Gisela McKay

President and Co-Founder, pixcode


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Do you consciously have an emotional demarcation point: respect/disrespect, love/hate - what is neutral?

Inspired by a couple of threads I am currently participating in,
- Why is so difficult to Forgive and Forget?
- For the TED Community, "tolerance" is Insufficient: I propose "respect."

... and others that have come and gone, I would like to gain others' input into the idea of emotional investment, and whether it is conscious and "controllable".

I operate under the principle that it takes as much effort to hate someone as to love them, and it takes as much effort to disrespect someone as to respect them. It's all interactions, and it's all energy that we expend.

Make no mistake, I'm not preaching love and sunshine to all. I just think that hating someone is allowing them to occupy space in my brain that is doing nothing good for my own health, so I am a proponent of the "Love it or Leave it" pairing over "Love and Hate".

Further, there are billions of people on this planet and we simply cannot make an emotional investment into each and every one as individuals (n.b.: that is distinct from having an emotional investment in the future of humanity as a whole).

The question: are you conscious about your emotional investments (or emotional responses) to people? Do you have a neutral state? Do you choose who you will and will not invest in?

Also, please (briefly) define your usage of the terms.

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    Sep 15 2011: Thank you, Gisela, for this challenge! I've been sitting here for a while thinking about how I could generalise on this one, but I don't think I can.

    I've never experienced hate towards a person; only towards situations or mentalities. However, I tend to be careful about using "love" too freely as well. The number of people I can claim to love is much smaller than I wish it were, but I think much of that is, as you said, caution and struggling with the concept of love on demand.

    As a teacher I have an emotional investment in the success and happiness of my students. I consider it a personal failure when one of them doesn't do well or doesn't ask for support when they need it.

    As a singer and musician, I have an emotional investment in my audiences. I want them to feel the emotions that I try to convey on stage, and I want them to leave my shows enriched.

    I have an emotional investment in those who need help: the starving, the abused, the poor, the oppressed.

    I have an emotional interest in my family and friends, although, as is so often the case, because it's so close to home it's probably the place where I am least proficient in showing it.

    But that sounds kind of hypocritical: why is some person on the train less deserving of emotional investment than all the people above, just because I don't know them personally? They aren't: I just don't know how to invest in them without knowing anything about them. And who's to say they want my investment? Who am I to force my emotional investment on them?

    Excuses? I don't know, maybe. I'll give it some more thought :-)
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    Sep 13 2011: You may not be able to know and love every human on the planet but you can be prepared and wanting to know and love them as they swing into your sphere of engagement. That state of preparation might constitute a neutral state.
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      Sep 13 2011: I love this answer. Sorry, Walter but I have maxed out on thumbs up for you this week.
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    Sep 18 2011: I don't think I have a conscious demarcation point, but if there is one it would be related to the ideas of interdependence and game theory...

    If you look at 2 dimensions:
    harmful -neutral- beneficial towards yourself
    harmful -neutral- beneficial towards others
    (one can ad a third dimension: the planet, or adjust for how you judge someone who is beneficial to you but harmfull to others)

    I think when you are harmed by others, you will take effort to retaliate (tit for tat or even vengeance techniques)
    When a person harms others: you probably also feel judgmental and disprove
    reverse: when someone is beneficial towards others (especially yourself), you can love and/or respect him... as a positive feedback (and effort)

    When actions tend to be neutral, I guess indifference is quite logical. Or when you think the pay-off of another strategy is not worth it....

    I think it should go somewhere along those lines...
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      Sep 18 2011: I think that one of the things that has been shown more and more lately is that what some people perceive as being harmful to OTHERS is actually more harmful to the self. Anger, bitterness, grudges are things people mistakenly think is about something external, when the fact is the toll (health-wise) is on the person holding onto the anger, bitterness, or grudge.

      I don't know how to map that onto your model, but I do think it has to factor in somewhere.
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    Sep 12 2011: Wise words, Thought, Philosophy
    Pave the streets of Apathy.
    The gaslight glow of tolerance
    Illumes the sitter on the fence.

    However, respect cannot be expected, it must be earned. Not by a nation or a group but by each of us as individuals.

    I reject the idea that we can only invest emotionally in large groups not individuals - that's the pie-charts talking.

    You say what you are capable of. Be careful what you say.
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      Sep 12 2011: Respect just as love can't be expected and must not be earned, it must be given.
      Treat anyone as you would have them to treat you.
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        Sep 15 2011: Hi Frans, Scott , everyone,

        I totally agree with and operate under "Treat anyone as you would have them treat you".
        & I am a firm believer in radiating love and sunshine to all --

        But don't understand : "respect must be given "-- is NOT EARNED?!

        Overpowering people into submission - by all means of intimidation ranging from / subtle behavioral / verbal dominance / social undermining / or gun point force - is the way the aggressor deceives him/her/self into feeling powerful -- but that is not respect.

        My definition of respect being : to honor, accept and allow another human a sense of worth or excellence pertaining to their individual personal quality or ability.

        It seems to me, that there is a great deal of resistance in people to even "accept" another person let alone "to honor" and most often refuse "to allow" the expression of respect in their presence. " if you admire someone highly for some or other quality you highly respect " -- does not often bring about reciprocity.

        It seems to me that respect has to be continually EARNED by acting as my best self, even in the face of disrespect --- and in many places to no avail. So one of my many :-) questions is: how can the Afghani woman, for instance, create a state of respect for herself ??
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          Sep 15 2011: Hi Juliette
          Respect has something with to see, to admire and isn't it natural to admire the world with all life that it bears. If you respect nature and your fellow beings than you care and protect its existence.
          Often this word respect is misused in relations of inequality. If someone points a pistol on your head you would do as he says, not of respect but out of self-preservation. Respect or obedience can't be enforced on someone.
          Of course if you admire someone highly for some or other quality you highly respect that person for often that person respects you in return.
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          Sep 17 2011: Hi Juliette
          Maybe your last question makes it most clear.

          If in any family or country no respect is given to women they simply can't get it.
          You don't have to live in Afghanistan for that matter.
          I've seen in my surrounding wives and daughters that did the utmost and more and always just to be seen for once, to be respected. It didn't work.
          Someone had to tell them to stop doing this.
          You have to respect yourself and not expect it of someone that can’t give it.
          If one does not respect herself or himself s/he can't give it to someone else.

          I hope you can see this.
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          Sep 17 2011: I took it to mean that respect is in the giving - not in the earning, which turns out not to have been what you meant. As it does not seem to be, I shall put my own interpretation out there to further illustrate the point.

          There are some people who are just plain never going to respect you, and their reasons are not important. You can jump through as many hoops as you like, it's just not going to happen.

          Understanding that people's criteria for giving respect differ, and exist solely in their heads, rather than as an objective standard, will probably save you much grief.
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          Sep 17 2011: I don't think/feel that we can give to someone, something we do not have in and for ourselves. To be authentic in the giving of respect, it needs to start with ourselves.
          I agree Frans...if one does not respect him/herself, s/he can't give it to someone else.

          I also agree with you Gisela in that some people will never respect us, because they may not have respect for themselves. We can jump through as many hoops as we want to, and it's not going to happen because they don't know how to respect themselves or others.

          I think there are times when people are in the "split" with themselves...(respecting something about themselves for awhile for example), and they may be able to respect others for awhile, and these may be the people we can "earn" respect from if we want to take that route? These folks will respect themselves and others for certain accomplishments for example. So, what is being respected and admired is the action/accomplishment rather than the person him/herself.

          I agree that people's criteria for giving AND recieving respect differ. I also believe that we carry the energy of respect when we have it for ourselves, people who respect themselves, will generally respect others, and we can sense that in others with intuition.
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          Sep 17 2011: I like to go back to the definition because words have meanings that are lost or evolving.

          re·spect   [ri-spekt] Show IPA
          a particular, detail, or point (usually preceded by in ): to differ in some respect.
          relation or reference: inquiries with respect to a route.
          esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
          deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.
          the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.
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        Sep 17 2011: ... or they just don't like you. They may be perfectly capable of respecting other people and respecting themselves, and still for whatever reason, you don't match their internal map.

        The bottom line is, whatever the map is - and whether or not it exists - is in their heads. That's it. They aren't setting a standard for the rest of the world, and they don't *have* to give it to you just because you "earned" it.

