Massive changes are occurring across the world, and in the workplace. Stress levels are increasing, and anxiety is commonplace - leading to illness, down time, lost productivity. As technology increases, there is a corresponding need for high touch - a loss of and a craving for the human factor (John Naisbitt). Businesses - and people in business - who realise this need for the human touch and provide for it will do well in the future.
How can advances in psychology help us to succeed in the business environment?
3 areas we will consider:
- The area of performance, productivity, and goal achievement
- The area of communication, influence and persuasion
- The area of emotion management - The area I tip will be a boon for businesses/corporations that embrace it
1. Performance, productivity and goal achievement
Did you know that you can improve your muscle strength just by thinking? A recent study in USA found that when participants were asked to imagine flexing their biceps as hard as possible in training sessions 5 times per week, their muscles showed a 13.5 percent increase in strength after a few weeks and maintained that gain for 3 months after the training stopped! To ensure that the volunteers were not unintentionally tensing, their electrical impulses at the motor neurons in their arm muscles were monitored.
This and much other research is simply proving what many of us already knew - That thoughts are things.
Much research has shown that your thoughts can have an effect on your body and some research has shown they can also have an effect on the environment - Edward Tiller a researcher at Stanford University has demonstrated that your mind can reach beyond itself to create physical changes and affect mechanical recordings.
You can also use your thoughts to produce winning results - Australia II won the America's cup 20 years ago. Did you know that as part of their strategy they had an audio tape made before they even went of them winning the final race and taking the cup, and each team member played that tape over and over until winning was imprinted on their nervous system? The winged keel was not the only innovation in that race and certainly not the only factor in their success.
Does your organization do this? How many of you are involved in organizations where you are working for a grand vision and using a strategy like visualisation to help you get there and build the confidence you need? In business, we need people with vision, from which flow meaningful goals and strategies. Without a vision the people will perish says the bible - and so will your business or organization!
If athletes can use tools such as visualisation to become peak performers - Isn't it time your organization embraced them?
- Clarify your organisational vision and mission
- Regularly set goals - and encourage your staff to set goals - Goal setters do better in all areas of business and life
- Develop a success identity
- Encourage and develop your people - Feedback, feedback, feedback!
2. Communication influence and persuasion
Did you know there is one word that can improve people's compliance to a request from around 60% to over 90%? Research reported by social psychologist Robert Cialdini in his book "Influence: The New Psychology of Persuasion" shows that when you include the word 'because' when making a request compliance rates soar.
In other research, when callers asked "How are you feeling this evening?" and actually waited for the other person to answer this question before making their request, compliance levels doubled!
Do you know what is an even greater predictor of success? Rapport. People who are easily able to obtain rapport with other people are more successful in many areas.
Rapport is part of Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence consists of 5 traits that have been shown by research to result in people who achieve more and live better. These 5 traits have been shown by research to separate the stars from the average performers (as reported by Daniel Goleman):
- Self-Awareness - Knowing and trusting your own gut feelings.
- Mood management - Being able to modify your own emotional state.
- Self-motivation - Being able to generate feelings of enthusiasm, confidence, optimism. Martin Seligman's research found that people who tested high on optimism made more sales - Even those that failed normal aptitude tests!!! - i.e. Employ optimistic people
- Impulse control - Those who can delay their gratification tend to excel.
- People skills - Those who develop networks with a wide range of people are peak performers - This is regardless of IQ
Questions for you:
- How good are the people skills of your team?
- Do your managers know how to give effective feedback on performance?
In a study of 108 managers and white collar workers, inept criticism was ahead of mistrust, personality struggles and disputes over power and pay as a reason for conflict on the job. (Goleman)
- Employ people who are enthusiastic and optimistic
- Train your people in people skills, especially your management team
- When giving feedback make it task oriented, not personal - Personal feedback reduces performance and commitment.
3. Emotion Management - Key Skill for the New Millennium
This is where it's at in my opinion. Emotions influence people and drive behaviour and at no time has emotion management been more needed than now. Learning to manage your own emotions is one of the most powerful ways to influence the emotions of your clients and customers. Employees who can influence people's emotions positively are highly valued, as are managers and leaders who can inspire people with enthusiasm.
Question: What are the things in your job that cause you the greatest challenges, and what is the biggest problem they cause you?
The reality is that the greatest problem those problem people, events, or things cause you ultimately is how they make you feel!
Recent discoveries in psychology have revealed techniques that are capable of rapidly desensitising negative emotions and leaving us calm and in control. These techniques, of which EFT (or Emotional Freedom Techniques) is one of the most well known and most easily learned, are exciting psychologists and therapists around the world.
EFT is a process of tapping on the meridian points of traditional Chinese acupuncture whilst focusing on emotional problems. Most people who do so experience a relaxation response almost immediately, as well as a lessening of the problem emotion and more positive thinking patterns. Studies have shown that these techniques can rapidly relieve phobias (in less than 1 hour!), relieve trauma and post traumatic stress, and help people to overcome public speaking fears. These changes have been verified by brain scans indicating significant positive shifts in brain functioning.
Can you imagine what work would be like if you could deal with the emotional upsets that occur in some offices on a daily basis? What if there was a way to help people to deal with the stress and anxiety brought into the organization by constant change? Our experience in organizations that have incorporated these new techniques is that this is exactly what happens. Productivity levels rise along with morale as people begin to feel certain of a more positive future.
Change will always be with us. New advances in psychology can allow us to more adequately deal with the changes that are occurring in the world, and to turn change into positive advantage.