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

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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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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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Lovin’ Butter

Oooh…where are your margins when it comes to lovin’ butter, or are you already an expert at spreading love generously?

The desire to be loved is part of human nature. It can be felt in varying degrees by the people we interact with in our lives. To love is what we all have the capability to do, although some may struggle to express it more than others. Some come from damaged loving experiences and can hardly be pleasant let alone love others, while others are exploding with so much love, that no one can escape their exuberant spirit of acceptance and radiant energy of love. Loving better is something we all can do.

Being kind and considerate toward another may become less of an importance. Over the course of time, relationships deteriorates without even realizing it. Suddenly the relationship seems to be lacking in care or leads to more arguments. If a relationship of any kind between two people is worth salvaging, a person will try to identify what is causing the problem and take steps to try to find a compromise. Realizing that there is a communication issue or a lapse in consideration for another is the first step on the way to repairing a relationship. Step back and reevaluate the situation and the person. What is it that you are finding yourself doing? What do they really need from you? Maybe your approach is not the best one and you don’t even realize it. Don’t worry. Things are not toast. We know you are in a jam. Let’s roll up our sleeves and take a closer look.

Here are a few things to evaluate:

Do you find yourself judging the other person?

Do you tell them often what they should do?

Do you do all the talking?

Are you always negative?

Do you negate what they have to say frequently?

Are you invading their privacy or treading into sensitive areas?

How often do you follow-up on their problems they mention to you?

How often do you delve into areas you can offer to help?

Are there ways you can be more thoughtful?

Do you speak well about them to others?

Do you make time for them?

Are you dependable?

Do you treat them without expecting something in return?

Relationships naturally occur and it is not typical that we analyze the person we are spending time with—we just interact and love them naturally. If you can become aware of what it is that makes them feel loved, you can “love them better”.  Men for example do not respond as much to verbally being told “I love you”. They need to know they are appreciated and are valued by what they do. A woman, on the other hand, prefers to be listened to and have time spent with them without distractions. Each person is unique and have their own recipe in what they respond to best.

Communication styles can contribute significantly to relationships. Respectfulness towards another person often is communicated in how we speak to them. What is your tone of voice? What words do you use? How can you adjust these? Affirmations can be beneficial to any relationship. By steering away from negative comments and criticism, and recognizing the blessings others bring with their presence, you can breathe positivity into a relationship which can only move it on a better road. Be thankful and express your gratitude frequently more than complaints. Finally, how sincere are you when you communicate? Loving relationships are based on truth and it is surprising how transparent words are which are not meant, often by the actions which support them.

Love is also expressed with nonverbal communication. It can be as simple as smiling more frequently, being more affectionate, or doing acts of kindness. Acts of generosity toward another person, whether big or small, show care by expressing kindness as an act of love. Perhaps you can find a way to help another person to make their life easier. Are you the type who is always busy or finds interruptions a bother? Try to be more approachable and make time. It only takes seconds for body language to be read, which can communicate receptiveness, openness, and warmth. It also can show offense which is an indication you need to try another approach or react differently. Being able to recognize these indicators and respond to them is a way to show you respect the other person. Facial and body expressions are best read in person and are invaluable at interpreting how a person feels. Use these body expressions and facial indicators to help understand how receptive a person is and to read boundaries they have. Realizing that “STOP” really means “STOP” and “NO” really means “NO” needs to be followed for relationships to be successful. This can be communicated in words or non-verbally. Thoughtfulness is always thinking of the other person first in an unselfish manner. It is loving another as well as you would like to be loved, if not better. Lovin’ butter means livin’ better.

Putting love into action and modifying your communication will help let the other person know they are valued and are special. It will also give them the dignity they deserve and show acceptance. Express love without reserves by going beyond the “margarines” and express it “butter”.


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4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work–Anywhere!:
Including the “12-Day Communication Challenge!”

by Bento C. Leal III

Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond
by Jay Sullivan

Interplay: The Process of Interpersonal Communication
by Ronald Adle, Lawrence Rosenfeld, Russell Proctor II


Goals to Inspire Others

Choose to be a light of inspiration for all those who you encounter throughout the day. In how you communicate, what you do, and what you have to say, you have the ability to positively impact someone’s day. How you interact can cause a domino effect to affect others for better or worse. By resolving to raise your personal standard of etiquette, respect, and kindness, you will notice your relationships improve. Noticing an improvement with yourself, you will also see a significant change in how others interact with you. Living this way as a good example, others will also notice and re-evaluate how they are speaking and acting. You can be an example to others in the way you speech and act. Practicing good etiquette will add the dynamic components of respect, value, and human dignity to your relationships. Change the world! Inspire a culture of kindness and respect.


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A How-To Holiday Guide Special Edition Article: Preparing for the Gift

Make your gifts special this year adding a little extra thought and pizzazz. Here are some options of how to give a gift to someone!

Option 1:
The first is taking a gift you have purchased and just handing it to someone. After all, the thought is in the actual present isn’t it? This seems a little too efficient and a little dull, as if the gift was just handed off. While there will most likely be appreciation, there is not much thoughtfulness with this option.

