A Rant For You

What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Does it matter? Should we give any thought to anything beyond ourselves? Why should we trust anyone but our own selves? What is there beyond what we see? Are there hopes, dreams, possibilities beyond what we can ken at this moment? Is there hope beyond the now? Can we know, for certain, anything at all? Is there meaning to love? To happiness?

Can we change?

There is one answer to these questions, and every other question that has ever been asked. There is one answer which is the key which unlocks the mysteries of every cloaked and shadowed mystery in all of time and space. There is one meaning which is the meaning of all meanings. There is one hope, which is the hope of hopes — the hope which gives hope life and breath.

There is one life, which is the source of all life. One word which is the greatest of all words. One Person who is the Being of all being.

Look at this verse. Look at it hard. Let its meaning sink into your eyes and down into your heart. Meditate on it. Muse on it. Do not let it go away from you. Think. Even if it is the first time in your life, I want you to think, hard, on this verse.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

How. Can we… bless the Lord God of hosts, father of glory, eternal, perfect, holy. Think of who He is, and who we are. All that we’ve done to Him. How can we possibly bring anything to Him which He considers valuable?

Why did He make us?

The answer.. is Himself. God. It’s who He is!

The greatness, the wondrousness, it’s all Him. The paradox, the oxymoron, the mystery of all mysteries. It’s Him. He’s perfect, He is love. How amazing is that?!

Don’t let this pass away from you. Take a hold of it, and realize this.

You can.

No matter where you are, no matter how hard things are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how many times you’ve failed, you can get back up again and go in God’s Name because He. Loves. You.

He is always there. He is always giving you an opportunity as long as you reach out for it. He will never give up on you. You. You. Can bless His Name.

P.S. If… you want to hear the audio version of this article, I do have it. I couldn’t really get it out on paper, so I blurted it into my mobile and recorded it. It’s not exactly the same, since I changed it when I posted it, but if you want it, email me, and I’ll send it.

Advertisements

Ask Me Anything! (Well… almost)

DictionaryYeah yeah, it’s not your regularly scheduled dose of Emeth’s Home Brewed Esoteric Lexicology, but it’s close.

I get a lot of questions while I’m dancing through the cyber-sphere. I don’t always get the time to answer them all. Often as not I refer people to my blog and say I’ll get a post up as soon as may be. Which… all too often turns out to be never. 😥

But! This time I’m going to be doing it the other way around.

I’m writing a blog post in which I tell you to ask questions.

Fun, right?

The only stipulation is that I will limit my answers to the lexicological aspect of whatever you ask. So if you ask lexicological questions, it makes it easier for me. 😉

And if you don’t know what lexicological means, ask that, and I’ll answer. 😀

Share this post around, keep asking questions, and have fun in the comments section!

Eccentricity, Mathematics, and Peculiar People

Examples of orbital trajectories with various ...

Image via Wikipedia

I am eccentric. Quite so. In fact, almost invariably so. And I quite like it.

Now, when most people notice my eccentricity (and they do), they generally comment on how weird it is, and then make some comment about fitting in or having to still be able to communicate with people or something along those lines.

They miss it.

Totally.

Why? Because they have a messed up perception of eccentricity and weirdness in general.

What does eccentric mean? What does it really mean?

Well if you go back to the roots, you find that it is founded in mathematics. An eccentric circle is a circle with a different center from another circle.

Not having the same center; — said of circles, ellipses, spheres, etc., which, though coinciding, either in whole or in part, as to area or volume, have not the same center; — opposed to concentric.

This is still a valid definition in use, and it directly affects the other definitions.

Not terminating in the same point, nor directed by the same principle.

So someone who is eccentric isn’t random, arbitrary, or capricious at all. Being eccentric means living with a different set of life principles than those you share company with (either by being in the same circles, or by working on the same things, whatever). You share some things in common with them, but you don’t share a common starting point or worldview.

The modern definitions of eccentric have become synonymous with unpredictable heterodoxes. The whole concept is one of any deviations from the societal norm being wrong by default.

So… which is good? To be eccentric, or not eccentric?

To be eccentric of course! We’re commanded to!

Or are we?

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

What does peculiar mean?

Appropriate; belonging to a person and to him only. Almost every writer has a peculiar style. Most men have manners peculiar to themselves.

It means you have something unique and special about how you do things… another way to say you have a different set of principles. You have a different center and goal.

