July 7, 2006
I've occasionally been told that I have a confrontational style of communication. But that's not necessarily a bad thing-- as Kathy Sierra points out, the smackdown learning model can be surprisingly effective:
What happens to your brain when you're forced to choose between two different--and potentially conficting--points of view? Learning. That's what makes the smackdown model such an effective approach to teaching, training, and most other forms of communication.
Whether you're writing user instructions, teaching a class, writing a non-fiction book, or giving a conference presentation, consider including at least some aspect of the smackdown model. It's one of the most engaging ways to cause people's brains to both feel and think -- the two elements you need for attention, understanding, retention, and recall.
By presenting different perspectives or views of the topic, the learner's brain is forced into making a decision about which one they most agree with. And as long as the learner is paying attention, you won't even have to ask. In other words, it doesn't have to be a formal exercise where the learner must physically make a choice between multiple things; simply by giving their brain the conflicting message, their brain has no choice. Brains cannot simply leave the conflicts out there without at least trying to make an evaluation.
I think this is also why presentations with two presenters are unusually effective. They're more engaging because you get two viewpoints. There's more back and forth; not one person droning on, but a sort of conversation on the stage.
Although I can recommend the smackdown communication style, it's extremely important that everyone retain their sense of humor. Like "real" wrestling, always remember that you're only fighting for the entertainment value.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
More "smackdown" evidence; two founders is better than one:
Ideally you want between two and four founders. It would be hard to start with just one. One person would find the moral weight of starting a company hard to bear. Even Bill Gates, who seems to be able to bear a good deal of moral weight, had to have a co-founder. But you don't want so many founders that the company starts to look like a group photo. Partly because you don't need a lot of people at first, but mainly because the more founders you have, the worse disagreements you'll have. When there are just two or three founders, you know you have to resolve disputes immediately or perish. If there are seven or eight, disagreements can linger and harden into factions. You don't want mere voting; you need unanimity.
I can't remember where I read it, but I distinctly remember reading that companies with multiple founders tend to be statistically more successful than those with a single founder.
"I've occasionally been told that I have a confrontational style of communication"
Surely you're kidding... ; )
Thanks for that Paul Graham reference too.
Huh, I thought that smackdown learning would have more smacking :)
That would explain why I've always found that podcasts with two hosts is better than those that have a single host.
I love smacking you back. It just kinda makes me feel good inside. ;)
"Printed material inherently makes assertions. It is almost impossible to write a meaningful sentence which does not make an assertion; and as such, when reading, the reader is being presented with assertions which they are required to agree with, to suspend judgement upon, or to refute.
A book is essentially a very long set of assertions which build an argument. The reader has to keep track of the assertions, build up an overall picture, and come to a conclusion of his own, which may or may not match or fully match the view of the author."
I don't know about that Postman book.
Couldn't you make the same argument about radio? Conversely, couldn't many of the same criticisms he applies to TV also apply to writing? Writing can also be pure entertainment.
I will agree that TV / video is a more passive medium.
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I think it's sad that Kathy Sierra (linked to in this article) would support something called the smackdown learning model after being spending most of her life living in fear of her abusive husband.
Expert-sexchange? My life as a sysadmin got so much better when someone told me I could use the Customize Google Firefox add-on to filter them out.
Seriously. Try it. Add this to Tools CustomizeGoogle Options Filter: