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RE: [XP] Telling the truth vs. maniuplating (was Motivation to Complete Stories)

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  • Steve Bate
    ... Hi Jeff, This fits for me as well. My observations lead me to believe that it fits for most people. The topic of Truth is very complex. I ve heard some
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 1, 2005
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      > From: Jeff Nielsen [mailto:jeff.nielsen@...]
      >...
      >
      > I do find that this fits for me. Although I may use words that are
      > true, my desire to bring the other person around to my point of view
      > often gets in the way of really "telling the truth".
      >
      > Of course, I don't presume to know how well this fits for others on
      > the list.

      Hi Jeff,

      This fits for me as well. My observations lead me to believe that
      it fits for most people.

      The topic of Truth is very complex. I've heard some people claim
      that any time one doesn't speak the truth, it's a lie. This isn't
      always the case. At least for me, a lie implies intention. A
      person can communicate inaccurate information but not be lying.
      They may just be misinformed.

      The intention component of a lie is another complex topic. It's
      one thing to tell a lie with self-aware intention. Most people
      I know rarely do that. It's another thing to tell a lie with
      unconscious or only slightly self-aware intention. This latter
      form of lie is very difficult to address because the person
      doing the lying probably doesn't see it themselves and have
      defense mechanisms (denial, rationalization, hiding, ...)
      to ensure it isn't seen in others. I know this is true for
      myself and I've spent much effort in an attempt to bring
      awareness to those subconscious patterns so I can have the at
      least the possibility of changing them. I still have a long
      way to go and I'm guessing I always will.

      I agree with you that the desire to convince someone of
      something can make it more likely that lies will be told
      as a result. Of course, the most effective lies are
      parasites to some truth. Those are the kind I see the
      most on this list. Other labels for these kinds of lies
      can be "spin", "evangelism" , "marketing", "considerate
      communication" and so on. I'm not saying these activities
      /always/ involve lying, but that sometimes people use
      those labels to justify their lies.

      I don't know anybody who doesn't lie. I do know people who
      intentional make an effort to communicate with authenticity,
      honesty, and transparency. It's often risky. I respect those
      people very, very much and I try to be like them.

      Regards,

      Steve
    • Victor
      There is a difference between truth and communicating it. There was a time when the truth was that the Earth was flat, and then that it was the Center of the
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 1, 2005
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        There is a difference between truth and communicating it.

        There was a time when the truth was that the Earth was flat, and then that
        it was the Center of the Universe. When Galileo came with a new and
        improved truth, he paid dearly for communicating it.
        The problem today is that there are many Galileos and many Little Popes, and
        the scene gets repeating itself daily all over the place.

        So, the issue is not just about being truthful, but also about how to convey
        the truth in a way that is clear without being threatening to the receiver,
        personally. Or how to help the listener being more receptive to it.
        Sometimes this is not an easy feat and requires a certain emotional and
        social intelligence to do it right. Other times there is no way of doing it
        both right and smooth. Then comes bankruptcy as a reality check. Yet other
        times the membership price for belonging to the Flat Earth Society is not
        all that high, so what the heck.

        Victor

        ===========================================


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Laurent Bossavit" <laurent@...>
        To: <extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, April 01, 2005 12:04 PM
        Subject: Re: [XP] Telling the truth vs. maniuplating (was Motivation to
        Complete Stories)


        >
        > Jeff,
        >
        > > So how do I answer her question?
        >
        > You've just answered it thusly: "The truth is that there are lots of
        > other ways that I would prefer to spend--or not spend--that money."
        >
        > Isn't that a perfectly fine way of answering the question ?
        >
        > Cheers,
        >
        > -[Laurent]-
        > We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as
        > creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free!
        > We can learn to fly! -- Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull)
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
        >
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        >
      • John D. Mitchell
        ... [...] ... Well, part of the problem is that the use of the English language in this thread has gotten a bit wacky. We all manipulate constantly. We are
        Message 3 of 13 , Apr 1, 2005
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          >>>>> "Jeff" == Jeff Nielsen <jeff.nielsen@...> writes:
          [...]

          > For me personally, I have noticed that I have a much more difficult time
          > being completely truthful in my communication when I want something
          > badly. When strong feelings are involved, it is easy to deceive myself
          > about whether I am "simply telling the truth" or being manipulative.

          Well, part of the problem is that the use of the English language in this
          thread has gotten a bit wacky.

          We all "manipulate" constantly. We are e.g., saying something with a
          purpose and so our manipulation of our words are an attempt to manipulate
          things to said purpose.

          IMHO, a better question to ask ourselves is are we trying to impose our
          view of reality over another's. I.e., are we honestly and forthrightly
          having a discusison or am I trying to coerce you, by hook or by crook, to
          subjugate you to my will?


