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jerryking : misinterpretations   6

What meeting Bernie Madoff taught me about our inability to read others
October 2, 2019 | Financial Times | by Gillian Tett.

Books:
Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell.
The Human Swarm, by Mark Moffett.

Malcolm Gladwell, the writer, earned fame — and fortune — by producing books such as The Tipping Point (2000) that popularised human psychology. In his new study, Talking to Strangers, he looks at our propensity to misread other people. It is an increasingly pressing question for our polarised, fake-news era.

How should we interpret the signals we receive from others? This matters when it comes to detecting fraud, of course......It also matters in other ways. Today more than ever, we all suffer if we misread the signals we receive from different social groups. It is human nature to assume our own culture is the definition of “normal”, and to use this lens when we view others.....even traits that we assume are ­“universal”, such as [jck: visual cues] facial expressions, can vary hugely between cultures — and, of course, within societies that speak the same language.

Gladwell describes, for example, how social interactions between black and white communities in America are regularly marred by misunderstandings, with tragic consequences. “[This] is what happens when a society does not know how to talk to strangers,” he concludes.......Moffett then advances two broader points. First, he argues that humans (like ants) need a sense of tribal identity and belonging, with specialisations clearly defined; but, second, he insists that the way humans develop this tribal identity is crucially different from other animals.

Among some species, such as chimpanzees, trust only emerges through face-to-face contact between individuals in small groups; in others, creatures only co-operate if they can be instantly identified as coming from the same species. Ants kill anything that smells different.....what is amazing about humans – albeit rarely celebrated – is how we generally tolerate outsiders ­without instantly needing to kill them.

“Being comfortable around unfamiliar members of our society gave humans advantages from the get-go and made nations possible,” Moffett writes. “Chimpanzees need to know everybody [to ­tolerate them]. Ants need to know nobody. Humans only need to know somebody [for society to function.]” This achievement deserves far more attention, since it only works in two conditions. First, humans must feel secure in their own group (which they signal with symbols and rituals); second, “strangers” can only be smoothly absorbed if everyone learns to read different symbols too....If we want to “talk to strangers”, we need to teach our kids (and ourselves) to try to look at the world through strangers’ eyes – even if we must also recognise that we will never truly succeed.
assumptions  Bernard_Madoff  books  character_traits  cultural_identity  deception  Gillian_Tett  misinterpretations  psychopaths  signals  strangers  tribes  group_identity  lying  Malcolm_Gladwell  misjudgement  psychology  trustworthiness  visual_cues  writers 
october 2019 by jerryking
Speaking the Language of Risk - NYTimes.com
By CARL RICHARDS MAY 11, 2015.

humans outside the financial world define risk differently. In everyday life, we tend to think of risk as uncertainty, or what is left over after we have thought of everything else.

With uncertainty comes variability within a set of unknown limits. It’s the stuff that comes out of left field, like Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s black swan events. Because we can’t measure uncertainty with any sort of accuracy, we think of risk as something outside our control. We often connect it to things like running out of money in retirement or ending up in a car crash.

But how did we end up with two such completely different definitions of the same thing? My research points to an economist named Frank Knight and his book “Risk, Uncertainty and Profit.” (Toronto Reference Library, Stack Request, 330.1 K54.11)

In 1921, Mr. Knight wrote: “There is a fundamental distinction between the reward for taking a known risk and that for assuming a risk whose value itself is not known.” When a risk is known, it is “easily converted into an effective certainty,” while “true uncertainty,” as Knight called it, is “not susceptible to measurement.”...I’m also betting that if you heard a term like “risk management model,” you really thought, “uncertainty management model.” Unfortunately, no financial firm offers uncertainty management.

Solving this problem doesn’t require a new definition. We just need to shift our thinking when we hear someone in finance mention risk. We need to remember, that person isn’t talking about the odds we’ll lose everything, but about something that fits in a box.

I suspect that is why financial professionals sound so confident when they talk about managing our risk. In their minds, managing risk comes down to a formula they can fine-tune on their Dial-A-Risk meter. In our minds, we have to learn to separate the formula from the unknown unknowns that cannot be accounted for in any model or equation.

Once we learn to recognize that we are not talking about the same thing, we can avoid terrible disappointment and bad behavior when financial risk shows up again. And it will.
risks  uncertainty  unknowns  books  interpretation  financial_risk  beyond_one's_control  Nassim_Taleb  black_swan  misinterpretations  miscommunications  disappointment  languages 
may 2015 by jerryking
How to Write Clearly | TIME.com
By Harvard Business ReviewMarch 06, 2013

Here are three ways to ensure your ideas aren’t misinterpreted:

Adopt the reader’s perspective. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes to assess your clarity. Better yet, ask a colleague to summarize the main points of your draft from a quick read-through.
Keep your language simple. Strive to use short words and sentences. Aim for an average of 20 words or less in each sentence. With every one, ask yourself whether you can say it more briefly.
Show, don’t tell. Be specific enough that readers draw their own conclusions (that match yours, of course), as opposed to expressing your opinions without support and hoping people will agree.
Communicating_&_Connecting  writing  howto  HBR  memoranda  clarity  empathy  misinterpretations  brevity  concision 
march 2013 by jerryking
A conversation that translates
June 7, 2012 | The Financial Times pg. 14 | Philip Delves Broughton.
(Pass on to Abdoulaye DIOP)
For global companies, creating an approach to risk that resonates across cultures can be a challenge, writes Philip Delves Broughton

Risk is a risky word. Already prone to misinterpretation among people who share a language and a culture, the difficulties multiply dangerously when it moves across borders.

