6 Ways to Enjoy Your Life More, Starting Now

dog cats-1“All of the significant battles are waged within the self,” wrote Sheldon Kopp. Some of our biggest inside battles involve changing habits to create a more meaningful, congenial life with others. Instead we instinctively, unhappily focus our self-talk on two things: those who seem much happier and more successful and our past failures, betrayals and regrets.

Try these powerful simple research-based tips for turning the page to the chapter of the adventure story you are truly meant to live now.

1.   Live Your Greatest Passion Despite Inevitable RiskHappiness projectn

“Life is like a 10 speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use,” Charles M. Schulz once wrote. Gretchen Rubin told Anne Kreamer that when clerking for then Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “I realized that I would rather fail as a writer than succeed as a lawyer.” Rubin turned her hobby into her job, writing The Happiness Project, on the New York Times best-seller list for years.

strongest lifenLike many of us, you may need a nudge towards identifying your strongest specific passions. Find Your Strongest Life provides a concrete approach for anyone, even though it was written for women.

Alternatively, many are already keenly aware that they have diverse talents yet are stumped about how to create a life where they can use them. See how others have succeeded in Marci Alboher’s One Person/Multiple Careers.One personn

2. Get Greater Performance with Additive Thinking

Yet performance improvement is also satisfying. Learn from mistakes and increase performance and satisfaction, by avoiding subtractive thinking. That’s feeling and expressing regret for what didn’t work out, suggests Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman in their new book, Top Dog.

Top DognFor example, “If only I’d made that shot.” Instead immediately de-briefly with yourself and others immediately afterwards, about what specific things to change. That’s additive thinking: “If only I’d driven to the hoop rather than settle for the jumper,” suggests the co-authors: “Additive thinking helps competitors learn from mistakes and recover after a setback.

3. Sidestep the Doubled-Edged Sword of Comparison

As soon as you notice that you are feeling “less than” or “better than” others step back a moment emotionally. Save yourself from the twin pangs of torment.

Instead, Tony Schwartz suggests you follow family therapist, Terrence Real’s advice. When feeling envious, ask yourself “How do I hold myself in warm regard, despite my imperfections?” When feeling superior, ask yourself, “How can I hold this person in warm regard, despite his/her imperfections?” or, adds Schwartz, “What do I truly appreciate in this other person?”

Even and especially when you get intimidated, envious or irritated with someone else, an empowering way to switch moods and perhaps cultivate a connection is to offer apt assistance. “It’s actually the difficult situations in your life that make you who you are. NOT the easy ones,” believes Adam Rifkin, an inspiring example, in Give and Take, of attracting opportunities, influence and friendship, through generous, astute giving.give and take n

4. Drop Phrases That Sap Your Natural Strength

Some of the most familiar phrases that make us feel weak and look ineffectual around others:

• “I’ll try”: Meaning I probably won’t.

• “No worries”: This insidiously popular response subliminally sticks the opposite conclusion in the listener’s mind.

• “I can’t”: Indicating that I don’t think well of myself, so why should you?

5. Choose Positive vs. Restrictive Self-Talk

Saying “no” to temptation is much easier, research shows, when we change the script we tell others ourselves. Instead of feeling like we are restricting ourselves, we can reinforce our sense of personal empowerment, in the moment when we are most tempted. Instead of saying to yourself: “I can’t eat that ice cream sundae.” tell yourself, “I don’t want a desert.” As difficult as it is to stick to healthy new habits, it’s even more difficult to shed old ones, yet this is one way to start.

images6. Switch Your Default Settings

Instead of leaving dirty dishes in the sink after a meal or papers spread out on the desk when a project is done, tidy up for your return to that place, suggests Oliver Burkeman, citing Thanh Pham who calls this habit “clearing to neutral.”

