You Know I’m Bad—for Some Moore…

Ohh…are you being good? Behaviors can be learned by observation, example, order, or correction. What is the difference between how behaviors are learned and corrected in humans and animals? 

TRAINING BEHAVIOR IN HUMANS
The first way humans learn behavior is through observational learning of a behavior, attitude, or emotional expression. A baby, even before understanding words, observes how to act from watching actions and gestures from others, as was discovered by Albert Bandura, an American-Canadian psychologist in 1961. When a baby is just over a year old, the baby starts to learn the association of gestures with words. Parents introduce words which accompany gestures to indicate simple orders such as “yes”, “no”,  “stop”, “don’t”, and “come here”. The baby begins to develop vocabulary and respond with gestures to communicate. Once a child reaches adolescence, and are able to distinguish between right and wrong, they may question why they are asked to do something. They are either obedient to rules or use abstract reasoning to determine how they will react. A person might be conditioned to follow a rule, and do so in obedience, simply because they know it is right or wrong. This is typical of younger children. However, as a child grows into adulthood, they use reasoning to consider the options they have and what consequences might be associated with these decisions.

Positive Conditioning
Conditioning Behavior
Behaviors can be conditioned with rules, procedures, and expectations in place. Rules have set consequences which are most effective if they are served as soon as a rule is broken. Rules are stated and understood at the beginning of any endeavor, and if a rule is broken, there is a punishment which should be expected. Procedures on the other hand, outline the how-to process for an expected behavior of which there are no consequences. It is important for teachers to have these in place at the beginning of the school year. It establishes structure and guidelines that help prevent unruliness in the classroom. Without these stated and enforced, classes can be difficult to manage because with each individual comes to the classroom with their own idea of what is expected.

Modeling is another way to teach expected behavior in a positive manner. Both children and adults learn visually through observation and being shown how to do something. In a social setting, a person might observe other people and adjust how they act to match them appropriate to the setting. A teacher might use modeling in the classroom to point out how a student is demonstrating good behavior for the class to follow. An airline attendant may show travelers on an airline how to use oxygen masks in case of emergency.

Ordering is another way people learn to behave. Firmly, yet respectfully giving an order can be effective. Yelling orders, demanding behavior, without any respect, can have very little effect other than trying to intimidate the person to conform. Within the workplace, a manager might give orders to their staff that they need to stay on task to meet a deadline.

Having consequences in place helps behavior stay on track but gives a person the freedom of being able to know what happens if they don’t follow them. Part of the responsibility of being an adult is being able to have the freedom to make decisions by oneself taking into consideration consequences. Considering the consequences before doing something that may break the rules, helps a person evaluate whether a bad behavior is worth the punishment. Before a person breaks the law, they should consider that they might get caught, be fined, or go to jail. The behavior or result of the behavior, might be more important for an individual than the consequence. For others, the consequences restrain the person from pursuing a behavior which could compromise their safety or that of another person’s.

There are people who also have erratic behaviors which can be the result of medical issues or affected by drugs or alcohol. Behavior also affected by spontaneity, and irresponsibility—at the spur of the moment what seems like a good idea overcomes any rational thought process. Unwritten rules of our society might also affect behavior which is erratic, and these who act out of what is acceptable within society can be subjected to social consequences.

Positive Reinforcement
Positivity is always a good rule of thumb when it comes to behavior and reformation. A responsible person with a well-formed conscience is able to correct themselves. Although not immune to human error, they realize when their behavior is out of line, and seek to change their behavior to do what is right. Even if it is bad behavior that is repeated, they have a positive attitude knowing it is something which they can work on.

A positive attitude can be used to correct bad behavior in another person or in oneself. Even the most self-motivated person who wants to reform their behavior, is capable of slipping back into bad behavior. If a person has a positive attitude and can forgive themselves of their imperfection, they can continue to persevere at good behavior until they perfect it, and probably be very successful in their efforts. For those who need another person to hold them accountable, a positive spirit from an accountability partner can keep a person on track especially in the cases when temptation tries to win out over resolution. Just like a bridge from old behavior to new behavior, using positive reinforcement can help pave the way over falling into despair caused by not holding to new resolutions. People like to understand that they are good and are doing a good job. By complimenting a person on their achievements and letting them know they are doing well can add wonders to their morale and self-confidence. Finding qualities that can be praised as part of reformation helps encourage correction.

Using incentives is another way to reward success. Especially for more challenging transformations of behavior, it is a good idea to have a plan in place. Strategizing how to change a behavior might include making a list of objectives of desired results, a list of reasons to serve as reminders of why it the transformation is necessary, and ideas for rewards for achievements along the way. Some behaviors take longer to change than others. Earning incentives for good behavior can make working for new resolutions more fun!