        I think you can drive yourself crazy thinking that there is some objective standard that once you meet it, you automatically receive everyone's respect.

        And worse if you try to convince yourself that it's simple a matter of that person not giving you the respect you think is due because they don't respect themselves - and then see evidence to the contrary.
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          Sep 17 2011: I agree that we could drive ourselves crazy with speculation!!!

          The "bottom line" for me, is to know myself, respect myself, respect others, reject behaviors that are not respectful, and be open minded/open hearted about the whole process:>)
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          Sep 17 2011: Gisela
          Those people that you think respect others as well as themselves but leave others out you better observe to see if that what you see really is respect. It may well be that they play respect to people that can be useful in achieving their own goals. If someone isn't, or stops being beneficial for their own purpose they will drop them.
          This never was respect, it was business.

          The same goes with love. If it isn't given unselfish without expecting anything in return it isn't love but trade.
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        Sep 17 2011: Frans, I think you may use the word "respect" more loosely than I do.

        I use it when I mean "hold in high regard" - and if I held everyone in equally "high regard" it wouldn't really be high regard, would it?

        I don't use "respect" to mean "treat with common decency" - which seems to be your usage. I use it when remarking on the exceptional.
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          Sep 18 2011: Gisela, it can well be so.
          Respect is as much a Dutch word as it is English. There may be differences in usage.
          As I understand it and started my comment with, respect is given to all you care for and admire.
          Earth and all life it bears are included. So you care for your environment in macro as well as microsphere. Someone with no respect doesn't care. Such a person would throw his garbage in nature and being blunt within the interaction with fellowmen.
          I think everyone needs to be respected and children as well.
          If I like someone special or admire some qualities my respect would be evident but on top of it I would enjoy the company of that person.
          Does this make any sense?
  • Sep 20 2011: I find if we are able to 'lose attatchment to outcome' as Joan Halifax discusses in her talk, we are able to avoid emotional draining- which is what it sounds like you mean in reserving your emotional investment.
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      Sep 20 2011: Bravo !!
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      Sep 20 2011: I think it's also possible never to develop an attachment to outcome in the first place - at least with specific instances if not the global category.
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    Sep 19 2011: Gisela,

    I have noticed a theme in the conversations you initiate and in the comments you make in conversations started by others. You seem to be interested in how we evaluate one another.

    On the one hand, you talk candidly about how you judge people (hold them in esteem ... or not - consider them intelligent ... or not - and the like) and, on the other hand, you are interested in what the "rest of us" think about this type of behaviour (where do we draw the line or place the demarcation point, etc.)

    Does it really matter to you what we think about this stuff?

    If so, why? You seem to be very clear about your position.


    I am not religious but I sometimes find religious terms useful to convey an idea - so to answer your question:

    I act as if all people, including me, are manifestations of God and treat them as such. That is, with respect.

    One of my "demarcation points" comes when I sense people are being intentionally disrespectful or when they are ridiculing someone else. Then, I allow myself to get a little "testy." I see it as a game between "God" and "God.*"

    Treating all people respectfully is an ideal. I do not always live up to it.

    * Again, I am not religious ... I just like the imagery.
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      Sep 19 2011: In my last reply to Colleen ('last' being relative in time, not "last post ever") I mentioned that people forever feel the need to inform me just how different I am. I think in part it (asking people these questions) is a way for me to gauge the "wheres and whys" of that difference. In sense, how "normal" brains work.

      And because I'm not particularly good at disguising my response (trust me, it's much worse in person, I don't play poker often because it doesn't take long for people to realize that a gleeful giggle is not a bluff) I'm sure it comes across when I read something that makes me think, "AUGH! That doesn't make any sense whatsoever!"

      But I do accept that it doesn't make sense *to me*, and that I'm the odd one. And it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate other people sharing - OK here is one of those moments where my brain wavers between finishing that sentence with "how things are supposed to work" and "how things work in other people's heads even though it doesn't make any logical sense (to me)."

      It ends up being simultaneously frustrating and fascinating to me.
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        Sep 19 2011: So your just checking in to see where you fit in on the spectrum of human behaviour?

        I haven't read all your posts but when you refer to a "normal" brain, are you implying your brain is not normal?

        Mine isn't - it's dyslexic. I don't think the difference is that significant when measured against the full range of human behaviour.

        I share your interest in how we, as individuals, process bits of information - and you're right, the differences can be both frustrating and fascinating - but I don't see the variations as exclusionary. That is, I do not see them as determining whether I or someone else "fits in."

        Aside from my adolescence, I have never cared whether I fit in or not. (Fit into what?)
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          Sep 19 2011: I am saying that there is clearly a disconnect between how I engage with others and how others engage with me. Ironically, the next sentence I started typing unintentionally devolved into differentiating the complexity of what seemingly goes on in other people's heads vs mine:

          Since we're ass-deep in "why I am a bad person" (and because this is text, I should probably clarify I'm not fishing for, "Oh, you're not a bad person" because 'bad person', 'good person' is about others people's labels and I really don't actually care - and once again that isn't a defensive "I don't care")
          That could have gone on painfully longer, let it suffice that I neither fish for compliments nor internalize the label "bad person".

          Even more ironically, the point I had wanted to make was that my gauge in dealing with most people is "is this going to hurt their feelings and cause them to whine at me" -- where the problem is more the "and cause them to whine at me" than the hurt feelings.

          The convoluted nature of this post probably does more to demonstrate the issues I have dealing with "feelingsy" people than anything I could have said. I deal with it by surrounding myself with people whose feelings don't get hurt as easily (my core group of friends are all highly NT).

          So, if I said "fitting in", perhaps I should have said "navigating".
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        Sep 19 2011: In a rush ... haven't read your whole reply but did see "ass-deep in why [you're] a bad person."

        I hope that is not what you're picking up from what I'm asking ... I do not see you as a bad person ... you seem like a pretty good person ... although I don't know you all that well.
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      Sep 19 2011: I should give a tangible example.

      There is no one on this planet I feel a compulsion to speak to on a daily basis. And that would deeply offend several people in my life who clearly need to touch base with me constantly. And then they ask me questions like, "did you miss me?" And I have to suppress the urge to reply, "How can I miss you when you won't go away?"

      And I know I just added to the list of "Why I'm a Bad Person" reasons, but since I'm never going to meet pretty much anyone from TED, I'm fine with being honest in ways that I wouldn't be with people I have to deal with in person.

      While I'm being honest, it's really not a semantic issue for me, that difference between "do not like" and "dislike". I fundamentally don't understand why other people have to pick "like or dislike" with someone you don't know. I am trying to understand, even though it frustrates the crap out of me. I get people messaging me "I really liked you in high school" on Facebook and I'm thinking, "Who the hell are you? How could you like me, when we didn't know each other?" But that doesn't mean I dislike them either!

      I have learned the hard way never to answer, "Do you like me?" with "I don't know you." And because I am not really partial to lying, I have become the master of the subject change (my sister calls the manoeuvre "deflectors at maximum"), and apparently I am also the queen of "Oh look at the time!"

      Often I find people illogical and more hassle than they're worth.
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        Sep 19 2011: Thanks for the tangible example.

        The theme I am referring is evident in these phrases:

        - I know I just added to the list of "Why I'm a Bad Person" reasons
        - I have to suppress the urge to [reply from within my value system.]
        - [The] difference between "do not like" and "dislike".
        - I fundamentally don't understand why other people have to pick "like or dislike"
        - How could you like me, ...
        - Often I find people illogical and more hassle than they're worth.

        I know your reply has been is circumscribed by the scope of my question but I find it interesting the extent to which you think about what you think about others; and the extent you think about what they about you. In more a more graphic presentation:

        - You think about others (and how they see the world, relationships and everything - 42.)
        - You think about what you think about others thinking.
        - You think about what others think about you thinking about what others think about.
        - You think about what you think about.

        And you have strong opinions about what you think other people think about what you think about.

        [I think I got that out right ... ]

        I'm sure I am not telling you anything you have not already noticed.

        Just out of curiosity, do you think that's a lot of effort being expended to understand how we think about one another?

        For example, just saying "Yes, I like you" or "Thank you" (when someone says they like/liked you) is not a major intellectual exercise.