Option 2:
The second, more common option, is wrapping a gift—and not just wrapping a gift but finding just the right wrapping paper. There are all sorts of ways to wrap a present. In the olden days, before wrapping paper, there was newspaper. A person would sort through the newspaper for the comic section and use it to wrap a gift. A special, news section, might be preferred, or the sports section if the person was a sports fanatic. For those with children, mothers instruct children how to disassemble a paper bag to use to wrap a gift and then decorate it. As specialty designed wrapping paper created with love, a child’s artwork on the wrapping paper is a way to add a nice extra touch which family members can cherish. For adults who are wrapping paper connoisseurs, with a flair for the hunt of the perfect paper, there are a variety of designs to choose such as reindeer, snow, trees, seasonal words, religious art, Santa, candy canes, swirls and stars, trendy holiday printable patterns and colors, and red, green, blue, white, as well as shiny silver, and gold. Wrapping paper can cost anywhere from $1 at a dollar store to $20 per roll or more. Wrapping a gift with wrapping paper is a talent in itself by carefully folding the ends just right and and taping the gift seamlessly with nimble fingers of tape. For others, services are available to hire someone to wrap the gift professionally for you. [Have you ever seen an ad hiring for a gift wrapper asking for your resume of experience? More real than Santa’s elves, job postings like this actually exist.] Then of course there are boxes and bags of all sizes, to-from labels, ribbons and tissue paper with just about as many varieties as wrapping paper, and to make it a hallmark gift, don’t forget to include a special card. You could potentially spend a fortune making this gift special all to be disposed. And what is so intriguing about that? The anticipation. You are paying for anticipation and thoughtfulness but it is fairly important as part of the presentation. As an added benefit to the fun, part of preparing the gift is the giddiness that comes from having a secret surprise for someone. With the hope to bring them honor and happiness with it, gift givers at the very least hope the gift is seen as a token of their thoughtfulness and love. The process of preparing a gift causes joy to the giver because of the thought and effort is for another and for their happiness, and as the saying goes “it is in giving that we also receive”.

Option 3:
Option three, is the gold package option when it comes to thoughtfulness and extra effort to make the gift special. One way is accessorizing the main gift with a series of presents to be opened all wrapped as one. Another way to make the gift unique, could be creating accessories to adorn the gift maybe with a customized ribbon which is braided, or a bookmark as a gift tag, or a USB drive as a to-you from-me hang tag with family photos loaded on it, or perhaps the present has been blessed especially if it is a gift where this is appropriate. What other creative ideas do you have? One unique gift I received once had miniature ornaments tied to the ribbon, which was both adorable and functional as it could be hung on my tree. These were kept as an unforgettable keepsake and the all the thoughtfulness that was put into the present was remembered for its uniqueness.

Part of the gold package option is not just the presentation of the gift but the presentation of how it is given. Often taken for granted is the presentation of making the gift special, beyond the wrapping paper. Reflect for a moment right now on how you give gifts. Do you hand it off with a big smile? Are you enthused cooing with words “I think you’ll just love this”, or do you just sort of nudge it with your finger across the table and make excuses like “I didn’t know what to get you”. Now, spend some time considering how you receive gifts. Do you open the gift with an expressionless facial expression in a placid manner with all lackluster? Or do you squeal? Without realizing it, more times than not, we respond as a response to the emotions of another person. It is a form of empathy and can be contagious. With the enthusiasm and happiness of gift giving, it can be rewarding for the gift giver to see that the gift is appreciated.

In Preparation and Anticipation
With gift giving, the way the gift is presented, the way it is wrapped, the thoughtfulness and the experience opening it, all are for the delight of the recipient adding up to the grand finale of finally discovering what is inside. All of this creates anticipation setting the stage for what is to come. Maybe it is a special gift which you have anticipated and are nervous about receiving. The giver can add a lot to the moment with how they present a gift setting the stage and mood either with enthusiasm, warmth, environment, or words indicating it is a very special gift.

Anticipation ties in with hope. It causes a person to hold their breath in a sense knowing something is to come. The same is with Christmas and Christ’s birth. We spend these last few weeks before Christmas in preparation for what is to come. It’s how you set the stage and prepare in anticipation for that ‘special moment’. Think of how you prepare for the gift and make that part of the present, both with the presents you are giving and preparing spiritually for Christmas.

—Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness


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Audio CD
Preparing for Christmas: Daily Reflections for Advent
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The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving
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by John Ruhlin


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Kindness for Kids through Belief and Involvement

“Way to go!”, “Give me a high-five!” When kids receive praise, they know they’ve done a good job and it encourages them to “keep up the good work!”. Kids beam when they receive accolades for their achievements and it encourages future good work. Kids need positive reinforcement, especially initially, until they develop their own voice of self-encouragement by believing in themselves. At any age, it always feels good to receive encouragement and praise and can be a positive force for inspiration for further endeavors.

Likewise, a child may feel dejected because of struggles with achievement or being unaccepted by peers. It is important that parents and teachers be on the lookout for signs of this and encourage them with “well, it didn’t go as planned, but let’s look at the positive take-aways and be optimistic at what the future holds”. Encouraging a child to persevere and move past discouragement teaches optimism, self-respect, self-esteem building, and perseverance. Children need to learn to look beyond the current moment of trial as an area of transition and look at the overall picture of life with new moments to look forward to. Additionally, some children without these perseverance skills or healthy support systems may feel suicidal. Parents and teachers need to look for those kids who are facing despair and reach out to them to find out what is going on. Besides encouraging them, you might as very well be saving a life!

@cultureofkind


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How to Respond to a Compliment

When someone pays you a compliment, it should brighten your day! Often we respond to compliments with negative statements. For example: “Wow, you did a great job!” may be replied to with “No, it really isn’t that good”. If a person gives you a compliment, that should be seen as a positive truth! The correct way to respond is to keep it short and simple and just say “Thanks!”. Here’s how:

  • Acknowledge a compliment by saying “Thanks!”
  • Appreciate it
  • Express how it made you feel
    “You are very kind.”
    “Thank you! That’s nice of you. That really means a lot.”

@cultureofkind


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