Life Experiences
Life experiences can motivate a person to change behavior. The life experience might be learned from one’s self or from witnessing the life experiences of others. A person might go through a life-changing experience which changes their perspective enough to make them committed to change their behavior. A person who becomes addicted to a substance might suffer in such a way that their situation ‘wakes them up’ to not continuing. The person can even find support with groups of others who can help them keep on the path of recovery and be committed to making better choices. Likewise, a person can learn from another’s experience. A friend’s story can leave such an impact which causes them to rethink their own behaviors and become committed to changing their own life.

Repetition
Repetition also contributes to correcting bad behavior. Repeating a mantra that a certain action should not be done, reinforces that it shouldn’t. Having constant reminders to stay on the path of good behavior helps keep resolutions at the forefront of the mind. Relearning helps build new habits to foster steady good behavior.   

Negative Conditioning
Correcting behavior the wrong way can be classified as forms of abuse. Physical contact, verbal correction, and manipulation are sometimes used as ways to correct, but they are also more likely to be classified as abuse. Whether physical contact is abusive or not is determined by the evidence, what the intent is, if a minor or adult is involved, how hard the force, and an evaluation of the severity from the damage. Examples of physical correction are grabbing an arm to hold it back, spanking a child, slapping a face, beating someone, burning someone, or hitting or harming a person using a weapon, rape and other ways. Verbal comments can also be abusive. Harsh words, yelling at a person, name calling, harassment are all ways which can cause emotional damage. Even if a person is angry, correcting a person should be done firmly, but using gentle words. It is usually unproductive to yell although it may help vent feelings. Manipulation is also commonly used as a last resort when no other means of correction seem to work. While this may be effective as a way to bring about the desired behavior in a person, there is deception involved which leads to mistrust and resentment. The short-term good of achieving correction, is brought about by the evil from manipulation. Correcting behavior in another person is more likely if it is the person’s willful choice to change, rather than by tricking them using deceptive means.

The Effects of Positive Reinforcement on Humans for Correcting Behavior
How effective is it to use positive reinforcement as a means for correction rather than negative reinforcement? For one it is more likely to have a successful outcome. People generally respond to positiveness better rather than being forced into correction. It also is less risky. Using negative means for correcting behavior show that the person correcting an individual has less control over the situation. They are resorting to force to yield an outcome. In many ways, it is the way an adult might correct a child who they have lost control over. They resort to yelling, spanking, or manipulation. Adults who have not mastered positive reinforcement can also use these methods as a way to correct other adults. It generally does not work, because by adulthood there is a knowledge of one’s own independency and an expectation of individual respectfulness. Positive reinforcement and patience is more likely to work for both children and adults. It builds up the individual and guides them to making better choices on their own. The result is that the adult is proud that they have achieved a desired behavior, because it was their decision to change. Using negative methods, forces behavior that is likely to only change out of fear of further abuse.

Effects of Therapy for Abuse and Disorders
Counseling is an effective means for those who seek to change their behavior, those who have been physically or emotionally abused, and for those with disorders. Counseling can provide positive reinforcement while the individual works through their individual situations. Sharing information in a counseling environment provides professional guidance in a safe environment, with a qualified professional.

The Success Rate of Prison as a Means of Effectively Correcting Humans
Persistence in changing one’s own behavior pays off as some behaviors can land a person in prison. Most prisons offer in-prison rehabilitation programs which help identify criminal tendencies and solve recidivism, a person’s relapse into criminal behavior. These in-prison rehabilitation programs have been successful in reducing recidivism by up to 35% to prevent future crimes. According to the California legislature, there are 8 significant criminal risk factors: antisocial behavior, antisocial personality, criminal thinking, antisocial relationships, poor relationships with family and/or spouse, low performance at school and at work, low social engagement for leisure or recreational activities, and substance abuse. Rehabilitation programs can help lower the criminal risk of people who display these characteristics. Prison education, employment, and health treatment programs offer a number of directions to prisoners can provide hope to prisoners setting them on a new road for their future.

TRAINING BEHAVIOR IN ANIMALS
Both humans and animals have the ability to be trained to change their behavior. In 1902, Ivan Pavlov, a Russian psychologist, studied behaviors in dogs and learned they could be trained to recognize an object to trigger a response. He noticed that a dog’s salivation changed when food was placed in front of the dog. Pavlov was able to condition a dog to have the same behavior using an unconditioned stimulus which was then associated with the response. For example, a dog started to saliva when there was food. A bell was introduced. The dog was trained that when a bell was present, food would be present. Therefore, the dog was conditioned to learn that the bell meant food and so he would start to saliva. When the bell was shown to the dog, the dog started to saliva because he knew that food was coming.

