Become a better you! My name is Jeff Bogaczyk and I host a podcast and write a blog on personal development at mindforlife.org. I'm just finishing a Ph.D. in Rhetoric so Ask Me Anything on Communication, Persuasion, and Personal Development!

jeff bogaczyk
Mar 8, 2018

As mentioned, I host a podcast and blog on personal development where we are currently working through a course on the 52 essential skills you need for success in business and life.  Find out more at www.mindforlife.org

I have taught communication and rhetoric at the university level and am just about finished with my Ph.D. in Rhetoric with concentrations in interpersonal communication, organizational communication, and the rhetoric of technology.

I'm also super interested in the topic of human communication in the digital environment and how media reform humanity.

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Conversation (60)

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How would you address the situation of an individual experiencing extreme self-hatred and depression?
Mar 14, 11:56AM EDT0

I would say that the person should get professional help from a family doctor, psychologist or psychotherapist.  Extreme depression and self-hatred are symptoms that should not be taken lightly, and that person should seek help from a trained professional.

Mar 14, 7:20PM EDT0
What philosophy do you live by and how does this philosophy assist you in being a better communicator?
Mar 14, 10:34AM EDT0

The philosophy that I try to live by is the Golden Rule:  do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  This has guided me personally and helped me to live a better life.  

As far as being a communicator, I try to think in terms of what I would like from someone who is communicating with me.  So the best communicators that I know are great listeners who are genuinely interested in me and what I have to say and contribute authentically to the conversation.  That is how I would like others to "do unto me" when it comes to communication so that's how I try to act when I'm communicating with someone else.

I think it goes the same for public communication in a speech or talk.  I try to think "what would I like to hear about if I were an audience member" and then I try to provide that in my talk.  This is about content, body language, pace, vocal tone, and proximity.  So the Golden Rule can be considered an "other-centered" or "audience-centered" approach to communication.  

Mar 14, 7:26PM EDT0
What is your biggest self-limiting belief and what would you do if you knew that you would not fail?
Mar 14, 10:10AM EDT0

I would say doubt.  I think at the deepest levels we all struggle with doubt.  Doubt about ourselves.  Doubt about others.  There's always a voice that's saying "you can't do it" or "he/she doesn't really love you."  Overcoming that voice is challenging but I think you have to realize that the voice isn't the authentic you.  You have to believe in yourself because if you don't, it's doubtful anyone else will.  

As far as the second question.  I don't think I would do anything different than what I'm doing right now.  It's fun to imagine what it would be like to be a celebrity or famous athlete or big business CEO, but all of those things have good and bad parts.  Not failing at being a Hollywood movie star brings with it a whole host of other issues along with the money and fame.  Same goes for everything.  I think wise people can see both sides of success and are able to weigh those against their personal values.  That way, you don't arrive at "success" and realize it wasn't what you were searching for in the first place.

Last edited @ Mar 15, 9:25AM EDT.
Mar 15, 9:25AM EDT0
In what ways can technology increase or decrease a person’s concern and compassion for others?
Mar 14, 4:12AM EDT0

Warning:  This may get long and a little academic but it is an area of study where I have some expertise and which I have studied extensively.  

Empathetic behavior toward another individual is a cornerstone of morality and is based upon intersubjective intentionality.  To have empathy for someone first demands an intersubjective relationship - that one sees another as “subject” and not “object.”  That one sees another, in the words of Martin Buber as Thou rather than It.  

And empathy must be directed – it must be intentional.  Empathy is, in the words of Edmund Husserl, a particular type of consciousness of another.  It is directed and about the other.  

Understanding how digital media create greater interpersonal distance requires explaining the differences between a visual and an oral medium.  

Technologically mediated communication that comes via texting, email, social media posts, etc. usually comes to us visually.  Texting and email are visual media – characters written in a word processing program and electronically transmitted to another individual.  

There resides a distance in this type of communication that disconnects us from our relationships with others and releases us from a basic human obligation to the other.  The more visual the medium, the greater the distance between subjects.  

Sight is a somewhat selfish sense as opposed to hearing which in its nature must be tuned toward another subject.  For example, when I look around, I make the space I see my own and the images are recorded juxtaposed with myself and in relation to where I am.  

Sight makes me the center of the world for sight allows me to situate myself in space in relation to all I see and more importantly, sight respectively situates everything I see in relation to myself.  

In a visual medium, the focus of attention rests not upon the other, but rather upon the medium itself and our own interaction with it.  For example, in looking at a piece of art we typically focus on the medium, on the artwork itself, and then form our interpretation of the piece – an individualistic endeavor.  And though we “engage” the artist in a sort of dialogue through the piece, the dialogue more accurately represents an internal dialogue with ourselves about the piece.  The visual medium places the focus of attention upon ourselves. 

