Bloomberg BW:How to Manipulate Creative People, by 'Simpsons' Producer Matt Selman

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  04 April 2013
Bloomberg BW:How to Manipulate Creative People, by 'Simpsons' Producer Matt Selman

Quote:
"
Always phrase your own ideas as if someone else has said them. “It’s like John was saying … (YOUR IDEA)” or “Building on Brian’s thought … (YOUR IDEA)” or “Carolyn was on to something with … (YOUR IDEA).” Phrase your rejection of other people’s ideas in the form of baffling rhetorical questions: “Do you think if we did that it would fight the theme we’ve set up, or does that initiate a new paradigm?”

"

http://www.businessweek.com/article...cer-matt-selman
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  04 April 2013
Creative doesn't even need to be in there, that's just how to manipulate people. - And there's a ton of other tactics to use too that he didn't mention, so... I don't even know what the point of this "article" is. It's just a paragraph, more like a blog entry.
 
  04 April 2013
Yeah, not much originality. Some of the best books I read back in the early nineties that I still have sitting around was "how to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie and "How to Power Negotiate".
 
  04 April 2013
First that Harvard Business article the other day, and now this... I guess deep down all of us lowly employees knew that's exactly how our bosses think of us, but this new trend of coming out with it in public and even giving lectures on how to treat us like the dumb cattle we obviously are is so appallingly condescending and disrespectful... It makes me so angry I don't even know what to say! Work and business ethics my ass...
 
  04 April 2013
Maybe that's why its time to head over the the IP thread and start creating our own stuff, free of these gatekeepers, bosses and "limitations".
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  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by fuss: First that Harvard Business article the other day, and now this... I guess deep down all of us lowly employees knew that's exactly how our bosses think of us, but this new trend of coming out with it in public and even giving lectures on how to treat us like the dumb cattle we obviously are is so appallingly condescending and disrespectful... It makes me so angry I don't even know what to say! Work and business ethics my ass...


I don't think this is right.

The answer is in your statement. "...us lowly employees ...".

What you don't realize is that no one looks at you like dumb cattle. Instead, it is YOU that looks at your self as dumb cattle simply because you don't know how to play the game. If you see your self as dumb cattle, people will treat you as dumb cattle.

We can also play a little bit with the sourced paragraph and explore what is being said there. The framing of the example above is 'manipulation'. Fine, that works -- but it really also says more about the author than the example. Another way to frame that example that would work better is 'building trust and co-operation'. All that is happening is one primate (in a hierarchical social structure) challenging the ideas of another primate (in a hierarchical social structure) while being careful to not challenge their status in the social group. The protocol, generally speaking, is to separate the individual primate from the idea -- when you frame an idea from the perspective of the other primate and invite them to take ownership of the idea, you are playing a biderectional game of politeness. You are recognizing their status in the social group. You are saying 'I am not challenging you, instead, I am humbly challenging the idea by offering you the opportunity to take ownership of my idea.'. You have in one fell swoop diffused a potential conflict, retained every primates status in the group and invested in the group hierarchy in support of another primate in that social group thereby building strong bonds you will be able to rely upon later.

You have also seen when a primate joins the group and they don't play the game that they usually get thrown out of the group REALLY quickly.

Fairly basic stuff.

We aren't dumb cattle. We are just dumb primate animals that can be trained with little more finesse than that required of a dog.
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by mr.bean: I don't think this is right.

The answer is in your statement. "...us lowly employees ...".

What you don't realize is that no one looks at you like dumb cattle. Instead, it is YOU that looks at your self as dumb cattle simply because you don't know how to play the game. If you see your self as dumb cattle, people will treat you as dumb cattle.


Thank you for this short psychological analysis of my person, unfortunately you missed the mark by quite a margin.

I neither see myself as dumb cattle, nor do I consider myself a lowly employee. I'm simply paraphrasing the above article. Obviously, I was exaggerating a bit to help drive the point home, but that didn't alter the message.

As far as the rest of your comment... You addressed only the first paragraph of the article, which is the one part I have the least beef with (actually, I mostly agree with your analysis here), and completely ignored the rest, where the true gems are. I am talking about things like

Remember that compliments cost you nothing. They’re like a wad of bills that never runs out. “Here’s a compliment for you, and one for you, and one for you. Why, my wallet is just full of these things!"

or my personal favourite:

"If your team is still irritated with you, badmouth anyone not in the room. Dumping on an unseen third party or revealing tantalizing office gossip always takes the heat off for a few minutes."