Symbols used to Trigger Behavior in Children and Adults
Conditioning is common in children especially in elementary school who are grasping new concepts of structure and order. They learn that certain symbols and colors have meaning and that they are expected to recognize and act on these. Teachers use call-and-response techniques to manage classroom behavior. Teachers teach students short, clever rhymes to let the student know they need to stop what they are doing and pay attention. They also use hand gestures and clapping as part of their call-and-response. Students respond to desired behaviors while having fun communicating back to the teacher that they understand what needs to be done. Adults also learn symbols which have meaning. Traffic signs are symbols of what behavior is expected from a driver or pedestrian. Behavior is trained so that we know how to drive and cross the street. There are also consequences which result when a driver or pedestrian does not follow these signs.

Similarities Between Learned Behavior in Animals and in Humans
Animals and humans learn behavior through positive reinforcement, observation, and repetition. Animals and humans respond to positive praise. Visually both learn what behavior is expected. Practicing behavior repeatedly helps master a new behavior. While most may assume that humans have a higher intellect than animals, this is not necessarily the case. Animals can be very intellectual and have the keen ability to sense danger, have an awareness of their surroundings, and the ability to communicate through sound. Most animals can be trained to new behaviors, although most respond to stimuli while humans are more likely to make decisions for their own new behavior for the sake of self-improvement.

Taming the Differences
It is more likely that an animal is subjected to physical conditioning as a way to learn behavior. It would be thought of as abuse to use a stick to train a child, but with a dog, there is no thought to using a stick or a leash for correction and to control them. Animals are submissive to humans, for whatever behavior the human wants of them—if no other reason of having no choice because of their confinement. They are taken from a community of same animals and are in a human’s kingdom, the house. They do not have any organizations they can call for help or support. At the mercy of the human, they hope for the best care. The human on the other hand at least has access to support organizations and resources available for abusive situations.

Human Differentiation Between the Behavioral Bias
Humans are conditioned best with intellect and a positive attitude. In George Orwell’s book 1984, he writes about a community called the Proles. These are people who have their own community within a larger government-controlled community they do not interact frequently with. The Proles are more concerned about their immediate world. They preserve the human spirit, are a feisty group of people, focused on love, hard work, are of a lower social level, and do not keep up with the world outside of their own. These Proles could be compared to the typical large retail stores of today, such as Walmart. As hearty, blue-collared employees they may have been with the store for many years and have built a bond and community with other employees who have been there for a long period of time. For these large discount retail stores, such as this one, it is typical that there is a community which forms within the store. The demographic is that of one which might be more social, less accepting of others, composed of individuals with lower education levels, a higher degree of attitude, and a need for order. These people need a structured system. They may fight the system with an attitude and break the rules but they need structure to align themselves to for productivity and success as individuals and as a whole. Obedience is also more likely, because rules and expectations are clear, but so is rebellion.

The next stage of education level is those who have a professional nature and maintain inner discipline and self-control. They readily adaptable to working with others. These people tend to accept others easier and realize that productivity is more important. Although structure is needed for behaviors, such as an HR policy, there isn’t much need for consequences for broken policy from management as all are expected to be adults. These employees require a looser managed structure because they are able to control their own behaviors.

People who are of an even higher intellect, need minimal to no structure. They typically are responsible for controlling others, and while they control themselves, they think in a wider capacity and have an ability to do more within their position. No rules can apply to them because they typically choose to live outside of any system’s rules. While they are capable of making larger decisions for the good of society or people, they also are capable of great damage. They typically do not misbehave, but they are not obedient to the small man’s laws. Overall, these people may break the rules or law, but typically they are loyal to their responsibility and make decisions for the good of people. Any bad behavior at an advanced level usually falls into loop-holes and is justified because the good outcome outweighs the bad. There is a reason in other words.

Correctional facilities apply to all. However the more intellect a person has and is a respected within society, despite whether what they do is good or bad, they are more likely not to go to a correctional facility. Quick thinkers also fall into this category as well, however, they are more likely to be institutionalized than those with caliber in society. Intellect is not necessarily defined upon education level. Speed is also a sign of intellect. Some people think so quickly they are able to twist the current system to their benefit and fool the entire population.

In the end, it is one’s own behavior for which one is ultimately accountable. Each must be responsible for guiding their own conscience for good and striving to go in the direction of good behavior over the tendency for making bad choices. This doesn’t necessarily mean a person lives less fully by having good behavior. It means they care about other people in the world who their behaviors may affect and for their own eternal good.


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Personality of Coronavirus

I am surprised at how compliant everyone has been with wearing a mask. It is mandatory within stores and public buildings, but it is just as common to see people wearing masks outside exercising. In Texas, even with the heat in the 100’s, people are continuing to wear masks outdoors, sweating from fear of the Coronavirus.

