December 25, 2014

The world keeps making progress

The new radio advertisement of UNICEF in my country says: "The world is on fire. But children did not light it." I believe that UNICEF is a great organization but I dislike that they use the phrase "the world is on fire".

There is, of course, much suffering in the world and there are gruesome things going on. It seems like the daily news is filled with stories about war, terrorism, and crime. But if the daily news is the only thing you depend on, the world always looks like a powder keg. And while I think it is useful and necessary for the news to pay attention to the horrors of the world, there is another way of looking at reality which is also important.

December 11, 2014

Two concerns about mindfulness meditation

Let me start off by stating that mindfulness and mindfulness meditation deserve our attention. There is a great deal of empirical evidence that shows that mindfulness and mindfulness meditation can be beneficial in multiple ways (read this and this for more information). Having said that I'd now like to express two concerns.

8 Principles in progress-focused change

Progress-focused principles and techniques are not only useful in individual conversations and team facilitation processes but also in facilitating organizational change. Here are a few principles I propose for organizational change.
  1. Share decision making / work as participatively as possible: change is acceptable when people feel that they can (at least partly) influence or even determine what the change is and how it is shaped. 

December 9, 2014

The negative effects of needs thwarting

Self-determination theory shows that people have basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. These basic needs are universal (people of every culture have them) and present throughout life. In this article Maarten Vansteenkiste and Richard Ryan say that the satisfaction of these basic needs is related to well-being and resilience. The frustration of these needs evokes feelings of ill-being and creates behavioral and psychological problems. The figure below (which I have very slightly adapted based on the text) summarizes the negative effects of the basic needs not being satisfied:

Growth mindset and accepting responsibility

People with a growth mindset find it easier to accept responsibility for what they have done wrong. Because of this they have a better chance of reconciling with their victims.
Who Accepts Responsibility for Their Transgressions?Schumann & Dweck (2014)
Abstract: After committing an offense, transgressors can optimize their chances of reconciling with the victim by accepting responsibility. However, transgressors may be motivated to avoid admitting fault because it can feel threatening to accept blame for harmful behavior. Who, then, is likely to accept responsibility for a transgression? We examined how implicit theories of personality—whether people see personality as malleable (incremental theory) or fixed (entity theory)—influence transgressors’ likelihood of accepting responsibility.

December 8, 2014

The benefits of reframing for delaying

Recently, I wrote about Walter Mischel's new book The Marshmallow Test. In the book Mischel describes his experiments which show that children who were more able to delay gratification in the face of temptations, on average had more successful and happier lives than children who were worse a delay gratification. Rather than necessarily exercising great willpower, these children tended to apply several mental techniques such as distracting themselves and reframing the situation. Now, there is a study demonstrating the benefits of reframing for delaying:

December 7, 2014

Brain activity and (non-)self-determined behavior

Recently, I have mentioned some fMRI studies investigating which brain areas are involved in self-determined (autonomously motivated) and non-self-determined (forced, non-volitional) behavior. In this post I'll try to summarize these findings in a pictures of the brain. First I'll summarize the findings in words.

Woogul Lee and his colleagues (Lee, 2011; Lee & Reeve, 2012Lee et al., 2013) investigated the differences in brain activation for behaviors which were self-determined based on intrinsic motivation and non-self-determined behaviors based on extrinsic motivation (such as rewards). They found that the anterior insular cortex (AIC) was more active during the self-determined (intrinsically motivated) behaviors. The posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and the angular gyrus were more active during non-self-determined (extrinsically motivated) behaviors. The ventral striatum was more active while doing interesting tasks.

December 5, 2014

Each session can be the last

The realization that each session can be the last, and that both clients and coaches can decide to stop, often works well, both for coaches and clients. 

In progress-focused coaching we work with the old (solution-focused) principle that each coaching session can be the last. This means that, after each conversation, clients can decide whether they find it useful to have another conversation. One reason for stopping could be that clients found the conversation not so useful. Sometimes this happens but not so often. More often the reason is that clients found the conversation so useful that they feel that, for the time being, they can proceed on their own and don't need further help. Of course, if, later, it turns out they do need further help, a new appointment can be made.

December 4, 2014

Self-determination theory and the brain

On this site, I've mentioned self-determination theory often. Many studies have shown that being able to make choices which are based on your interests and values has many benefits for people. In nearly all these studies questionnaires and behavior observations were used but also more objective measures such as performance measures. There have been relatively few neuroscientific studies into the effects of making self-determined choices. This type of research is now coming off the ground. This enables us to gain insight into which brain areas and mechanisms play major roles in autonomous functioning.

