Unplugged…

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I’m sure many of you will have encountered this situation: you leave the house without your mobile phone. For many this induces a palpable sense of panic and fear. Many people will turn around, even if it makes them late for work, to go back and get their phone.

How could we get through the day without it? Our mobile devices have become much more than just a phone. In fact the phone ‘application’ on your mobile device is the part that most use the least.

Our mobiles help us feel connected to the world, help us get our work done, help us record and document our lives. It’s amazing how, in conjunction with social media apps, they allow us to connect with old friends, discover unknown connections that make the world seem smaller, more joined up. Somehow friendlier.

Our mobiles are also a portal to the collective knowledge of the human race. Our history, our humour, our desires are all just a few clicks away and can be carried around in the palm of our hands. They contain so much information for us and about us.

They have literally transformed our lives.

So it’s understandable that we feel panicked when we leave them behind, or when we can’t put our hands on them immediately. But there is also a darker more uncomfortable relationship we have with these devices…

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Let’s Get Physical

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Holding a worn, torn, faded photograph in your hand can often evoke more feelings and stir our emotional memories far more deeply than scrolling through thousands of crystal-clear images on a digital device.

Why is that? What is it about a physical photograph that affords it more emotional currency than a digital one? Maybe it is the act of holding it, of touching it, that makes the difference. No matter what the resolution of your modern day camera, in many ways a physical photograph will always have the edge over a digital image.

It’s the reason why so many people still get their digital photos printed; it provides us with the means to hold them, to connect with them in a way that is more than just visual. They take up physical space and, on so many levels, we always return to the physical…

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The Ground Beneath Your Feet

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Consider the ground beneath your feet – is it supporting you, or holding you down?

When you think about it, it’s really doing both. You are supported by the ground beneath you, the Earth.  But it’s also holding you down through the force of gravity.

Jobs can be like that too. They can support you by providing you with an income and paying your bills. They can also hold you down: they can tie you to a particular role, a position, a desk.

We can easily grow accustomed to the support a job gives. Perhaps we also start to believe that they’re our only option. After all, to listen to our heart – to follow a calling – well, that’s for someone else to do. Someone who doesn’t have your life, your commitments, your excuses. We don’t want to put the house, the car and the holidays at risk. But are those things supporting you, or holding you down?

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Opinions

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Opinions. There are a lot of them about. Seems like everyone has one these days!

We live in a time where it is easier than ever to share our opinions with… well, pretty much the entire world. Social media makes it possible for us to express our opinions about anything at anytime… to anyone.

Highly-charged, emotive events occur around the world and reach us through news channels and media feeds. Each and every story accompanied by a flurry of passionate opinions and commentary – some which align with our viewpoints and some which do not.

But which opinions are right, and which are wrong? When it comes to opinions is there any such thing as right or wrong? After all, an opinion is just an opinion, right? It’s just a way of looking at the world, isn’t it?

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What Is Your Motive?

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Image credit: Ryan McGuire

What motivates us shapes our behaviour, it shapes out beliefs, it shapes our communication.

Your motive has the biggest impact on your communication, it is the meaning behind your words.

No matter how skilled you think you are at hiding your true feelings, no matter how controlled your tone of voice, no matter how confident the rapport you build, what the other person will hear, feel and understand is your motive.

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One Piece of Knowledge

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One piece of knowledge can change everything. Especially when it comes to our perceptions of others.

We tend to judge ourselves on our intentions, the things we know and feel. But this is often not the case when we look at others. We can be too ready to judge others on their actions and outputs. If we do this we don’t allow ourselves to consider what intention lies behind those actions – we’re making a judgement based only on what we see.

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Pay Attention – Can You Afford Not To?

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Your attention is not cheap. In fact, there are many who will pay BIG money for it.

Consider how many adverts you are exposed to each day. Common estimates range from a conservative 250 per day, to 3000 and above. So let’s settle for an average of those extremes – 1625.

It might sound like a shockingly high number, but think about how much advertising fills up your news feeds on social media, in the periphery of your internet browsing or at the start of the latest viral video clip you just watched. That’s in addition to the more traditional forms of advertising found on billboards or in TV and print commercials.

These adverts are vying for your attention, and it seems your attention is worth a lot – in 2013 UK advertisers spent over £14 billion bidding for attention, and that figure continues to rise each year – the phrase ‘pay attention’ emphasises the transactional mechanics at work.

Our attention has the potential to be the most valuable currency or commodity in our possession. So, how mindful are we of how we use it?

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Agreeing to Disagree: Lessons From “What Colour Is This Dress?”

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Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all saw things the same way?

Last month the internet was momentarily over-run by a debate about a two-tone dress, featured in a Tumblr post by Caitlin McNeill. You can see the original post here. The image swiftly become an online sensation, with millions of posts across multiple social networks arguing over the original colour of the dress.

Was the dress white and gold, or blue and black?

For about fifteen minutes it felt like everyone, everywhere had a view on this seemingly simple question. Media outlets from TMZ to the BBC all ran stories about it. Kim & Kanye, Taylor Swift, Julianne Moore and other celebs chimed in on Twitter with an opinion. Experts in sight and vision stepped in to explain the science behind the differences in people’s perceptions.

Yes, it was a bit of frivolous fun, a viral sensation – but in some quarters the arguments became quite fierce, with the ‘debate’ triggering passionate disagreements between those on ‘Team Blue/Black’ and those on ‘Team White/Gold’.

Whenever disagreements like this occur, it’s usually not too long before you hear the phrase ‘we’ll just have to agree to disagree’ – I’m pretty sure the debate over that dress prompted a good many uses of that phrase.

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We All Speak a Second Language

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If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Nelson Mandela

On a recent business trip to Hungary, I was dining in a Budapest hotel and, as is often the case on such occasions, the restaurant was quiet and I was eating alone.

I was sitting on a table next to another person who was also eating alone.  His first language wasn’t Hungarian as he was speaking English to the waiter, but it was clear that English was also not his first language either.  With no other distractions or company, I found myself observing their conversation; an interaction between two people, neither of whom were speaking their native language.

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