I think it would be interesting to do a psychological study of people based on how much they are masking themselves. As concern for the Coronavirus has continued, I’ve noticed people covering up their faces more and more. In retail environments where there have been the most people, I have seen people so covered up you cannot even see their face! How can the police even identify a thief anymore? Women are seen wearing large sunglasses and masks so that only their foreheads are left uncovered. Men wear bandanas that cover up the entire bottom half of their face below their eyes. Whereas in most cases it is difficult to implement any kind of policy, somehow wearing a mask is not even questioned. There are very few people who argue with it. How many of these are wearing a mask for prevention reasons and how many are wearing it because of psychological needs for safety, security, love, and belonging?

I have seen people who have their entire face covered. Is this a sign of care and security that the person is trying to create for themselves? Does the amount of coverage of the face signify fulfilling a need of self-love and way of conquering pain in their life, like trying to swaddle themselves in a baby blanket? Or maybe it is coverage from the fear of contracting the virus built up from all the hype and coverage of media, rather than the virus itself.

Perhaps for some, it is a way to physically look better or a means to lose weight. Sweating under a mask burns off calories on an entirely different area of the body than is typical. Similarly, with weight loss, how is it that a person can breathe who is exercising with their mouth and nose covered? I had a gym membership and it was manageable to walk on a treadmill at a slow speed with a mask on. However, any faster cardio activity was nearly impossible as the mask restrained breathing and caused my face to become really hot. Do people who workout intensely masked think it will strengthen their lungs by restraining their air? For those who are self-conscious about the bottom half of their face, it provides a chance to keep it hidden, but for most of us, we need a full supply of air. Likewise, it is a mystery to me how cyclists are able to ride their bikes completely masked. Yet many of them are cycling miles around the lake at the same speed as normal. How many of the walkers and runners with dogs on a leash do not care that the Coronavirus can be contracted to their pet? Where are the pet masks? Wouldn’t it make more sense if both pet and owner wore a mask or didn’t?

Living in a self-expressive era, people are eager to express themselves and show their personality and style. For those who care to express themselves by mask, wearing a unique mask is a way to do this. The number of styles I have seen have ranged from glitter and bling, to exaggerated mouths on the mask, patriotic versions, cartoons, and plenty of different colors and patterns. Those who love to sew, were quick to see the Coronavirus as an opportunity to show their skills. Handmade masks were made and distributed to friends and family members. Many still wear the basic disposable, blue and white mask. Bandanas also have been a quick makeshift for a mask, easily made by folding a bandana into thirds and popping hair bands on each end.

Very few people are actually practicing social distancing with 6 feet of space, but wearing a mask is followed by nearly the entire population and has become a trend. Has self-expression and the trend for fashion tied in with keywords like “social distancing” created a fad to drive compliancy?

Health and self-expression are always going to be top-sellers when it comes to the general public. Having an ailment or a special condition, makes you a commodity. We see this with parents and their children. “My child has ADHD”, or whatever other symptom, suddenly makes the child “special” and the parents have a topic to talk about. Topics revolve around the problem with their child, rather than emphasizing what the child excels in. This is a way parents can converse with one another encountering less feeling of inadequacy. Empathy can be found with a health issue, whereas bragging on talent might create adversity with another parent. The same type of approach applies to adult-to-adult conversation. Adults would rather discuss their woes rather than talk about what is uplifting. How many older people talk about their pains, medications and doctors visits when it would be more pleasant to hear about their life experiences. It creates a concern for self, which results in compassion from the other person. With the Coronavirus everyone gets a special band-aid pasted on their face.

It is understandable that vulnerable populations such as the elderly might have a greater fear of catching the Coronavirus. One would think that children would be of a higher concern as well. In retail store environments, I have heard mothers question why their children must wear a mask or if an exception can be made. Events and kids meals might make exceptions for kids, but with smaller lungs and little bodies, it would seem obvious they would fall into the high concern bracket. Psychologically is it that the parent feels neglected of care and must nurture themselves by wearing a mask while giving the child the benefit of freedom? The parent positions him or herself as the one who needs care above the child, when it should be both.

With the rich and famous, masking opens up more opportunities to be in public and not be identified. For those aspiring to be rich and famous, they too can dress differently and go around town in mask for a different experience. It is a chance for the affluent to be fashionable and show their sense of fashion by affording specialized masks to coordinate with their outfits. An article was posted about the Queen of England who wears a mask that matches her daily wardrobe of brightly colored suits. I also saw a young woman in downtown Dallas who had a mask made of the exact material of her outfit.  

While some cultures such as Islam require head coverings, covering the face is new for most Western cultures. Will this develop a greater appreciation for our mouths? An uncovered mouth is needed for sound and volume. Many hard of hearing must be affected by not being able to hear people who have mouth coverings on. It may create a new vision for how we see people, noticing the person rather than the external qualities. The mouth is also used for reading facial expressions. A person can take a vacation from smiling and no one will even know. I’ve even seen people stick their tongue out at me from behind their mask. And as for revenue from foundation makeup and lipstick, I would imagine sales are down. Personally, I prefer to be mask-free as much as possible, but follow policies where wearing a mask is required.

