Which type of decision-maker are you?

November 22, 2016

education-choosing-school_600x315How do you decide on what car to buy, what job offer to take, or where to go on vacation? It turns out that there are two types of people when it comes to making decisions.

Maximisers want the best possible choice, and don’t make a decision until all the options have been screened.

So-called ‘satisficers’, on the other hand, decide once certain criteria are met. As soon as they find the car, restaurant, or gift that meets their essential criteria, they’re satisfied.

Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, came to the conclusion that satisficers tend to be happier than maximisers. Maximisers must spend a lot more time and energy reaching a decision, and they have more anxiety about their decision. Satisficers take action and move on, knowing they’ve made the best choice given their needs at the time.

The Coffee Shop Effect

September 29, 2016

coffee-shopTrying to get some work done? You might think that a perfectly quiet environment would suit you best, but it turns out that some noise, around 70 dB (decibels), is most helpful to productive work.
This is about the same level of ambient noise as that of a coffee shop where you find people talking, espresso machines hissing, and perhaps music playing.
Ravi Mehta reporting in the Journal of Consumer Research found that too much noise (over 85 dB) is distracting, and 50 dB is too quiet.

Boost your persuasion power

August 2, 2016

I RECOMMENDIf you advising a client, selling a service,  or even just counselling a colleague on a course of action, the words you use are key.

Maximise your power of persuasion with this easy to remember phrase: I recommend… because…

The secret? ‘I recommend’ emphasises your expertise on a topic (the principle of authority), while ‘because…’ adds the element of logic.

We are primed to respond to both logic and authority. Try this phrase next time you are asked for advice.

I recommend it because it’s powerful and it works.

Take a humour break

May 3, 2016

laughter 2A recent study shows that a short humour break can help people persist with boring tasks.

University of New South Wales researchers  found that people who watched a funny video clip spent twice as long on a tedious task compared to people who watched neutral or positive (but not funny) videos.

It seems that the mental break that humour provides helps to  prevent the feeling of depletion when we’re faced with an onerous task.

This suggests that organisations would do well to create a more playful culture if they want employees to be more engaged. And perhaps employees can take it upon themselves to squeeze a little humour into their day.

One Mindful Breath: 6 Seconds of Calm

March 15, 2016

breatheThe most powerful technique I teach in my Mindfulness classes is also the simplest. It’s just One Mindful Breath. Simply breath in slowly through the nose, follow the breath, and breathe out the same way.

You can use this 6 second breathing technique before a meeting, when you’re stuck in traffic, in a slow-moving queue – anytime you feel in need of a quick time-out.

Here’s how it works: as the breath moves over the pharynx it triggers the parasympathetic nervous  system. This lowers blood pressure, reduces the heart rate, and quickly calms us down.

There’s a second reason it works. By focusing on just one thing, even for a few seconds,  you are immediately in the present. When you are in the present, you are free from fears, doubts, and worry about the past or future.  Just 6 seconds of mindful attention can be a powerful ally in coping with the demands of the working day.

Try it and see how much more calm, effective, and productive you will be.

One reason people follow leaders

October 29, 2015

Bill ClintonWhen people make decisions, many factors come into play. One is the level of confidence of the person making the attempt to influence: the leader, the sales person, or the politician. If someone is confident then we believe them and tend to be swayed in their direction.

As Bill Clinton once said: Better to be strong and wrong, than weak and right.

Mindfulness in the Workplace

September 3, 2015

If mindfulness is being fully present in the moment, how can it help you at work?

Professor Ellen Langer of Harvard University has shown that if you’re in a mindful state, it’s easier to pay attention and to remember more of what you’ve done. You’ll find creative solutions more readily, and take advantage of opportunities that arise. As a plus, people will like you better as they sense that when you are with them, you are fully engaged.

Google, eBay, General Mills and Harvard Business School all offer mindfulness meditation classes to their employees, and workplaces everywhere are seeing the benefits for stressed, multi-tasking employees.

Worth a try?

Rule of Three

June 23, 2015

3Here’s a helpful idea for simplifying your life. It mimics the notion of an executive retreat. Do what the excecs do: give yourself a personal quarterly offsite.

It’s also known as the Rule of Three: every three months, take three hours to identify your three most important objectives for the next three months.

By taking this time out, you avoid becoming buried in day-to-day issues, and allow yourself to see the big picture.

Greg McKeown suggests it in his Harvard Business Review article where he writes about the disciplined pursuit of less. He suggests that we deliberately, strategically, and in a disciplined way eliminate the unnecessary and put our energies into what’s really important.

If yo don’t prioritise you life, someone else will.

Can just one word make a difference?

May 14, 2015

RocksAnyone wanting to motivate others can improve intrinsic motivation by using one word.

That word? It’s together.

It turns out that the word ‘together’ is a powerful social cue, signalling a feeling of belonging. It tells the person that their contribution is important, and that others are working with them towards the same goal.

In one study, those in the ‘psychologically together’  category worked 48% longer at a task, solved more problems correctly, and had better recall for what they had seen. They also said that they felt less tired afterwards.

Managers and team leaders can make a difference by using the word ‘together’ more often.

Sell it with structure

April 16, 2015

what so what now whatIf you’re in the business of selling ideas – and who isn’t? – here’s a tip for organising your thoughts that will help you and the person you’re speaking to.

It’s the What? So what? Now what? structure.  Start off with the facts (that’s the What? part). Then follow up with outcomes and consequences (So what?). End with the next step that needs to be taken (Now what?).

This easy-to-remember formula is useful for answering questions, presenting ideas, or even introducing someone.