December 3, 2014

Silver lining theories increase performance

A new paper suggests that believing that negative personal characteristic tend to be associated with positive sides benefits one's performance. Here is the abstract of that paper.
Holding a silver lining theory: When negative attributes heighten performance - Alexandra Wesnouskya, Gabriele Oettingen, Peter Gollwitzer (2014) 
Abstract: Holding a lay theory that a negative personal attribute is associated with a positive attribute (i.e., a silver lining theory), may increase effortful performance in the domain of the positive attribute.

December 2, 2014

Mindfulness, work engagement, and affect

Being mindfully aware and engaged at work? The role of affect regulative processes for the relationship between daily levels of mindfulness and work engagement

Franziska Depenbrock (2014), Maastricht University Master thesis

Abstract: The present study investigated the relationship between mindfulness, defined as a state of receptive attentiveness to and awareness of the current moment, and employees’ engagement at work. Furthermore, the role of affect regulative processes for this relationship was explored: First, positive affect was examined as a mediator between mindfulness and work engagement. Second, mindfulness was examined as a buffer against the detrimental effects of negative affect and negative affective events on work engagement. Seventy-six employees reconstructed their activities and experiences at work episodically on a workday (57% female, M age = 40 years). Results partially confirmed the hypotheses.

December 1, 2014

The line opens in the conversation

Last week in our progress-focused training course the theme of the day was 'dealing effectively with resistance and conflicts'. Throughout that day participants got the opportunity to practice, try out new approaches and techniques, and get help and feedback. We started the day, as we usually do, with a getting-into-it exercise.  We asked participants to form couples and to tell each other about a situation in which they had been satisfied with the way they had dealt with a situation in which there had been resistance or some sort of dispute. We invited them to talk about this for 15 minutes and to also reflect on what had worked in these situations.

November 30, 2014

Usefulness questions in conflict resolution

Usefulness questions belong to the most popular progress-focused techniques. Here are two ways in which you, as a progress-focused mediator, can make them extra helpful in conflict resolution. 

Progress-focused principles and techniques are quite useful in conflict resolution. Some previous articles in which I provided some examples are here and here. A question which is particularly helpful is the usefulness question. It can be asked in roughly two types of ways. The first way of asking focuses on the most useful way the time can be spent during the conversation. For example, it can be asked as follows: "How do you think we can use our time today as useful as possible?" The second way of asking focuses on the desired outcome of the conversation. It can be asked as follows: "After our conversation, how would you notice it had been helpful to you? These two forms of usefulness questions can be asked in combination with each other in a conversation. They complement each other well. Here are two ways to make the usefulness question extra helpful in conflict resolution.

November 27, 2014

Mindfulness meditation and progress-focused work

Here, I argue that mindfulness meditation can support progress-focused work. First, I describe effects of mindfulness meditation on cognitions, emotions and body. Then, I explain how mindfulness meditation can support progress-focused conversations. 


Physiological effects of mindfulness meditation

Last week I wrote Evidence for the benefits of mindfulness meditation. The article showed that mindfulness meditation can have a variety of positive effects on one's feelings, functioning, and health. A few articles which I found this week, one of them is this one, describe what is known about what physiological effects mindfulness meditation has. In those articles the following cognitive, emotional, and physical effects of meditation are mentioned:

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.

October 22, 2014

Rethinking Positive Thinking by Gabriele Oettingen

In a new book, Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, Gabriele Oettingen of NYU summarizes twenty years of research she has done together with her collaborators. This research has focused on the functions and effects of positive fantasies and of a technique called mental contrasting.

Progress-focused summarizing

Progress-focused professionals often summarize what their conversation partners have said. The summary is spoken in what is sometimes called a tentative tone. This means that the tone is not firm and assertive but it is as if there is a little question mark at the end of each sentence. This makes it easier for the conversation partner to feel free to make any corrections, if needed, to the summary.

October 17, 2014

Practicing together via the circle technique

As a reader of this blog you will probably have heard about the circle technique. I have often described how simple it is and how broadly applicable. For example, you can use it in individual coaching, self-coaching, and team coaching. But you can also use it in training courses. In our training courses, we use the circle technique to let participants work together in a very focused way on improving their skills and knowledge. We do this exercise in three steps. It works as follows.

Strengthening your prefrontal cortex

In his book The Marshmallow Test, Walter Mischel describes how the capability of children and adults to exercise self-control has a big impact on their lives. Individuals who are capable of delaying gratification and resist temptations are better capable of focusing on achieving long-term goals. They fare better in many ways than individuals who are less able to exercise self-control. Two brain systems play an important role in succumbing to or retsisting temptations.

