Friday, March 6, 2009

Effectively Communicating Opinions

We've made it! 500 views, that means we are officially big time... I think. Anyway, we've left you in a drought for quite some time. Here's an original post so colors of the world, spice up your life, every boy and every girl, spice up your life, people of the world, spice up your life, aah!

This is a little trick my roommates and I discovered. It is especially effective in large groups where some people involved in the conversation don't understand exactly how you feel about an issue. This technique I am about to share with you is revolutionary and a real hot topic in academia right now. It is applicable in almost any situation as long as you fully understand and have adequately practiced the technique. You will be amazed at the results, in fact my roommates and I are currently in discussions with Billy Mays to sell a VHS demonstrating this on TV.

So, you've stayed with me and are ready. Well it's actually very simple. The trick is to ask somebody to rate something on a non-numeric scale. This may seem confusing, and at first even we struggled to grasp the true genius of this method but with time it is becoming generally accepted principle among our amigos (that's friends in Spanish by the way). Let me give you an example and then we will discuss the intricacies of this method that are essential for effective use.

"Wow Kyle, that is some hot salsa! What would you rate the hotness of that salsa on a scale of Nicholas Cage movies."

Now I must pause here and explain that Kyle will inevitably answer Gone in Sixty Seconds if it is in fact quite hot salsa or Ghost Rider if it is not hot salsa. On a scale of Nicholas Cage movies there is no in between for him. Another two notes on the subject: first, this is a demonstration of the in depth nature of such a technique. I mean that in using a Nicholas Cage movie scale I can completely understand Kyle's opinion on the situation. God forbid he referenced Next or The Weatherman because it would take a lot more opinion sampling to understand where he was coming from. Second, notice I did not use Paul Rudd movies this is because Paul Rudd is a graduate from KU and given his alliance with the University (mainly wearing a KU hat in Clueless) all of his movies are great and therefore the scale is meaningless.

So you've been given an example of this communication technique. Let's discuss the ins and outs of successfully communicating with your friends and strangers. The number one rule of thumb: try and use appropriate scales. An example of an inappropriate scale: Daewoo car models. You may mistakenly think that Daewoo models are a funny and incredibly clever scale. This belief is probably substantiated by your recent viewing of Pineapple Express when Red references his Daewoo Lanos as a murder weapon. Now we here at KU do not condone the use of illicit substances, violence or foul language but that movie had some funny lines. I mean James Franco's favorite civil engineer was Hannskarl Ban-del. Anyway, yes a Daewoo Lanos was referenced and it was funny but a distinct difference exists. The most important is that this was a single reference of a Daewoo model. To ask someone to recall and comparatively evaluate multiple Daewoo models is not only impossible it's also a cruel request. I am quite adept in my Daewoo knowledge (thanks Wikipedia - best source of information on the web) and can name quite a few: Espero, Leganza, Nubira, Prince and Royale among many others. Let's get back to our discussion of inappropriate scales though. Why, if this scale holds so much humor potential (if that is what your goal is) do I advise against it? Simply put, have you ever driven or rode in a Daewoo? Do you know anyone that ever owned a Daewoo? Do you know anyone that ever wanted to own a Daewoo? Exactly, point proven. Unfortunately this comparison scale adds nothing to the conversation because everyone knows Daewoo cars are substandard so the opportunity to rate something positively is lost. That being said, I must admit the prospect of Daewoo ownership is still immeasurably better than having to own "The Power Towel".

The reason this is only a rule of thumb is because I can think of two exceptions to this rule. 1 - if the purpose of using the scale is to point out how bad something is. For example, "on a scale of Daewoos, how horrible would it be to have to go to school in Missouri?" Of course the response would probably be the Daewoo Espero. 2 - if you are looking to trick your friend into making a poor rating which you can black mail him or her for free stuff. For example, "how fun is this party on a scale of Daewoos?" Now when they say something seemingly clever and truly out of line like the LeMans, you then respond with your rating: Geo Metro. AHA! Got 'em, your choice was not a Daewoo at all and much cooler and made in the USA. Here you use the advantage to heckle him or her for not being a patriot and request that he or she buy the next round of Vess Colas.

Here are some other rules to remember so as to not look foolish when using this technique. The best scales to use are common and relate to either childhood memories or have the opportunity for a really rare/obscure response. Examples could include on a scale of Thundercats or characters from the show Doug. Also a favorite of ours is breakfast cereals. This provides an almost endless amount of cereals and if somebody is really on their toes and wants to give a raving review of something they can always pull out Apple Cinnamon Rice Krispies (also known as Rice Bubbles in Australia) which were so sadly discontinued in the 1980s, well before I ever got to experience them so I could never use them.

Also remember that scales with many options allow for a lot of fun but also can lead to heavy bickering over which person really has the correct barometer over the issue. Scales with limited choices can lead to definitive responses but you must be careful not to fall victim to groupthink. To ask people to rate the awesomeness of the Snuggie on a scale of states starting with the letter I you are likely to get a lot of Illinois or Indiana responses and that's fantastic if people really feel that way, but they are probably forgetting Idaho (which is definitely how I feel on that subject) and so the results are skewed.

The first couple times you use this technique are probably going to be rough but persistence is key and in the end you'll find life is much better this way. Don't keep this to yourself, share it with the world. The best place to do this is in crowded (food and) beverage establishments where there is a high incidence of eavesdropping. Now naturally you are much more likely to run into resistance, but in the event that you find people open to the idea, you will undoubtedly greatly enjoy the experience.

Because I taught you this technique you must swear by one law. If you dare to rate anything on a scale of Athletic Directors only two options are available. If you would like to grade something as the best possible then you would respond Lew Perkins. On the other hand if you truly cannot stand the thing being rated then you would respond some other A.D. Easy enough to remember right, unless of course you forget that second dude's name, which I can completely understand because I just did.

I wish you the best of luck in utilizing this technique to improve your communication ability with all those you come into contact with. Here at the Bureau of Being Awesome, I mean the University of Kansas, we will continue pushing the envelope in all areas of academia. Until next time I bid you ado. Rock Chalk.

-Brad Thorson (foozbawl)

1 comment:

  1. Nice! :)