        "Like" is one of those "meaningless" words in that it can mean anything from "I do not find you to be hideous" to "I think I might like to marry you." Adjusting our internal reference when we utter the phrase makes it a very useful little word.

        My sense is you have "standards" ... and it's important that you see how people measure up.

        How you "measure up" also seems to be important to you.

        Again, you seem to be very clear about your position; does it really matter what we think about you?

        You seem fine to me.
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          Sep 19 2011: It is a lot of work. Now you understand why I just avoid feelings people in general. They're kind of like landmines to me: I never know when they're going to go off, and then there's just feelings everywhere.

          I ask questions here so I can understand them better.

          I've accidentally caused people to burst into tears at work for things that it just did not even occur to me would be a trigger (and really, work is supposed to be a feelings-free safe zone ;-). I learn from it so it doesn't happen again. It's a mapping thing.

          About the "bad person" thing: I've noticed that "bad person" usually comes up right before a feelings explosion. And usually because I didn't care enough about something. And then because I still don't care about after 10 minutes of whining at me (some days I suspect feelings people think they can bore you into caring) they throw the "bad person" thing at you and storm off.

          It's preemptive. I think I like to cut to the chase. "I get it, not caring == bad person. We don't have to go through that."

          (Unfortunately, I still don't usually care and worse still, I don't care about being a "bad person" either.)

          I should go to bed now. I really wish the correlation between having something I don't want to do and "time spent on TED" wasn't so painfully obvious. God I hate that Monday meeting more and more. Sucks that it was my idea and now I have to live with it.
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        Sep 19 2011: Hi Gisela,

        It seems you have strong feelings ... about feelings -- and how they are expressed.

        You've probably picked up from other posts that I live in China and, amongst other things, I train business people.

        I had a cork board installed in my office - it's about twenty feet long. I use it for a "mind map" type of planning process. At the moment it is almost completely covered with small pieces of paper, each with a single word or short phrase that captures a "core concept" I include in my training. There are words and phrases like: praxis, ludecy, accountability, whole person paradigm, memes, leadership, management, "law of the situation," MBO, Scientific Management, outcome, goals, vision, and hundreds more. I use string and create a literal web of connections that link related concepts.

        At the top I have one word: "Simplicity"

        The idea (for me) is to look at all of this "stuff" and find a way to make it simple (i.e. the simplicity on the other side of complexity.)

        Out of all of these ideas I have put "Red Arrows" next to only three words or phrases. They are: meaningful work; self-concept; and emotionalism.

        These are what I see as major issues that the managers I am training need to understand. They need to understand the people who work "for them" want to - need to - do meaningful work. The managers need to understand the effect self-concept has on what we do and how we interpret our world; and they need to understand that "emotionalism" is a major component in any human interaction whether personal or professional.

        There's no way around it: We are emotional first; rational second (maybe third.)

        Not knowing how to deal with emotions, their own and other's, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks these managers are facing.

        It might be easier if we were all Vulcan but, we're not; we're human.

        The interesting thing is that if we understand "emotionalism" we can use it (ethically) to supercharge performance.
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          Sep 19 2011: Oh, I am well aware that people are emotional beings. I just really prefer working with people who are NTs (I'm ENTP, strongly N&T, borderline E&P). It's probably why I work in technology - I am so much more comfortable with formal languages than natural unless it's in a debate format.

          I think the worst example of learning the emotional thing the hard way was the day I commented on a project and the person burst into tears, because apparently what I said closely resembled something her husband had said during an argument the day before. (Didn't find that out until later.)

          I usually have a mental list of potential outcomes for what I am about to say (in the workplace), and "bursting into tears" rarely appears on it. "Burst into an annoying emotional display, that I will have to sit through, then reiterate my initial position, then they will go do what I told them to do" does appear on it periodically.

          Once I acquired a staffer as part of a project (read "she came with the contract and I could not fire her") and that was just the worst nightmare ever. (She actually full on burst into tears twice, and unfortunately, my initial response was disgust. I've subsequently tempered that.)

          And it's not a matter of not having emotions, I had to put my cat to sleep a week ago and I cried like a baby, and I understand being emotionally invested in your work - employee engagement, passion, mastery, etc. - but some people are just a mess. I have one of those right now, and she makes my eye twitch.
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        Sep 20 2011: Gisela,

        Let me apply my three Red Arrows to an imaginary case study (based on this conversation.)

        If we imagined someone kind of like you, we might report something like this:

        Competent, functional, intellectual, rational, efficient and effective. Has a strong value system based on a Superior/Inferior dichotomy. Intolerant.

        Reacts negatively to displays of emotion. In other words, reacts emotionally to emotions.

        Finds working with "inferior" people to be tedious and unpleasant, compromising her experience of doing meaningful work. Interacts with those seen as inferior in such a way they are sometimes reduced to tears - compromising their experience of being involved in meaningful work.

        There may be a "disconnect" between "self-concept" and performance. If the primary component of our self-concept is "rational, competent manager," we would learn to modulate our perceptions or, at least, our behaviour to accommodate the "real" world. We would understand that learning the interpersonal skills necessary to interact effectively with "inferiors" is a professional responsibility. We would not "make people cry."

        However, if the primary component of our self-concept is, "Superior," then we would learn to modulate our behaviour to reinforce this image. (This is what many of the managers I am working with do - make subordinates feel inferior.)

        If we see ourselves as competent and, if, on a regular basis, our behaviour triggers "emotional outbursts," or other undesired outcomes, we might want to learn more effective interpersonal skills. This is what a competent manager would do.

        However, if we see ourselves as superior, we will, perhaps unconsciously, enjoy making people cry, or feel inferior, because it reinforces our self-concept.

        Our self-concept is a choice. We will adjust our behaviour to conform to our self-concept.

        What self-concept would you have to choose to get the outcomes you would like?
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          Sep 20 2011: Hmm. I contemplated this, and the idea that I enjoy making people cry on some level, which I might, but only after they've been irritating me for some time. I'd be more inclined to accept that I deliberately set that up as a situation if they hadn't consistently been people I'd been saddled with. And the second it became feasible to let them go, they were gone.

          The one in particular who burst into tears twice, that situation was such that every time I asked her to do something, she had a minimum two minute outburst about how it was impossible and why it couldn't be done. I've never asked anyone to do anything that I didn't know full well was doable.

          I'm not sure whether it was a matter of her assuming that I asked her to do things so that she would fail or what the neurosis was, but it grew old really quickly. I also don't think companies tend to pawn off their favourite employees to external contractors, so I suspect she was a nightmare for them as well.

          I'm pretty positive I didn't derive pleasure from any part of her emotional outburst, as it seemed like a giant waste of time - she was eventually going to do what I told her to do, she just needed this tiresome ritual before she got to that point.

          Even when I worked for other people, I tended to acquire the top talent and take them with me to my next position. I deliberately create teams where this isn't a factor. Any time this has arisen, it has been because I have acquired someone not of my own selection.

          I work a lot of hours, because I love what I do (well most of it, anyway - there's always some thing that has to be done at some point that isn't pure fun). But these people suck the joy out of my work. So, I don't agree with your analysis, or I would have them in my sphere regularly.
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          Sep 20 2011: Oh, I'd also say my management style is "build a low-maintenance team" - especially now that it is my own company and a small team. Smart, self-starters, high-initiative.

          I have too many things to do to deal with crap. Right now, I am waiting out the current situation.
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        Sep 20 2011: Hi Gisela,

        It wasn't really an analysis - I don't know enough about you, or your work situation, for my little story to be anything other than a fabrication-with-familiar-elements to illustrate a point.*

        And, yes, there are times when the issue is 100% "the other person."

        We just fired two people for that very reason.

        However, I would like to point out that a recurring theme in your posts is how incompetent other people are. How they resist what you tell them to do and so on. (Maybe you're talking about one or two people and you just tell the story over and over again ... but if it is "lots of people" you are talking about, well, that might indicate it's not all about "them.")

        I suggest there is at least a possibility you might learn a few skills that would make that part of your work life a little less traumatic for you.

        If you enjoy reading, I can recommend "Mary Parker Follett: Prophet of Management edited by Pauline Graham.**"

        I think you will enjoy it. Follett was brilliant (really brilliant!) and her insights are practical. That is, you can actually use the information she provides.


        * Plus, if you want an actual analysis, it will cost you about $100,000.