Wearing a mask is the perfect prelude to a reformation of etiquette in our culture. After being in timeout with the Coronavirus, with shelter in place, we were able to have a greater appreciation for our freedom and ability to interact with one another. Covering the mouth and nose, can visually signify halting gossip and nosiness, which is also indicative of rudeness. When restrictions were lifted for public shopping, it was a renewed experience of respectfulness of distance and the exclusiveness of having space while shopping. People were obedient to this and cautious of infecting others by following social distancing procedures. Now that most places have opened up, there seems to be not much difference as everyday life returns to normal. When we take our masks off, we will see other people’s faces again. What it would be like to remove the band-aids over our mouths and noses yielding a healed and healthy society of people. Furthermore, what if being mask-free meant a world culture safe from the Coronavirus, and one with a greater respectfulness for each other in our interactions and speech.  

Note: It is noted that the Coronavirus is real and has caused many deaths worldwide. This article is written from another perspective hoping to present other points such as how well marketed the Coronavirus has been with precautions followed seamlessly by the majority of the population because of the scare. A lack of respectfulness in today’s culture is equally contagious and deadly, which is a natural segue to this current worldwide concern.


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The Signs of Communication

With communication today, two extremities of communication exist: self-expression and speaking with discretion. Self-expression, or speaking openly on any topic without much censorship or use of etiquette, is common by most of the population. The second, opposite extreme, is speaking with discretion and saying very little in order to preserve one’s reputation. This is more typical of professionals and anyone of class, although it may not necessarily always the case. How are either of these improving the way we communicate? How are both of these skewing the line of civilized communication?

Self-Expression
The first extreme of communication is self-expression which has become an acceptable way to communicate today for most Americans. Unlike other countries, the United States does not have laws against hate speech. What a person says has no societal limitations in most settings. With this increase in self-expression, and decrease in societal parameters for civilized speech, the majority of the population feels they can say whatever they want—and for the most part they do. There is little thought put into what is said. Rather than considering how what is communicated might hurt or offend another, the priority is placed on voicing opinions without discretion, using uncivilized expressions, and being heard.

In the past, social standards influenced improper communication. In Roman and Greek cultures, speaking was seen as an art which had to be mastered before a person was given the right to speak on a topic. It could take years to master becoming an orator. The aspiring speaker had to first learn the art by studying the writings of philosophers, mastering grammar, and learning how to speak. In more modern times, within the United States, social standards set the acceptability of civilized speech and good etiquette. Even a minor comment could eliminate a person from social circles. Differences of opinion could certainly make for a worthy topic of discussion. However, being cordial was expected at a minimum for more vivacious discussions which could lead to arguments. It was possible for people to be accepted, although they might have differing opinions, and still be valued and respected with human dignity.

Within the last 50 years, there has been a shift to self-expression. The ability to say whatever is on a person’s mind is acceptable whether in person or online. There are hardly any limits to what a person may speak about. Open communication is seen as a way to provide transparency and the “honest story” of any person or situation. While this has many benefits, it crosses a line when dignity is stepped upon and boundaries are crossed. Consideration is necessary before speaking with regards to whom a person is talking to, if the topic is appropriate, and the choice of respectful words which are said for a pleasant conversation. Talking about anything can be very damaging. In fact, much of what people talk about has veered away from “ideas” and “intellectual topics”. Instead, what is more common is digressive speech such as gossip or speaking of topics which are inappropriate, very personal or sensitive in nature, or comments which might advertise the negative rather than focus on the positive. There is no preservation of the human dignity of a person. What needs to be said, is what is said, regardless of how it may hurt or offend the other person.

On social networks, a simple post can flare up into a war of replies within seconds. This trolling is often classified inaccurately as a “discussion” and “freedom of speech”. It would be better described as intolerance for a different view which triggers others chiming in to counter the post with an escalating degree of negativity and close-mindedness. These can occur even on simple posts that may not have any intent to attract opinions, but which result in a soapbox of negative, heated, responses. While self-expression allows for openness and problem solving, it can also open the door for adversity. Communication on digressive topics, and intentionally creating unnecessary conflict are examples of unhealthy communication. Speaking about anything without consideration of another person is rude and uncivilized.

The Power of Silence
The other extreme for communication is to choose to say very little or to remain silent. By speaking cautiously a person is more likely to preserve their good reputation. It also provides safety, by finding no partiality to any party or issue. The person remains politically correct by withholding an opinion. In many spiritual teachings, silence is perceived as golden. By remaining silent, a person can reflect wisdom. Remaining silent, a person does not reveal what they know or do not know. Likewise, by not speaking, there is less of a chance of speaking in an unintelligent manner, speaking offensively, or divulging information which should not be revealed. Remaining silent is also a way to absorb heated conflict, inappropriate speech, and to buy in time to respond with a more thoughtful response.