What a Wall Street trader might define as moderately risky may seem downright insane to a Japanese retail broker; what an oil pipeline engineer in Brazil might characterise as gung-ho may appear overcautious to his revenue-chasing chief executive in London....The greatest pitfalls in managing risk across borders, he says, emerge from assuming too much. When dealing with fellow English speakers, it is easy to imagine that a shared language means shared assumptions - that the English, Americans and Australians think the same thing because they are using the same words.... Tips for managing risk across borders

Context is more important than language. Understand what matters most in the markets where you are doing business. Is it the law, logic or maintaining relationships?

Every word comes with its own "metadata" in different cultures. Be as specific as you can and never assume you have been properly understood without checking for potential misunderstandings.
cultural_assumptions  risks  risk-management  Communicating_&_Connecting  globalization  organizational_culture  transactions  national_identity  Philip_Delves_Broughton  translations  assumptions  misinterpretations  contextual  metadata  specificity  crossborder  cross-cultural  misunderstandings  interpretation  conversations  risk-assessment  words  compounded  risk-perception  multiplicative 
september 2012 by jerryking
How to Tell When A CEO Is Toast: The Early Warnings - WSJ.com
April 18, 2000 | WSJ |By CAROL HYMOWITZ

Here's a short list of telltale warning signals indicating trouble at the top.

TURNING A DEAF EAR to directors: When the CEO of a technology company that had grown considerably during his tenure suddenly faced enormous competition from a faster-growing rival and difficulty absorbing two acquisitions, he ignored a number of suggestions from his board. "We told him to try this, do that, consider this -- and he simply wouldn't listen," fumes a director who did not want to be named. The more the CEO insisted on business as usual and refused to listen to his directors' concerns, the more he lost their trust. "His failure to listen became a warning signal to us" and led to his ouster, the director says.
[Illustration of a CEO with a rocket strapped to the back of his chair]

Similarly, former Coca-Cola KO +0.36% CEO Douglas Ivesterdidn't heed his board's urgings to name a No. 2 executive. And when Coke customers in Belgium and France complained of nausea after drinking Coke products, Mr. Ivester ignored at least one director's advice to go quickly to Belgium and address the situation.

Turning a deaf ear to employees: Mr. Ivester also decided, as part of a management reorganization, that the company's highest-ranking African American, Carl Ware, one of his longtime supporters, would no longer report directly to him -- effectively demoting him. The timing couldn't have been worse since Coke is facing an employee lawsuit alleging discrimination. Mr. Ware announced plans for early retirement, and Mr. Ivester lost more credibility as Coke's leader. He stepped down as CEO at the end of last year. Mr. Ivester couldn't be reached for comment.

Former Delta Air Lines DAL -1.69% CEO Ronald Allenalso was a victim of his own insensitive management style three years ago. Mr. Allen had pulled Delta out of a financial tailspin by slashing costs. But a lot of those cuts represented employee layoffs and he did little to smooth over anxieties. Directors ultimately blamed him for a drop in morale throughout the company. With many executives who reported to Mr. Allen leaving and blue-collar workers considering unionization, Mr. Allen was asked to step down. He declined to comment about the ordeal.

PROMISING TOO MUCH: At toymaker Mattel , MAT +0.59% former CEO Jill Barad madeearnings forecasts to her board and shareholders that the company then failed to meet. "Nobody likes surprises," says Thomas Neff, chairman of the executive recruiter Spencer Stuart's U.S. operations. "The best CEOs beat their forecasts, while the worst thing you can do is be overly optimistic," he adds.

Ms. Barad at times dismissed forecasts made by other executives, insisting to directors that Mattel would do better. She resigned in February, after three years as CEO and a stream of disappointing earnings. She was unavailable for comment.

Misreading expectations: A former CEO ousted from his job with a large financial-services company a few years ago recalls how he thought he was in agreement with his board on a succession plan, only to realize they wanted him gone much sooner, mostly out of fear that he was intentionally dragging his feet. The CEO had formed a search committee for a successor, but was taking his time about recommending candidates. Then, at a board meeting, he was asked to leave the room so directors could confer alone. What he thought would be a 15-minute exchange turned into an hour-long discussion. "That's when I knew something was up," he says. "They wanted to move on succession right away."

Underestimating conflict: Bank One 's ONE +2.80% former CEO John McCoyoversaw numerous acquisitions before he merged his Columbus, Ohio, bank with First Chicago to create a $260 billion powerhouse Midwestern bank. Previous smaller mergers, he says, took about 18 mon
aloofness  blue-collar  Carol_Hymowitz  CEOs  expectations  misinterpretations  misjudgement  overoptimism  overpromising  signals  surprises  tailspins  underestimation  unionization  warning_signs 
june 2012 by jerryking
Managing China's Rise
June 2005 | ATLANTIC MAGAZINE | By Benjamin Schwarz.
Contending effectively with China's ambitions requires a better
understanding of our own. (1) Acknowledge that the pace of China's
military modernization and the nature of its geopolitical alignments are
very much tied to the post—Cold War imbalance of power in Washington's
favor. (2) The U.S. should conduct whatever foreign policies it deems
appropriate—but it must recognize that actions it perceives as selfless,
others will most likely see in an entirely different light.
..Intervention by a dominant power accelerates the rise of other great
powers and ensures their wariness, if not their hostility, toward it.(3)
Rethink how Washington defines a "China threat."(4) examine the
strategic implications raised when regional and great powers emerge.
Far from discouraging the rise of China and other independent powers,
such as the European Union and Japan, Washington should recognize the
significant benefits that can result.
China  geopolitics  China_rising  U.S._Navy  U.S.-China_relations  PACOM  introspection  grand_strategy  strategic_thinking  U.S.foreign_policy  post-Cold_War  misinterpretations  Thucydides_Trap  selflessness  rising_powers  rivalries  confrontations  imbalances 
march 2010 by jerryking

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