I bet you have all listened to this Cyndi Lauper song. Quite cheesy I would say as seeing the true colours of someone could lead not to love but to a million different emotions to start with. Nevertheless, the connection between colours and personality traits is quite interesting and easily digested when referring to human psychology. Lately, I am really into reading a lot about the close relationship between the way we communicate and psychology in general. How communication can change your psychology and how your psychology can block or enhance communication is magical and it has been the main focus of psychologists, communication experts, marketers, and finally educationalists, linguists, and teachers (or at least it should be). If you are one of those people that believe in the alienated and autistic specialization of only one field, ignoring how interrelated they are, this is not an article for you.
Let’s take LEGO Group Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Julia Goldin into consideration on the ‘magic of marketing’ and how dependent on Psychology it is…
“Finish this sentence. If I weren’t a marketer, I would be…a psychologist. I’ve always been fascinated by what makes people tick, which is probably why I got into marketing, but I think the understanding of others that needs to come with this job is very closely intertwined with psychology too.”
To take you back to the colours that I mentioned in the beginning, the very moment I had started visualizing this article I came across this picture that best describes all of the ingredients the psychology of communication involves: colours and the power to change through words, emotions and the power to change your appearance, the way you look at the world, the way the world looks at you, and the contribution of what you receive from your special others and how much these can influence you in every part of your life. Magical? Yes. If applied in the right and fair way.
In order to understand human communication and its tremendous effects, two psychological theories have given us really interesting findings that are worth mentioning: Dunbar’s Number and Hanlon’s Razor.
The evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar studied the grooming habits of monkeys and apes and managed to connect the size of the brain with the social team built around each being. In particular, he focused on the neocortex part of the brain, the thinking zone, in order to predict the different social behaviours. That’s when he came up with the 150 number. This is the maximum number of people we can actually sustain healthy communication with, without leading ourselves to excessive information, energy vampires, and finally burnout. The size of our social networks, nevertheless, is by no means in harmony with this number. That’s the contradiction we all have to face in our daily lives. Too much communication is finally miscommunication and affects our emotions in a very negative way that is usually expressed with feelings of not being good enough, rich enough, thin enough, sexy enough, popular enough, and so on. On the other hand, keeping away from any social interaction can lead to depression, loneliness, and dark thoughts. Being somewhere in the middle, respecting your alone time as well as allowing for your social circle to cater to your brain, your emotions, your need to communicate, can actually save your “true colours” from becoming gloomy and indifferent. I know the word balance is on the verge of becoming a cliché but it’s one of those clichés that I would describe as the oxygen of our wellbeing and development.
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”.
In a few words, that’s what Hanlon’s Razor is.
A razor in philosophy is a symbolic tool that can help us get rid of unlikely explanations for a phenomenon or behaviour. When something happens, we tend to interpret and decode the hidden meaning of something objective (a fact) with something totally subjective (our own hypothesis). The razor helps us to eliminate false impressions until we’re left with the most probable explanation of the message or behaviour we have been exposed to.
Hanlon’s Razor suggests that we look a bit under the surface, dig deeper and examine whether stupidity, and not necessarily bad motives, is the reason why something was communicated in such a negative way.
“If I can’t think of at least three different interpretations of what I received, I haven’t thought enough about what it might mean.”
Whether your system can also bear stupidity or not is another thing, of course, and the fact that you always have to look for why people actually did something wrong takes up a lot of effort and time and finally, we are not Gods. Quite usually we are deeply hurt and demotivated when we always try to find good intentions that are buried and not offered openly and generously. This can also affect your psychological colours so I would see the Razor method as the benefit of the doubt that can be used once, twice, even three times. After that, it’s just malice. And no sharp Razor can change that!
So, next time you look at yourself in the mirror and see your skin a bit too irritated, or a bit dull don’t just blame it on the day cream, beauty mask, or even your beautician. Look for signs of bad communication. Spot your monkeys, razors, and explanations, and take action.
Better days could be coming if you get rid of colours that just don’t fit your personality.
*I love Psychology, ELT, Education in general, Marketing, Communication and somehow, I seem to be combining all that. I love Love too. More than anything else.