Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted November 19th, 2017
11:38 am

Negative Campaigning (Political Insight?)

On October 26, I attended the Impact Ohio Event at Quaker Square Station in Akron, OH. Its purpose was “to explore the 2017 general election, the outcomes of the political process, and policy choices facing the Akron region and the business community.”

The “Political Insight” session featured Bryan Williams, Republican Chairman of Summit County and David Pepper, Democratic Chairman of Ohio. They presented “their views of the governor’s race, Trumpism and civility”. The moderator was John Green, Director of the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

I am not picking on Mr. Williams; it is simply that he has given me an opportunity to point out several misconceptions about negative campaigning, which unfortunately, most of us share. In the instance, Mr. Pepper did not. My concerns are below.

1. “Incivility gripping the country will disappear naturally as we learn to communicate in the digital age.” the Republican reassured.”
2. “Yeah. We are in a divided time, but I’m not convinced that we’re any more divided than we were before,” said Williams, who called the current level of incivility “cyclical.”
3. “Political parties are a reflection of what works” in campaigns, Williams said. If that’s negative advertising or bypassing the “media gatekeepers,” so be it.”

1. “...will disappear naturally.”Deborah Tannen tells us, “When we think we are using language, language is using us. The terms in which we talk about something shape the way we think about it-and even what we see. It invisibly molds our way of thinking about people, actions, and the world around us. Military metaphors train us to think about and see everything in terms of fighting, conflict, and war. This perspective then limits our imaginations when we consider what we can do about situations we would like to understand or change.”(1) Instead, of disappearing it is changing us.

“…we learn to communicate in the digital age.” Professor Albert Mehrabian studied what happened to people's perception of and feelings about a person when the words that person spoke were not consistent with the tone of their voice and their body language. He found that when all three elements of speech are congruent, when they agreed and sent the same message, the person communicating was better liked and what they communicated was accepted better than when they were not congruent. Furthermore, when the three elements were not in agreement, and the words spoken did not match the tone of voice and nonverbal behaviors, people tended to disbelieve the words and to rely more on the tone of voice.

Technology has done just the opposite. By removing pieces of our communications, it has changed and fragmented our attempts to talk to each other. We end up with words, without sound and without physical expression. Tweeting has shortened messages to the point where often we are not sure what the person is actually talking about. Technology has made it easy to communicate anonymously, more rapidly and with less thought.

2. “…but I’m not convinced that we’re any more divided than we were before.” That may very well be the case, but the increase in the level of incivility, the threats of violence and the number of high-powered weapons, terrorists and bombs has certainly increased the level of the anger that goes with it.

“…the current level of incivility “cyclical.”The is the same as #1; “will disappear naturally”, if words shape us, the effect is not going to just disappear naturally.

3. “Political parties are a reflection of what works in campaigns.”It works because negativity stimulates our brain to a greater extent than the positive. Since other candidates do it, it is not really our fault. Regardless of who uses it, it takes advantage of a brain bug and shapes the way we perceive the world around us.

“If that’s negative advertising or bypassing the “media gatekeepers,” so be it.” Mr. Williams takes a very cavalier attitude about the use of negative and sometimes demeaning, derogatory and manipulative language. Everybody does it, and it works, so if we need to use negativity to win, “so be it.”

What we seem to forget is the anger generated by these tactics. Albert Ellis explains that anger "is a special combination of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, when you are (or think you are) severely frustrated by unfortunate conditions and by people’s “unfair” behavior. …when you feel angry, you have “a negative internal feeling state, accompanied by thinking and perceptual distortions and deficiencies (especially miss appraisals and attributions of other people's injustice).”

Anger predisposes us to think that the other person is the bad guy. So political campaigns focus on the other party and run ads that point fingers and blame “them” in order to anger us and get our vote. Abraham Twerski, MD, explains how we handle anger.

“Phase 1 is the feeling of anger when provoked. If someone offends or hurts me, I feel angry. This is essentially an instinctive or reflex emotion, over which one has little control.