October 11, 2014

The 10-minute rule

Brain scientist John Medina wrote the bestseller Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (2008). The book described 12 rules which we can use to organize our work and life in ways that fit the way our brains work. A rule which interested me and which I remember clearly (I read the book in 2008) is rule 4: "We don't pay attention to boring things" en in particular one aspect of that rule which is the 10-minute rule.

October 8, 2014

Having to explain helps learning

Have you ever experienced that explaining things to others can be a learning experience for yourself, too? That is a bit paradoxical, isn't it? Our basic idea is that the person to whom the material is explained is the person who is supposed to learn from the process. But if you consider the situation more closely it is not so strange after all that the person who does the explaining also learns.

October 2, 2014

The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel

Walter Mischel is a 84 year old professor at Columbia University. He is the author of a fascinating new book called The Marshmallow test. Mischel became known at the end of the 1960s, mainly through his publications about two topics. The first topic was the degree to which situations influence human behavior. He did research which showed that the idea that people have stable personality traits which cause us to behave consistently over many situations is largely a myth. Instead, he demonstrated, we tend to behave quite differently in different contexts. Thus, characteristics of situations have a significant influence on how we behave.

The second topic was self-control. Together with colleagues he did much research into the causes and consequences of self-control, in particular with regard to how children manage to delay gratification. The series of experiments which these researchers did have become know under the popular name of the Marshmallow test, hence the book title.

October 1, 2014

Walking to improve relationships

Recently I wrote about the creativity enhancing effect of walking. In that article I referred to research which showed that walking (especially outdoors) makes it easier to generate ideas. I also mentioned that this effect continues for a while when you site down after your walk. This week I spoke about this with a client and she told me that she had used walking to improve her relationship with one of her team members. When I asked her how walking had helped her to do that she said that walking had been helpful because while walking you are moving and you don't have to look at each other all the time.

September 26, 2014

If-then planning

If-then planning is a technique which helps to perform specific goal-oriented behavior in situations in which it is most needed. Many people know the phenomenon that we often don't do what we wish or need to do (this is sometimes referred to as the knowing-doing gap). The problem is that while we do know what we want to achieve and we also know which behavior is effective, at the crucial moment we still fail to perform the behavior.The reason we fail to behave effectively at the critical moment may have to do with letting our emotions overwhelm us or succumbing to temptations or simply forgetting about the effective behavior when we need it.

September 25, 2014

Two factors enabling durable progress

The advantages of a growth mindset have been mentioned often on this website. A growth mindset is, briefly, the belief that progress and growth is possible through effort. A fixed mindset is the opposite. This is the belief that traits and abilities are largely fixed and that you can't develop them even if you put in much effort. If you don't believe that growth and improvement are possible it does not make sense to put in much effort anyway, so you don't. If you have growth mindset, however, it makes perfect sense to put in much effort. You will then realize that if you want to become really good at something you will have put in continued effort. We can visualize this as follows:

September 22, 2014

Brief mindset intervention reduces depression

A low-cost, one-time intervention that educates teens about the changeable nature of personality traits may prevent an increase in depressive symptoms often seen during the transition to high school, according to new research published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

These findings are important, says psychological scientist and lead researcher David Scott Yeager of the University of Texas at Austin, because so few interventions have successfully prevented the onset of depressive symptoms among high schoolers. But Yeager cautions that the intervention is not a "magic bullet" for depression and requires further testing.

September 18, 2014

Walking stimulates creativity

In this article I wrote that in our training courses we often invite our participants to have a 20 minute walk right after lunch and to talk about the homework they chosen to do. We call this part of the training homework-walking. I wrote in that article that having such a walk works quite well, because, among other things, it boosts your brain activity (see here). Now, some new research has been published which show that walking stimulates creativity.

Interest improves performance

In this article I argued that following your interests can be a driving force behind competence-development. I distinguished between two aspects of interests, namely enjoyment and importance.

Autonomy-support in the classroom

George, a high school teacher, looked into the classroom of his colleague Bill and saw, to his amazement, that the students of the class, which had a reputation of being a very difficult class, were quietly working. At lunch break he asked Bill with a surprized smile: "How did you get them to do that, man? I get nothing but trouble from this class. I see no other solution than to get really tough with them. That'll teach them!" Bill smiled and then explained how he used the principle of autonomy-support in his classroom and he said this worked rather well. He explained that this meant, among other things, to provide many choices for students, taking students' feelings and opinions quite seriously, and avoiding controlling language. When he heard that, George said: "That sounds rather naive of you. If you do that they will walk right over you!"

