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November 21, 2014

How to decrease the harmful effects of negative team relationships

What can you do to decrease the harmful effects of a negative team atmosphere?  

A negative team atmosphere and negative relationships between team members can harm both employees' job satisfaction and team performance. Researchers De Jong et al. (2014) compared three different ways of dealing with such problems. They called the first approach communication density with which they meant that team members had frequent contact with one another and tried to improve the atmosphere. The second approach which was called member exchange referred to team members assisting one another, and giving help and feedback to one another when needed.

Neuroplasticity in the elderly

Neuroplasticity exist in the older brain, too. But it works differently than in young brains. 

It was long thought that brains of young people are very flexible and plastic while those of older people largely lack this plasticity. This thinking has changed a lot over the last thirty years,  Much more is known about the capability of brains to keep changing, even at an advanced age. Some amazing examples of neuroplasticity can be seen here and here. If it is indeed true that brains of older people remain plastic, that would be good news. It would mean that we can keep on making progress throughout our lives. And there are many indications that this is indeed the case.

Evidence for the benefits of mindfulness-meditation

What evidence is there for the benefits of mindfulness meditation?

In this article I wrote about mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation helps to experience a state of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the conscious and non-judgmental awareness of what happens in the present moment which helps to interrupt automatic streams of thoughts. I also wrote that, in recent years, there have been quite a few studies into the benefits of mindfulness meditation. I mentioned that there is evidence that it might lead to benefits such as better resilience stress, a better immune function, better mental health, less negative affect, and better social functioning. Here, I want to explore the evidence for the benefits of mindfulness meditation a bit more.

November 18, 2014

Mandatory training courses

It is laudable when organizations invest in the development of the knowledge and skills of their employees. By doing this it will become easier for employees to meet their job requirements. For example, when you want employees to become more customer oriented it can be useful to organize a customer orientation training course. A training course such as this can help employees develop the required skills. But it is nearly always a bad idea to make those training courses mandatory.

November 17, 2014

Working with enthusiastic customers

Working with less motivated clients or training participants does not have to be a problem in progress-focused work. However, I do not believe much in the situation in which the customer who is supposed to be hiring you lacks enthusiasm.

As a coach you may, from time to time, be confronted with what is called involuntary clients. These are clients who do not fully agree with the fact that they have to talk with you. They are there because someone else, for example their manager, wanted them to be there. They feel coerced, or otherwise talked into, being there but they do not feel very motivated to collaborate. In the progress-focused approach there is a way of working with these types of coachees which makes it likely that you will be able to quickly develop a good collaboration with them. In the article The tilt intervention for working with involuntary clients you can read about how this approach works. For a progress-focused coach there will generally be no objection whatsoever to work with these types of clients.

November 15, 2014

When does a country make progress?

On this website we usually look at progress at a micro-level. It is also interesting to have a look at the macro-level. For instance, when does a country make progress? The Social Progress Index seems like a useful way to look at that. 

About what do we think when we ask ourselves whether or not things are going well in a certain country? Maybe our perception of this is heavily influenced by incidents which may recently have happened in that country. Or perhaps we have contradictory information about things are going right or wrong; some things may seem to be going right while others may seem to be going wrong. Or maybe we are influenced in our perception by little more than the level of economic growth of that country.

When to interrupt?

In progress-focused conversations you will not often interrupt your conversation partner. Sometimes, however, you will deliberately interrupt. Here, I explain when and how you may do that. 

As a rule, progress-focused coaches and managers do not interrupt their conversation partners during conversations. They ask questions, listen attentively, encourage, and respond respectfully to what is said. Because of this, their conversation partners will feel that their perspective is taken seriously and that they have time to think calmly about what is important to them.

November 8, 2014

Are you autonomously motivated?

By providing autonomy-support to others you can help them a lot. But what do you do when your own motivation isn't so autonomous? 

Yesterday, we did a workshop progress-focused management with approximately 25 directors and team leaders of a group of schools. One of the topics we talked about was autonomy support. As a reader of this website, you probably know that self-determination theory distinguishes autonomous motivation from controlled motivation. For new readers, here is a brief summary.

