarized by: Scott Allen
    So her research shows that writing with conviction also hinders learning

    The lesson here is that contrary to popular belief if you wish people to learn from you than do not speak or write with conviction!

    the formless thing which gives things form!
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  2. #2
    Senior Member prplchknz's Avatar
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    yes yes yes, when someone says there's only one way to skin a cat, I'm like eff you and go to prove them wrong. For me someone speaking to me with conviction just causes head butting, so I don't see why other people wouldn't be the same way. I prefer learning where I have some say in how why and what i learn I don't like going to lectures and told this is what we're learning. I've never done well in a class room enviroment for this reason, I prefer hands on. and the only way I learn is through example. Like for example I'm doing latch hook at the moment, and i tried watching you tube videos, looking at diagrams, ect. It wasn't until someone sat down with me and took me through it step by step did i understand what I was suppose to do.

    don't know if this is the type of response you're looking for, if not sorry.
    In no likes experiment.

    that is all

    i dunno what else to say so

  3. #3
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    Yup. One can speak with enough conviction that they essentially say "take my word for it." That's not exactly persuasive.

  4. #4
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    I knew a man who spoke with great conviction, even through glaringly subjective events. I loathed his character immensely (as did the rest of the district), but simultaneously, he lead to success like none other. In time, as I grew to understand his intent, I evolved under his apprenticeship in ways I do not feel many others could have done for me. I feel the article is trying to yin the balance of leading and being lead - two facets perhaps few are both capable of.

    For that, I'm half and half on the article. I once read a piece on how a surgeon, after years of studying the intricacies of his soon to be future, will not enter the profession with a grand scope of reinvention, disregarding all established notions in favor of his own. It takes a solid foundation of skill and knowledge to begin producing further accurate knowledge. I believe this quote, "Performing a skill over and over again so that it becomes second nature may lead to thoughtless or mindless interaction with the skill or concept", to be admittedly incorrect in its presumption. A master of his craft who illuminates will not cease to illuminate merely because he is familiar; many great figures in history show this. His technique and ability will perpetually exponentiate, provided the mind has always been there - this being the biggest factor of the equation.

    As for the final experiment, it is obvious to me that opening further contextual legal application will lead to further application in general. Tax codes (and in extension, general laws) are concise for a reason, precedence exists for a reason. This goes precisely against what was stated earlier, about physics students being taught to ignore the coefficient of friction. Perhaps there is something I am missing. I would need further information to establish sound judgement.

    Having said these things, I cannot for the life of me follow established guidelines. I value exploration greatly, a facet I do agree leads to modernized solutions to preconceived notions. I simply wish to be contrary

    Good article.

  5. #5
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    I think speaking with conviction is appropriate within certain contexts and inappropriate in others.

    I agree with this:

    I think even when we are totally convinced that what we believe is true, it serves no useful purpose to say it with great conviction other than to annoy people. If you wish to convince someone then you have got be open to being shown to be wrong or to discover that you are talking at cross-purposes.
    But at the same time I think people who require constant 'convincing' are equally annoying. Like a five-year-old repeatedly asking a parent "Why?"

    Eventually said parent will default to "Because I said so," to end the exchange. Is this "inhibiting the exchange of knowledge"? Perhaps. You could look at it that way. You could also say they're simply ending their kid's otherwise endless and pointless line of questioning, which in and of itself is a learning experience. (The lesson here might be "don't be an askhole".)


    I am aware that I have annoyed people in the past, and probably continue to do so, because I sometimes speak with conviction. At the same time I am well aware that I annoy people who speak with conviction because I do not accept their statements as gospel. Some people see a statement said without conviction as an invitation to argue (and one person's rhetoric is another's ad nauseum...). As time has gone on my desire to say anything has waned.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by bologna View Post
    Yup. One can speak with enough conviction that they essentially say "take my word for it." That's not exactly persuasive.
    I do not know how it is possible, how you can learn without writing and speaking.

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