          A lot of folks have heard of BF Skinner's experiments with "Behavioral
          Modification' (BM). Alas, most people have missed some crucial facts
          around imposition To illustrate: A BM experiment was done with school kids
          and their teachers. Some teachers were taught the basic BM skills around
          reinforcement and asked about the "trouble" kids in their classes. Those
          teachers then tried to use BM to "fix" those annoying brats. Of course,
          the teachers failed miserably. A group of troublemakers were taken aside
          by the researchers and taught to play a game where the only "goal" was to
          manipulate the teacher (and gee, here are some ideas you might try, hint
          hint). Note clearly that the goal was NOT to e.g. manipulate the teachers
          for something (such as a better grade), it was merely to have fun
          manipulating them. As you might suspect by now, the kids had great fun.
          When the teachers were asked about who were the best kids, who was
          troublesome, etc. what do you think happened? The BM kids went from being
          troublemakers to being pets and stars. Now, what did the researchers
          observe "objectively"? The "troublesome" kids weren't any less
          troublesome, they just had the teachers trained. Of course, the teachers
          were completely clueless and vehemently denied that they had been
          manipulated.

          Take care,
          John
        • Dale Emery
          Hi Jeff, ... I ve been thinking about this while traveling recently. Why not lie? For one thing, I feel bad about the effect my lie has on the other person.
          Message 4 of 13 , Apr 12, 2005
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            Hi Jeff,

            > For me personally, I have noticed that I have a much more
            > difficult time being completely truthful in my communication
            > when I want something badly.

            I've been thinking about this while traveling recently.

            Why not lie? For one thing, I feel bad about the effect my lie
            has on the other person. For another, I worry about the being
            found out.

            Sometimes I lie if I think I won't feel bad about how the lie
            affects the other person. I might think that the negative effect
            on the other person is very small. Or I might not care about the
            other person.

            Sometimes I lie if I'm not worried about being found out. I
            might think that there's little chance of being found out. Or I
            might think that being found out won't have bad effects.

            I suspect that every time I lie, I've decided that the benefits
            outweigh my expectation of feeling bad or worrying.

            And sometimes my decision is unconscious. I lie to myself, so
            that I don't know that I'm lying to the other person.

            As far as I can tell, I'm slowly reducing all of these reasons to
            lie from my life. I try not to second-guess what effect my lies
            might have on other people. I am learning a lot about how to
            make my truth less hurtful. I am learning to care about people I
            might not have cared about before. I try to understand that even
            "little" breaches of honesty can kill trust. I'm trying to be
            self-aware, so that I don't lie to myself.

            On August 17, 1998 I did a presentation about Power at SD East in
            Washington DC. I had one slide about manipulation (in the sense
            that involves deception), and the audience really wanted to talk
            about that in detail. We spend 45 of the presentation's 90
            minutes on that one slide. At exactly that same time, President
            Clinton was talking to Ken Starr on tape about some lies he had told.

            For the next few weeks I did a lot of thinking about lies. I
            made a note in my journal to closely examine under what
            conditions I will choose to lie. Sadly, I haven't kept up with
            that idea.

            Dale

            --
            Dale Emery, Consultant
            Inspiring Leadership for Software People
            Web: http://www.dhemery.com
            Weblog: http://www.dhemery.com/cwd

            In any given set of circumstances, the proper course of action is
            determined by subsequent events. --Anonymous
          • mfeathers@mindspring.com
            ... From: Dale Emery ... I had a similar experience yesterday. I gave a talk at SPA2005 on coaching techniques and I had a slide about
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 12, 2005
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              -----Original Message-----
              From: Dale Emery <dale@...>
              >On August 17, 1998 I did a presentation about Power at SD East in
              >Washington DC. I had one slide about manipulation (in the sense
              >that involves deception), and the audience really wanted to talk
              >about that in detail. We spend 45 of the presentation's 90
              >minutes on that one slide. At exactly that same time, President
              >Clinton was talking to Ken Starr on tape about some lies he had told.

              >For the next few weeks I did a lot of thinking about lies. I
              >made a note in my journal to closely examine under what
              >conditions I will choose to lie. Sadly, I haven't kept up with
              >that idea.

              I had a similar experience yesterday. I gave a talk at SPA2005 on coaching techniques and I had a slide about manipulation at the end. I was prepared for a rather lively discussion about whether some of the techniques I outlined would be considered manipulative. I was surprised by the sense of the room that, well, some of them are in a dictionary sense, but so what? For what it's worth, none of them were manipulative in the sense of lying, but some were in the sense of doing something for an effect without mentioning what you think will happen. We went on to talk about just how loaded the word 'manipulation' is, and how important a coach's intentions are.

