Dan Erwin’s Three Best Columns from the Past Weekend

Rachel Donaldio at the New York Times on “When Italians Chat, Hands and Fingers do the talking.” If you have trouble reading nonverbals, the Italians are great at gestures. I’m not talking obscene gestures, but they can do those too. It’s a fine art in Rome. They can talk animatedly on their cellphones or smoking cigarettes, and gesticulate with “enviably elegant coordination.” Some gestures are simple, like the side of the hand against the belly signifying hungry, or asking when the next bus will arrive which gives you the familiar shrug of the shoulders which means, “Only God knows.” If you live in the Upper Midwest where gestures barely exist other than the extended middle finger which means the same universally, the Italians have news for you. Gestures have a history–and so does lack of gestures. That’s actually quite useful info. The times article has a number of pictures for the curious. But if you feel like a novice, a great place to begin is with my blog, Listening to nonverbals. You’ll find a number of relevant blogs by using the custom google on my site and searching “nonverbal.”Jeffrey Kluger in Time Magazine on “The Happiness of Pursuit.” The opening line is catchy: “If you’re an American and you’re not having fun, it just might be your own fault.” What follows is a cultural, psychological, philosophical, religious, neuroscientific and popular analysis of authentic happiness. Whewww!

Also included are fascinating tidbits from research: “people who dwell on the past and future are less likely to be happy than people who concentrate on the present,” and “marriage does contribute to bliss; it’s a better predictor of happiness than having money or children.” And then here’s a familiar notion applied to American happiness: “Simple biology–evident since Gregor Mendel started breeding his pea plants in the 19th century–dictates that the random mix of genetic traits within any one population will be amplified when that population starts breeding.” So Americans go about breeding happiness into their offspring? If, after reading the article you’re still interested in happiness, search my custom google for “happiness.” See especially my blog, Does money really motivate us to do just about anything?
Adam Bryant in the NYTimes’ Corner Office with Paul Venables. Venable has an especially unique idea for success when you’re just starting in business: ask for the toughest job. You’ll also find his very healthy and on-target ideas on worker competition, creativity and leadership. His last statement on what you can control and what you can’t is pure gold. Venables has a reality structure that really works. Personal reality structures get little attention in coaching and mentoring. A person’s reality structure is their basic mindset toward relations, the social contract, work, the world out there, success, failure and even family. Venables points to these issues in his closing comment. His ideas go a long way toward the development of a person’s street smarts–and their attitudes toward organizational politics. My hint: there’s no such thing as a decision without political overtones. So you might want to check out my blog, Influence management: Three big issues.   
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