Like Burkeman, I had a default bedtime of 10:30pm, believing research cited by Tony Schwartz and others, that sleeping six hours or less is one of the surest ways to burn-out. When I choose to stay up later, it is for a specific reason and the exception to my rule. Consciously “adjusting your defaults” as Jon Kabat-Zinn dubs this approach, helps us stay present in the moment. Methinks that makes us more able to see what is actually happening in a situation, be more empathic and sometimes make wiser choices, for ourselves and for those around us.

What are some actionable research tips that have enabled you live a fuller, more meaningful life?

Stay Sought-After: Be the Glue That Holds Groups Together

Are more of your most retold stories anchored by positively or negatively felt incidents? Those who are most resilient, energetic, caring and involved with others tend to link their stories to redemptive themes. The role you most often play in the stories you tell reveals your view of the world, how friendly or hostile, and more. 3bb82de

1. Anchor Your Stories in Redemptive Themes So We Are Moved to Live Up to Them:

Rather than making yourself the victim or the hero in the stories you tell, describe a daunting time of loss, crisis, or criticism or where you made a mistake or acted badly, yet you were eventually able to learn from it. Such stories show vulnerability and a desire to grow and live fully rather than in fear.

Then that facet of you can be the place where others can positively and productively connect with you, hard-earned strengths firmly attached together. You can support each other in reinforcing redemptive characterizations and action.

02ae0022. Be a Multiplier Who Brings Out the Smarter Side In Others:

Some people sap our energy and even dull our smarts because they are on the “diminisher” end of the continuum, where “multipliers” are on the other end, according to Liz Wiseman and Greg Mckeown, co-authors of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone SmarterDiminishers stifle mutuality. Recognize both by the roles they adopt.

Diminishers become Gatekeepers, Tyrants, Know-It-Alls, Decision-Makers and Micromanagers. Multipliers become Talent Finders, Liberators, Challengers, Community Builders and Investors.

Tip: Take a quiz to see if you are a well-intentioned yet inadvertent diminished.Unknown-1

3. Help Narcissists Feel For Others While Growing Your Empathic Instincts

By specifically asking, in advance, someone who’s highly narcissistic to feel more caring about the other person in a situation, you can prime that person to feel more empathic when they otherwise would not, according to researcher Erica HepperIn Hepper’s study, extreme narcissists watched “a 10-minute video of a woman — identified as Susan — describing her experience as a victim of domestic violence.” In advance they were asked to “Imagine how Susan feels. Try to take her perspective in the video, imagining how she is feeling about what is happening….” After watching, “their empathy suddenly kicked in” – a result that was confirmed via physiological testing to confirm that they weren’t attempting to simply look admirable.

Try these empathy-boosting methods:2fcd1d3

To boost mutually caring, even in non-narcissists, consider making the same request. Whether true or not, act as if you believe that’s what they would do anyway, thus supporting their better sides.

Prior to a first meeting of a potential self-organized or assigned team or simply a social setting where people will be meeting for the first time, suggest to individuals you know that you believe they will want to step into the shoes of the people they meet to see the world their way, and you’d like to hear how they feel about what happens in the situation.

Asking in advance for that conversation afterwards, moves your suggestion closer to the top of their minds, thus becoming a stronger nudge for their feeling empathic while there.

214960fTip: Make this advance nudge a ritual between you and your project partner or spouse, prior to going to meet others. A couple I admire make a point of saying to each other before going out, “Honey, let’s step into their shoes to care and share their way, and have a sweet time there.”

Which Wolf Will You Feed?

world you feed2We all have two wolves inside us a Cherokee lesson suggests. One tugs at us to do evil and the other to act good. What will we do? It depends on which wolf we feed. The one you feed is the one that grows stronger.

Pope Francis suggested that year’s end is an apt time to examine our conscience.

That’s not always easy but always vital as Todd Essig suggests, citing Peter Seeger and Martin Luther King.