              Michael Feathers
              www.objectmentor.com
            • William Pietri
              ... That s generally my feeling. There are a lot of occasions where the social contract allows manipulation as long as it s well meant. A physical trainer will
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 12, 2005
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                On Tue, 2005-04-12 at 16:11 +0100, mfeathers@... wrote:
                > I was prepared for a rather lively discussion about whether some of
                > the techniques I outlined would be considered manipulative. I was
                > surprised by the sense of the room that, well, some of them are in a
                > dictionary sense, but so what?

                That's generally my feeling. There are a lot of occasions where the
                social contract allows manipulation as long as it's well meant. A
                physical trainer will happily enthuse, "I know you can do it!" even
                though we both know he may be lying. The Socratic method allows the
                teacher to act as if he has no idea what's going on. And don't even get
                me started on theater, where people spend months constructing big lies
                in pursuit of big truths. But in all those contexts, some manipulation
                is ok and some isn't.

                There's a scene in a novel that I'm very fond of: In heaven, Abbie
                Hoffman is, as a suicide, required to perform a million years of public
                service. His first assignment is to teach Ayn Rand about humor, and he's
                working on jokes. She doesn't understand why LBJ would be sitting on a
                fence, and is outraged that Hoffman would try to persuade her that
                snakes have ever talked. He eventually gives up on that joke, and tries
                something simpler. The novelist moves on to another scene as Rand takes
                umbrage at the request to respond with, "Who's there?" when she can
                clearly see that it's Abbie Hoffman.

                William

                --
                William Pietri <william@...>
              • Kent Beck
                I started out seeing behaviors like honesty, integrity, and accountability as utilitarian--do them because they help you write better software. I ve come to
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 12, 2005
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                  I started out seeing behaviors like honesty, integrity, and accountability
                  as utilitarian--do them because they help you write better software. I've
                  come to believe that I should behave with honesty, integrity, and
                  accountability because they are morally right. Better software is one of
                  many consequences of acting on principle. Resolutely doing what is right
                  safeguards me from the temptation of acting in ways that I know are morally
                  wrong because I convince myself there is greater utility in them. If/when I
                  maintain this level of moral behavior I am at peace. I don't want to lose
                  that, not even to ship on time. I don't think I have to.

                  Kent Beck
                  Three Rivers Institute

                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: Dale Emery [mailto:dale@...]
                  > Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2005 5:15 AM
                  > To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: Re: [XP] Telling the truth vs. maniuplating (was
                  > Motivation to Complete Stories)
                  >
                  >
                  > Hi Jeff,
                  >
                  > > For me personally, I have noticed that I have a much more
                  > > difficult time being completely truthful in my communication
                  > > when I want something badly.
                  >
                  > I've been thinking about this while traveling recently.
                  >
                  > Why not lie? For one thing, I feel bad about the effect my lie
                  > has on the other person. For another, I worry about the being
                  > found out.
                  >
                  > Sometimes I lie if I think I won't feel bad about how the lie
                  > affects the other person. I might think that the negative effect
                  > on the other person is very small. Or I might not care about the
                  > other person.
                  >
                  > Sometimes I lie if I'm not worried about being found out. I
                  > might think that there's little chance of being found out. Or I
                  > might think that being found out won't have bad effects.
                  >
                  > I suspect that every time I lie, I've decided that the benefits
                  > outweigh my expectation of feeling bad or worrying.
                  >
                  > And sometimes my decision is unconscious. I lie to myself, so
                  > that I don't know that I'm lying to the other person.
                  >
                  > As far as I can tell, I'm slowly reducing all of these reasons to
                  > lie from my life. I try not to second-guess what effect my lies
                  > might have on other people. I am learning a lot about how to
                  > make my truth less hurtful. I am learning to care about people I
                  > might not have cared about before. I try to understand that even
                  > "little" breaches of honesty can kill trust. I'm trying to be
                  > self-aware, so that I don't lie to myself.
                  >
                  > On August 17, 1998 I did a presentation about Power at SD East in
                  > Washington DC. I had one slide about manipulation (in the sense
                  > that involves deception), and the audience really wanted to talk
                  > about that in detail. We spend 45 of the presentation's 90
                  > minutes on that one slide. At exactly that same time, President
                  > Clinton was talking to Ken Starr on tape about some lies he had told.
                  >
                  > For the next few weeks I did a lot of thinking about lies. I
                  > made a note in my journal to closely examine under what
                  > conditions I will choose to lie. Sadly, I haven't kept up with
                  > that idea.
                  >
                  > Dale
                  >
                  > --
                  > Dale Emery, Consultant
                  > Inspiring Leadership for Software People
                  > Web: http://www.dhemery.com
                  > Weblog: http://www.dhemery.com/cwd
                  >
                  > In any given set of circumstances, the proper course of action is
                  > determined by subsequent events. --Anonymous
                  >
                  >
                  > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
                  >
                  > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
                  > extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
                  >
                  > ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • Dale Emery
                  Hi Kent, ... I find my utilitarian view becoming stronger over time: I do these things because they serve me. Over time, I learn to extend my empathy to more
                  Message 8 of 13 , Apr 13, 2005
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                    Hi Kent,

