Conversation tips for surviving the holidays and savoring time with family
This holiday season, ask the questions you don't know the answer to.
Angie McArthur is Professional Thinking Partners' acting CEO. She has been an integral part of PTP since 1998, co-facilitating and designing global conferences, leadership retreats, training programs, and ongoing one-on-one Thinking Partnerships in organizations from non-profits to Fortune 500s. She is also one of the creators of the Worldwide Women’s Web, a network formed in 2001 to retain women in corporate leadership roles. As an expert in perceptual learning patterns, she has developed communication strategies for authors, corporations and CEO's, and the Executive Champions Workshop. She has also designed interactive web assessments and products for corporate training programs.Angie has co-authored two books for Random House with Dawna Markova: Collaborative Intelligence (2015) and Reconcilable Differences (2017).
Angie McArthur: One of the most powerful tools that we discuss in the book is open questions. And what we mean by that is, open questions are those questions that you possibly cannot know the answer to. And what this does is allow us to be authentic. Many of us are trained in asking leading questions, meaning: “Don’t you think that…?” or, “If you had the choice, wouldn’t you…?”
Those are leading you or prompting you into a specific answer, and people feel that right away—they feel “done to” in kind of a strange way. An open question is the opposite. It’s a question that, again, I couldn’t possibly know the answer to, so it would be like: “What was the most important Christmas or holiday you remember growing up, and why was that?”
It’s that genuine curiosity in which you’re asking another person questions, that they feel received, and they feel like there’s something there that you’re really questing. I mean it’s really interesting, the root of the word “question” is “quest”; I’m questing to learn more about you as a person. We can’t fake that, nor should we. And this is so often forgotten, especially with those who are actually even close to us—family members—we forget this very innate ability we all have to be genuinely very curious about one another. It’s like the first time you fell in love or the first time you met someone: you’re really interested for the first time, you’re so curious about them and asking them open questions, like, “Why did you take that job that you did? I’m so curious to learn that.” It’s that type of questioning. Those are open questions.
And never before has it been so difficult. We’re very polarized in so many ways right now. So being at the dinner table, what I would offer is first spending time, before entering into family events, to consider: what do you most want out of this?
And I think if you can answer that question truly from an authentic place it often is an answer of, “I want connection; I want to spend time with my dad who maybe he doesn’t have 20 more Christmases”—who knows what it is, but being very, very clear on your intention for that family gathering, that’s one.
The second is using inquiry styles to, again, create bridges. Having political discussions or having discussions about even sports teams can often lead to heated places, so remembering your intention in that moment and saying, "My intention was to come here and connect with my father, my intention was to connect with my mother-in-law. If I ask a bridging question in that moment, like, 'What is really important to you about the holidays? I’m really curious, what was it like for you as a child when you met with your parents?’” Trying to find anything that you can that will help people relate to experiences, relate to times of strong connection for them, that will increase the connection with our families.
And, again, I go back to those three cardinal rules: You’re not going to change another person, and you can’t make them love or like you, and you can’t necessarily even make them see your perspective, but you certainly can respect them and respect how you treat yourself and them in those moments. So moving to bridging questions at least allows for a place of connection during these really important holidays.
Sometimes, you just can't relate to your relatives. Whether it's sports, politics, or past events, gathering around a dinner table during the holiday season can be a daunting prospect. Communication expert Angie McArthur explains some of her cardinal rules for connecting with your family and friends, and she identifies one of the biggest errors people make: asking the wrong questions. The root of the word 'question' is 'quest', as in endeavoring to know something—but how often is that really our motivation? As society reaches a new peak of polarization, in tense moments we may find ourselves asking questions just to prove our own points correct, which Angie McArthur explains are called leading questions. There is a more powerful method you can use: open questions, which are fueled by genuine curiosity, connection, and lead to a meaningful exchange. Chief among her tips, McArthur advises that this holiday season, you ask the questions you *don't* already know the answer to. Keeping these tips in mind, you might not merely survive the holidays—you might actually enjoy them. Angie McArthur is the co-author of Reconcilable Differences: Connecting in a Disconnected World.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.
- A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
- Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
- An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
Credit: logika600 / Shutterstock<p>Remaining healthy requires regular screenings. Here again we see a disassociation between risk reduction and proactivity. Seventy-seven percent of respondents don't talk to their doctors about lifestyle habits that support brain health; 51 percent have never been screened for depression; 44 percent have never had a neurological exam; and 32 percent have never been screened for hearing problems. </p><p>Common early warning signs of dementia, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to</a> Dr. Jason Karlawish, co-director of the Penn Memory Center, include repetitive questions and stories, difficulties with complex daily tasks, and trouble with orientation. </p><p>In terms of intervention, <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">exercise</a>, <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/obesity-dementia" target="_self">diet</a>, building a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/brain-reserve" target="_self">brain reserve</a>, and challenging your brain (such as learning a new language or musical instrument) are all proven methods for staving off the ravages of Alzheimer's. Oxytocin has also <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/alzheimers-oxytocin" target="_self">showed promise</a> in brain-addled mice, while researchers found positive results for a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">group of intermittent fasters</a> in promoting neurogenesis. </p><p>Epidemiologist Bryan James says that dementia is <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/04/15/176920391/how-exercise-and-other-activities-beat-back-dementia" target="_blank">not an inevitable result</a> of aging. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's simply not pre-destined for all human beings. Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia." </p><p>Professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Andrew Budson, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends</a> aerobic exercise and the Mediterranean diet. As has long been known, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and healthy fasts like nuts and olive oil seem to have brain-boosting properties. </p><p>To learn more, take the <a href="https://www.mdvip.com/brain-health-iq-quiz" target="_blank">Brain Health IQ quiz</a>.</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>