        ** "Prophet of Management" is an epithet bestowed upon her by Peter Drucker.
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          Sep 20 2011: Yeah, it's a small number of people with big gaps between the experiences. It's just that it's happening again right now, and I am waiting for it to end. (I'm not kidding when I say that I can gauge my level of dissatisfaction with work by how much procrastinating I do. It's my company and I should be loving what I do.)

          I'll look for that book. Thanks for the recommendation!
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        Sep 20 2011: QUOTE" "I'll look for that book. Thanks for the recommendation!"


        I do want to qualify my recommendation: In my work, I focus on everything from meta-systems to toilet paper (really!) ... and I found Follett to be useful and applicable primarily at the higher levels of the management/leadership paradigm. And ...


        Even though my story was hypothetical, my question wasn't.

        What self-concept would assist you in dealing with "people problems" to your satisfaction (and theirs?)

        For example, my self-concept includes elements like "facilitator," "kind," "compassionate," and so on.

        I interact with problem people too. They usually (almost always) thank me - even if I fire them.

        The people I work with sometimes cry too. But they are more likely to be crying because they are happy.

        Our self-concept can have a huge impact on how we are affected by, and how we affect, our environment.

        The cool thing is we can create any self-concept we want. We have already created the one we have. If we're not getting the results we want using it, it's simple to create a new one.

        I make a distinction between self-image and self-concept. At any point in time, the former is more or less fixed; the latter, completely malleable.
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          Sep 20 2011: I'm going to ponder this for a bit.

          I'm not sure that the words that spring to mind when I ask myself the question "how do I view myself as a boss" (and I make a distinction between "boss" and "leader" because I think you can lead without the title and/or the official capacity) are deeply held.
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        Sep 20 2011: Yes, I think it is something to ponder.

        One of the reasons I make a distinction between self-image and self-concpet, is to accommodate the issue of whether something need be "deeply held" or not.

        There are certainly deeply held issue that affect each of us ... some of them we absorbed "by osmosis" in our childhood, some we create. They can be difficult to see, let alone change. This "deep" stuff, i relegate to "self-image." Dealing with it is not in my job description.

        Self-concept, on the other hand, is based on conscious decisions that determine how we conceive of ourselves, how we would like to conceive of ourself, and how we would like others to perceive (conceive) us. It's essentially a "skill set," a behavioural repertoire.

        For example, if we view ourselves as effective international business people, we might see ourselves speaking Mandarin or French. So we would learn Mandarin or French.

        If we view ourselves as effective at dealing with problem people, or as a compassionate "boss" who creates a positive working environment for everyone, we would learn the skill sets needed to do those things.

        And so on.

        We can do this without intentionally altering our self-image. It might change in the process but the change will be organic.

        (It's a form of ego protection ...)
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    Sep 17 2011: Coming from a neutral stand point would be similar to starting a new ego with every individual you meet.
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      Sep 17 2011: Interesting idea Nicholas:>)
      Do you think it's possible to start a new story, without ego or judgment, with every individual we meet?
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        Sep 17 2011: What grounds/information do you have on a stranger that you should hold old egos to them, old biases? Besides superficial conclusions/considerations based on comparing and contrasting appearance. You do not know, until you investigate.

        People should prove how they should be treated, not be treated in regards to an individual's superego.
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          Sep 17 2011: I agree that we do not know until we investigate. I also agree that there is no point in bringing old egos and old biases into a new relationship. When you suggest to start "a new ego"'re suggesting to wipe our old ego clean and start a new one?

          I'm wondering why you want the ego with you with each new interaction. That's why I asked the question above:>)
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        Sep 18 2011: You can never unlearn information, no matter how hard you try. To not allow the old information to cloud new information is difficult. Takes critical thinking.

        A good ego reflection is important, no question, and no better way to reflect than by interacting with different people, from unique places and whom practice unfamiliar disciplines.

        Truly, you can learn something new from anyone. Consciously or not.
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          Sep 18 2011: I totally agree Nicholas, that we can always learn something new with each and every interaction:>)

          I also agree that we cannot "unlearn information". What we CAN do is suspend the old information (I call it mind chatter) thereby removing the "cloud" which prevents new information. This does NOT take "critical thinking". It takes the ability to suspend "thinking".

          I don't believe a "good ego reflection is important". I like to suspend the ego reflection as well:>)
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        Sep 18 2011: Hi ColleenII
        I can confirm the view Nicholas suggested.
        As I was a teenager and worked varying with different people one at the time. My approach to any person was different and adjusted to the understanding and type of that person I worked with.
        Later on in a situation that I found myself in a group of those people that I worked with I was a bit embarrassed. I realized at that moment that if I spoke to one of them as I was used to the others would think: "Who is he? I don't know him that way"

        It is thinkable as this goes on for many years somebody can develop a few personalities of his own.
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          Sep 18 2011: Hi Frans,
          I can also confirm the view Nicholas suggests, and for me it is not the most desirable practice. I believe as a teenager, I did a similar thing. As I grew and learned something different, I embraced a different way of "being":>)
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        Sep 19 2011: The problem with "suspending" information is that you can only do so with the conscious minds, what you vividly remember.

        Take being hit with a ball as being a child, and now as being an adult, a ball being thrown at you will make your body (unconscious mind) react to the ball as if it was going to hit you.

        You cannot suspend over the somewhat intrinsic thought patterns you develop unconsciously unless you make it a priority. Indeed it requires a degree of critical thinking.

        Check out the "second brain" it gives justice to the phrase "a gut feeling". We think with our stomach and spins as much as we think with our brains.. Neurons are not just in the brain, but in selective parts of our body. We are bacteria in a sense. We cling to the perceived "good" and avoid the considered "bad", mainly unconsciously.

        Why Buddhist practice no attachments, it makes for better philosophy and thinking. Meditation is how to get in touch with the universe through your humanly vessel. Meditation in the sense of reflection, not just deactivating consciousness with concentration. To be the "ideal" vehicle, you should have your parts tuned, all of them. We are quantum robots. We have patterns. Use that to your advantage. Working with nature is far superior than trying to be above it.

        In human nature, we have sooo many different nurturing patterns that come from sooo many different cultures.

        To think for a moment you can read someone fully, easily, and clearly without moments shared is unwise. Thus when you start a new ego with everyone, you start a new perspective and a new personality. To add to your many personalities and your many egos.

        I think.
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          Sep 19 2011: Nicholas,
          I disagree that suspending (interrupt; cause to stop temporarily; set aside; temproarily inoperative; defer till later; to hold in an undetermined or undecided state) information takes "critical thinking". For me, it takes letting go or detaching from "thinking".

          I agree that we can bring all "parts" of our "self" into the thinking process including the "gut feelings". As you probably know by now, I believe everything is interconnected, so in my perception, our "thinking" and "feeling" processes are connected along with everything else.

          When we are "attached" to "thinking" (mind chatter), we sometimes miss other information. Meditation is one way to suspend thinking/mind chatter.

          I don't believe it is possible to "deactivate the consciousness with concentration". In order to concentrate, the consciousness is activated, don't you think?

          I agree...keep all the parts tuned and ready, willing and able to recieve:>) We have a great deal of information available when we are tuned in to everything, without mind chatter/ego.

          Honestly Nicholas, I think/feel that my near fatal head/brain injury knocked out all or most of the ego. You know, being hooked up to machines to be kept alive, with tubes and wires running in and out of the body, and being in a child like state emotionally and physically, dependent on others for very basic needs, and at the same time remembering a little bit about being a strong, active, intelligent adult, kinda wipes the ego off the map. There actually is a certain part of the brain where they think the ego/mind chatter resides, and perhaps it got knocked out of operation....and that's not a bad thing:>)
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        Sep 19 2011: Colleen what you are dictating is critical thinking...
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          Sep 19 2011: I agree to disagree:>)

          I'm saying we can suspend the mind chatter/thinking.
          You're saying that it takes critical thinking to do so.
          That doesn't make any sense to me, and that's ok...doesn't have to:>)
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        Sep 19 2011: In brevity, critical thinking means the "art of being right"... also it is how to handle "claims"

        If you start from a position of "suspended" thinking, that is the result of prior critical thinking. You now think the best way to start something (a claim, a theory, an idea) is from unknowing and to knowingly attempting to get to knowing.