Digital mediation contributes to the objectification of the other person so much that in mediation, a person becomes an “It” rather than a “Thou.”  We are all aware of the trolling that takes place on social media and are many times appalled at some of the horrific vitriol that takes place and is specifically directed toward other people.  

We also recognize that people who say those things are less likely to say them when engaged in face to face communication.  Digital mediation constructs an environment fertile for online disinhibition, otherwise known as the Gyges effect,[1] which is directly linked with anonymity and the facelessness of the other.[2] 

Please note the references to information on the Gyges Effect and the facelessness of the other person.  The research shows that mediation leads to a lack of empathy and drives human relationships apart.  This doesn't mean that we get rid of it, but that we use it appropriately in the right situations.

[1] see “Internet Trolls and the Gyges Effect,” Milinism, August 24, 2013, milinism.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/internet-trolls-and-the-gyges-effect/; David R. Iverson, “The Ring of Gyges: Anonymity and Technological Advance’s Effect on the Deterrence of Non-State Actors in 2035” (DTIC Document, 2011); John Suler, “The Online Disinhibition Effect,” Cyberpsychology & Behavior 7, no. 3 (2004): 321–326; Noam Lapidot-Lefler and Azy Barak, “Effects of Anonymity, Invisibility, and Lack of Eye-Contact on Toxic Online Disinhibition,” Computers in Human Behavior 28, no. 2 (2012): 434–443.

[2] Stephen Marche, “The Epidemic of Facelessness,” The New York Times, February 14, 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/opinion/sunday/the-epidemic-of-facelessness.html.

Mar 14, 7:44PM EDT0
In what ways does living in the moment, acceptance and finding inner peace coincide with functioning in the world and achieving one’s goals?
Mar 13, 8:24PM EDT0

Great question.  I believe it has to do with meaning and purpose.  In the book, Man's search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl talked about how our inner peace is related to our search for meaning.  He went through the horrors of the concentration camps and came out the other side with a changed perspective on life - how do we find meaning even in suffering?  

We often tend to seek happiness as the ultimate goal of life.  This was the perspective of the ancient Athenians who stated that Eudaimonia (happiness) was what everyone was searching for in life.  And truthfully, we all want to be happy.  The reality is that we live in a world of suffering.  No matter our goals or how good the plan is, life is bound to place obstacles in our paths that we cannot control.  Tragedies strike, people do terrible things.  If there's one thing we've learned it's that we can't stop suffering no matter how much technology or information we have because the problems we face are human problems.  A faster computer can't fix those.

So, to function in this type of world - seek meaning.  Find a purpose in life that is bigger than yourself and pursue it.  I just watched a great video on finding a purpose - a TED talk that speaks right to the heart of this issue.  I also have written about this and done a few podcasts on it.  It's a big deal for me, and I hope this has been helpful.

Mar 13, 9:40PM EDT0
Is there a difference between Human Resources and Human Capital Resources? What is it?
Mar 9, 9:05AM EST0

I'm not sure about this.  I can't say that I'm qualified to answer but I'll give my best shot.  Human resources deals with the hiring and administration of the personnel of an organization - managing people.  Human capital resources seem to me to be about developing the "human skills" of those people - the intangible skills, intelligence, and knowledge of those human beings who work within an organization.  That's the best I can describe how I understand the differences. 

Mar 9, 11:32AM EST0
Why did you choose to specifically spread your message via blog and podcast? Any particular reason why?
Mar 9, 3:41AM EST0

I think the biggest reason is convenience.  It's pretty easy to write a blog and do a podcast.  All you need is a computer, some software, and a microphone.  That makes it extremely feasible for anyone who wants to do it.  It takes a little bit of research to learn how it all works, but anyone can do it within 1-2 months.  So that's probably the biggest reason.  Thanks for asking and if you're looking for help on how to get started, let me know.

Mar 9, 11:28AM EST0
Why did you pick the field of human development?
Mar 9, 3:35AM EST0

I'm very interested in learning and developing myself - how I grow personally and why it's important for my own "success."  So, I figured maybe other people are interested in the same things and have found an audience that resonates with my own interests.

Also, I believe that the key to professional advancement is investing in yourself - this means learning, growing, and improving.  That philosophy has greatly benefitted me and I think it has helped many other people as well.

