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 opportunity that you do with somebody else that’s probably your greatest, as an institution or an individual. It’s the actions you do together after you’ve had that experience and you trust and understand each other better. In brief, it’s the unexpected things that you devise later on that you never could have predicted.

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.”

Deepen Your Friendships

“When you throw mud you get dirty,  Adlai Stephenson once dryly remarked when advised to criticize his opponent who was launching vicious, personal attacks against him in a political campaign. He lost. Yet others, including me, believe you lose ground when you throw mud.  Instead, praise the part of someone that you genuinely admire when you are tempted to “go negative.”

That way you can avoid being stained by your own criticism via spontaneous trait transference.  That’s where listeners automatically and unintentionally associate with you the trait you cite in describing someone else.  Hint: Ever wondered why people want to kill the messenger who brings bad news? That’s trait transference.

composite-1Amy Sutherland wrote about a variation of this effect in her New York Times article, “What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage.” That article was so popular she got a book deal. In conducting research for her book, Kicked Bitten and Scratched, she watched exotic animal trainers reinforce positive behaviors. A light bulb went on in her mind.  Why not try the same successful animal training techniques on her husband?

Wrote Sutherland, “I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t. After all, you don’t get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.”

She began offering what trainers call approximations – “rewarding the small steps toward learning a whole new behavior.”

Even more startling, two studies conducted at the University of Wisconsin showed that when spouses  spoke generally and positively about a trait that their spouse had not exhibited, at least recently (“Thank you for being so thoughtful as I go through this stressful time at work”) the spouse began exhibiting those caring behavior, often using the very same words wives had used in praising them.  “Honey, want to talk about your day and let go of some of that stress?”

Here’s a funny thing.  Even though we long to be understood and loved we often inadvertently put up barriers.  We are more likely to praise others for the traits we most like in ourselves. And we give the gifts and kind of attention that we most seek.  That’s the Golden Rule, after all.  Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

helpges-1Consider, instead, living by the Golden Golden Rule: Do unto others as they would have done unto them.  Praise the actions that they most like in themselves, and support them in the ways that most matter to them.  Result?  They are more likely to like, compliment and support you in ways you most value.

As Jess C. Scott wrote, “Friends are the family you choose.”

Now, make your connection even more mutually beneficial and nourishing.  Here’s tie shoes0094how.

As you build trust with a friend describe the Golden Golden Rule of Mutual Support. Ask them what they most value in themselves  — the traits (temperament and talents) they most want to hone. Listen closely and confirm, to their satisfaction, that you heard them correctly. Then describe what you most like and value in yourself.  Suggest that you support each other in strengthening those traits by offering specific, caring and candid feedback.

As Laurence J. Peter wrote, ” You can always tell a real friend: when you’ve made a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.”

stumblingownConsider it one more step towards Learned Optimism and to Stumbling on Happiness.

How to Have More Happiness Moments

Before-happiness-150x150An elementary school teacher in rural Arkansas made a bracelet of charms of each student in her class so she could continually remind herself of how she cared about each one, and her passion for teaching them.

The rest of the story is the real clincher for seeing that happiness can be a choice.Charm-bracelet-150x150

She wakes up each morning with the painful fatigue that most face when they have the chronic, erratic and incurable disease, multiple sclerosis.

Many would give up and quit working yet some don’t, as Shawn Achor shows in his new book Before Happiness. Why do different people in the same situation find a way to feel happy and thrive while others get depressed, give up or worse? The answer is the cornerstone concept in Achor’s book.

He travelled to fifty-one countries, speaking and conducting experiments involving people as diverse Tanzanian kids living in extreme poverty to UK bankers who didn’t get year end bonuses. Achor worked with organizations as diverse as The National Multiple Sclerosis SocietyZappos’ Downtown Project, Freddie Mac during the mortgage crisis and online learning group, CorpU. The secret, according to Achor is that people in the same situation “were literally living in different realities.”

If you want to change your life, you first have to change your reality

2. Map your meaning markers: These are the specific things to identify to chart the best route to accomplishing your goal(s) towards that most valuable reality.

3. Find the X-spot: Use success accelerants to propel you more quickly toward your goal(s).

4. Cancel the noise: Boost your capacity to hear the helpful signals that reinforce your chosen reality and may attract the opportunities and resources that can reinforce that reality, and dim the noisy signals that distract you from that reality.

5. Create positive inception: Amplify the effects of your positive mindset by contagiously spreading your positive reality to others.

Here are some happiness-boosting points from the book and related ones from elsewhere:

A. Pessimistic people “literally see a narrower range of opportunities and possibilities,” as Positivity author Barbara Fredrickson discovered. Erickson recommends a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative experiences for healthy living.  Alternatively, I suggest that you strive for a higher ratio, more akin to John Gottman’s magic 5:1 for a healthy marriage.