        What you describe from your near-death experience is similar to "Tuesday's with Morrie" process of "acceptance" towards "life/death". To go back to the beginning once in a while is to refresh new with old and old with new. From life their is death, and vice versa... You cannot conquer old thoughts without trying to, just cannot.
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          Sep 19 2011: Nicholas,
          The topic is "emotional demarcation point/respect/disrespect/love/hate/neutral.
          We seem to be off track a wee bit?

          You suggested "starting a new ego with every individual you meet", and that for you is a "neutral stand point".

          I don't believe the ego is usually neutral, so I wouldn't follow your lead on that one.

          If your definition of critical thinking means the "art of being right", I definitely do not follow you on that theory either.

          Suspended thinking, to me, is more neutral, and NOT a result of prior critical thinking.

          The only reason I brought up my experience, is to demonstrate that the ego/thinking can be my humble opinion...and...I do not care to discuss "Tuesday's with Morrie" process, because I have no idea what you are talking about.

          I'm not trying to "conquer" anything Nicholas. Simply offering my perspective:>)
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    Sep 13 2011: Hi again Gisela:>) Excellent question!
    I agree that it takes as much energetic investment to hate or respect or's all energy that we expend. As you know, I also agree that hating someone, blaming, or holding a grudge simply occupies a space in our heart and mind, and deprives us of energy that we could "spend" in a more useful way.

    I believe there are many different levels of emotional investment, so concievably, we COULD "invest" in everyone, and perhaps that would take the form of an " investment in the future of humanity as a whole", as you insightfully suggest.

    I am very conscious about my emotional investments on many different levels, and choose who I will and will not interact with at any given time. I believe that if we know our "self", we get to know others as well, and can choose who, why, when, with whom and to what extent we want to interact with individuals. When we are clear in our "self" we can be clear with others.

    I am pondering your question concerning "neutral state"'s a good one! I think/feel at this point, that I can maintain a neutral reaction to someone, and still include that person in my investment of the whole of humankind.

    Good questions Gisela, and a good connection/expansion of the other discussions:>)
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    Sep 12 2011: IN many societies the worst punishment that can be meted out is banishment especially for women. The death penalty is final and irrevocable but when kings of the past really wanted to torture someone, they banished them from societies, their loved ones, what was familiar to them. Cutting people off is common these days but I think that there is a psychological violence to it. You may not be advocating anything that severe but one of the worst things many people can imagine is being invisible to others. Much of the cruelty of teenage girls and of religious sects involves the in group shunning those who are deemed less worthy.
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      Sep 13 2011: I can see what you mean, although I think there is a giant gap between not gaining the attention of someone you do not know and losing contact with your base of support.

      The latter cuts to the core of resiliency, the former seemingly should be like water off a duck's back if you are already resilient. If you don't know someone, how can it be a loss?
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        Sep 17 2011: Hi Gisela!
        Both of the conversations that instigated your questions appear to have to do with being in relationship with another. I took my cue from those.

        Of course, I am not going to worry that the local chess club never invites me to its functions because I do not even know if there is a chess club or if it exists who the members are.
        I think, though that all of the situations you have described are more like encounters with people which did not go well and choosing to not invest further in any exchanges. This too is valid up to a certain point in the relationship continuum.

        Every time though, that we are in relationship with another I believe that we owe them at minimum civility. That does not include pretending that they do not exist. This is a favourite tactic of cruel teenagers. As relationships become longer and more involved shunning is a psychological punishment that one can inflict on another and I do not think it is healthy.

        There are times when disengagement is absolutely necessary to maintain your own mental health and we should run not just walk away from certain relationships.
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          Sep 17 2011: I think this may boil down to semantics. For me, "shunning" would involve actively eliciting the participation of others, a far cry from having a conversation with a friend and seeing someone you don't like heading your way and wrapping things up and leaving.

          I fundamentally don't think geographical happenstance is enough to warrant friendship. If my neighbour complained about her life non-stop, it wouldn't stop me from being civil to her, and say, picking up her newspapers while she was on vacation, but I am not going to have lengthy conversations with her, even if that relationship extends thirty years.

          And that would have nothing to do with cruelty, just a mismatch in personalities.
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        Sep 17 2011: I think we are more in agreement than it would seem. We absolutely get to choose who we will invest our lives in. I have perhaps targeted a worry from something you said in another conversation here.

        Addition: I found this when I was looking for something else=
        A study done by Stillman et al. (2009) found that social exclusion results in a perceived loss of meaningfulness in life. Furthermore the four needs for meaning (sense of purpose, efficacy, value and sense of positive self-worth) were found to be mediators in the perception of meaningfulness of life. When an individual thinks himself to be socially excluded, one's sense of purpose, efficacy, value, and self-worth are all indirectly diminished (Stillman et al., 2009).
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          Sep 17 2011: I would still argue that that doesn't obligate me to give up my time to spend with stupid people - against whom I freely admit to having a huge bias. I also don't like germy people, or gassy people and will extricate myself from their presence as quickly as possible and avoid them thereafter.

          If that makes me a bad person, I can live with it.

          No one actually has a *right* to my time, my esteem, or any part/aspect of me unless I give them that right. And yes, that can be rescinded.

          And to be certain, I don't expect it of others either.

          If I can manage to find a niche of people willing to put up with my particular personality, it seems to me that almost anyone can find the right milieu. I wouldn't expect random people walking down the street to befriend me, and I don't think you can hold anyone in particular to be responsible for your mental/emotional well-being.

          If someone says if you leave them, they'll kill themselves, that's blackmail.
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        Sep 17 2011: Gisela, You are absolutely entitled to do as you choose. Engage with whomever you choose and disengage as you choose. I am not presuming to even really comment on your choices. I am merely providing a bit more information on the impact of our actions on others. For me, it gives me pause to put my feet into the shoes of another and consider my own actions in light of what they will experience as a consequence of my choices.
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          Sep 17 2011: Oh, I didn't think you were.

          I just find that as a society we invest too much in what others are thinking, but in an odd way. It's both a valuing (a positive) and an expectation that somehow we can change someone's mind when really it is up to them to change it.

          If I derive pleasure from sitting at an old age home and listening to stories, whether that pleasure is in the hearing or listening (meaning feeling as though I have made a difference in the person's life by spending time with them not in the story itself) it doesn't matter. But we pretend there is something much more noble in the listening (I guess having suffered the boring story) that had the person just enjoyed the company.

          I have no problem with someone deriving the "warm fuzzies" from having done something nice, but the idea that they should additionally get the smug satisfaction that they have done something noble is ludicrous to me. It's like people with martyr complexes: clearly sacrificing yourself beyond reason is filling some need, or you wouldn't do it. Maybe it just gives them something to whine about later and play the hard-done-by soul, but I really don't get why they think they deserve praise for it.

          And just to be clear, this isn't a commentary on you (I don't know you after all), I just disagree with the idea that people can obligate each other to live up to their own ideals.
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        Sep 17 2011: In another posting lately you mentioned the Ma'at complex.(I think that is what you called it.) How did you come to learn about it ?
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          Sep 17 2011: Ah, I always had a leaning toward Egypt where others might reference a Greek, Roman, or Nordic pantheon.

          Having been online for more years than I care to mention, I have seen the personality type that feels the need to right every wrong they perceive - usually on behalf of other people, and usually because they've decided that that person can't stand up for his or herself.

          It's the one personality that seems to be missing from the roster of Flame Warriors (an oldie but still relevant: for more info. O/T I have been accused of being the inspiration for one of them that was added a couple of years after the original set. I don't think I was, but it does sound suspiciously possible.)

          Anyway, how did Ma'at factor into this thread?
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        Sep 17 2011: I was extrapolating and linking with your third paragraph in your last post.
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    Sep 11 2011: Gisela
    You or anyone, cannot hate what is not loved.
    I would love you to preach love and sunshine.
    But as you don't I can warn that as you are angry on someone you're the only one that suffers from it unless that person loves you. If so you reject this love. For a good health it is therefore important not to hate.
    I think that how someone thinks or feels about another person is what s/he gets back from that person.
    I accept everyone without discrimination but don't need anyone to feel good.
    In other words I love all but it has nothing to do with them.
    Does this make any sense to you?
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      Sep 12 2011: Just so that I am clear on what you are saying, do you mean that one "cannot hate what is not loved" because they must first make the emotional investment to love the person before you can be hurt enough to hate them? As in you cannot jump to the state of hatred without first passing through love?

