Category Archives: Real-Life Examples

Small talk is sometimes smart talk

It’s fairly well recognised that some of us have more of a knack than others when it comes to constructive nattering.  But now even graduates can have proper lessons in small talk, to help them in their careers.   The University of Liverpool has been offering graduate bootcamp courses which focus clearly on softer skills such as how to have an informal conversation.

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The key is to move in very small steps…

The Observer today (4 September 2011) asks How do we make our schools fit to face the 21st century? This is a massive question, then broken down into sub-set questions; and once again we learn the expert view is that the answer is, ‘incrementally’.    How, asks Yvonne Roberts, can more schools to be imaginative, and teachers ‘liberated’.   What’s the key to this sort of change?

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‘Shall we make a baby?’ – personal choice and public perceptions

There are few more intimate discussions than that about whether to have a child; and few more momentous outcomes for individuals than when this question is not considered, and the baby arrives anyway. So why is this such a difficult issue? Almost half of conceptions are unexpected, or even actively unwanted. Yet knowledge about how to avoid pregnancy is easily available.

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Can conversations challenge dangerous radicalism?

There are many things about which, I suspect, Baroness Warsi and I would disagree very strongly – she is ‘Chairman’ of the Conservative Party, a role to which I am unlikely ever to aspire. But there does seem to be one thing about which, if reports are to be believed, we would see eye to eye:  I gather that she, like me, believes that keeping channels of communication open is critical.

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Emotion vs rationality: personal ties and formal logic

The news this past week has been full of alleged psychodrama, as the Miliband brothers, both contenders, explored the layers of meaning of the 2010 Labour Party Leadership election.

The impacts for David and Ed Miliband individually, for their relationship with each other, for their families, and for their chosen political party and the country will doubtless become clearer over time.

Most of us will not wish to probe the personal specifics too closely; there is probably a limit to how much as observers we need to know about the intimate emotional lives of others, even politicians.

But another issue, perhaps both more legitimately in the public domain and less often acknowledged, is this: can blood (to reinvent the age-old expression) ever really be no thicker than water?

* Is it actually possible for people bound by deep personal ties to compete as rationally as casual acquaintances or strangers might?

* Will there always be undercurrents of a different kind when people with close personal connections interact?

* And, if so, would we want it any other way?

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