When feeling negative we are blind to many options and go into fight or fight mode. To counter that downward spiral of perceptions and behavior, Achor suggest you map out your options as soon as possible, focusing first on drawing the possible paths for a successful outcome because what you first map becomes most vivid in your mind. Then, look for “escape routes” to avoid worst possible outcomes.

See the other tips over at my column on ForbesForbes1-150x1502-2

Can You Keep Your Cool When Under Fire?

When you most want to smash someone in the face or run out of the room, remember this ironic opportunity. Cooling off someone else’s anger can be a way to catesactually bring that person closer. Warning: Don’t add fuel to the fire by suggesting that they calm down.

Hint: “the opposite of anger is not calmness, it’s empathy,” notes Mehmet Oz. So, when someone’s angry at you, that empathy must start with you.

Here are five actionable tips that have helped me, when I’ve used them, which is not often enough. None will work all the time, and some will work better for your personality style than others.

One: Lighten Up

When others begin to act “hot,” we instinctively tend to either:

A.  Escalate:  Become like them and get loud, more hostile, or exhibit other mimicking reactions.

or

B.  Withdraw:  Adopt a drawn expression or poker face, and shut up until you can escape the situation.

Either approach gets us out of balance. Both are self-protective but self-sabotaging reactions. They are akin to saying “I don’t like your behavior — therefore I am going to give you more power.” Instead, slow everything down: your voice level and rate, and the amount and frequency of your body motions. Maintain an understated warmth.  Be aware that you are feeling a hot reaction to the other person. Instead of dwelling on your growing feelings 9which we women are most prone to do) , move to a de-escalating action and leave room for everyone, especially the person in the wrong, to save face and self-correct.

Two: Take the “Three A’s to Get Past Anger” Approach

• Ask for more information. That way, the other person feels heard. Plus you both have the opportunity to cool off, so you can find some common ground, based on their underlying concern or need.

In your mind, “warm up” to the part of the person you can respect.  Focus on it mentally and refer to it verbally: “You are so dedicated” or “knowledgeable” or whatever their self-image is that leads them toward rationalizing their behavior.

• Add your own. Say, perhaps, “May I tell you my perspective?” This sets the other person up in a position of power, to give you permission to state your view, as you have already given them.

See the rest of the column over at Forbes

How Can We Be So Wrong About What Others Are Thinking?

Epley-web-560x280We are overly confident about our capacity to read other people, even our spouses. Trying to “detect the emotion someone is feeling by looking at a picture of their face or looking into someone’s eyes” (two common mind reading tests) actually worsens our accuracy, according to MindWise author and behavioral science professor at the University of Chicago, Nicholas Epley.

This flies in the face of common wisdom that, to boost understanding, we should, metaphorically step into the other person’s shoes. As Dale Carnegie famously suggested as his Principle 8 in How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.” Yet Epley found that such “overthinking” actually leads to more errors. Even, “the scientific credibility of claims” about microexpressions, the “tells” in the face that last a fifth of a second, “is currently weak, at best,” according to Epley. We are better liars than we think we are.

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships,” Henry Winkler.Mindwise wn

Ask. Don’t Speculate.

The key to understanding others better is rare yet blindingly simple. It’s simply to ask, not assume, listen closely to the answer and confirm that you heard it right by telling them what you heard. Epley suggests three ways to do so:

  1. Talking Stick:  Only the person with the stick speaks, then that person could hand it to another or someone could ask for it, yet first had to summarize what they just heard, to the first speaker’s satisfaction, before they continue the conversation.
  2. Parroting: Simply “parrot” back exactly what you heard before proceeding.
  3. Speaker-Listener: originally designed by psychologist, Howard Markman for couples to resolve conflicts, yet could work in any disagreements, one person tosses a coin to determine who speaks first. Each person describes exactly what they heard before responding.

A group of retired military officers assumed they knew how soldiers would feel and thus strongly opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Yet when the Pentagon asked soldier directly, rather than attempting to “mind read” their views,  “70 percent believed the repeal would have no effect or a positive effect on the military” according to Epley.  Similarly Epley found that top management in companies tends to put more credence in outside consultants’ recommendations than on what employees actually want.

Tip: “The less we know the more we project onto others.”

Who’s Most Preoccupied by Sex Really?

Epley covers other area where we mistakenly focus on our differences and make wrong assumptions. For example, the most important gender difference is… (see the rest of my column at Forbes.)