There is a time and a place to speak. George Washington said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”.  While we should speak out rather than remain silent on situations of injustice, on political views or ways that may affect our life, saying less, rather than more can be a way which contributes to civility. Voicing an opinion without consideration, can breed hate more than solve problems. This is where uncivilized speech occurs. In today’s culture, it is more likely that the freedom of speech is taken too far through the self-expression of uncivilized conversation. Self-expression can be the ignition of unnecessary conflict just to express an opinion. When freedom of speech is taken to this extreme, responding with silence can help swing the equilibrium of communication, bringing it back to more peaceful speech and civilized communication. Knowing when to speak and when not to speak is important.

Finding the Balance with Human Dignity and Respect
Some social and professional settings still have standards for communication, although uncivilized speech is more popular. Realizing that there is a place for self-expression while maintaining a standard for civilized communication is the challenge which we face today. Many do not recognize digressive communication. Being desensitized by the current standard, hardly anyone today questions inappropriate speech which is on the tongues of most and found in media and by leaders. If culture continues to accept digressive speech, it is a reflection on our country, acceptability for digression and lack of etiquette, and is an insult to the right to the Freedom of Speech which we have. The First Amendment was created for Americans to speak up for freedom and liberties for all. With an acceptability of hate speech and speaking on digressive topics, society is infected with negativity, hate, unacceptability, intolerance for differences, immaturity, a lack of professionalism, and lack of human dignity. It shows an inability to communicate and interact with others. For a country which prides itself on being a melting pot, this is not congruent. Although not everyone will get along, there needs to be a greater degree of respect for differences whether it is race, belief, lifestyle, ability, economic or any other characteristic. Valuing differences and human life needs a higher tolerance and acceptance. Inequality will always exist, but human dignity needs to be upheld. Since the primary problem of unacceptability stems from inappropriate speech, correcting communication that is off-balance can help set society upright to a culture with a civilized standard.


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Words & Phrases: How To Phrase It

How you speak matters, and so does knowing ‘when to chew it’. The Freedom of Speech does not mean it is acceptable to say just anything. Slander, defamation, and verbal abuse are abuse of the freedom of speech and are even a liability for a civil lawsuit. Knowing how to speak properly makes a difference in employment showing good communication skills. Thinking before you speak gives you a chance to form what you have to say in the most positive and polite manner. This infographic and podcast shares information on how to express what you have to say in a civilized way.

Download the Infographic: How-To Think Before You Speak: Words and Phrases

Are you left tongue tied because of rude speech? Are you wondering how to lick the rudeness? Join Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness as host Cheryl Vaca presents the podcast: Tongue Tied: How To Lick the Rudeness by Using Better Etiquette. Identifying offensive ways of speaking in everyday conversations is a way to improve communication with others. Raise the standard for civilized communication by striving to speak respectfully and with good tact. Be Cultured. Be Kind.

Listen to the Podcast:
How-To Phrase It: And You Can Quote Me

Read the Script for the Podcast:
How-To Phrase It: And You Can Quote Me PODCAST


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How to Say It, Third Edition:
Choice Words, Phrases, Sentences, and Paragraphs for Every Situation

by Rosalie Maggio

SAY…WHAT!?! About Speech

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If you think Freedom of Speech means the freedom to say anything, think again. Defamation and other speech can be civil offenses. On the 4th of July we celebrate our country’s independence and the freedoms we have as Americans. The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech but how are many turning this into the liberty of hate speech? Learn more about defamation, slander, and effective communication. The content below shares valuable information on communication and the different between good speech and traps that we fall in with our tongue. View the infographic and read or listen to the podcast here!

Download the Infographic: How-To Communication with Etiquette SAY…WHAT!?!

What you says matters and speaking well of others is where winners are at. Join Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness for the podcast: How To Phrase It and You Can Quote Me. This podcast talks about how what you say matters especially when Freedom of Speech is taken too far. Learn ways to improve your relationships and how you speak by listening to the podcasts this month and joining this month’s online book discussions. Reach for a higher standard when it comes to communication. Be Cultured. Be Kind.

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How To Phrase It and You Can Quote Me

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How-To Phrase It and You Can Quote Me


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Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World
by Timothy Garton Ash

Speak If Thou Dare:
An Absolutist Defence of the Freedom of Speech in the Age of Enforced Silence

by Michael Tapakoudes

Movie
Shouting Fire: Stories From The Edge Of Free Speech

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How-To Phrase It: And You Can Quote Me PODCAST

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See the Words and Phrases Infographic

PODCAST SCRIPT

Hi, this is Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness and today is June 6, 2020. Today’s podcast is: How-To Phrase It: And You Can Quote Me.

As you all know, it’s good to stay current with the latest news, or the “buzz”. And when it comes to knowing what is going on, you want to be the first to know. The top stories from the top sources—or if it is juicy enough, from any source. That’s right. The latest gossip, the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. It’s what keeps many going, even at the expense of another person’s life and reputation.

