Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lines & Curves

Cashy & Daddy's Third Year and a Quarter

Man makes things with lines, then with curves. The rounded domes of Renaissance Cathedrals and today’s lithe cars outshine their boxy ancestors. The right angle, the kernel of structural support, is pristine efficiency ... but nature eschews straight lines for the curvature in every sea and egg shell. Hidden in this elegance is strength.

What’s true in design is also true in personal relationships. Early in life, the straightest, most direct path of communication is most effective. For example, you cried as a baby as means to getting fed! But you matured and that well-honed whine lost its efficacy. Greater self-reliance was expected and you entered the competitive fray for ear-time with, say, a more practiced big brother.

As an adult, its surprising how ineffective blunt forms of communication become. Such approaches smell suspiciously of demands or directives. So the indirect path, full of graceful hints and nudges, is a better way to influence people. Why? I think, in part, because these nudges allow your audience to draw their own conclusions.

In the end, personalities are not fixed but a kaleidoscope of evolving shape and color. You can't capture the whole picture in one glance and a lot is learned in the periphery. So its effective, in conversation, to explore the edges to capture all the beauty. For the same reason, its also important to take your time. Like the Ents say, "Not so hasty."

The intrigue of Woody Allen films, pieces your Grangie Weller made me watch as a kid, is built off such subtle strategies. Arguably nothing happens but 80 minutes of a conversational maze, but if you watch carefully, only one character navigates out by interpreting the implied signs. Unfortunately, that's never Woody.

Cash, you will be an expert navigator. Rather than interacting in simple, predictable straight lines, you are adding other dimensions to your interpersonal repertoire. You have empathy, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, your mother’s great gift to you. Add to that a social fearlessness and charisma (that must come from Grandpa Moore). You’ve also developed social forethought, seeing a few chess moves ahead, which adds surprising patience for a three year old.

All this adds up to formidable weaponry for manipulating an older brother. It shocking how often Luke finds himself doing things on his younger brother’s agenda!