The How to Speak so People Listen Dictionary Part 6: Physiology

by Mike Clayton  - December 11, 2013

How to Speak so People Listen is filled with specific concepts and models. To make a valuable resource for readers, and to introduce non-readers to some of the core concepts of the book, I have created a dictionary. As a bonus, this dictionary also contains additional terms and ideas that are not contained in How to Speak so People Listen. It is in 16 parts and has around 100 entries. If you like dictionaries -�take a look too at The Yes/No Dictionary based on my earlier book, The Yes/No Book.

Part 6: Physiology

Students of the ability to speak so people listen need to know a little about how our bodies work. This is hard biological science, so it is hardly surprising that we find some unfamiliar terms.


Cocktail Party Effect (noun); Our ability to filter out multiple conversations and notice what one person is saying on the other side of a crowded room. How this is possible was first investigated by Colin Cherry and later, by Donald Broadbent. See also dichotic listening.

Dichotic Listening (verb); Our ability to take in information from two sound sources and focus on one of them. This was first investigated by Donald Broadbent and provides a model for explaining the Cocktail Party Effect (qv).

Duchenne Smile (noun); An authentic smile (rather than a forced smile) that we recognise from the tightening of the muscles on the outside corners of the eyes (the orbicularis oculi muscles). This is the clearest outward sign of happiness, hence the saying that a true smile lies in our eyes. Named after French neurologist, Guillaume-Benjamin-Amand Duchenne.

Mirror Neurons (noun); Unlike motor neurons that fire to make us act, mirror neurons fire when we watch someone else do something. They are involved in imitation and emulation of actions and therefore believed to be important both in learning and in empathy. Mirror neurons were discovered by Italian neuro-physiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti.

Saccades (noun); Rapid, involuntary eye movements that scan across an image. When looking at a face, for example, saccades move focus from eyes to nose to mouth, giving most time to the eyes.

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