How do you distinguish what is gossip and what isn’t? The trick is knowing the difference between what is proper to talk about and what isn’t. If it is someone’s personal business or a sensitive matter relating to another person, there really is no excuse or positive reason to share it with another. Still unclear of what is acceptable and what isn’t? Here’s an example. Julie is talking to Mary about Joannie’s wedding coming up. She mentioned she is so happy they are getting married. That statement is not gossip as long as it is not a secret that they are getting married. It is a generic statement stating happiness for the couple. If she starts talking about details of Mary’s life, what she is doing, or scorning about why they shouldn’t get married, then that crosses the lines of gossip. Gossip can be on anything. It usually revolves around taboo topics such as sexual topics with regards to another person, financial matters, relationship issues, or medical information. Don’t assume that it is ok to talk about these things with another. It can be very hurtful, especially if it forms the mind of another person or becomes public knowledge. There are several types of gossip. Here are some definitions.

Gossip is the spreading of a truth or unconfirmed fact about someone

If a story is already circulating then it is a rumor. A rumor is a currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.

Slander is spreading untrue information about someone to damage their reputation.

If is published in print or online and is a false statement about someone then it is called libel.

And Propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

All of these can cause defamation. Defamation of character is damaging the reputation or name of someone which can happen through any of these civil offenses which could be taken to court in a lawsuit. Talking about someone is not a light matter. Taken to an extreme sharing information about another person can severely damage a person’s life even to the point of suicide or murder. And you can quote me on that.

One way to determine whether what someone is sharing is gossip or not, is to check a few key things. Is the person sharing it with the good-will of the person it is about? Is the information necessary? Is the person you are talking to the source? Are they reliable? Why are they sharing the information? Is it for their popularity at the expense of another? How will you benefit from hearing what they are talking about?

If what they are sharing does not meet these or you feel uncomfortable, cut the conversation off and if it continues walk away. Telling the person that the information would not be appreciated by the person it is about,  is one way to indicate that what they are sharing is inappropriate.

How do you prepare yourself for propaganda? It may not be as frequent as gossip, but it is gossip and defamation at a larger level when it targets a specific person. The person’s name doesn’t even need to be named to do damage. Propaganda is a biased opinion which is spread to promote a point of view. In worse cases it can be taken to every retail store, business, public and private venues, and organizations. Many retail stores are easily swayed to use their businesses as a means to support opinions that have absolutely nothing to do with the business. Yet, although this may seem highly illegal, the only way to find justice is by a civil lawsuit, and in many cases it would prove to be a futile effort. For an average person, this type of “gossip” spreading through propaganda can cause discrimination, shut down opportunities for work, cause homelessness, targeted hate, organized crime, hopelessness and more. One would think in huge cases like this, someone would stand up, but as with any gossip or selling of information, it can snowball like an avalanche and gain steam to become the popular voice regardless of the details or meaning behind it. There is something wrong with society when this goes against one individual without means for defense and such damage is done. Business owners and managers of any business should really take a look at what they allow in their business. Significant fines should be placed on them, besides the fact that customers should refuse to shop at stores that do this. The personal social platform should not be at the retail stores. The stores are there to sell the products they have and maintain their brand image. Several stores claim by promoting propaganda from the community it supports their business as they become a hub for the latest update—at the expense of the life of an innocent party. This is a real issue in the DFW area and probably not just in DFW but throughout our country. It is taking Freedom of Speech the wronggg way, and for all those who have participated either on the business end or as customer eagerly wanting the latest morsel of juicy news as they shop, the quote needs to go elsewhere.

Quote me on it, there’s a lot of clean up to be done with the standard in DFW. Besides the news and who’s talking, phrases need to be set aside and highlighted. What phrases do you use when you communicate? We easily can slip into derogatory remarks, discriminatory name calling, or other phrases which can be said and hurt others. Cleaning up the expressions you use can really make a difference in the people who are around you. Why cut people up? Use words of praise frequently and politically correct ways to speak. Discriminatory name calling can often be thought of as racial, but it can be sexual, belief related, intellectual, about social status, or a number of other things. People love to make fun of people for some reason, mostly for popularity and to build their ego, or as a way to control or empower another person. This verbal injury blow is a form of abuse, especially when it is repeated. It is easy for it to catch on with others and suddenly another person is isolated out as a target to be made fun of. You are in control of what you say and you have the power to make a positive impact with your words or to negatively impact someone.

Soap and scrub the dirty words and phrases which are of bathroom humor, sexual humor, racial in nature or other lower standards. Speaking well increases your social standing with those who want to be around you, as well as professionally.