Acting with integrity “causes good things to find their way back to you, but it takes effort,” writes Frank Sonnenberg.  Conversely, people who act untrustworthy, “hurt themselves every day” by losing the trust of colleagues, customers, friends and loved ones – but we already know that at least intellectually. What Sonnenberg provides in his book, Follow Your Conscience, are pithy points about 24 aspects of good character, suggesting exactly how adopting them enables us to enjoy a more meaningful, satisfying and successful life with others. bk Frankes

arielyn-2Sidestep the Slippery Slope Of Dishonesty

In our increasingly connected world our bad and good actions are more likely to become more well-known yet, even if they aren’t, must live with what we have done. And, as the author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely points out, stealing money out of a cash register can prick our conscience more than hacking into an online account.

The lesson: We have more ways to slide down the slippery slope of deceit in a digital world and rationalize our actions so it behooves us to make a good conscience a top-of-mind priority.

ForbesSee some of my favorite truths from Sonnenberg’s timely book over at my Forbes columnimp to talk with people who disagree with uuoued

Who You Are Around Affects Who You “Are”

Bring-out-otherses-150x150To turn the page to the adventure story you want to live in 2015 and beyond focus on this as you go through your next few days:

Notice the common traits of the situations in which you most thrive and with whom you shine.   Only then can seek out more of those kinds of situation and individuals, in friendship and in love.

Hint: Where does your best side come out and when are you able to use your best talents?

Next, recognize that the opposite of love or fondness isn’t hate but disinterest. Emotions Revealed author, Paul Ekman takes that finding a bit further. In his research (described in Blink), Ekman discovered that when one person in a relationship of any kind expresses disgust for another the relationship is doomed. In fact, the higher the ratio of disgust vs. any kind of positive response one has to another in an interaction, the more rapidly the demise of that connection.

It probably comes as no surprise to you that the more strongly you feel about someone the more intensely you react to whatever that person says or does – or even when you hear about that person.

Emotional Intelligence author, Daniel Goleman, in his book, Social Intelligence, explains some of the science that backs up that instinctive notion. He writes, “One person’s inner state affects and drives the other person. We’re forming brain-to-brain bridges—a two-way traffic system—all the time. We actually catch each other’s emotions like a cold.

“The more important the relationship, the more potent such ‘contagion’ will be.  A stranger’s putdown may roll off your back, while the same zinger from your boss is devastating,” writes Mark Matousek for AARP.

“If we’re in toxic relationships with people who are constantly putting us down, this has actual physical consequences,” Goleman says. Stress produces a harmful chemical called cortisol, which interferes with certain immune cell functions.

Alternatively positive interactions prompt the body to secrete oxytocin (the same chemical released during lovemaking), boosting the immune system and decreasing stress hormones. As a doting grandparent himself, Goleman often feels this felicitous rush. ”I was just with my two-year-old granddaughter,” he says. ‘This girl is like a vitamin for me. Being with her actually feels like a kind of elixir. The most important people in our lives can be our biological allies.”

Win a lottery? You’re probably euphoric for some while, yet you’ll eventually go back to your usual mood. That is, each of us has a “set point of happiness” – our most frequent mood state.

Good news. These tendencies are not locked in. Anger-prone people, for example, can “infect” themselves with calmness by spending time with mellower individuals, absorbing less-aggressive behavior and thereby sharpening social intelligence. Here’s more good news…

You Can Create Virtuous Circles of Convivial, Committed Connections

The more positively you feel about someone the more likely it is that you will evoke positive feelings in that person towards you. Thus the two of you can spiral up in a pattern of increasingly positive interactions.

Whatever you praise will probably flourish. In effect you’ve instigated a mutually-reinforcing belief — a self-fulfilling prophecy that both of you motivated to prove to be true. In short: people like people who like them.

Become a Sought-After Opportunity Maker With and for Others

If you’d like to befriend a wide range of people (and thus serendipitously pull in apt people to complement your talents to accomplish more with others, then focus on these things, each time you meet or re-meet someone:

• Keep top-of-mind the part of that person that you most like and admire as you interact with her or him.

