Is Coffee For Closers Only? A Linking Mess for 2/27/14

When “I’m sure it’s my fault” means “It’s not my fault” – Harvard Business Review

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This Harvard Business Review article explores the challenges of cross-cultural workplace communication. The most important aspect of it seems to be the directness of language. The comparisons within this piece focus on British communication, which tends to be indirect, and Dutch and German communication, which is more direct. Most interesting, I think, is the mention of “upgraders” – words that emphasize and strengthen the other words around them – and “downgraders,” which do the opposite. In the Dutch and German style, upgraders are used. For example: “That is totally inappropriate.” In the British style, which seems very similar to how we communicate here in the U.S., a downgrader would probably be used instead: “That is a bit inappropriate.”

Do you find yourself using these words to soften your message? I certainly do, and evidently it’s because I’ve been schooled in this style since my early days of communicating. If you were dealing with someone from a more “direct” culture, you may find their way of communicating to be terse and a bit harsh. (Look at that – I did it without even thinking about it, and not even in an instance where any message needs to be softened.)

It reminds me of a time, way back during my previous career as sportswriter, when I interviewed a French tennis player. During our conversation, he got his French face very close to mine. And although I was already aware of this French cultural trait, it didn’t make it any easier to hold my position, although I did, admirably. Such are the differences in cultures.

The last thing you should drink in the morning is coffee – Fast Company

Well, not the last thing. There are other liquids lower on the list, such as: airplane fuel, bleach, and Mountain Dew. But this article says you’ll be overriding your body’s natural waking process by drinking coffee in the morning. That’s because you produce something called cortisol, which makes you alert and awake, between 8 and 9 a.m., making the caffeine in coffee unnecessary. The article says that even if you wake up earlier than that, just the waking will get your cortisol flowing. In addition to limiting the energy boost you get from coffee, cortisol also causes your body to build a tolerance to caffeine.

I’m going to ignore the information I learned in this article.

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