Not everyone sees the damage they cause as much as they seek being cool and their seek own popularity. Instead of speaking and listening to the latest hearsay, why not get to know the target and find the good qualities to speak about instead. It’s better to win friends who may be different than you by taking time to understand them rather than slamming them down with gossip, insults or name calling. Reach for the higher standard by finding acceptability and compromise rather than mocking others to tear them down.

And if you hear any of this, don’t let the cat get your tongue! Speak up and politely correct when you hear comments such as these. Here are some suggestions of ways to stop gossip:

  • Change the subject
  • Say something positive about someone who is the target of the gossip
  • Confront the gossip by pointing it out
  • Point out missing information
  • …and you can also turn gossip into prayers

Just saying—saying it better by speaking well about people is where winners are at. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. But how you phrase it and what you say matters.

And you can quote me.

Interested in improving your relationships in how you speak? You won’t want to miss the podcast Tongue Tied on June 24 which will discuss the importance of speaking well. We also have 2 excellent books selected for our book club this month which give tips on improving your conversations and speaking well. Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness’ book club this month on June 27. The first book discussion will be held at 2pm on Facebook live as we try out the new video Meeting Group for our chat and discuss The Lost Art of Good Conversation A Mindful Way to Connect with Others and Enrich Everyday Life By: Sakyong Mipham. Following this at 3pm, we’ll discuss this month’s second book  30 Days to Taming Your Tongue. What you SAY (and DON’T SAY) Will improve your relationships by Deborah Smith Pegues. Be sure to RSVP to join the discussion!

Follow Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness on Facebook and WordPress and on Twitter @cultureofkind


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Etiquette to Please

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.”
—Emily Post

Culture and Kindness Through the Ages

Learning rules for etiquette and how to be kind usually come from our parents. The word ‘etiquette’ and rules for etiquette were first established within the French royal court between 1600-1700. Etiquette has since manifested to the unwritten rules for etiquette which we have today. Some of these still are in place, while overall etiquette, in many ways, has become much less formal.

How far does society go before it is realized that offensive words and actions really are inappropriate? Tolerability becomes acceptance and then acceptance becomes the standard. Eventually, the standard becomes engrained in culture, far removed from the initial level of what was acceptable. “Is acceptable now” and “was acceptable before”, if compared side by side would make the differences between the two more obvious—so much so that we might even instantly correct ourselves. It is not often this is reflected on. Perhaps looking at the masters of politeness, today’s experts on manners and respect, can serve as new-found consciences to help hone in on etiquette practices which have fallen away and are relevant to today’s culture. Today’s speech and actions may seem preferred because they are casual and candid, but the truth is, they are often times more damaging and unkind. There is a digression of culture in respectfulness toward one another that has been caused as a result of this.

The understanding of common etiquette has been contributed to by many world cultures over the course of human existence. As far back as 2400 BC, the Egyptians had rules written in a book including how to interact with superiors. Small polite phrases such as “Bless you” originated as early as 590 AD when Pope Gregory ordered that each person who sneezes be blessed, because of the Plague. In 1290 AD, a Milanese monk, named Bonvicino da Riv, wrote a book called, Fifty Courtesies of the Table, which covered manners at the table while eating. Many of these same manners we follow even today such as eating with a closed mouth, not picking your teeth, and turn your head when coughing and sneezing.

Establishing practices for good manners and politeness was even more in place in France at the time of King Louis XIV. In the 1600s, at Versailles, King Louis XIV’s gardener was working in the garden. The garden has signs in place to indicate where not to walk as he was working. These signs were called ‘etiquette’ in French, or ‘place cards’. Despite having these signs in place, the aristocrats walked where they pleased. King Louis XIV ordered that the etiquette boundaries must be observed. Following this, the word ‘etiquette’ became the phrase for boundaries within the court.

Within our own country, George Washington, wrote a book on Rules of Civility. In 1922, Emily Post published Etiquette—In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home. Judith Martin, or “Ms. Manners” is well-known today for her column and books as a guide to good manners. Peggy Post, Emily’s great-granddaughter wrote a book, The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success, and also has several books on Internet etiquette.

Wisdom can be found from lessons of etiquette and manners formed over the course of history. Practicing good etiquette is always the best policy for kindness, politeness, and respectfulness, which improves the culture of society. When speaking, here are a few easy suggestions to remember for practicing good etiquette:

• Speak softly
• Always answer when someone speaks to you
• Remember to use “Excuse me”, “Please”, and “Thank you”
• Be sincere in giving and receiving compliments  
• Respect the personal space and beliefs of the other person
• Realize the human dignity of all people and be respectful

[written for @cultureofkind]


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Books
George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
(Little Books of Wisdom)

by George Washington

Etiquette—In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home
by Emily Post

The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success
by Emily Post

Movies
Miss Congeniality
Starring: Sandra BullockMichael CaineBenjamin Bratt

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
Starring: Sandra BullockRegina KingEnrique Murciano

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