In one of my classes, Theories of Learning and Cognitive Development, we recently read Daniel Goleman's book, Social Intelligence: the revolutionary new science of human relationships. The book is all about recent findings in neuroscience research and what we're learning about the brain, how it works and how we learn. One important point is that human emotions are contagious.
Last night I'd been doing classwork on the computer for an hour or two when the phone rang. It was an unidentified number and I answered with some uneasiness. I really dislike phone sales calls. A woman's voice asked for the man or lady of the house. My hackles went up. I asked who was calling. She said she was doing an opinion poll about food-related items. I reluctantly agreed to participate. She nervously started with her questions.
But then, I relaxed. I thought to myself it really wasn't so bad to take a break from school work and I do like food, after all. I made a half-hearted joke in response to one of her questions. She sort of coughed like she was swallowing a chuckle. Feeling bolder, I made another joke as I answered another question. That one got a definite giggle.
Her questions went on. Turned out they were more to do with how much I cooked at home - whether it had been affected by the economy, that sort of thing. I *hate* cooking...it uses up so much time for so little gain. The more questions she asked, the more I played it up and the more she laughed.
By the end we were both howling with laughter - her in Georgia, making calls on behalf of the McIlhenny Tabasco Company and me in New Hampshire working on my discussion boards.
She sounded young. Before she finished, she said how much she appreciated having had such a pleasant conversation. I'm hoping the memory of it will help see her through a lot of other less than pleasant calls. I've felt great about it all day...even though I still don't like to cook, I still don't use Tabasco sauce, and I still don't like telephone sales calls. >-<