      If so, that is certainly an interesting thought. I have seen people (usually on the street ranting) who seem to be angry at the world and spewing hate to all and sundry. It is clearly emanating from a place of pain, but I hadn't considered it as the result of "love".

      Must ponder.
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        Sep 12 2011: Could you imagine Gisela that those spewing people would react that way as the world was indifferent to them. They feel closed out or mistreated or anyway cut off from the love you should expect from that community you do belong to. Love in this sense is just attention, recognition, care, etc. That's probably why those new churches or what they all call themselves in the US, are that popular. They give just that or anyway the illusion of it. It is the same story as with gangs which compensate that what is lacking in society.

        I must think of a story of ultimate love in South Africa. About a prison with the worst people beyond imagination in Soweto. Some of them had done the most horrible things from childhood onward and dangerous for everyone that came near them. One woman asked the manager if she could visit those people. She was told that they would rape her and kill her but she insisted. As she was allowed it turned out that those prisoners were as weak as lambs. She wasn't intimidated by the outside because she looked beyond this right into the heart of that broken child inside. Some with a many times lifelong sentence were set free after a while and many visits of that woman. They devoted every bit of energy for the rest of their lives to restore some of the damage they had done to their children and wives. One told his story to be a life of fear. As he came outside he saw so much violence that he tried to save himself in doing the worst of it. This became a habit but he didn't grow beyond that little frightened child.
  • Sep 20 2011: One of my all time favorite quotes, I believe places respect as having a neutral stance [unbiased] with everyone in your path. . .

    Respect is not fear and awe; it...[is]the ability to see a person as he is, to be aware of his unique individuality. Respect, thus, implies the absence of exploitation. I want the person to grow and unfold for his own sake, and in his own ways, and not for the purpose of serving me. [eric fromm]
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Autumn,

      " Respect implies the absence of exploitation. I want the person to grow and unfold for his own sake, and in his own ways, and not for the purpose of serving me. " - Eric Fromm

      Thank you for this quote / definition. I have packed it in my internal luggage and shall carry it always.
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    Sep 17 2011: Have you ever encountered someone that you respect - and simultaneously, don't like?

    There are a couple of people I can think of, where the situation is such that I respect who they are and what they are doing, but I don't actually like them as people, and don't want them anywhere near me.

    I had to check in with myself for a second, and yep, it's not just that I don't like them, it's an active dislike, as though on a molecular level, we repel each other.
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      Sep 17 2011: I have an underlying respect for all people. I do not respect some actions or behaviors. So, in that respect, I have encountered people who have accomplished things that I appreciate and respect, and I do not care to spend time with him/her because of other behaviors that s/he exhibits. For me, it's a matter of seperating the person from the behavior at any given time.
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        Sep 17 2011: Could you define your use of "respect"? I think we may have some accidental equivocation happening here.
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          Sep 17 2011: My use of "respect" for all people, means that I have consideration and concern for all people.

          I also have respect on different levels (as I think we all do?) depending on our relationship, the interactions with certain people, and our perceptions of how s/he lives his/her life, his/her accomplishments, etc. etc.
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        Sep 17 2011: Ahh, see, I actually use it to mean "esteem" as in an elevation of opinion.

        I can hold doors for people, give seats to them on the bus, or whatever simply by virtue of not having been raised by wolves. I don't actually have to respect them as individuals to do that.

        I've explained to people who question why I do things such as say "thank you" to the bus driver ("Why are you thanking him? He's just doing his job!") because I view myself as the sort of person who says "thank you" - and whether or not the other person even acknowledges it is irrelevant.

        I actually reserve the term "respect" for people who merit it. And that doesn't mean I disrespect everyone else as a default - there is a state that is neither.
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          Sep 18 2011: we seem to have different interpretations or use of the word respect?

          Holding doors for people, giving up a seat for someone, saying thank you to a stranger, etc., to me, is consideration/caring for fellow human beings, and is a form of respect in my perception.

          Putting someone in an elevated position or holding someone in high esteem, is another level of respect, in my perception. And for me, there are many levels in between:>)

          If you want to retain the belief that there is a "state that is neither", I respect your choice:>)
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        Sep 18 2011: I guess for me it comes down to whether or not I am truly dealing with someone as an individual.

        At this point I hold doors so much out of habit that half the time I don't even see the person. I just know there is a presence behind me, and thus take the extra moment.

        And from the other end of the argument, how can I respect someone I do not know? I neither respect nor disrespect someone until I know something about them. What we forget is that being civil has nothing to do with the recipient, and everything to do with our way of being in the world. When someone is uncivil, it's on them. For instance: it's not my fault people aren't taught any manners and feel the need to take up the entire sidewalk. That is part of their makeup and how they want to interact with the world. It's not my job to teach them and there is no point in my expending mental energy even being annoyed by it.

        (I could go down a whole path about the energy that puts out there for them, but for expediency, I won't.)

        Bringing the two together, I don't think it is possible to be simultaneously absent (minded? from the moment?) and respectful.

        If you want to believe that someone holds the door for you because they respect you, that's entirely up to you. You can believe whatever you like if it makes your day happier.

        I'm not so sure that taking it personally when someone is uncivil is all that helpful, though.
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          Sep 18 2011: Gisela,
          I agree that "it comes down to whether or not I am truly dealing with someone as an individual". I LIKE dealing with people as individuals... I LIKE actually seeing the person, and I LIKE being in the moment with any interaction. Some of my most meaningful relationships have started on a an airport...etc. I LIKE noticing who and what is around me:>)

          I remember that "being civil has nothing to do with the recipient and everything to do with our way of being in the world". That's exactly why I choose to be aware in each and every moment. I don't see it as "my job" to teach anyone anything, and I would not deny myself the opportunity to be fully engaged in the moment.

          You don't need to explain to me the energy extended when we do something for "them". When we are doing it for ourselves, we use the energy to create something for ourselves... as you say..."our way of being in the world". If someone is touched, enriched, pleased, happy, more content because of how we are in the world, that's a bonus!!! I believe when someone holds the door for me, they are having fun with life, and s/he has decided how s/he wants to "be" in life. It has nothing to do with me personally.....until I say "thank you" and smile with genuine appreciation...for me, that's a win/win situation:>)

          I agree that taking something personally when someone is uncivil is not helpful to anyone:>)
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        Sep 19 2011: Oh yeah, I know I am the anomaly. I have a tendency to filter people out of my surroundings: I see the trees and the sky and the clouds, and the squirrels and the roses, and the pigeon chasing the hawk (when no one else sees that!) and the ...

        But when I'm walking with friends and they say, "Did you see what that person was [doing/wearing/whatever]?" The answer is invariably, "Nope."

        A couple of people have actually implied that this trait might put me on the Autism spectrum (there's that 2e bullshit - only about 20-25% of "gifted" people have secondary brain disorders, thank you). I have no problem with being hugged (by people I like), and I have none of the other signs: I just find most people boring.

        I have a tiny attention span because I have better things to think about, and people need to get over it. I'm too old and too busy to pretend that I care what someone's children ate last night, or who got booted off survivor or any other such thing unless there is a point to the discussion, like it led to some sort of observation about the way things work (I swear I am going to get a t-shirt with that disputed quote: "small minds discuss people...")

        Rant over. Suffice it to say I would stop someone from getting run over by a car, and I hold doors for them, but that's stuff I would do for anyone - not really about them as individuals.
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          Sep 19 2011: Hi Gisela,
          I don't percieve you to be an anomaly. If you choose to label yourself in that be it. Many of the questions you ask, and statements you make are common thoughts, feelings, ideas opinions and beliefs. You seem to be very intelligent and clear about what you want and do not want in life. When we are part of a discussion, we have the opportunity to help direct the discussion, don't you thinik? We can usually take it to a place of interest, in my perception. Or...we have the option to leave.