Phase 2 is the reaction to anger. When offended, I may bite my lips and say nothing, I may make a remark, I may hurl an expletive, or I may push or strike out. Although I may have no control over the feeling of anger, I have much control over my reaction.

Phase 3 is the retention of anger. Granted that I have no control over the initial feeling when provoked, but how long do I hang onto it? Minutes? A month? Fifteen years?”

Words have the potential to be dangerous. They have a much greater impact on all of us than we think. Yet we pay very little attention to the way that we use them. They are so common that we take them for granted without realizing the impact that they can have on our listeners.

Political candidates take the responsibility for major parts of our lives and should represent a positive role model for their constituents. That is the goal of Better Outcomes.

By: Louis H. Kraus, Founder

By Doug Livingston, Beacon Journal staff writer

1Tannen, Deborah, “The Argument Culture, (P 14)
Deborah Tannen, university professor and professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, is best known as the author of "You Just Don't Understand," which was on the New York Times best seller list for nearly four years, including eight months as No. 1, and has been translated into 29 languages. Her book "The Argument Culture" won the Common Ground book award.

Albert Mehrabian. Wikipedia says “Albert Mehrabian… currently Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA), has become known best by his publications on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages. His findings on inconsistent messages of feelings and attitudes have been quoted throughout human communication seminars worldwide, and have become known as the 7%-38%-55% Rule (or the 3 V’s: Verbal, Vocal and Visual).” (32)

Ellis, Albert, “ANGER, HOW TO LIVE WITH AND WITHOUT IT” (p. 1-2)

(Twerski, Addictive Thinking, p. 79)

Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted November 8th, 2017
3:03 pm

Internationally Recognized Communication and Verbal Abuse Author to appear on Better Outcomes Radio Show

Patricia Evans has single-handedly brought the subject of verbal abuse to the forefront of American consciousness. She has designed workshops and appeared on television and radio shows in order to people create a climate free of hostility and harassment.

She will be appearing with Lou Kraus and Karen Hale tomorrow, Thursday, November 8 on New Cleveland Radio from 4:00 to 5:00 PM. To hear the program live, go to: mixlr.com/new-cleveland-radio/ or tunein.com/radio/New-Cleveland-Radio-s292920/


Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted October 5th, 2017
1:33 pm

Analysis Paralysis 

The election is over and President Trump tweets away. Professor Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, has studied holistic, robust communication and compared to his research what President Trump is doing, naming it the worst way to communicate. He must be appalled.

Tweeting fits the President’s style nicely. For him it creates confusion and keeps his opponents off-balance, because he can keep his statements short, post them when he wants to, and only give the tiniest bits of information. It is very hard to get much out of these tweets. This tactic gives him an advantage over his opponents and fear and anger around the world.

Now that the election is over, most of us have returned to our gossip. We post insults on Facebook and tweet back and forth on Twitter. We criticize and try to figure out who is doing what, who’s going to have the next big idea, who screwed up, etc.

The brain power spent on this futile effort paralyzes us. We let the extremists and politicians fight it out. We feel powerless, ignored, frustrated and angry.

Albert Ellis tells us that as our anger grows, we experience “a negative internal feeling state, accompanied by thinking and perceptual distortions and deficiencies (especially misappraisals and attributions of other people's injustice).” These feelings predispose us to think that the other guy is to blame. “Extremist” groups, conservative and liberal; use this same anger to fuel their followers as they prepare for the next election.

We have seen these negative, misleading and devious tactics for years. Consciously or unconsciously, we have lowered our standards, shrugged our shoulders and voted for whichever guy supports our favorite issue, or is the lesser of two evils.

Unfortunately, the players in this drama have forgotten several things:

1. The anger that they are creating, at some point, will become overwhelming and uncontrollable. We already have a shooting a day somewhere in the world. If we don’t do something, the violence will engulf us all.

2. They will still pour more money into our broken election system, and no doubt, we will get the same deadlock and patchy results we have been getting for years.

3. The new crop of candidates will have to learn to navigate our very broken governmental system and as they play the game “The Bad Guys across the Aisle” with angry incumbents they will pass more of the same fragmented legislation that got us into this mess.