• Speak first and most about their specific ideas and actions that you most value.

Now consider redefining your life around mutuality.

Seek Sayings That Support You in Cultivating a Mutuality Mindset

Becoming more deeply connected with those you admire and love bolsters, in you, the traits you most admire in them.

The better you know your best talent and temperament the more adept you become in finding those with complementary traits.

Interconnectedness increases frequency of serendipitous encounters and  unexpected insights that enable deeper friendships and faster innovation

Speak sooner to a sweet spot of shared interest to cultivate a meaningful connection, the first step to creating something greater together.

Triangle Talk: Cite 1. Their interest  2. How our interests coincide 3. Suggest action that we could take.

Share the story in which others see a role they want to play so they will re-shape it, share it to make it “our” story

Bring out the better side in others and they are more likely to see and support yours.

When the spotlight’s on you, shine it on those you admire, citing their positive exploits, thus making it brighter for them and you. You may become the glue that holds a group together.

A large, diverse group of non-experts often outperforms a small group of similar experts.

Inclusion inspires innovation because we can see more sides of situations.

Don’t just be a giver. Be an extremely helpful giver who demonstrates an awareness of what they most need.

Give enough others what they need you often get what you need, sometimes before you know you need it and sometimes from someone you didn’t know could provide it.

See others’ slights or outright insults as opportunities to show equanimity, spurring observers to do the same, unified with you around a best side of us.

In a civilization when love is gone we turn to justice and when justice is gone we turn to power and when power is gone we turn to violence.

We can’t know which interactions will deepen into richer relationships, yet we can keep the faith that our mutuality mindset affirms them.

Mutuality most demonstrates our humanity and, in the end, that may be what most matters in our lives.

Ten Ways Opportunity Makers Jumpstart Successful Self-Organized Teams

From companies to clubs to causes, groups most likely to succeed, today, need to keep top talent engaged by encouraging the nimble formation of self-organized teams to tackle opportunities and problems faster and better together.Be Greater Togethers

Those who can actually recruit the right team and be the glue that holds them together must have the reputation for being mutuality minded.

How? By creating opportunities, with and for others.

Opportunity makerssBy emulating their traits, you can become a sought-after Opportunity Maker. Not only are you able to accomplish more you naturally attract more adventure and richly diverse relationships.

This approach supports Stew Friedman’s notion of making all parts of your life reinforce each other rather than being time robbers from each other.

Here are ten practices that put you on that path:

1. Choose the Right Team Members for the Task

Then tell the team why each member was chosen, the specific talent and experience that person can provide. After they have met together, ask if they believe they are missing any kind of team member to do the task.

2. Be Very Specific in Describing the Team’s Top Goal

Then ask the team if there is a better goal in light of the organization’s top goal. Be sufficiently specific that success or lack of it is clear. For example, a goal may be to attract referrals from five percent of our customers within a year.

Bring out otherses3. Characterize the Individual and Collective Benefit of Participating

Vividly and concretely characterize the direct benefit to the listeners up front, for providing support, even if it is a part of their jobs anyway. Then characterize how the expected support directly relates to a top goal of your organization.

4. Give the Team the Power and Responsibility to Self-Organize for Their Success

Tell the team to propose how to accomplish that goal and how they want to be held accountable, to each other and to you. Within a week after the team is formed, ask them to report their approach.

! cover small MM nListen deeply, questioning to be sure you understand, yet rarely to suggest an alternative. Teams will work harder and smarter to prove themselves right than to prove you were, and they will become proud of each other and the opportunity you entrusted in them.

As well, ask what rules of engagement they will use to work together, what resources they need, their timetable and preferred way to keep you in the loop as they proceed.

“We are working on creating self-describing, self-organizing, self-diagnosing and self-repairing networks.”  ~ John Seely Brown

5. Go Slow to Go Fast

At the beginning of every meeting or other interaction, do everything lower, slower, less – in moving and speaking – so you get “in sync.” You can then establish a common direction and involvement so when you pick up speed later on, everybody is eager to be on board.

