Standardizing feelings and relationships

Photo by NeilsPhotography


This is the fifth post in a series of posts I am writing after reading Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (for former post see 1, 2, 3, 4).

In the fourth post about Blink I wrote about the Love Lab:

In the book Gladwll describes what he calls the love lab. It is a long experiment conducted by John Gottman from the University of Washington. Since the 1980s Gottman has been watching married couples in a small room after telling them to have a normal conversation around everyday issues. He then videotapes them and examines the conversations. He developed a system, almost like a Morse Code to interpret the real undercurrent emotions of the marriage and he is able to predict, with amazing success rate, if a couple is going to survive or divorce.

In another part of the book Gladwell describes the science of micro-expressions. This field is the inspiration of the series Lie to Me. The idea is that everyone in the world has the same facial expression when they experience certain emotions. These micro-expressions last for a very short time and are easy to miss by the untrained eye. But, when you spot them (for example, by filming and watching in slow-motion) they reveal a lot about the feelings of the person.

That made me think. Shouldn’t we train all people (and especially managers) in both these methods? Can’t we analyze a managerial situation using these tools and predict who is going to be a good manager or which people fit to work together? Today, there are many people who are promoted to being managers even though they don’t have the skills (or the desire) to manage people – wouldn’t it be great if we can know that in advance and in some cases train them to be better managers?

I am not sure we can even fully standardize feelings and relationships. I am not sure we want to. But to a certain extent, we sure can use help in these fields that are such a big part of our lives.


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