So now we know we’re supposed to be eccentric, peculiar, and odd, at least as far as the world goes. Our goal is to have Christ and His Word as the center of our lives, wherever that leads us. Even if it means we disagree with other Christians… if God’s Word is our reason for it, then it isn’t a sin to disagree: the Bible is our center, and that’s what matters. Listen, test your center, always, but don’t be afraid for it to be different from other centers.

So what about communication then? If you’re so off-the-wall that no one can relate with you… what then? How do you impact them?

Good question. 🙂 I’ll write about that later, but for now, you can get started with your ideas in the comments. Go!

Is chivalry slavery?

This time we’re going to do something a tad bit different, although I’ve done it once before I think on this blog.

Instead of me posting a long article on something, I want to get your ideas on a difficult topic. I’ll be in the comments (am I ever not?) talking with you all, but I want you to start it up. Don’t feel shy, and say your mind! Think with lexicology. 😉

So the question is this: Is chivalry slavery?

What do I mean by that? Well, by chivalry I mean showing deference and respect to others, particularly to females. By slavery I mean the kind of unjust servitude and subservience enforced by tyrannical power over people of supposed lesser status, particularly to those of a different skin color.

If you want to know where the question came from, you can watch this very infuriating video (be forewarned, it might make you angry, haha): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCW2dKD45oA

So I’m curious… what do you think about this issue? Comment and let us know!

 

 

 

 

Eleven tips to stop your handshake miscommunications

First Handshake

First Handshake by MJ/TR on Flickr

I shake hands. I am a handshaker. It’s my favorite element of a greeting, and it’s a key element of how I communicate who I am and the nature of my relationship with someone to them.

That’s right, shaking hands is a form of communication. It’s an integral part of body language. And it falls within the purview of lexicology. So I’m writing about it. 😉

I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on my firm handshake, mostly from guys with hands like a giant’s. I speculate they’re as tired as I am of diffident and wimpy handshakes and appreciate the grip of a guy who knows how to do it.

But even if you do have a strong grip and shake people’s hands with attention, you can be doing it wrong. And you can definitely be underusing this communication medium, neglecting to take advantage of its full potential.

So here we go. 😀

The first thing I’m going to talk about is the obvious fish grip. That’s where you don’t actually grasp the other person’s hand at all – you just kind of put your hand by their’s in a completely relaxed state. There are numerous reasons why this is a bad thing to do. The first is that you can actually get hurt if they have a strong grip and aren’t skilled enough in handshaking to save your hand. Don’t put the onus on them to avoid crushing your metacarpals. The second is that it communicates weakness and a diffidence about your relationship with the other person. You aren’t really interested in them and you’re only shaking their hand as a matter of course to be polite. Which is ironic because a fish grip is anything but polite.

(I’ve always wondered what two fish grippers do when they shake hands with each other… how do they hold on? Do they hook thumbs or something?)

The next mistake is the mash grip. This is a common error for guys who work out a lot and aren’t focusing on being courteous (either that or they just haven’t got a clue because they haven’t been taught). It is also the bane of the fish grip. A mash grip is when you grab someone’s hand and proceed to mash it into a pulverized mass of quivering nerves and bruised muscles. Yeah, you’re showing strength (and possibly benificence), but you’re also showing a lack of self-control and care for the other person. Avoid the mash grip like the plague.

Another handshaking fail is what I call the super shake. You grab the other person’s hand and pump it up and down exaggeratedly. The range of motion in a super shake varies, but I’ve experienced handshakes that moved my arm over a distance of a foot and a half in both directions. Not fun. And if this is coupled with a mash grip it spells chaos for your wrist. Besides the fact that the only thing you can do is go along for the ride. This communicates enthusiasm generally, but like the mash grip, it also communicates a lack of care for the other person. It’s almost embarrassing. What’s really weird is when someone combines this with a fish grip. It’s one of the most difficult handshakes to meet and deal with. You gotta hold on without hurting them while trying to anticipate their next movement so you can follow along. Crazy.

The last problem grip I’m going to mention is the freeze grip. Like the mash grip is the opposite extreme to the fish grip, this one is at the other end of the super shake. Let’s say you walk up to someone and grasp their hand in a friendly handshake, and you start to try and… you know, shake his hand. That’s what you do in a handshake, right? Not in this guy’s world. No, he grabs on and locks your paw in one set of coordinates in twelve dimensions. Don’t do this, people. A handshake is a handshake for a reason. It’s an action, not a state. This grip can communicate anything from a threat, to control, to fear, to insecurity, to all kinds of things. It all depends on the rest of your body language.

Okay, enough about the wrong grips, what about the right one?