                    > I started out seeing behaviors like honesty, integrity, and
                    > accountability as utilitarian--do them because they help you
                    > write better software. I've come to believe that I should
                    > behave with honesty, integrity, and accountability because
                    > they are morally right.

                    I find my utilitarian view becoming stronger over time: I do
                    these things because they serve me.

                    Over time, I learn to extend my empathy to more and more people.
                    I'm not sure how or why that is happening, but it's happening,
                    and I like it. And because I care about an expanding bunch of
                    people, I begin to construe my interests to include their
                    interests. If my interests include theirs, then serving their
                    interests serves my interests.

                    As far as I can tell, the more I incorporate other people's
                    interests (as defined by them) into my own, the more my
                    utilitarian view guides me to act in a way that fits common ideas
                    of moral rightness.

                    My strongest guide is the question: Does this action express who
                    I truly choose to be in this moment? When I remember to ask that
                    question, I act in accordance with my ideals.

                    Dale

                    --
                    Dale Emery, Consultant
                    Inspiring Leadership for Software People
                    Web: http://www.dhemery.com
                    Weblog: http://www.dhemery.com/cwd

                    I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep.
                    That's deep enough. What do you want--an adorable pancreas?
                    --Jean Kerr
                  • William Pietri
                    ... I ve received a number of emails asking me about this book. It s Sewer, Gas, and Electric by Matt Ruff. Here s the author s own page about the book:
                    Message 9 of 13 , Apr 13, 2005
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                      On Tue, 2005-04-12 at 12:13 -0700, William Pietri wrote:
                      > There's a scene in a novel that I'm very fond of: In heaven, Abbie
                      > Hoffman is, as a suicide, required to perform a million years of
                      > public service. His first assignment is to teach Ayn Rand about
                      > humor [...]

                      I've received a number of emails asking me about this book. It's "Sewer,
                      Gas, and Electric" by Matt Ruff. Here's the author's own page about the
                      book:

                      http://home.att.net/~storytellers/sewergas.html

                      The author's sense of humor is certainly quirky, but it happily matched
                      mine. And judging by the condition of my copy, dog-eared after many
                      loans to friends, others do too.

                      William


                      --
                      William Pietri <william@...>
                    • William Pietri
                      I m not quite sure why this makes the third message in a row for me with a reference to a related book, but hopefully it s just a fit that will pass. I
                      Message 10 of 13 , Apr 13, 2005
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                        I'm not quite sure why this makes the third message in a row for me with
                        a reference to a related book, but hopefully it's just a fit that will
                        pass. I appreciate the list's indulgence meanwhile.

                        On Tue, 2005-04-12 at 23:35 -0700, Kent Beck wrote:
                        > I started out seeing behaviors like honesty, integrity, and
                        > accountability as utilitarian--do them because they help you write
                        > better software. I've come to believe that I should behave with
                        > honesty, integrity, and accountability because they are morally
                        > right.

                        For those interested in the relationship between utilitarian approaches
                        and one's moral sense, a fascinating book is "Good Natured: the Origins
                        of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals" by Frans De Waal:

                        http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0674356616?v=glance

                        He persuasively suggests that our moral sense is part of our evolved
                        inheritance. As evolution is, at least from the gene's perspective,
                        strictly utilitarian, it seems to me that a long-sighted utilitarian
                        approach and a moral approach should often converge on the same answer.

                        William


                        --
                        William Pietri <william@...>
                      • Dale Emery
                        Hi William, ... Thanks for the pointer! Dale -- Dale Emery, Consultant Inspiring Leadership for Software People Web: http://www.dhemery.com Weblog:
                        Message 11 of 13 , Apr 14, 2005
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                          Hi William,

                          > "Good Natured: the Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and
                          > Other Animals" by Frans De Waal

                          Thanks for the pointer!

                          Dale

                          --
                          Dale Emery, Consultant
                          Inspiring Leadership for Software People
                          Web: http://www.dhemery.com
                          Weblog: http://www.dhemery.com/cwd

                          It hardly seems necessary to go to all that trouble just to make
                          it easy on ourselves. --Dale Emery
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