This can’t go on if our democracy is to survive. But all we see on the horizon is a change in the players and whether our government is conservative or liberal. The pendulum swing is making me dizzy.

Better Outcomes worldview is based on people. Our foundations lie in social work and psychological theory as well as what science is telling us about ourselves. We are looking for people who understand that civil discourse and cooperation are the only way to get back on track. We need Statesmen, like we used to have, not the Politicians we have now.

Many organizations have published materials and books about civility. Generally, I agree with Deborah Tannen, who said in her book, “The Argument Culture”, “They are like honey on toast.”

We start by using mediators and their usual guidelines, along with our 10 steps to eliminate Evil Speech from political campaigns, which we modeled on the writings of Rabbi Yisroel Meyer Kagan from the Old Testament. We have begun to extract from his voluminous ethical work clear, direct material that can be studied individually or in groups. We intend to produce programs for schools and other groups as our organization grows.

Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, created Nonviolent Communication from his experience as a psychologist, mediator, author and teacher. His work looks like an easy change to the way that we conduct a conversation. But as you look further, there is much more to what he wrote and in his work is the power to change the world.

The Bottom Line The Media, marketing executives, politicians and their handlers and other celebrities, our society’s role models, use our emotions to manipulate us, to get us to do something that they want us to do for therm. We have the ability to rationally control our emotions. It is the newer part of our brains, the prefrontal cortex, which provides “Executive Control”. (10, p 116-7) We can use it to allow ourselves to make better decisions about who we elect to represent us. In order to do that we have to take control of the context in which we make those decisions.

The first step is to give all candidates a chance, not just those picked by the Elephants and Donkeys and their power brokers. Our Candidate Conversations, Interviews and Town Hall Meetings are designed to do just that. We use trained mediators and ask different questions, more like a job interview. Most of the issues over which we fight, really are two sides of the same coin. Instead of permitting people to battle over them, we prefer to have the candidates show us how they can cooperate with each other, more like they should be doing when they are in office. We can change the negative environment we live in and make it more positive.

We are looking for people, organizations and candidates who understand what we are trying to do and want to learn more about our Candidate Conversations, Interviews and Town Hall Meetings.

We are looking for good people. People who understand the power of words. Who have felt the sting of their impact and have come to recognize how they have been changed by the people that have spoken to and about them.

People who understand that we are being fed negativity and anger. People who are frightened at all the anger they see around them and feel trapped by the extremism on either side. People that understand that anger breeds anger.

People who understand that real power comes from combining their personal power with others. People that understand that power over others drags everyone down and depletes everybody’s resources.

People who understand the darkness that holds our capital in its grasp. People who understand that the transparency that we have demanded is farther away now than it have ever been.

People who understand that if we don’t figure out a way to look beyond ourselves and come together around our humanness, not our material possessions, we are doomed.

The paralysis is over. We know the problems and better yet, our model works and we are eager to introduce it to you and your group.

Please call our office at (234) 571-9620 or send an email to LHK@getbetteroutcomes.org


Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted July 13th, 2017
2:36 pm

From Negative to Positive

 Better Outcomes will begin it's study of Marshal Rosenberg, PhD's work “Nonviolent Communication”. This book contains the most beautiful understanding of our potential for compassionate humanness in language, I have found. 

Here is a YouTube clip that serves as a good introduction to NVC. When we are able to put together a Meetup, we will let you know.

It’s been 20 years since Deborah Tannen, PhD, warned us, in “the Argument Culture”, That our world assumes the best way to discuss an idea is to set up a debate. Our news presents the most extreme, polarized views as “both sides”. We settle disputes by litigation and begin an essay by criticizing. War metaphors pervade our speech and shape our thinking. Everything is framed as a game, a conflict or battle. It was bad then and, it’s worse now.

Technology; the Internet, TV, Radio and cell phones has made the level of negativity in our world dangerous. We are engaged, in the biggest verbal battle for political power and influence our world has ever seen. The negative, derogatory way our leaders talk about people and groups around the world make me think how trivial human life seems and how disinterested in others we have become.