The right grip is a strong grip. Here’s how you can tell if you are doing it right. Hold your hand out like you are shaking someone’s hand. Now act like you are shaking their hand, just without holding onto anything. Does your forearm tighten? Good, that’s not a fish grip then. Does your fist close? Bad, that means you’re doing a mash grip. Your hand should maintain it’s general form, while being strongly tense. It’s isometric, using your own grip muscles to oppose themselves instead of the other person’s hand. This way, if you are shaking an old lady’s hand, you can give them a firm, secure, friendly, committed handshake without endangering them. This is also the best defense against a mash grip. This is because it strengthens the structure of your hand so it won’t be crushed while still engaging with the other person – without challenging them to a crush match (not fun if the guy is twice your size and can smash raw apples with his bare hands). Your grip will still dynamically engage with them, giving a good amount of squeeze so you don’t give the impression of a robot, but it also won’t be trying to fold their palm into an accordion.

But the hand grip and motion is only a part of a handshake. What about the rest of your body language?

For example, eye contact – don’t look anywhere but in the other person’s eyes when you shake their hand. It’s rude to be looking at one person while shaking another person’s hand. If someone else walks up and you want to greet them, look over at them to acknowledge them, then look back at the person you are currently shaking hands with before disengaging and moving on. Don’t look down at your handshake while you are doing it: look them in the face. When you first come up to someone you want to greet with a handshake, look at their eyes, smile, look down as you put your hand out in order to make sure you make good contact without hurting them or missing, and look back up as you shake their hand, holding eye contact until after you let go of their hand.

And always smile. Period. Full stop. Even if it’s a little one while you’re crying. A smile is an integral part of a friendly handshake. Without a smile it almost feels like a threat. 0.0

Give your handshake personality and uniqueness, not just to you, but to your relationship with the other person. Each person I shake hands with has their own unique shake that I give them. With one person I lean forward a certain amount, give a certain kind of grin, grasp his hand just so, move it up so much, move it down and slightly forward so much more, smile more, nod a bit, and then disengage with a small bow. With another lady I always take a step forward with a certain smile, bow while extending my hand, grasp hers with a slightly supine grip (instead of holding my hand vertical, it’s almost sideways, as if I was going to kiss her hand), shake it down once while saying “My lady,” and disengage with a grin and a step back. Sometimes I intensify it, especially if I haven’t seen them in a while. Sometimes I combine it with a friendly shoulder hug.

Always use their name. If it is appropriate to use their first name, do so. Make the effort to learn and remember people’s names and use them. It makes a huge difference, and gives life to an otherwise ordinary handshake and greeting.

Now, what about if you are a girl, or if you are shaking hands with a girl?

Same principles apply. Make sure you always match the enthusiasm and duration of your handshake to your relationship with the other person, though. You don’t want to convey the wrong thing by breaking off too late or too early. Be natural, and be friendly. Once you get familiar with handshakes and their nuances, and once you’ve got the hang of your personal style, you’ll be able to handle this intuitively.

And lastly… do it. Shake people’s hands! Don’t avoid it, just start doing it. That’s really the only way you’ll get used to it and get practice. Watch and listen to their feedback, either from their comments or their body language. Don’t go around asking people to test out your handshake (though that would be a fun adventure and a way to meet new people, haha), just be observant. Learn, grow, improve.

Become a communication master.

P.S. Write your tips, experiences, and questions in the comments!

Oh God

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Image via Wikipedia

“Oh god that’s so funny!” Phrases like this, using the words “oh god” in a light and jocular fashion, are commonly seen and heard in normal conversation and in media.

“Oh god…” Phrases like this one, using these words as an expression of horror, shock, terror, or awe, are also commonly encountered, especially in movies.

And in general at least, Christians decry these usages.

Why?

If you ask someone about it, they will point to the Ten Commandments, in particular the third one:

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

They will also often equate taking God’s name in vain with blasphemy. These two are not identical or interchangable, however. They are very closely related, but not equivalent. Blasphemy is only one way someone can take God’s name in vain.

Blasphemy attacks God. It is an action in the opposite direction of reverence God – it slanders Him.

Taking God’s name in vain is much broader than this, though. To take God’s name is not limited to merely taking it into your speech. It includes your life.

When someone claims to follow God, whether he says he is a Christian or not, he is taking God’s name upon him and his life. This is even more true of someone who claims to be a Christian. And if you claim the name of Christ in this way, and you then view or treat or speak of His person as if He is somehow light or ineffectual, then you are taking God’s name in vain. You aren’t blaspheming, not necessarily, but you are violating the third commandment.

God is. God’s name is His personhood, His attributes, His very being. Every part of His majesty, glory, power, love, and Godhood is in His name.