I believes6. Play It Straight

Announce some clear, actionable rules upfront and rewards for participation. Don’t change them midstream without a compelling reason that those affected can believe.

7. Play it Back

Seek and reward candid feedback on an ongoing basis, and respond specifically and soon to what you’ve been told, including the rationale about the action you will or will not take, based on that feedback.

8. Synthesize the Best

Listen. Ask. Ask more. Then synthesize others’ ideas as a way of proposing the next course of action, citing others for their specific insights that enabled you to forge this approach.

9. Give Third-Party Endorsements

Give specific, genuine praise for others’ contributions, from anywhere in the company. Praise them virtually and in front of those who are important to them, and in ways that reflect their highest self-image and values – and their strongest talents and temperament.

10. Walk Your Talk

Demonstrate a congruency in all you do. Make and keep agreements. Reflect a clear set of actionable, core values that you keep, regardless of whether they share those values.

“In everybody’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human beingWe should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner fire.”~ Albert Schweitzer


What Role Do You Want to Play in Our Fast-Changing World?

Bring out others betterThe Law of Unintended Consequences is increasingly becoming the norm. From drugs to drones to data collection, things that are initially invented for beneficial purposes can be quickly turned to evil uses, often creating massive profits and destruction.

Be grater together 2What We Can Do as Things are Getting Worse and Better

Our increasingly complex yet connected world is calling out for us to have a collective mindset. Why? Because bad and good can hit faster, farther, and from more places, initiated by more kinds of people more often as the cost of technology drops.

These inevitable trends, that tempt us in many directions, can also be seen as our call to a higher purpose.  I believe it calls on us to become Opportunity Makers with and for each other, beginning by adopting a beneficial mutuality mindset.

Take a 1st move towards mutualityNot giving, taking nor a quid pro quo but, instead, practice a back and forth flow of mutual support over time. That way you are most likely to cultivate healthy, enduring and high-value relationships – often with unexpected allies.

Attract More Adventure and Opportunity With Others

Rather than being affronted by differences, Opportunity Makers are actually fascinated by them. For many of us that approach requires a huge shift towards a mutuality mindset, yet once you experience the serendipitous opportunities that result, you become convinced of its benefits.

Ultimately that may be the surest path towards a meaningful, accomplished life we can savor with others.

The Icing on the Cake of Having a Mutuality MindsetGive enuf other Ch6_q1

It’s not the first shared opportunity that you have with somebody else that’s probably your best, as an institution or an individual. It’s some serendipitous collective action you accomplish after that, once you’ve increased trust and understanding of each other through that first-hand experience together.  In brief, it’s the unexpected things that you devise later on that you never could have predicted that will generate greater rewards and friendship.

Share storythey want to play1Strengthen Your Three Traits as an Opportunity Maker

Continuously hone your top talent. Become an adept pattern seeker by getting involved in worlds very different than yours so you enjoy more serendipitous encounters.  And communicate to connect around sweet spots of shared interest.

That way you are more likely to be able to recruit the right allies to solve problems and seize opportunities, fast and better than others.

Our Highest, Purposeful CallingHo we do a task

Let’s re-imagine our world as one where we seek sweet spots of strong shared interests around which to use our best talents more often to accomplish greater things than we could on our own.

As an Opportunity Maker you can become the glue that holds apt, diverse teams together and thus stay sought-after and satisfied with your life.

! cover small MM nJust remember, as Dave Liniger once said, “You can’t succeed coming to the potluck with only a fork.”


Cultivate Those Who Don’t Act Right — Like You

Unknown-1Beginning with our first success in childhood, we become attached to what we believe are our strengths in temperament and talent, which enabled us to win.

Why not? They seemed to be what makes us popular.