Mar 9, 11:35AM EST0
Do your audience take active participation in the decision making process of your blog and podcast? Do they determine what they want to hear or read, or that is entirely up to you?
Mar 8, 9:40PM EST0

Good question.  Yes and no.  I tune myself to my audience by understanding what they are interested in learning about.  This is a  process that involves, individual questions and opinions, metrics, data analysis and, to some extent, guesswork.  So feedback helps a great deal in discerning what people are looking for and then I go from there.

Currently, I'm in the midst of a 52-week essential skills for success in business and life course so I'm working through the content based within those skills.  It's a learning process for me and for my audience.  Of course, the feedback helps to know what people like and don't like, but it also allows me to answer specific questions that some may have.

This AMA is a great example - I get to answer questions that people have and ultimately that guides my content creation and helps me to get a sense of what my audience wants.  Then, I try to provide that as best as I can.

Mar 8, 9:57PM EST0
Do you do one on one meet-up with your audience?
Mar 8, 2:17PM EST0

Sometimes.  Not typically.  But there are times when I have the opportunity to talk with people one-on-one and I find those encounters to be the most enriching.  "Engagement" is a word that has been thrown around especially in relation to "authentic" connections over social media.  

Marketers try to find ways to create audience "engagement."  I get the power of building conversations over the digital platforms but they are typically very surface level connections and there really isn't any depth.  In one on one situations - face to face encounters, you can really get to know someone better because the conversation is so much richer due to the inclusion of nonverbals.

I'm always open to meeting with people because I believe that's how we learn more about one another and find the best solutions to our common problems.

Mar 8, 3:38PM EST0
Most people who are interested in human development are said to be sacrificial in nature. They can do anything to help others. How true is this?
Mar 8, 7:40AM EST0

I'm not sure how true this statement is.  I do believe that people interested in human development have compassion for others and generally want to do what they can to help, but I also believe that at some of our deepest levels, we are selfish people concerned with the things that really matter to us.

That doesn't mean that we should accept that, but I think that maturity and a greater understanding of the human condition should propel us to think less about ourselves and more about others.

The golden rule seems to strike a good balance - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  This isn't necessarily easy or natural but it's a goal I strive for in my own life.

Mar 8, 10:36AM EST0

In your opinion, when should one classify oneself as being successful?

Mar 8, 12:56AM EST0

Great question Anna.  And I think it's subjective and dependent upon one's own definition of success.  Part of what limits us, I believe, is our dependence upon the definitions and opinions of other people.  Consider success.  Many people start down a road chasing something they believe to be success - good job, nice paycheck, nice car, great house, etc. only to find when they get there that it really wasn't what they wanted. 

So, I think the best solution is to figure out what success means for you - create a definition of success that works with your value system.  Then instead of chasing after a phantom, you can start down a path of purpose and be able to measure how you are doing.

Mar 8, 9:53AM EST0
How often do you get to pass your message across to new people?
Mar 7, 9:42PM EST0

I try to pass my message every chance I get.  Most often that happens in personal conversations with people, but it comes through my blog and podcast as well.  

I like to think of it as sharing a vision (my personal message).  You have to do it often before people begin to understand it and catch it for themselves.

It used to be a guideline in radio advertising that you wanted your ideal client to hear your ad 3 times before 7 sleeps.  More is better because radio advertising is a top of mind endeavor.  In other words, when you need something (mattress, car, etc.) what's the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about who can provide what you need.

That's kind of my philosophy when it comes to sharing my message with other people.

Mar 8, 9:57AM EST0
If you find yourself in a position to help people that have no idea what a digital environment is, what would you do to develop them without having to make use of digital tools?
Mar 7, 8:51PM EST0

It's an interesting question.  How do we make people aware of the hidden digitally mediated environment and the effects it is having upon their neurocognition, and then should we use digital tools for development.

To me, this comes down to education.  The first step is helping people to understand the intricacies of the digital environment - what the positive effects are as well as the negative ones.  I know there are some great digital tools for learning, but I'm a big believer in reading books.  

When you read, it engages your mind differently that when you use an app.  You have to figure out linear arguments.  You have to enter a dialogue with the author as well as yourself.  It is a somewhat dialogic approach to learning in one sense.  I believe it helps develop the critical thinking faculties that are needed by people now more than ever.  So, that's where I would start.  I have an article on continual learning that might give a little more insight into my perspective on this if you're interested.  

Mar 8, 10:20AM EST0
What is it like juggling being a lecturer, a blogger and podcaster?
Mar 7, 7:48PM EST0

I think it's just simply living life.  I don't get too stressed out about stuff and take things as they come to me.  It's a lot of work to blog and podcast and then if you add to that speaking engagements, networking events, writing a Ph.D. dissertation or other things it may seem like it could be overwhelming.  