Thus to reject His ability to change and transform your life and His promises of reward and blessings for those who submit to Him is taking His name in vain. God is worth it. God is able.

And now, take a step back and think…

We are created in the image of God!

That means that we all bear the name of God in our nature – in our very bodies, whether we like it or not. And so anyone rejecting or neglecting Him is taking His name in vain.

But wait… can any of us truly and completely accept every part of God into our lives? That is the definition of perfection! And we cannot be perfect, so this command is impossible to obey!

Yes. It is.

Just like the first command is impossible. Just like every command that God gives us of this sort is impossible. We can’t do it.

But God can. And He does. And He will.

It will take all our lives, but we’ll get there. In heaven, at last, the work will be complete. And we will rest from sin and failure for eternity. Think about it!

Here on earth we strive towards that goal. We struggle, we fail, we yearn, we mourn, we falter, we continue, we fight. But through it all we are living and breathing obedience to this command: Take not the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

For it is our hope, our faith, and our love for God that keeps us going. It is our desire to fulfill these commands, and God counts that to us for righteousness… the fulfillment of those commands.

Isn’t that awesome?!

A lot more than a couple words dropped carelessly, isn’t it?

Every idle word that men let fall from their lips without thinking about it will be called into judgment, because those words come out of our hearts. God will not judge people because they used the words, but because they slighted Him.

So instead of throwing a fit about someone using two words, be saddened by the heart behind those words, and from your own heart, say the same, but with the truth of God behind it. When tragedy strikes, and you cry out, Oh God! When sorrow fills your heart, and you whisper, Oh God… When you look up at the glory of the heavens, and you sing out, Oh God! When you are full of joy and merriment, and you laugh, Oh God.

Mean it.

Four Things that can Cripple your Communication Without you Knowing

Amygdala location in each hemisphere of the hu...

Image via Wikipedia

And communication makes or breaks everything you do. Everything.

So this might be a little bit important to you (and to everyone around you), maybe. I don’t know. You’ll have to decide that for yourself. 😉

In case you missed my last blog post, there are four levels of communication that work like a gradient from Devastatingly Crippling to Explosively Empowering. Most people work in the first two levels almost exclusively, only breaking out into the higher forms by accident now and then — unless they have invested loads of time and thought and training into developing the skills necessary to deliberately avoid the toxic airs of the first two and live in the fresh, catalysing airs of the second two.

I want to teach you about those first two, at least right now. Why? Because you need to start somewhere; because the rest is too big for this article (it will be coming soon, though, don’t worry); and because they are the foundation for every improvement you can make in communication.

I can’t even aspire to the herculean attempt it would take to exhaustively elaborate the entire depth and breadth of even this vastly smaller scope, though. I am here merely to show you something – something simple, something small, something you can do right now. The whole art and science of communication will have to wait. 😉

If you haven’t read my last blog post, go read it now, seriously. I am building on what I said in there, and although this post will help you even if you haven’t read the other one, it will make a whole lot more sense. So go read it. One… two… three… Go.

So here I go! …you may need to hold onto your hat.

The first two levels of communication are Pretense and Sincerity (last chance to read the other post!), as you should remember. 😉 The last two are Accuracy and Authenticity. There is one, huge, fundamental difference between these two halves of the communication spectrum, and that difference is what I am going to spend all my time in this post talking about.

The difference is a little thing called bioreaction.

I am guessing you probably have never heard that word before this moment, at least in this context, which is fine ’cause this definition isn’t in the dictionaries yet. I didn’t make it up, the Communication Catalyst guys did. And it really does make a lot of sense.

Bioreaction is basically a biological system that has a single goal in mind: deal with threats fast.

That’s it. And that is really a super valuable system to have, especially if someone leaps out of nowhere at you and slashes at you with a knife. You need to respond fast. And the normal system the brain uses for making decisions is waaaaay to slow for what is needed. So what the brain has is a special spot devoted solely to this function: it is called the amygdala.

What this bit of your brain does is filter outside input for perceived threats, and as soon as it sees one, take command of the brain and choose one of four options for a rapid response. It is lightning fast at this (well probably faster than lightning, but you get the idea).

But here is the thing: it has only four options. Which makes sense… it can’t be spending time filtering through all the millions of possible reactions to pick just the right one. So it has four preprogrammed premises for action that it chooses from.

These premises for reaction to perceived threats are: Fight, Flee, Freeze, and Appease.

Simple, right? Perfectly simple. God is really good at designing these things. So basically what the amygdala does is takes a perceived threat and evaluates it based on these four options to figure out which would best deal with it.

