TED Conversations

Sam Richards


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How does the presenter impact the reaction to a talk? So how might people's reactions to my talk be different if I was retired military?

I'll be live between 1:00 - 3:00 pm EST. After that I'll jump on each do to react to some of the posts and threads.

ADMIN EDIT: Sam requested we keep this conversation open after the end of his live chat. He will be checking in on this thread over the next couple of weeks to respond and comment.


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  • Apr 28 2011: I notice that whenever I'm involved in a divisive issue, the people involved cannot even imagine that I could actually support the truth that exists on both sides of the conflict. The "warring" parties want to force me to take sides. And if I don't, they'll assume that I'm on the opposite side of them. It's as if we have no model, no ideal type that would allow us to recognize this category of person or perspective who can see beyond their own interests. I think that's part of the trouble some people have with Sam's talk.
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      Apr 28 2011: I'd like to see some people respond to this. Maybe I'll post it under my name.
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      Apr 29 2011: I agree with Laurie that many (most) people have boundary-seeking and social grouping tendencies which force a perceived grouping where there may be none between or around people. I think of this as a filling in of the gaps in what we know about someone's affiliation; people generalize based on limited and/or imagined information about other people. This influences the evaluation and extent of empathy responses.
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      Apr 29 2011: I’d like to tuck a tiny response below Laurie’s comment about ‘warring parties’ and their strong tendency to support a perspective by co-opting ‘fence sitters’ (Laurie, you are a FS, in their eyes only, not mine.)

      I remembered having firsthand experience of the power of propinquity; i.e.. the more we meet and interact with people, the more we become familiar and find things to like about them. “It is not so much that 'birds of a feather flock together' AS 'birds who just happen to be near each other grow similar feathers'.

      This is my experience. At one point in my career, I found myself sharing an office with someone I disliked very much (it was probably reciprocal). Those close quarters, the propinquity, the constant exposure to one another, facilitated the developed of a respect and fondness for one another. The mere fact of being in such close proximity to each other for many days changed our relaitonship; without much effort; other than strained initial courtesies.. A natural ability we humans have to connect 'clicked in' for us. I was shocked and surprised.

      We continue to connect; long after the office sharing. Today, our meetings are structured around shared interests that reinforce and promote a relationship that should never have happened.

      There is a study by Festinger, Schachter and Back (1950). It’s conclusion is “To build trust, make friends. To make friends, ensure you meet up with the target people often. To ensure you meet up, arrange your life so you repeatedly ‘bump into’ them. Caveat: When you keep bumping into a friendly person, be aware of the potential for them to have ulterior motives.”

      There are strong psychological forces that could draw 'unfriendlies' together. Perhaps we can break down barriers to communication, person by person, to subvert the group psychology of which you wrote.

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