Maybe for some people, but for me, I feel pretty able to control my calendar and make sure I'm working within my abilities.  Some people are better able to cope with a lot of balls in the air, so to speak, and thought I may not be the best, I feel capable.  Thanks for asking!

Mar 8, 10:02AM EST0
What to you is the best form of communication? And why?
Mar 7, 7:27PM EST0

It depends on the intended purpose.  For meaningful conversations where you need to be able to understand the nuance, face to face dialogue is the best.

For simply transferring information, digitally mediated (email, text, social media posts, etc.) work well enough.

So maybe a better question might be, "what's the best form of communication for the intended purpose of ____________?"  That will give you chance to pick one that fits well with what your intended purpose and result of the communication event.

Mar 8, 9:59AM EST0
What to you is so dear that without a second thought you'd give up for a chance at self development?
Mar 7, 5:09PM EST0

I think personal development should be one of the top priorities of our life.  The question of what place personal development should hold is subjective, and I mean that each person needs to make that decision for themselves.  For me, it's right up there in the top 3 of what's really important to me in my own life.  

One leadership principle that I'm a big believer in is that you can't take people farther on the journey then you've been yourself.  You can't lead people to places where you've never been.  So personal development is about going down those dark paths of self-discovery and learning yourself first so that you can lead other people down them as well.

I wrote an article about the importance of continual learning that fits well with this question if you're interested.  How a Life of Continual Learning Puts You In a Position For Success

Mar 8, 10:33AM EST0
If you were to be the President of the United States of America, what policy would you implement that will aid human development?
Mar 7, 4:11PM EST0

I don't believe government policies can fix the problems we have in society.  I'm sure that they help in some ways, but at the same time, those policies that help also cause additional problems.  Human aid and development is what's been termed a "wicked problem."  

A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult to solve because of changing circumstances, incomplete information and changing requirements that are difficult to recognize and quantify.  Solving the problem of the human condition and human development is extremely complex and even maybe impossible.  

I don't think governments can fix it.  It's an individual problem and we can only fix ourselves.  As someone once said, you can't legislate morality.  Well, you have a hard time legislating human development as well.  Education policies are a start.

Mar 8, 10:42AM EST0
Do you consider yourself an authority in the field of communication and rhetoric? Why?
Mar 7, 10:25AM EST0

I'm not exactly sure what qualifies someone as an "authority."  Typically, having a Ph.D. in a particular field denotes authority but I don't necessarily believe that a degree equals authority because the reputation of your degree matters.

A Ph.D. from an unknown institution can hurt your authority, possibly even more than not having one.  My degree comes from Duquesne University - a school with a communication department that is reputable and very well respected in the communication field (particularly in rhetoric and the philosophy of communication). 

The professors in the department have written extensively in the field in the most reputable journals, participate in all of the major communication conferences, and serve the field in editorial and official positions.  

Their work gives my degree credence, but ultimately my authority depends upon my own reputation, how extensively I publish in my area of expertise, and if I present my research at the major conferences and serve the discipline in editorial and professional positions.  

Considering those qualifications, some may consider me an authority.  I would probably say that I could speak authoritatively on topics within my area of expertise - interpersonal communication, organizational communication, rhetoric, and the rhetoric of technology - but I don't necessarily consider myself an expert or someone who has "arrived" at the "authority" level.  I would reserve that title for my professors and say that I'm on a learning journey and maybe one day I might get there (though I don't think I would ever find myself saying I have arrived).

Mar 7, 12:28PM EST0
What have you identified that is wrong in the way humans communicate that you'd change if you had the chance?
Mar 7, 6:02AM EST0

I think the biggest mistake that people make when it comes to human communication is not understanding the impact of the medium.  So, as an example, for essential and intimate human communication (conflict situations, fierce conversations, crucial conversations), you need to do that face to face.  There's just so much more that is communicated "in person" then can be communicated through a medium like texting, email, facebook, and even over the phone.  The nonverbal messages are crucial in those types of communication events.  

Digital media make communication faster and more efficient, but a lot gets left out.  You can't have a relationship with someone through just texting, facebook and email.  For any relationship to last and sustain intimacy, you need to be with that person - in their presence. 

When people try to manage conflict, maintain intimate relationships, or communicate delicate and potentially damaging messages through mediated channels, it generally goes bad.

So for the important things - talk to the person face to face.  For the rest of it, the digital stuff works ok.

Last edited @ Mar 7, 4:10PM EST.
Mar 7, 1:38PM EST0
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