For example: if a big huge guy leaps out of nowhere and slashes at you with a knife.

Appease is out – the guy is already committed to the attack, and no time to hand him a cookie.

Freeze is out – that knife would plow through you like butter.

Fight is out – taking on that giant would probably get you killed worse than before (if that is possible).

So obviously the best recourse is to flee the scene at rates exceeding human probability. It’s your best shot at living.

See how this works? Handy, isn’t it?

But notice how I have been saying perceived threats this whole time? There is a reason for that. See, the amygdala can’t actually know if something is a threat or not until after it has already passed. Which isn’t the right time to respond to it. So it has to guess based on your experience and filters whether or not something is a threat, and then act on that perception of reality.

The problem is when it is wrong. When it thinks something is a threat… and it really isn’t.

This happens all the time in communication. Why? Well because in communication you are opening up a part of yourself to the other person. It is a fundamental and inescapable fact of every relationship you have. That in and of itself can be perceived as a threat to some people (stage fright, anyone?). But if someone does something that happens to look even the slightest like an attack on you as a person, it doesn’t matter if it was intentional or accidental, real or fake, true or false – the amygdala will pick up on it and limit your whole brain to those four options: fight, flee, freeze, or appease.

None of which are going to help in the slightest to resolve the perceived conflict.

Conversations are a work of collaboration and sharing of mutual value, not a fight. And even if someone is attacking you, the four bioreactive responses aren’t going to make it better – they will almost inevitably make it worse!

Not good.

Those first two levels of communication, Pretense and Sincerity, are built on bioreactive responses. That is why they are so damaging to your effectiveness and to your friendships… and to your friends.

Pretense is where there is a direct conflict between what you think and what you are saying and doing. Generally this is characterized by things like lying, evading, and withholding information. These actions come directly from the motivations of fighting, fleeing, freezing, and appeasing. Most people who do these things aren’t being malicious at all (they might not even be conscious of it at all): they are merely defending themselves. Mistakenly, yes, but mistakes are common and easily forgivable.

So if someone is behaving with these towards you, first forgive them, and then choose to not respond in kind with a bioreactive response of your own!

Sincerity is pretty much the most common place for people to reside in. People think it is a good place. They justify it in tons of ways (often defensively, with bioreactions, haha). And honestly, I don’t blame them. Getting sincerity from someone is a huge blessing (it’s loads better than pretense), and expecting more borders on meanness (accuracy and authenticity are a ton of work to develop).

But it still isn’t the best, and it still cripples your success. Teams can function on sincerity, yes, and so can friendships. But they are walking on ice. Their boat is leaking. They are up a stream without a paddle. Okay I’ll stop. 😛 😀

Sincerity is an honest report accompanied by the conviction that what you believe to be true is true. Basically it is untested opinion pretending to be reality.

Just like the amygdala, isn’t it? It responds to perceptions as if they were real, and then acts on them without testing to see if it is right. Good for some situations – bad for communication. The idea of someone who is sincere is to be honest and defend their honest position.

The problem is that value isn’t being generated, and people get hurt and opportunities get lost forever. Why? Because opinions isolated from the experience and learning of others is crippled in its search for truth. You don’t want to be wrong, and so you don’t learn. And in the process of bioreactively defending your position, you trigger other people’s amygdalas, and you create an atmosphere of defensive animosity rather than one of collaborative friendship.

Not. Good.

So what do you do? Well the first step is to start noticing when your amygdala fires up, and then take your brain back over from it, so you can choose to learn rather than spit out a bioreaction. This takes a lot of practice, but it is completely worth it.

Basically you just need to ask a question that the amygdala can’t answer. Train yourself to notice the signals that a bioreactive decision is being made (for example: your jaw might clench, your eyes look at a certain corner of your eye, certain phrases go through your head, or you start to use one of the bioreactive responses), and then introduce a consideration beyond the amygdala’s scope.

Such as purpose. Or value. Ask yourself what your fundamental purpose is that you are there for, and then ask what would be the most valuable thing you can do in this situation towards that end. Ask yourself what purpose the other person is there for, and then look for a way to provide value to both his and your purposes.

That’s deep. That’s tough. That is transforming. It will explode your potential and the potential of everyone around you. Try it!

And yes, again, I wasn’t able to really go as deep as I would have liked to, but again, you get to ask questions. 😉 So have at it. 🙂

P.S. This post was originally posted (with some slight differences) on the Holy Worlds Christian Fantasy Forum. I honestly believe that community is one of the best in the world. So check it out. :)