Hot or Cold? And a musical example

Are you a hot or cold person? Now, if you were posed this question by an associate you might be a little flabbergasted. Perhaps it is the abruptness of the question. It may be interpreted as a slightly personal question, probing into your character, which you may not appreciate because you might not want to be analysed. Perhaps the intent behind the questioning is not certain, and you might be puzzled by what kind of information is being requested from you. After all, the word hot has different connotations. If you were to mention to someone that a third party was hot, you would have to make clear whether you meant you found the person attractive or whether he was having a fiery moment.

Even more possible is the fact that you could simply be asked about your preferences with regards to food or weather. Do you prefer hot or cold food? Do you prefer warmer or colder weather? In both cases, the exact intent was not clear from the onset and hence that was the reason for the confusion.

When we communicate a question or a request, we have to make ourselves concise and clear. Being too brief runs the risk of being misunderstood, while trying to explain ourselves clearly using more words may run the risk of being too waffly and hard to understand. But finding the balance between the two is something that is difficult for most of us, but with experience we learn how to communicate our intent clearly and briefly. Being brief means that there are fewer words for the listener to process, and they can get on with the task of interpreting the meaning.

The classical music composer William Walton was often lauded for his brevity and directness, even if his music was often the opposite of this, seeking to convey emotional meaning through non-verbal means. Perhaps we can all be hot and cold in various senses and different situations, and it is the skill of emotional intelligence to know which to revert to and when!

Seeking control? Try a musical instrument

As human beings, one of our basic personality traits must be certain to be control. How is this so? It can be observed on many levels. We try to control our physical circumstances. We decorate our homes in a way we like and to project a certain image. For example, if you want your home to reflect glamour, you fill it with objects that are perceived to be exclusive and expensive. If you wish for your home to reflect your minimalist lifestyle, then you would reflect this in the design of your physical surroundings as well. The control also extends to other fields such as social relationships. We surround ourselves with people who have similar interests and with whom we can talk to, otherwise it would be hard work to find common ground.

But we can only control a finite number of this around us. It is impossible to regulate everything to suit our liking. What if you are applying for a job? You don’t have control over the work circumstances. You cannot choose who you work with. You may have control over the hours you work (or not) but if you are starting out on a junior level you may find many things you can’t control!

We can deflect from the lack of control in various parts of our life by seeking to establish control in others. For example, if you are dismayed by how the lack of control you experience in your work environment, establish one outside where you are in control. Start by learning the piano or a similar instrument. Balance the lack of control you have at work with the mastery of your instrument. Many people already do this – it is no wonder that people who have routine jobs go home where they are Lionel Messi on the Xbox and PlayStation, or masters of their own social media pages.

Digital jobs and skills

Can you actually make a living from playing video games? This is the question that many people will be trying to answer in the search for digital jobs. People keep telling us generalisms such as “the jobs of the future have not yet been created”, as if it is a magical world yet to be untapped. Yes, technology has opened up some avenues for jobs which did not exist years ago. For example bloggers and video loggers and other similar jobs could not have existed had the technology and the demand for leisure pursuits had not both been met. But it is also important to remember that as with any occupation, those at the top of the pyramid will be the top earners, by virtue of having a head start. They are the ones looked up to by those at the bottom of the pyramid, who will be keen to copy their methods in the hope of replicating their success. But this is only hope and aspiration, because they cannot recreate the market.

Digital jobs were premised as a way of doing what you love as a career, and perhaps attract people who want to go to work in their pyjamas, to the office in the kitchen. But there is so much competition for the purely digital jobs, that those that are largely digital, such as search engine optimisation, website marketing and similar jobs, do not pay well, and many are just subsistence only jobs that offer little remuneration.

It would be a good idea to teach core knowledge alongside life skills. One of the life skills that seem important is awareness of the hype in life (Work from home! Only two hours a week allows you to retire at thirty-five!) and how not to be skewed by these beliefs. We live in a world that is heavily hyped and a lot of false beliefs are marketed, such as those we have encountered earlier. Also it would be a good idea to teach children to have a wide variety of skills, such as core content knowledge, life skills (how to repair household items) and also aesthetic skills such as playing the piano so that they turn out to have more rounded experience. And certainly the idea that we can all make a living playing video games is hype by manufacturers!


Music lessons and single-parenting

What does your society think of single parenting? One can only assume it is largely linked to how your society views things such as divorce and marriage. Less permissive societies may frown on single parents because they do not approve of divorce and hold on to beliefs of marriage being for life. Or they may also frown upon such family structures if they believe that a child has been born out of wedlock as a result of extramarital relations. But single parenting, which seen as taboo, can be good in cases. We would all agree that it would be better for a child to be raised in a stable environment than in a household where there are petty disagreements which degenerate into shouting matches and abuse. But before we happily go for single parenting, let us remind ourselves of the negative points too. Children may have to commute for long periods so that the parents enjoy access. They have to spend different days of the week in different places, and that is not stable. They may have to bear the remarks of those around them, and also wonder why their parents can’t work things out between themselves.

In Japan, a mother noted how being a single parent had an effect on her daughter. Her husband had left since the girl was young and had made no attempt at reconciliation, and the lack of a father figure at home was causing the girls anxiety among her peers and making her withdrawn. Perhaps she felt isolated when she was in the company of peers, because they would have both parents around, talk about their parents, as girls tend to do. The mother decided on taking the unusual step of hiring an actor to pretend to be the long-lost father who had suddenly reappeared on the scene and wanted to make a reconciliation. She noted that the girl’s confidence returned and she became more outgoing, so perhaps it was gamble worth taking.

Single parents may struggle to occupy their children and engage them in activities so it is often good for them to develop interests such as music. Learning the piano is a good idea because not only does it teach skills like co-operation, practise, repetition and drive, but practising at home – you may think this selfish – gives you time away from your child, which may be important for you, and important for them not to have you in their face all the time. The Piano Teacher N15 website suggests fifteen or twenty minutes practice three times a week, more if they are able to cope, so that’s a fair bit of time for your child to learn to become an independent learner!