November 7, 2014

Macnamara et al (2014) meta-analysis on deliberate practice not convincing

Recently, Macnamara et al. (2014) published a meta-analysis which, they claimed, showed that "deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued" by Ericsson et al. (1993). Previously, I have written about earlier critical publications about Ericsson's work. Then, I thought these publications in several ways did not do justice to his work (read this). One of the authors of this new meta-analysis (Hambrick) was one of the authors whose publication I was critical about then. Now, I was curious whether this new publication would do justice to Ericsson and to the deliberate practice concept. Unfortunately, I don't think it does.

November 6, 2014

Understanding just enough to help clients move forward

As a progress-focused coach you don't have understand more about the situation of your clients than is necessary to help them move forward.

Progress-focused coaching is a way of working in which you activate your clients, mainly through questions, to discover ideas for steps forward. This process does not require that these coaches understand precisely everything that their clients say, think, and have done. In fact, this would be impossible. Every word and every thought is connected to so much complexity in the mind of the client that it be unfeasible to understand them precisely and completely. Progress-focused coaches are well aware of this and assume an attitude of not-knowing. They realize that there is much about the situation of the client that they do not understand and do not need to understand. Instead, they help clients move forward by helping them to discover ideas for steps forward in a direction that is valuable for them.

November 2, 2014

Swinging between problematic present and desired future

Swinging back and forth between acknowledgement of current problems and visualizing a better future makes it possible to contain energy for change.

Progress usually -perhaps always- begins with a certain dissatisfaction with the current situation. This dissatisfaction with the current situation springs from the realization that things are worse than they could be. In other words, you can imagine a reality which is better than the current reality. Because people are aware of their dissatisfaction with certain aspects of their situation they can start to look for ways of improving those aspects. Their dissatisfaction with their current situation is a tension which can be seen as energy for change. To be able to work effectively on progress, it sounds a bit paradoxical, you need to be able to live with the awareness that you are now living in a reality that needs improvement.

October 31, 2014

If you are on linkedin you may now follow this site there. If interested go to Progressfocused.com

October 29, 2014

Parenting and autonomy and relatedness

Parenting style affects how autonomous and related children will feel.

Self-determination theory has shown that individuals, throughout their lives, have needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness. Simply put, the more their needs are fulfilled, the better individuals feel and function. Past research has shown that the degree to which parent support the fulfillment of these needs the more adapted and well-functioning their children will tend to become (read more). When parents use an authoritative and controlling parenting style, their children's development is likely to be hampered to some degree. Examples of such a controlling parenting style are: use of controlling language, emphasis on punishment ànd reward, use of threats, arousing guild and anxietym and using contingent parental regard and affection.

Raising kids to become autonomous individuals

Raising kids to become autonomous individuals
The importance of autonomous functioning
As research into self-determination theory has shown there is a strong connection between people’s autonomous functioning and their wellness, their open, engaged and healthy functioning. When people feel autonomous they feel they can make their own choices and follow their own preferences. This does not mean they will be selfish, over individualistic, or self-sufficient. In fact, under good enough conditions, people will actively attempt to internalize and integrate the norms, rules and values of their environment, in other words make them their own. This process of internalizing and integrating external norms, rules and values will happen best 1) when they are transmitted in an autonomy supportive rather than a controlling way, and 2) when these norms, rules and values are congruent with the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Ryan & Deci, 2011).

October 25, 2014

Flow and mindfulness

Automatic negative thoughts about yourself can hinder your performance and well-being.  Here, I describe two ways to protect yourself against them: flow and mindfulness-meditation.

Researchers Michael Robinson and Maya Tamir (2011) compared two types of brain activity: task-focused and self-focused. These two states of mind inhibit each other: when one of them becomes more active, the other becomes less active. The authors wrote that a task-focus is associated with positive affect, mental health, and productivity while a self-focused processing mode is associated with negative affect, psychopathology, and lesser task success.