PM Quote of the Day — Chinese Fortune Cookie

Remind yourself that ‘the lion when hunting doesn’t roar’.

PM Quote of the Day — Edith Sitwell

I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it.

I had been familiar with the concept of vincible and invincible ignorance, but I had not been familiar with the more full taxonomy of ignorance.  I especially liked these variants, especially in the context of the quote:

Ignorance stemming from making little or no effort is termed crass or supine; it removes little or no guilt. Deliberately fostered ignorance is affected or studied; it can increase guilt. 

PM Quote of the Day — Lord Chesterfield

Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least.”

Take Typealyzer with a grain of salt

Breanne at The MBTI Blog posted a comment on my Typealyzer post (here).  I didn’t take Typealyzer quite so seriously as some — after all, my post’s title was “My Blogging Personality Type”.  My take is that Typealyzer mostly an interesting coding exercise.  It is hardly consistent (I tried it again after another post and it came back ISFJ) and could be misinterpreted, so  Breanne’s comment was constructive:

… I write a blog about the MBTI and wrote a post about how Typealyzer is basically junk. I know lots of people are checking it out for entertainment sake- and that’s totally cool…but I hope you don’t confuse those “blog type” results for your own personality type…. [H]ere’s the original post: http://www.thembtiblog.com/2008/11/websites-that-ruin-my-day.html.

Of course, Breanne’s comments beg the question of the reliability and validity of the MBTI itself. Like most psychological tools, it measuring multiple dimensions of a chaotic system.  And MBTI is about as reliable and valid — if not more so — as other personality inventories. 

MBTI tests, however, aren’t reliable in the way most lay people think of reliable.  For example, did you know that on retests, people come out with three to four [MBTI] type preferences the same 75% to 90% of the time?  Not quite as impressive as the .01 and .05 significance tests one plays around with Stats 101? 

This misunderstanding of the limits of the tool compounds the misperception that one’s MBTI type is black-and-white and immutable.  To my mind, self-awareness and mindfulness benefits aside, one of the main advantages of doing MBTI with a professional is that he/she can point out such caveats — usually by noting which of one’s preferences are strong and which are weak.

PM Quote of the Day — Emily Dickinson

Saying nothing… sometimes says the most.

This quote attracted my attention, probably because I recently posted a Calvin Coolidge quote touching on a similar theme (here).  While poking around the ol’ Interweb I found a Tom Evslin post on negotiation (here) that conveys just how well silence can reinforce the few words you do say.   I particularly like the way Tom transitions to the start of the negotiation itself:

We didn’t apologize for keeping them waiting. Mr. Oak [Tom’s negotiation mentor’s pseudonym] didn’t ask how they were hitting them or about their wives and families. He instructed me to read the list of offences which I did. When I finished, they started to read the list of our offences which Mr. Oak hadn’t let me prepare for.

“That’s irrelevant,” Mr. Oak said. On his desk under a plastic sheet he kept lists of words. They were in columns of harsh, strong, and mild. For example, “fight”, “argue”, “discuss”.  Lesson #10: Choose your few words carefully.

Also, isn’t that great advice about the lists of words?   I’ll have to work that into my commonplace book.

Ugh…this sounds like a toxic culture

I  liked the tone of this post by Johanna Rothman (here).   Of course, she doesn’t include some facts that might help w/ conclusions — e.g., I don’t know what the progress of the program was/is — but here’s my two cents.

The replacement program manager has been telling people to do this task and that one, not providing context, and has been holed up in his office creating the ultimate Gantt chart.

I’ve seen this syndrome enough to worry.  I never like to see program managers holed up for very long, though apparently he does come out every once in a while…

He yells, but I have no idea why he’s upset. 

I’m not a “yeller” — I’m 6′ 4″ (192cm) and 240 lb (110 kg) and am scary enough when I’m calm. But on the rare occasion I yell. It isn’t a button I like to push very often, and not just because it is impolite and uncivil.  It ultimately is ineffective when used much at all.

If you measure or assess people on how they perform certain tasks, such as yelling at program staff, or how well people work on a task in isolation, you will get what you measure. But it won’t be what you want. 

I have worked in a culture like this; the boss was expected to be brusque and even belligerent. Oh, and he/she should be directing every minute part of projects and operations.  Not my “cuppa” and I wasn’t there long…

PM Quote of the Day — Samuel Johnson

Actions are visible, though motives are secret

I’ve found two meanings in this little saying of The Great Cham:

  1. Our actions — even unconscious tics or posture — can betray a meaning we don’t necessarily mean.  What may be fatigue for us may look like boredom to another.  I know that one video of me presenting was enough to make me acutely aware of how my carriage and affect undermined my message.  I also realized that the same principle applied to all of my interpersonal relationships.
  2. A little innocence about motive isn’t entirely naive.  With some people that may require complete suspension of disbelief; however, delving into motive is a tricky and time-consuming business.  I try not to let my default trust setting become “suspicion” — actions will reveal what needs knowing in the fullness of time.

PM Quote of the Day — Emily Post

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use

I liked this quote because it provides an example of something I’ve found hard to explain: the difference between a skill and a competency.  In this case, the skill is knowing which fork is which.  Competence refers to the cluster of abilities, knowledge, skills, temperament, etc. required for a role. 

Competence in manners would involve not only knowing table settings, but other, fuzzier abilities — like understanding how to best to convey such knowledge.  For example, with someone who appears unsure when faced with an array of utensils, one could show empathy with their plight, something like: “I know how you feel.  Someone showed me this trick about starting with the utensils on the outside….”

Hey... wheres the fish fork?

Hey... who took my fish fork?

PM Quote of the Day — Calvin Coolidge

I have never been hurt by what I have not said.

Calvin Coolidge was perhaps the least loquacious politician ever.  The most famous example of his “Silent Cal” persona is of Dorothy Parker trying to goad him into conversation by remarking: “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” His reply: “You lose.”

Coolidge’s advice is something I’ve learned about the hard way — talking too much has cost me trust, respect, and even love.  In the past, lulls in the conversation would make me very uncomfortable.  Instead of taking an extra beat or two to consider how to answer (or not), I’d feel the need to fill the silence immediately.  Just about anything could — and did — come out of my mouth.

After several catastrophes, I have finally become at least somewhat comfortable with silence in a conversation.  As a wise post (here) on the power of silence notes:

 Ben Franklin said, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still is to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”  Silence allows us to keep a secret, to serve as a peacemaker, and to learn the deeper meaning about what is being said.

PM Quote of the Day — Sojourner Truth

Truth is powerful and it prevails.

Not much to say about this quote, other than to point you more about Sojourner Truth (here and here) and her most famous speech (“Ain’t I A Woman” here).   I had not realized that she had been jeered and heckled so severely — by attendees of a Women’s Rights Convention — before giving that 1851 speech.  Of course, by the end, the audience had been transformed.

To say the least, the speech manifests the power of plain speaking.

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