Rabbi Kagan's and Marshall Rosenberg's works can help everyone individually learn to speak more positively. Our role models, politicians, are going to need encouragement. Our Candidate Conversations, Interviews and Town Hall meetings meet this need. There are explained here. 

Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted July 5th, 2017
8:10 am

Is Your Brain Buggy?

At the beginning of my present journey I wrote an essay on communication. It took me a year and a half. This morning I mistakenly clicked on TED Talks and found their series of 12 talks that prove one of the major points I was trying to make.

We are not as rational as we think we are, our brains are predictably irrationalI should have skipped the work I did back then and just waited for them to do it for me.


Who knew?

Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted June 22nd, 2017
1:15 pm

Better Outcomes on Internet Radio

This afternoon at 4 o'clock Better Outcomes will debut on NewClevelandRadio with Lou Kraus, its founder and Karen Kiki Hale, the motivation for new Cleveland radio and a loving Jewish mother to all.

We actually are going to have a call in line at (440) 922 – 6431. To start, we only have one line but with your help we can expand.

In order to listen to the show. You must download the TuneIN App.

Then type into the app "http://newclevelandradio.net" at the 4:00 PM and listen to our show.

If you are able to listen to our show, please let us know what you think.

Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted May 18th, 2017
7:13 am

The Truth Sometimes Hurts, BUT It’s Still the Truth

Wisdom comes from the strangest places. 

What do you think of what George Carlin says here?

Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted May 1st, 2017
8:49 am

Normalizing Rape

What is Rape Culture? 6 everyday examples of normalizing sexual violence

  • April 21, 2017  By domesticshelters.org

Now we have different names for the same vicious abuse. Changing the name tries to soften the blow. But, if you ask the victim, nothing has changed.

You can find it every time you turn on the TV. Movies utilize it to create drama or illicit laughs. It’s used in advertisements to seduce you into thinking you need a product. Video games widely exploit it. And music blends it in seamlessly to its lyrics.

“Rape culture” is a term that’s as sinister sounding as its definition—it means to turn sexual assault, rape and other forms of violence against women into entertainment, or to all together ignore or trivialize these crimes. And, it’s happening all around us.

“We breathe in rape culture like air,” says Carolyn Levy, a professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. For nearly two decades, Levy has been immersed in the intense and often heartbreaking world of rape culture, educating future generations on how it permeates their daily life—many times, without them noticing.

She teaches a women’s studies class called “Living in a Rape Culture: What Are we Going to Do About It?” and, as the university’s theater director, she co-authored, “Until Someone Wakes Up,” a play centered on rape, now performed nationwide. An essay she wrote about the play can be found in the book Transforming a Rape Culture.

“Rape culture is a society that accepts sexual violence as the norm,” Levy explains. “It perpetuates models of masculinity which foster violence and normalizes these ideas that men are aggressors and females are victims.” And she adds, unabashedly, “It’s a society where men who brag about grabbing women by the pussy can become President. You see yourself above the rules and your behavior is excused.”

What Does Rape Culture Look Like?

The six examples below demonstrate how desensitized society has become to accepting rape culture as, simply, culture.

1. “The Stanford Swimmer.” Brock Turner, a Stanford University student, was convicted last June of sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster. His six-month sentence—of which he served just half—sparked national outrage for being far too lenient.

“The fact that we still refer to him as ‘The Stanford Swimmer’ and not ‘The Stanford Rapist,’ is an example of perpetuating rape culture,” says Levy. Language used by the media often perpetuates rape culture by highlighting the accolades of well-known figures accused of rape and abuse, before mentioning the crimes of which they’re suspected of.

2. Dolce & Gabbana’s “Rape Ad.”This ad, which appeared in magazines in 2007, could be interpreted as simulating a gang rape in order to sell the designer duo’s clothing. It’s almost as bad as this ad, which turns a naked woman into a piece of furniture, or any number of these violence-against-female themed ads that Buzzfeed highlighted in 2013.