We also are drawn to people who seem to act right – like us. We instinctively project onto them other traits we admire, even when they do not have them. In so doing, we narrow our view on what’s the right way to do things, missing many opportunities and friendships.

Are You Neurotic, Open, Extroverted or Agreeable?

Nakedn-1Apparently NSA knows. An MIT Media Lab team, led by Patrick Tucker, author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move?, found that your metadata – including the way you use your phone, how you make calls, to whom, for how long and so on – can show your personality.

To discover and cultivate individuals who are different from you, begin by discovering which of the personality types in the widely used Five-Factor Model of Personality bests describe you:

  • Neurotic: A higher than normal tendency to experience unpleasant emotions
  • Open: Broadly curious and creative
  • Extroverted: Looks toward others for stimulation
  • Agreeable: Warm, compassionate and cooperative
  • Conscientious: Self-disciplined, organized and eager for success

Make Our Differences Work For Us, Not Against Us

As an introverted journalist, I often acted outgoing when interviewing, yet went out of my way to forge a friendship with the chief financial officers in the media outlets that employed me because they acted more introverted. Even so, our multiple differences proved mutually beneficial. Usually CFOs are more linear, measuring success by numbers-based metrics, while my success depended on intuiting what people really meant, what they might be hiding and what to ask whom to get the best and most balanced story, written in ways that even those who were not familiar with the situation could understand and want to read.

Once our CFO and I could find a way to talk so we could understand and trust each other, we found multiple ways we could be mutually supportive. My CFO helped me know what to ask and how to understand reports I received, both when trying to understand a massive anti-trust case and when investigating a complex embezzlement. I helped the CFO set the context for presenting to our company board the need for financial changes in how the company operated. ! cover small MM n

Inevitably, that mutual support fostered learning, a strong friendship and a capacity to be more patient and adept at helping each other over time.

Hint: Enjoy a more accomplished and meaningful life with others by adopting a mutuality mindset in how you approach each interaction.

See Serendipity As A Way to Stay Relevant

Meghan 6f6Meghan M. Biroin her Forbes column, advocates reverse mentoring, a method I believe spurs serendipitous discovery of unexpected shared sweet spots of mutual interest, as well as shared social learning.

Biro cites my former colleague at the Center for the Edge, John Hagel. “Formal schooling and degrees give workers about five years’ worth of useable skills,” according to Hagel and others at Harvard Business Review.

Staying open to serendipitous introductions increases the chances you’ll cultivate a flexible mindset, recognizing more sides to a situation and discover more breakthroughs in your areas of strongest interest.

Plus you’ll open more doors to unexpected happenings in the adventure story you are truly meant to live, with others.

 What Makes Click Moments Different From Other Ways of Finding Connections and Ideas?

Recognize click moments in three ways, according to Johansson:

  • They tend to occur when two separate concepts, ideas or people meet.
  • They are impossible to predict as to when, how or where they will happen.
  • You may recognize them because they often evoke emotional responses “such as happiness, awe or excitement.”

0d7fa85See If You’re a Savvy Serendipity Seeker 

If you score above a 36 in the workplace serendipity quiz, you are more likely to be able to lead innovative teams, to“cultivate innovation” and to prosper, according to Earning Serendipity author Glenn Llopis.

Tip: One of the four practices Llopis advocates reflects a mutuality mindset: “Sharing the harvest: Focus on meeting others’ needs to improve personal good fortune.”

Opportunity Makers Have Mutuality Mindsets

Like many of you, I passionately believe that we can live happier and higher-performing lives with others when we enable others to use best talents together more often. Hint: a mutuality mindset probably matters more than your smarts, money, title or contacts in this increasingly complex yet connected world.  