Yes, who wouldn't be happy to be treated by his boss in such a manner?


One last thing.

Originally Posted by mr.bean: We aren't dumb cattle. We are just dumb primate animals that can be trained with little more finesse than that required of a dog.


This is the typical fallacy displayed by people who think they understand human nature. Of course we are animals and are still largely driven by the same instincts and follow certain behavioural patterns and thus can be manipulated to a certain degree by people who understand those patterns and know how to trigger them. But on top of that there's a large, complex and still mostly unexplored layer where our INDIVIDUAL decision making takes place and "advice" in articles like the one above or saying things like "we are just dumb primate animals that can be trained with a little more finesse than that required of a dog" completely ignore this individual complexity found in every human being and creates the impression all it takes to manage people is to provide simple stimuli that trigger preprogrammed responses - just like in "dumb" cattle.

And that is condescending and disrespectful.
 
  04 April 2013
I'm going to go out on a limb and conclude that this article is satire.

It's too obviously over-the-top. And the fact is, Matt Selman has actually been a writer on the Simpsons for years, working his way up to the position of executive producer. He's not some d-bag corporate suit, he's a creative himself.

And when you think about how not-seriously The Simpson's takes itself, it's pretty clear this guy was just having a bit of fun.

I mean seriously:

"If nothing else works, stall till lunch. It’s hard to be full and angry."

That's clearly a joke.

Eric
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by ericsmith: I'm going to go out on a limb and conclude that this article is satire. (...)


Actually, that was my first thought as well, but having still fresh in my memory the preposterous drivel written by that goon with PhD from Harvard, the statements in this article didn't seem so far fetched. I sure hope you're right and it's just a joke, though...
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by fuss: This is the typical fallacy displayed by people who think they understand human nature. Of course we are animals and are still largely driven by the same instincts and follow certain behavioural patterns and thus can be manipulated to a certain degree by people who understand those patterns and know how to trigger them. But on top of that there's a large, complex and still mostly unexplored layer where our INDIVIDUAL decision making takes place and "advice" in articles like the one above or saying things like "we are just dumb primate animals that can be trained with a little more finesse than that required of a dog" completely ignore this individual complexity found in every human being and creates the impression all it takes to manage people is to provide simple stimuli that trigger preprogrammed responses - just like in "dumb" cattle.

And that is condescending and disrespectful.


As a side note, I realize that I wrote my post in a slightly disrespectful way. My apologies. It was not my intention to speak down to you.

I agree with all of your points except the last one. I believe the evidence is simply against your assertion that your individuality has any great bearing on your behaviour.

For example, all dogs are slightly different and all dogs are individuals, yet you can train them using some fairly simple rules based around incentives. I have a feeling that what we call culture is roughly equivalent to what we call training for dogs. I believe the evidence for how little individuality / free will we have will only get stronger as we know more. Also, I think the definition of the self will change as well.

And, largely, I don't find it disrespectful nor condescending at all to think that we are simple social animals that are easily trained. Truth is truth. For example, there are two great videos online that show humans to be dumber than chimps in two areas: specific types of memory and individualistic thinking. One video shows a chimp being able to remember a sequence of numbers up to 24 (a human can barely do 5 or so at best) and the other shows that human children are specifically designed to follow order and suggestion where a chimp infant will ignore order and suggestion and simply solve the problem at hand (the test was to see how each of the species solves a visual/physical food incentive problem). The suggestions here being that chimps are cognitively superior to us in at least one specific memory skilland that in at least one experiment we can show that humans are naturally highly suggestible (there are quite a lot of these experiments, the chimp test was interesting in that it compared different species).

Anyway, I just found it interesting that people find it offensive when it is suggested that we are just dumb animals.

Once again, sorry if my comment was critical and inappropriate. The article is probably a parody anyway as others have pointed out.
 
  04 April 2013
Sorry for the detour but I just had to respond to this.

Originally Posted by mr.bean: As a side note, I realize that I wrote my post in a slightly disrespectful way. My apologies. It was not my intention to speak down to you.

I agree with all of your points except the last one. I believe the evidence is simply against your assertion that your individuality has any great bearing on your behaviour.