3. Sexualized Halloween Costumes for Girls. If your son wants to dress up as a police officer for Halloween, he’ll be able to get a shirt and pants and look like a tiny law enforcer. But if your daughter would like to emulate the same profession, she may be offered a short dress described as “sassy.” Says Levy, “Even the way she’s posing, with the handcuffs hanging off her belt, seems sexual.”

4. The “Date Grape Koolaid” Cocktail. While it may not be the first or only bar to offer an offensively named cocktail on their menu, the Daiquiri Factory in Spokane, Wash., drew controversy two years ago by adding this shocking mixer to their drink menu. To top it off, they vehemently defended the drink to critics on social media, saying, “Just like everything in life … your [sic] either going to like it or don’t. We all can look for something to make a big deal about.”

5. Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. The song has been called “rape-y,” and rightly so, singing the praises of women who are unclear that they “want it.” The video shows mostly naked women walking back and forth in front of a fully clothed Thicke and rappers T.I. and Pharrell Williams. The lyrics include such lines as, “Not many women can refuse this pimpin' … I'm a nice guy, but don't get confused, you git'n it.”

6. The Ray Rice Incident. In 2014, Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice punched his then-fiancé (now, wife) Janay Palmer so hard in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel that she was knocked unconscious. A video of the incident, made public by TMZ, showed Rice dragging Palmer’s unconscious body out of the elevator. Some believed the NFL was trying to keep the video under wraps, but once it was released, or, as the NFL cites, as soon as the incident was brought to the their attention, Rice was given a two-game suspension. The Ravens sent out a blatant victim-blaming tweet saying Palmer “regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.” Eventually, Rice was essentially blacklisted from the NFL—no team would sign him—but avoided jail time. Instead, he was sent to a “diversionary program” of therapy and anger management that allowed him to be clear of the charges in a year. News media continued to place the focus and blame on Palmer, with articles like “Why Does Janay Rice Keep Standing By Her Man?

Maybe one of these 50 barriers is standing in her way.

What Can We Do?

Notice it, says Levy. “Just acknowledge it exists. Be aware and talk about it, especially with your kids. When you see a movie with your kids, talk about what scenes might be problematic. If violence is celebrated, discuss why. Ask kids to be more critical when they listen to music. If the song is about hoes and b*tches, what is that saying?”

Even when reading fairytales, says Levy, discuss what they’re teaching. Should the prince have kissed Snow White without her permission?

Levy also encourages men to get involved. “Rape culture has long been seen as a women’s issue and that cannot be. Doing something to stop it has to involve men talking to other men.”

Want to do more? Watch Tony Porter’s powerful TED talk about redefining what it means to “be a man.”





Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted March 21st, 2017
8:25 am

Retaliation will not bring lasting Safety and Peace!

Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of NonViolent Communication wrote this on September 27, 2001 after 911.

It seems that we the only thing we learned since then is how to make bigger bombs and to hate more. WE CAN ONLY HOPE that reprinting and sharing it again will help. Or you can determine that there is a better way and explore Nonviolent Communication and Better Outcomes.org                                                                                          

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, millions of people throughout the world are feeling deep pain and grief. They feel outraged, scared, powerless—and very vulnerable. Many have a deep need to feel safe again. They long for a world where they can live in peace. Others have a deep desire to get even. They long for revenge and retribution.

Currently, the United States has decided that it must take action, and other countries have decided to join them.

Some people want the goal of these actions to be peace and safety; some want these actions to focus on retaliation and punishment.

Continue reading “Retaliation will not bring lasting Safety and Peace!” »

Lou Kraus

By Lou Kraus

Posted March 12th, 2017
7:37 am

How Trauma Lodges in the Body

Krista Tippet's interview with BESSEL VAN DER KOLK, a leader in the study and treatment of Trauma is fascinating. Anyone who has been the victim of trauma, in any of its various forms, can learn a lot from this On Being's podcast. The more we learn about ourselves, the better able we will be to understand what our world is doing to us.

Bessel van der Kolk — How Trauma Lodges in the Body

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