How Power Connectors Become More Highly Valued

Judyown“The way to get someone to like you immediately is to find a commonality. Almost any commonality, no matter how trivial – a shared alma mater, an interest in running, a love of dogs – will get the ball rolling,” Influence author, Robert Cialdini told Reinventing You authorDorie Clark, notes Judy Robinett in her new bookHow to be a Power Connector.

Sure people like people who are like them. That’s the Familiarity Effect. Some of the most enduringly popular entertainers, for example, have what’s call high Q scores, including Tom HanksEllen Degeneres and Steve MartinSome plummet.

The One-Two Path Towards Greater Popularity

And being likeable leads to being trusted, because one is exhibiting warmth before demonstrating competence, not the reverse. Yet we can enjoy a more satisfying and accomplished life with others when we reach deeper. As Robinett advocates: “Discover what is important to them professionally and, more important, personally.”

Recognize What Makes Them Tick, Their Operating SystemGoGiverwn

Picture a four-way mental diagram for seeking what most matters to the other person so you can:

• Be a helpful helper, a go-giver as Bob Burg and Adam Grant advocate

• Find strong sweet spots of mutual interest to accomplish greater things together and for each other.

Timely: 

1. Biggest opportunity on their mind right now

2. Biggest problem on their mind right now

Timeless

3. Passions: Strongest enduring interests

4. Hot Buttons:  Strongest dislikes, weaknesses, and situations and tasks they want to avoid

Mind you, taking this approach means being fully focused on the other person, listening for what’s not said, as much as what it. Ask follow-up questions that are related to the most passionately stated things that person shares.  These two habits may appear obvious yet notice how rarely they actually happen.

judy andn“Being fully present with a person is one of the most effective ways to show that we care.” ~ Matt Tenney

Hint: Some of your most valuable allies won’t act right like you. Your first instinct may be to get irritated or suggest, in some way, that they change. Because they have different a temperament, talents, worldview, and/or experience they can offer a different view of a situation that matters to you. They probably know different people than you – and may even be able to do what you can’t or don’t want to do on a task that you need to have done.  “A good leader knows what he or she is not good at,” former New York University president, John Sexton told Anne-Marie Slaughter.

funnel testnBeyond the Selfie: Finding Mutuality Foments Multiple Opportunities

Over time, as you get to know someone better you can use Porter Gale’s Funnel Test and Robinett’s 5+50+100 Rule to more concretely recognize the individuals with whom you can grow the strongest, most mutually beneficial friendships over time. Here’s just one more tip, from my heavily underlined copy of Robinett’s book that you, too, may want to practice:

Triangulate to Multiply Value For All Involved

Step One:

Through a friend in Robinett’s inner “power circle” she was introduced to South Korean “high-powered consultant at Accenture” who was moving to the U.S. and needed to establish business relationships in the country. Right after meeting her, Robinett called an apt contact within her power circle, sent a LinkedIn request, made introductions to others via email, then sent an email to this consultant, summarizing what she had done.

Action to Take: Upon meeting someone with whom you found strong shared interests: Immediately reconnect: Take an action in support of the other person’s expressed need, and send a message to that person, explaining what you have done, and how you will follow-up.

Step Two

The consultant replied immediately.  Robinett discovered, when researching her new acquaintance online, that she grew up so poor in Korea that “her parents couldn’t even afford to buy her gum, so she used to look for wads of gum on the street, dust them off then chew them.” That convinced Robinett that she wanted to get to know this woman better, who had risen so high, “from very humble beginnings.” Note the power of strongly-felt shared values.

Action to Take:  Assess the connection and activate your system: Notice how rapidly and well the other person responded to your help. That doesn’t mean you are seeking a quid pro quo, acting as what Adam Grant dubs a “matcher” but rather whether that person values your effort enough to respond appropriately. Worst case is when someone asks for more, without expressing appreciation. When you get a swift, appreciative response, research more.

Step Three

Robinett became motivated to learn more about her new friend, suggested another conversation, and discovered that two of her top goals were to write a book, and do more public speaking. Robinett again reached out to relevant contacts, including her literary agent, and to experienced speakers.

Action to Take:  Multiply and deepen the relationship by learning more about their immediate and longer-term goals. See how you and/or your circle of contacts can be helpful.

I’d add a two-pronged, fourth step, as Robinett suggests elsewhere:

1. Ask for specific help that is relevant to the other person’s interests and connections.

2. Say how you’d appreciate any resources or suggestions that your new acquaintance might have or come across later, that might be helpful for you.

For some of us asking is hard, but giving feels natural. Yet a healthy relationship, over time, is where both feel strengthened by the mutual support they experience together.

imagesOur mutuality mindset deepens our humanity

When you give enough other people what they need you are more likely to get what you need, sometimes even before you know you need it and from individuals you did not know could provide it.

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...)