          The people I spend time with all seem to have a similar understanding of themselves and others. Yesterday, at a gathering, one friend was passionately talking about a new adventure she is exploring, and I was equally passionate and interested in hearing/talking about the same issues. Another friend, who was part of the conversation to begin with, apparently got bored with the topic and said..."I've heard all this before...I'm going in and take a nap". It was totally acceptable to all of us...she got what she wanted/needed, and those of us who wanted to continue the conversation got what we wanted/needed:>)

          It helps to be clear with those we interact with, and to do that, we first need to be clear with ourselves. Based on what you've said on this comment thread and others, I'm really surprised you continue to spend time with people who are boring or uninteresting, in your perception.

          I remember reading something when I was a teenager that has colored my world:

          I've discovered that people who are genuinely interested in people and things around them are generally more interesting people to be around:>)
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        Sep 19 2011: Just for the record, I didn't say that to get reassurance, it was just an statement of something I have observed.

        If it weren't anomalous (which doesn't mean that I harbour delusions that "anomalous == unique" - I have lots of friends who are like me, because we just get along better with each other), we wouldn't have things like reality TV, or tabloids, or any number of other cultural phenomena that involves peering into the lives of people we don't know, probably will never know, and for the most part are as mundane as our own.

        Perhaps it has arisen as an area of interest for me at the moment because I have a situation with someone that, for business reasons, I can't smoothly extricate myself from. As nice as it would be to spend all my time in my happy bubble, where no one informs me of what some commentator on SunTV (nicknamed Fox News North for good reason) said, sometimes I can't do that.

        And the person in question has a tendency to "burst into feelings" (so far not actual tears, thank dog, but that may just be a matter of time). Dealing with her actually causes my left eye to twitch.

        None of which was actually relevant to the original question, but relevant to the point that your "discovery" is not necessarily relevant to everyone. At the very least, not broadly, e.g. being interested in what someone is thinking or doing has levels. For instance, I may be interested in what someone is doing for lunch if they are going to be picking up for other people, or it's a meeting that has direct relevance to me, or even when it's a new restaurant and they are giving me a review, but not for the sake of the chatter itself.
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          Sep 19 2011: Just for the record...I think I understand:>)
          I've often been told I'm different and unique too, and I usually say "thank you":>)
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          Sep 19 2011: I "discovery" is not necessarily relevant to everyone. It's really only relevant to me and how I use it in my life experiences.

          With that in mind...think about how it might be relevant to you and your life experiences. Your situation with someone that, for business reasons, you can't smoothly extricate yourself from? Make the process interesting for yourself in some way...challenge yourself to be compassionate? Empathic? You are in charge of your own experiences, so explore!
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        Sep 19 2011: I think that might be easier if that was simply a matter of the content being uninteresting, rather than both uninteresting and offensive.

        I have to admit that there have been a couple of times where she has made some insanely ignorant comments about immigrants or the poor that have severely tested my patience. (OK, that may not be all that difficult.) I don't think anyone has ever accused me of being subtle, so you'd think after a certain point, you'd clue in that someone doesn't share your political proclivities and stop, but no, she blindly barrels on.

        I'd rather not learn something from this experience, I'd rather just get rid of her, but that's just not going to happen at this moment.

        I don't understand this idea that people become better individuals by dealing with racists and bigots. If that was true, there'd be some really amazing pockets of enlightened people living side by side with the KKK.
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          Sep 19 2011: Right...I haven't noticed anyone accusing you of being subtle:>) seems clear that you would "rather just get rid of her". Right...that's not going to happen.

          So, how can you make the situation interesting, or at least tolerable for yourself? If you don't want to learn something....fine....that's a choice you make. I find it interesting to figure these things out in my own life experiences, so I'm simply offering an idea. Some people want/need to get their needs met, and will "barrel on" until that their perception. Some people don't notice that their attention is not wanted. I'm not justifying the behavior...I'm just saying...
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        Sep 19 2011: Oh, here's a better question - if we learn from dealing with ignorant people, then does that mean Utopia is a terrible ideal? If we existed in a place without racists and other problematic types, would everyone suddenly be bad human beings?

        Who came up with this idea in the first place?

        There may have indeed been something to learn from the situation, and I already learned it, and that lesson was: I don't want to deal with her.

        EDIT: I really have to use TED as more than a respite from stupid people or a place to procrastinate.
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          Sep 19 2011: I've got another question...why do you need to label some people ignorant?

          TED is a GREAT place to procrastinate:>)
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        Sep 19 2011: What else would you call people who are ill-informed and yet have deeply held convictions on a topic? And I'm not talking about something obscure or complex, really, just something that a teeny bit of investigation into historical context - or even just the truth of the claim.

        If you want to be a bigot, fine, but at least have some sort of justification for what you put forth that I can't shred in 20 seconds.

        Edit: just spotted the other response. I'm concerned that the ways in which I could make the interaction with her more pleasurable for me would involve torturing her slowly, or at least would be deeply questionable from an ethics standpoint.

        I mean, I can think of several ideas right now, I just don't think anyone would benefit from my acting on them. I also hate that I am spending this amount of mental energy on her. I think I was happier when it was about the broader terms that were applicable to multiple situations.

        And yes, TED is an awesome tool for procrastination.
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          Sep 20 2011: I would call them "ill-informed and yet have deeply held convictions on a topic". We know that anyone, at any time, can get whatever information s/he wants to have. When people remain ill-informed, with inaccurate information, s/he obviously doesn't want to go any further with an exploration of the topic. Why do you let his/her choice bother you so much?

 I'll use your own sentence/belief...
          If you want to complain, fine, but at least have some sort of justification for what you put forth that I can't shred in 20 seconds:>)
          I rest my case:>)

          You say you make your own choices, don't let people in your life who are boring, etc. etc. AND YET...look how much time you have spent on this person...why do you do that to yourself?

          Response to your Edit:
          You make me laugh:>) Your idea may be funny, may be scary...whatever...still takes up your time...why do that to yourself? You hate that you are spending so much energy on her, and yet you continue to do it. What's the payoff? Somehow, your investment of energy is giving you something...otherwise you wouldn't continue to do it. What is it?
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        Sep 20 2011: Yeah, it's a business thing. But every time she comes in with a new point of idiocy, I recalculate the value of the exchange that she is part of. Trust me, I think we're getting really close to tipping into "make her gone" territory.

        You know, I was thinking about earlier posts from other people, and I am pretty sure that this is a case of having shot straight to the negative without ever stepping foot in the positive. I'm not entirely sure about that claim that "you have to love before you can hate" thing.
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          Sep 20 2011: Good insight...I agree with you regarding "having shot straight to the negative..."

          You say..."...every time she comes in with...idiocy, I recalculate the value of the exchange that SHE is part of". Are you making this about HER only? You are part of the exchange as well huh? The positive part of the exchange could be YOUR contribution? And you would be creating a different kind of exchange for YOURSELF:>)

          I don't agree that "you have to love before you can hate". Based on evidence, which my father exhibited, he learned to hate anyone who was different from him from the time he was a child. It appears that he never really let go of that hate, and never embraced love.
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        Sep 20 2011: Oh, by "exchange" I was referring to the business agreement that keeps her in my sphere, not the exchange between us. Thomas Jones made an interesting suggestion for a book and if you are interested, there's a little more information about how this situation came to be in that thread.
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          Sep 20 2011: OOPS...I misunderstood your use of the word "exchange"...didn't know about a business agreement/exchange. Well, you're still part of the "exchange", which keeps her in your sphere...correct? That business "exchange" causes interactions between the two of you...same thing:>)

          I LOVE the Serenity Prayer, which has helped me clarify things many times.
          "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change
          Courage to change the things I can
          and wisdom to know the difference"

          Often, I come to the conclusion that I cannot change the circumstances, but I can usually change my perception, reactions and interactions. MOST of all, I can change the amount of energy I "spend" in any situation:>)
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        Sep 20 2011: Oh, I can change the circumstances, but it would be a trade-off. I am very, painfully, aware of it as a trade-off.

        I must thank you - I am laughing like an insane person here as I imagine myself responding to one of her comments by closing my eyes and muttering the serenity prayer.

