Friday, July 29, 2011

Google and Stress - Conversation Killers?

A gambit is a remark that is a conversation opener. One of the best ways to open a conversation is with a question.

"How are you?"

"What's new?"

"How, When, Where, Why do you...."  We use them all the time.

I love Google for the ease of finding answers. On Twitter, I've often thought about asking a question to help get the conversational ball rolling, but then I think, "Ah, it's just as easy to Google the answer."

Has Google stabbed a hole in the heart of the opening gambit? How often do you turn to Google for answers instead of asking a colleague, neighbour, friend or stranger?

I can't help but wonder if this has contributed to the discord that people feel. Many times I visit blogs where people express a discomfort in communicating. Like everything else, communication requires practise. That means it needs to be done, and often.

For some people, a question moves the focus onto the other person and unrolls the carpet of communication. This makes it an ideal tool for someone who suffers from shyness and wants to engage.

Would it change things for you if you looked at shyness as a way you use to protect yourself from further hurt? Perhaps a past social situation may have caused you embarrassment, or had some other strong negative consequence.

The amygdala, which remembers strong negative feelings, triggers the stress response when it senses a situation that is "close enough" to the original one. Without stress techniques in place, feelings of flight, fight or freeze take over. Rather than being in, and even enjoying the moment, the focus is on the ensuing feelings of shyness.

Becoming aware that this is happening and then implementing stress techniques does make a difference. You activate a different part of the brain, one that is not designed for flight, fight or freeze!

I worked with a grade four student who seemed as if she were shrinking into herself. Once she knew what to do, and practised it, the transformation was beautiful! By the end of the school year, her teacher remarked upon the change - she was volunteering answers and speaking up in class! Her grades improved, as well. She was claiming her space! 

What a joy! And she didn't need to go to Google, only to her heart!

If you would like to find out how to help your child overcome shyness and enhance performance, please email for further information.

Image courtesy of Ilker.

4 comments:

  1. I do use Google and Twitter for information. The latter feels more personal, and the answers come quickly.

    In my teens and twenties I was under weight and under-size, this made me very self-conscious and shy. Really. Extremely shy. I would stand at a threshold, count to ten, take a very deep breath and then walk into the room only to slink into the nearest corner!

    Handing round plates of food or removing empty dishes were my way to open conversations - it worked and soon I gained the confidence to chat away with out props.

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  2. I prefer asking. Let me give you the latest incident as you know both the people involved. In my blog post, Grannymar left a comment with a word that was new to me. I simply mailed her to ask the meaning. I have done this a number of times with her and I do this with others too. I go to google as a last resort.

    One opening gambit that I love to respond to is "How are you doing?" I always respond, "I stopped doing a while ago. Why do you ask?"

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  3. What a great interpretation of shyness...and a potential solution. I love it!

    You incorporated neuroscience and neuroplasticity in such an empowering way...I love how you were able to help the 4th grader overcome her shyness.

    It reminds me of how I had initially felt moving back to the United States (from abroad) as an adult college student and had felt rather shy at asking questions in class (in English).

    I was initially so shy that I wrote out my questions first on paper before asking them aloud...but I pushed through.

    No one would think of me today as being shy about asking questions because I remain one of those students who always asks questions since then (I don't know how else one learns).

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  4. Good thing I went trawling back through my posts.

    GM,
    As you discovered, practise does make perfect.

    Ramana,
    It gives you that opportunity to interact.

    What answers do you get with your gambit reply?

    Dorlee,
    I can relate to that agonizing rehearsing of questions, as I frequently did that. Now, rarely.

    I assume this relates to your recent academic experiences. Are you asking questions to clarify the knowledge or information you already have?

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