The curse of knowledge

Often things aren't just good or bad. Here are five examples: (1) solutions for problems can create new, often unexpected, problems, (2) good traits of a person can arouse envy in others, (3) what can be a strength in one situation can be a weakness in another, (4) the fact that you have achieved success feels good but can decrease your motivation to make further progress, and (5) having much knowledge about a topic can be pleasant but can create some difficulties in the communication with others. I want to say a few things about this last example which is related to a phenomenon known as the curse of knowledge (Loewenstein & Weber, 1989).

September 14, 2014

Mentioning ethnicity in performance situations: two downsides

When people have to take a test for an application they are often asked to mention their race or ethnicity by ticking a box. Personally, I am skeptical about both the meaningfulness and the usefulness of  categorizing people in such a way and I think it is likely to do more harm than good. In my view it not only is likely to harm the performance but also is likely to distort the process of assessing the performance. I'll explain.

July 10, 2014

Learning goals versus ability goals

People can choose different types of goals and the type of goals they choose affects their motivation and their performance. Heidi Grant and Carol Dweck (2003) studied what types of goals people choose and what the different effects of these goals are. In their studies they discovered four types of goals:
  1. learning goals: goals focused on acquiring new knowledge and skills
  2. outcome goals: goals focused on performing well, for example getting a high grade.
  3. ability goals: goals focused on demonstrating one's positive characteristics such as abilities
  4. normative goals: goals focused on performing well in comparison with other people

July 7, 2014

How different types of motives affect performance and growth

Amy Wrzesniewski and Barry Schwartz have written an opinion piece in the New York Times about effective motivation (read here). In the piece they distinguish two types of motivation: internal motivation and instrumental motivation. These terms correspond two other terms which are more well-known in the psychological literature. Internal motivation corresponds to autonomous motivation; instrumental motivation corresponds to controlled motivation. They did a study to examine how these two types of motivation affected performance (Wrzesniewski  et al (2014).

July 6, 2014

Exercise: keep an interest diary

When you structurally engage yourself in what interests you, you learn better and you will find it easier to persist and you may make a good contribution to your professional field and to your organization (read more). Interests can be either thing you enjoy doing and learning about or things you find important or meaningful to do and to learn about. To reap the benefits of interest focused working and learning you need to have a sense of what you find enjoyable and meaningful. Sometimes people do not have such a clear sense of what they like and find important (read more). For those people it might be useful to keep an interest diary.

July 4, 2014

Congruence makes it easier to keep working progress-focused

Many professionals, in a variety of jobs and organizations, apply progress-focused principles and techniques. Some characteristics of the approach are: 1) focusing on the desired situation, 2) using what is already there, 3) learning from previous successes, 4) taking small steps forward and 5) recognizing and utilizing the perspectives and ideas of the people with whom you work. The collaboration between progress-focused professionals and their clients or customers can be described as collaborative, activating, and supportive. In their way of working, progress-focused professionals support the need for more autonomy, competence and relatedness of their clients/customers.

June 28, 2014

What if your interest fades or is absent?

I have received quite a few responses to my article Interests as drivers of competence development; most of them fairly enthusiastic. In the article I make an argument for structurally engaging yourself in and learning about what interests you. The word interest, in my article, refers both to doing and learning about what you find enjoyable and doing and learning about what you find important. By focusing on what interests you your thinking is enhanced and it will be easier to persist (see more). Finally, in the article, I propose that interest focused development not only benefits individuals but also organizations.

Here, I want to focus on two questions I have received about the article. The first is: what do you do when your interest fluctuates or fades? The second is: What can you do if you do not really know what you find interesting or if you do not seem to find anything really interesting?

"We must make clear agreements!"

Sometimes I am asked to facilitate a team meeting which has the purpose of establishing some clear agreements and rules. Such agreements and rules may refer to things like attending meetings, being on time in meetings, submitting time sheets timely, and timely and properly doing what you have agreed to do. When I am asked such questions, there often have been previous attempts within such organizations to establish agreements and rules and attempts to ensure compliance to them but these attempts have usually not worked satisfactorily. The question I am asked is how they can now, for once and for all, make some clear agreements and rules that will be complied with. It is an understandable question but will it work?

June 20, 2014

Neurochemical effects of conversation behaviors

Many scholars have pointed out that people generally are affected more strongly by negative than by positive occurrences (see for example this). For example, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer found in their research that the impact of setbacks was two to three times as strong as the impact of progress (read more). The same thing seems to be happening in conversations. People appear to be (negatively) affected stronger by negative occurrences in conversations, such as being criticized and rejected, than they are (positively) affected by positive occurrences in conversations, such as being taken seriously and appreciated.

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