For example, all dogs are slightly different and all dogs are individuals, yet you can train them using some fairly simple rules based around incentives. I have a feeling that what we call culture is roughly equivalent to what we call training for dogs. I believe the evidence for how little individuality / free will we have will only get stronger as we know more. Also, I think the definition of the self will change as well.


I like the definition of it as it is now thank you.

Quote: Truth is truth.


Your "Truth" is but an opinion.

Quote: Anyway, I just found it interesting that people find it offensive when it is suggested that we are just dumb animals.


Don't be surprised. Besides, usage of the word "dumb" implies that there is something more intelligent walking among us. Point me to a species on this planet that has landed on the Moon, and I will concede that we are just another drooling beast.

---

The article seems like a good guide for how to lose the trust of your peers. I must agree that it must be pure sarcasm, but it probably also comes from experience dealing with people who do that. They think they're so smart and that they're doing that kind of thing without anyone realizing it. The reality is they are the ones left clueless; everyone knows what they're up to.

As an office worker, I'm not sure I could respect someone like that, let alone be comfortable working with them.
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by mr.bean: As a side note, I realize that I wrote my post in a slightly disrespectful way. My apologies. It was not my intention to speak down to you.


No harm done. I can be quite blunt myself at times.
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by mr.bean: And, largely, I don't find it disrespectful nor condescending at all to think that we are simple social animals that are easily trained. Truth is truth. For example, there are two great videos online that show humans to be dumber than chimps in two areas: specific types of memory and individualistic thinking. One video shows a chimp being able to remember a sequence of numbers up to 24 (a human can barely do 5 or so at best) and the other shows that human children are specifically designed to follow order and suggestion where a chimp infant will ignore order and suggestion and simply solve the problem at hand (the test was to see how each of the species solves a visual/physical food incentive problem). The suggestions here being that chimps are cognitively superior to us in at least one specific memory skilland that in at least one experiment we can show that humans are naturally highly suggestible (there are quite a lot of these experiments, the chimp test was interesting in that it compared different species).


But there are evolutionary reasons for this. For example, human children are evolutionarily programmed to believe adults because that's how we learned to avoid dangerous behaviour. This, unfortunately, is also why children below the age of seven are particularly susceptible to indoctrination. Now I'm no expert, but I'd hazard a guess that in the world of chimps, due to their different social structure and group dynamics, young chimps probably learn about hazards in a different way, so they don't need to be evolutionarily programmed to follow orders the way human children do. On the contrary, since they're wild animals, they probably have a stronger need to develop individual problem solving as it is vital to their survival in the wild; for humans this isn't as crucial anymore at a young age.

It doesn't mean that humans are, as you put it, "dumb", but simply that we have evolved along a different path. While I don't disagree that large swathes of the world's human population has a tendency to be thick, I agree with Fuss that calling humans dumb animals is unnecessary as best and misguided at worst. Humanity, while possessing many stupid members, is nevertheless an extraordinarily successful and innovative animal, and I totally disagree with your notion that we possess less individuality than we think. Your posts are becoming characteristic of this "sheeple" sentiment that's tossed around rather tediously these days.
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  04 April 2013
The Milgram experiments suggested humans could be made to perform tasks they didnt like or were morally opposed to merely to satisfy an authority figure. I dont know if its been debunked or was skewed but the conclusions were pretty damning.
When I hear the term "dumb animal" it usually brings up thoughts about human arrogance and delusions of superiority.
Basic survival issues hasnt changed for any life form no matter what technology is introduced. You are born, live, and die.
And drool.
Rocket trips and computers dont change that basic reality.
Its not like there is any proof that Nature hands out prizes for building things or reaching a certain population number or writing a symphony.

Gravity and weather affect humans the same as any other life form--in fact sometimes the technology works against basic survival. I.e. building houses that are susceptible to earthquakes or the fact that wild animals can predict tsunamis without any technological aid.
Complexity may not be a good thing.
Its seems subjective and dependent on your values and POV..
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by kelgy:
Basic survival issues hasnt changed for any life form no matter what technology is introduced. You are born, live, and die.


That's not really true though. Humans, for example, live a lot longer than we used to, thanks to medical understanding and technology. Furthermore, "basic" things that could kill us in the past no longer do, for most of the population. So while our lives are indeed still a matter of being born, living and dying, the manner in which we do these has fundamentally changed over the last few centuries. Hell, childbirth alone used to be a major killer, and now it isn't.

So to say that basic survival issues haven't changed for Homo sapiens is really not true, because they've changed significantly.
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