Kare - TED social tileThat belief is at the heart of my TED@IBM talk on September 23rd, which you can watch live: “The Web of Humanity: Becoming an Opportunity Maker.” I am in awe of the line up of speakers on “how to reimagine the world.” Here’s one method to spur greater camaraderie, serendipitous innovation and collaboration amongst co-workers:

How Musical Chairs Can Foster Mutuality

At the evolving Downtown Project in Las Vegas, Tony Hsieh purposefully assigns parking spaces that are at least a block from where employees work to spur “collisions,” meaning serendipitous meetings between individuals. Also, some startups and technology firms are periodically moving employees around so they sit next to different people.

Why? Well, “A worker’s immediate neighbors account for 40 percent to 60 percent of every interaction that worker has during the workday, from face-to-face chats to e-mail messages. There’s only a 5 percent to 10 percent chance employees are interacting with someone two rows away,” according to Ben Waber of Sociometric Solutions.

His firm uses sensors to analyze interaction patterns at work. Waber concludes, “If I keep the org chart the same but change where you sit, it is going to massively change everything.” See what happened at Kayak, Hubspot and other firms that played musical chairs. “Grouping workers by department can foster focus and efficiency,” discovered MIT’s Christian Catalini, yet “mixing them up can lead to experimentation and the potential for breakthrough ideas.”

! cover small MM n“The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.” ~ William James

What Actually Makes You Seem Likeable?

When I was an “on-air talent” on an NBC show, one of the first things they tested before I was hired was my likeability, what the TV industry and others dub the “Q” factor. Even though I tested high on that range I was keenly aware that it mattered more than my journalism experience, smarts, willingness to work hard or aptitude for this job. In fact, I believed that at least three other candidates were better qualified.  Others call this effect the Mitt Romney mistake.

smile es-1Your early smile, sustained attention and warm nods – how much do these behaviors affect others? Enough to surprise many researchers, it turns out. In fact, we are more likely to be well-liked when exhibiting these specific behaviors than from attempting to figure out what others instinctively experience as friendliness, relevance, empathy and realness – the four general factors cited by Likeability Factor author Tim Saunders.

When students in a study watch even brief (two, five or ten second) glimpses of strangers expressing these positive actions on soundless video clips, they are deeply influenced.

“While students see just a flash of a teacher their first feeling highly correlates to their end-of-semester rating of that teacher,” wrote Stanford psychology professor, Nalini Ambady.

Along with study co-author Robert Rosenthal, they started by showing students 10-second clips. Then “thin-sliced it down” to five-second, then two-second clips, having participants rate them on the 15 characteristics including how empathic, accepting, professional, optimistic, or supportive the teacher seemed.

Unknown-150x150No matter how thinly Ambady sliced the behavior, the more positive and likable the professor, based on these behaviors, the higher their evaluations.

Concluded Ambady, “One would think that teacher smarts, preparation and organization should count – and I’m sure it does to some extent but behavior, charisma, and the factors that go into holding an audience count more.”

And how does surgeons’ behavior towards patients affect the number of malpractice suits they get? Ambady found similar results.

warmthes-150x150Key was voice tone. When she tracked just that trait, “We were really amazed. With just 20 seconds of each doctor’s voice, you could predict malpractice claims. For instance, surgeons who sounded more unfeeling or dominant were more likely to have been sued in the past.”

With those two studies in mind, it behooves us all to recognize that competence and good intentions don’t cut it if we don’t also look like we really are. That steady and direct attention, with your whole face and body is the first factor to foment the trust that can pull others in.

Writing this raises poignant feelings for me, and many others, because Ambady, who was such a deeply caring and talented researcher, teacher and friend to manydied last year, “after a lengthy worldwide campaign by family members, friends, and students to find a bone marrow donor.” She was just 54 years old. Nalini is sorely missed, as she embodied the results of her research.

imagesAs Melanie Tannenbaum concluded, when poignantly citing Nalina’s trailblazing research, “our expectations and first impressions can end up shaping our ultimate realities.”

with Kare Anderson

What can we do better together? For greater accomplishment, adventure and friendship let's harness the power of us. Share ways to thrive in this next chapter of your life with others. (more...)