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Whaaaat?  "Interpersonal neurobiology"?  What's that???  And "Philosophical Anthropology"?? 

Both projects investigate what it means to be a human being.  Interpersonal neurobiologists are brain scientists who clarify how parts and activities of human brains affect the ways we get along with--and communicate with--each other.  Dan Siegel and Iaian McGilchrist are two important ones.

Philosophical anthropologists also investigate what it means to be a human being, but with questions like, "How's human intelligence different from artificial intelligence?" and "How different are humans from apes or dolphins?" Brian Christian and Martin Buber are two important ones.

These researchers don't normally talk with each other--or read each other's work--but it turns out that they both reinforce some key ideas about how you and I communicate.

The brain scientists demonstrate that every human brain has two different ways to make sense out of the world. One is analytic (dividing things into parts), literal, objective/distanced, and by grouping or classifying.  Some call this "left-brain" and others de-emphasize brain "halves."  The other way every human brain can make sense of the world is holistically (putting things together), metaphorically, engaged/present, and noticing uniqueness. McGilchrist calls the first "impersonal" and the second "personal."  All human brains are hard-wired to relate to the world both impersonally and personally.

Some philosophical anthropologists emphasize that each human is unique, and they also highlight the commonness and power of metaphor in human talk and writing and the importance of mindfulness or being-present.  These are some ways these folks distinguish between the "impersonal" and the "personal" (or human).

U&ME: Communicating in Moments That Matter puts these insights together in Chapter 2 and the rest of the book shows how to apply them to seven life arenas.  Here's how it combines these researchers' insights into practical, real-world ways to improve your communicating.  Ch. 2 says:

1. There are two possible ways-of-relating to the world:  impersonally and personally.

2. The goal of U&ME is to show how to help make your communicating "as personal as possible."  This doesn't mean wearing your heart on your sleeve or prying into others' private lives.

3. You do this by using the two basic actions common to all communicating:  TAKING IN and GIVING OUT. Taking in includes your internal expectations and agendas plus what you do nonverbally (facial expression, pauses, eye behavior) and verbally (mirroring, the kinds of questions you ask).  Giving out includes the topic you address, and, again, what you do verbally (I-statements, metaphors, candor) and nonverbally (smiles, congruence, animation).

4. You can best help your communicating be as personal as possible by using your Taking In and Giving Out to get 4 topics on the table between you and the person or people you're communicating with:  Choices, Emotions-Spirit-Personality, Reflections, and Mindfulness.  Each of these 4 is part of what makes us human, according to the philosophical anthropologists.  Chapter 2 explains each of the 4.

5. When you do what's in #4, the outcome can be uniquenesses meeting.  Two unique persons connect.  This is what creates a Moment that Matters.  One way to evaluate how you're doing in your effort to make your communicating as personal as possible is to ask yourself, "Does she/he 'get' some of what makes me unique?  Do I 'get' some of what makes him/her unique?"

Why bother with all this neuroscientific and philosophical mumbo-jumbo?  Why work to help make your communicating as personal as possible?  Because nothing is more important to the quality of our lives than our relationships, and nothing is more important to our relationships than how we listen and speak.

You can enhance the quality of your life--on line, in your family, at work, in learning situations, in multicultural situations, in political conversations, and in spiritual/religious contexts--by helping make your communicating as personal as possible.  U&ME shows you how.

The challenge is that today's digital ways of communicating rely almost completely on the impersonal parts of our brain.  Our potential for personal connecting is being crippled by this imbalance.  In this way, U&ME is counter-cultural.  Exciting, hunh?!!

Order a print copy from Taos Institute Publications or or a print, electronic, or audiobook copy from



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