        Perhaps that would get the point across ;-)
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          Sep 20 2011: THANK YOU GISELA,
          I cannot stop laughing either. I read your comment, then went out to the garden to do something and the birds all looked at me like I must be nuts...well...ya never know:>)

          I bet you will NEVER be able to have an interaction with that person again, without having that image!!! In fact, I don't think I'll ever be able to leave it out of any conversation I have with you either...LOL:>)

          EVERY time you make a not so subtle remark, I'm going to imagine you gently closing your eyes and muttering the serenity prayer...I am in hysterics!!! I have to go to a meeting later...I'll be thinking of you:>) I have to start thinking about how I will explain my hysterical laughing at Land Use Planning!!!
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    Sep 13 2011: I'm glad it's not an opposing thumb, giggle.
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    Sep 13 2011: Well, I agree that there must be some kind of magnetic force or something between LOVE and HATE. I can't really hate anyone based on nothing at all. But as I read some of the comments here I started thinking about:

    How do we generate HATRED?
    Can we hate simply by default?
    Does hate originate from love?

    Interesting thoughts to ponder on, ha? Now I remember your post in one of the threads that you mentioned in the description, Gisela. It was about racists, bigots and so on (I'm sure you can recall that one:). Somehow your thoughts here and there lead me to wondering if we can hate a person just because they are of some origin or have certain beliefs and my answer to that is YES. I daresay that the neutral state that you're talking about comes just before the state of getting to know someone. One can be unprejudiced even at first glance when we meet others but once we get into any kind of relationship we can't be impartial anymore. SO may be we should try to hold on to the initial feelings that we had for people we meet or if we happen to find something negative just to rediscover what we loved about them.
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      Sep 13 2011: HOW ? We generate Hatred by duping our own mind.
      BY DEFAULT ?"Default setting " comes from immediate family & society - tribe mentality.
      ORIGIN ? Hate originates from ignorance, refusing to allow expansion of the mind and subsequently the heart.
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        Sep 13 2011: Hi Juliette,

        We seem to agree on the point here. Have you read all the comments in this thread? I do hope that you understood what I wanted to say in my post. BTW what's your personal opinion on the topic of the conversation here.
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          Sep 15 2011: Hi Silvia,

          I really liked how you had presented your three questions above; well delineated and well a clearly lit landing strip that draws an airplane pilot to a landing in the darkness of night. You made me overcome my lack of faith in the computer mediated communication. So even though I have enjoyed TED talks for over 4 years, my response to your question is the first time I wrote !

          Gisela has brought up a great question. The topic of this thread has been a major intrigue for me since I was a child: to understand how love and hate and indifference come about.
          ( I am in no way equating indifference with being neutral)
          I am hoping to formulate my thoughts into something constructive to contribute here....hopefully within the time line :-) :-)
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        Sep 14 2011: Hi Juliette,
        I'm not entirely sure that the default comes from the family and the society a person lives in. Somewhere along the way, someone has to be the first to break with tradition, or we'd still be living in one of many states of civilization of the past.

        On a related note, I read an interesting study the other day that claimed that once an idea gets hold in 10% of the population, it has critical mass to go viral and change the society as a whole. I don't think that seems accurate to me either as for any given concept, there are usually more than just two potential beliefs.the numbers don't seem to work for me.

        But I do agree that hatred (at least of large groups) involves self-deception. But then, I also think that the entirety of the social contract is a mass of self-deception.
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          Sep 18 2011: Thank you Gisela, I am very much intrigued by your question on these topics. I feel this is perhaps the most foundational concept in all human existence. And it appears quite complex. While I am still working to formulate my contribution to these talks. I will define my usage of the word "default setting" soon. Meanwhile, what I heard in one of Deepak Chopra's lectures that stayed with me, is that "it takes only 1% of the population", to cause evolution. That and Rosa Parks give me great hope.
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        Sep 15 2011: Looking forward to your contribution, Juliette. :) Sounds like you're going to come up with something interesting.
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      Sep 13 2011: Hi Sylvia
      I love your point that a neutral state is hard to hold.

      By this I had to think about a movie of a story in which two children are trying to escape a concentration camp. They were caught by a German guard and as he would bring them back inside one of the girls called her name. With that she became a person and not just another Jew. Because of this the soldier couldn't keep his heart closed any longer and helped them to flee through the fence.
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      Sep 13 2011: "In a relationship or friendship I believe we do make a conscious effort to love or hate as neutral may seem like we lack decision."

      This is interesting. Must ponder.
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      Sep 14 2011: Rami,
      You have hit on an important piece of the puzzle. You say..."We are quick to judge as human beings and have to establish an emotion towards a person or object instantly". I believe we function, at any given time, either from a place of love, or a place of fear. Hate is fear. I don't agree that we need to have "true hate to understand true love". If we are functioning from a place of established love in ourselves, we have an underlying feeling of love for all those we interact of of fellow human beings on a life journey.

      You're right, though, humans DO often feel like it's necessary to make a judgement about others, so we/they often try right away to put someone in a certain catagory with our preconcieved judgements. I believe it is these judgments, which cause certain emotions, that we can be neutral with. We can have an underlying feeling of love (respect, acceptance, compassion, empathy, kindness, etc.). In that way, we are "neutral" to how a person may be behaving, or the words s/he uses. Make any sense?

      From a place of love, we can decide what kind of interaction we may have with anyone. Love, to me, means being open to the possibilities without judgment. It does not mean we have to accept certain behaviors in our lives. Love needs to start with ourselves, and if we love ourselves, we do not subject ourselves to unloving behaviors. Often, people who judge others, judge themselves as well.

      If one is used to judging others, it may feel like "lack of decision" to NOT judge, However, judging others is from a place of fear, so to NOT judge, is actually coming from a place of love.
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    Sep 12 2011: This made me think of an article I saw a bit back saying hate was often more logical than love. The reason being if someone hates a person they usually have a reason (perhaps not a good one) and they have to use a good amount of frontal cortex energy to give support to that idea. As for love the article went on people did not need so much reason to love others, and they certainly spent little time trying justify why they love someone.
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      Sep 13 2011: I think we as a society undervalue joy as an endpoint, as a goal unto itself.

      I do [x] because it gets me money, which
      a) earns me the respect of my peers and thus pleases me
      b) allows me to purchase entertainment, and thus pleases me
      c) empowers me to do something that in a secondary fashion, pleases me.

      For some reason we don't accept direct pleasure as a legitimate pursuit, only as a secondary effect, particularly when we are discussing work. For instance, if I enjoyed fishing, it would be fine for me to do it on the weekend because it was somehow earned, but for me to quit working and do it full time would be less impressive.

      Maybe it is more obvious to me because I am female and the list of things I am supposed to do is more socially obvious (not that I am doing any of them, which of course makes me "eccentric").

      Women are trained to be self-sacrificing and put their own pleasure last. (Clearly training I failed miserably, sorry about your luck, world.) Men are also trained to sacrifice (more for the nobility of it, I have observed) but are at least "permitted" to play hard for having "worked hard" all week.

      Anyway, love would be acceptable as logical if we didn't have this weird attitude towards pleasure.
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        Sep 13 2011: So true. One of my pet peeve now is people listing the therapeutic effects of doing something. Can't we just allow ourselves to enjoy our time in this life. Oh well. There is something defiantly enjoyable about the company of eccentric women so don't let the mindless rabble confuse you on what you are suppose to do.
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    Sep 12 2011: i completely disagree with fear being a reality
    so i could get involved alot in that ('that' being any perspective which contains it)
    because i feel very strongly that in life,
    love is all there is for me.
    fear divides us
    love unites us
    that kinda thing ;)
    with respect; i hope my post contributes instead of takes away.
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      Sep 14 2011: I agree Benny,
      Fear divides us
      Love unites us:>)

      I'm wondering why you write..."i completely disagree with fear being a reality". Did you mean in you?
      I think fear is as much a reality as love, don't you?

      I LOVE your profile image:>)
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    Sep 11 2011: I liked your point regarding hate as an unwanted guest in your brain. With that in mind, I think most people, when they recognize hate, do what they can to extricate it and achieve that 'neutral state'. Those that thrive on hate, become mean people, even violent.

    It is a good question you ask.
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      Sep 12 2011: Thank you, Lynn.

      I was inspired to ask by a couple of people assuming that the absence of respect, or liking, or whatever automatically implied the opposite emotion.

      I am finding that the idea of neutrality seems impossible to some and offensive to some others. As much as that might make sense to you and to me, I'm not sure people actually do work towards the neutral state.

      I suspect many people would rather get even or hope against hope that that person will apologize (further giving up their own power in the exchange). I don't think that all that many people really do understand neutrality or the value of not investing emotion into a situation or person.