Braverman's Blog
Terry Braverman and Company

Gross National Happiness

“Mr. Parsons, even in prosperity, always fretting. Mr. Potts, in the midst of poverty, ever laughing. It seems then, that happiness in this life rather depends on internals than externals…” – Ben Franklin

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan coined the phrase “Gross National Happiness” as a way to define quality of life within a more holistic paradigm. Like most moral ideals, it is easier to state than to define. Nevertheless, it serves as a unifying vision for Bhutan’s planning process to balance material and spiritual development of its people, unlike Gross National Product, which only offers a materialistic construct of economic growth.

A Laugh or Death Situation

Humor is an adaptive discipline that can thrive in the harshest environments. In the book Laughter in Hell, author Steve Lipman documents the use of humor during the Holocaust. There was nothing funny about the Holocaust and the intense suffering experienced by so many people. But survivors of the Nazi death camps cultivated humor out of psychological necessity.

A Dutch Jew by the name of Rachella Velt Meekcoms recounted times when she would stage vaudeville shows in Auschwitz with other inmates: “In spite of all our agony and pain we never lost our ability to laugh at ourselves and our miserable situation. We had to make jokes to survive and save ourselves from deep depression. We mimicked top overseers, I did impersonations about camp life and somebody did a little tap dance, different funny, crazy things. The overseers would slip into the barracks some nights, and instead of giving us punishment they were laughing their heads off.”

Levity in Times of Adversity

Finding joy in the midst of tragedy isn’t easy, but ultimately rewarding when it helps people move beyond the grief. I was hired to speak at an annual company retreat, and just prior to my introduction it was announced that a very beloved employee of the company named Corrine had suddenly died. When a woman came on stage to introduce me, she was in tears, and there were audible wails and moans emanating from the audience. She mumbled and stumbled through my introduction, and while still weeping said, “So here to talk about (sniffles) humor in the workplace (blows her nose)…Terry Braverman.” I walked on stage pondering a line from a Shakespearean tragedy: “Oh death, where is thy sting?”

Adapting to Local Customs

I know a man whose terrific Mexican vacation was almost spoiled by an indifferent customs officer. While in Mexico City, he met a beautiful Mexican woman. She toured him around the city the night before his flight was to leave. The next day at the airport, she surprised him by showing up at the airport to give him a bouquet of flowers as a send-off.

After she left, he went through customs and was stopped because he didn’t have a tourist card. They ushered him into the office where a customs official refused to let him go. My friend was desperate to make his flight, but no matter what he said or how much he pleaded, the shiftless customs man wouldn’t budge. Frustrated, my friend dropped the flowers on his desk, which provoked a wide-eyed unexpected response: “Para mi?” (For me?) Noting the change in the man’s demeanor, my friend replied, “Si, claro.” (Sure). The customs official smiled and declared, “You can go now!”

Add to Your Communication Tool Kit

We continue in hot pursuit of communication excellence with this week’s blog. Last time we broke down the three primary modalities we use to give and receive information (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) into three subcomponents, or sub-modalities of communication. Today I will offer an alternative paradigm in communication – deconstructing the four major personality types, and how to handle them when they’re under stress.

Like every good mechanic, a good communicator comes equipped with more than one tool to do the job. Some of us may find the visual/auditory/kinesthetic model to be fun and easily adaptable, while for others it may be cumbersome as it involves multiple levels of observation. Recognizing the four primary personality types could be a simpler way to determine patterns and select strategies that work with each type. Of course, having more than one model in your communication tool kit is a huge benefit. Let’s take a look at the Dominator, the Expressive, the Scrutinizer, and the Relater…

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