Once You Understand Emotion, Motivation Is Easy

One of the most powerful theories on how to motivate people on the work-floor is Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory. In my post ‘Effective Communication Is About Understanding Emotion’ I dealt with the idea of Observational Listening and how that way of listening focuses on emotions people are currently experiencing. These two concepts together make a powerful combination in which motivation takes current emotions into account. Continue reading “Once You Understand Emotion, Motivation Is Easy”

Effective Communication Is About Understanding Emotion

Imagine a world in which you wouldn’t experience any emotion whatsoever. What would your life look like? Drab? No, it wouldn’t be drab, as that’s an emotion. Nor boring, peaceful or any other state of mind which implies an emotion is being experienced. This means, therefore, that emotions are necessary for you to be able to experience anything at all. It goes a step further: Emotions are adaptive, they increase your chances for survival. Take fear, for example. If you didn’t ever get scared, you wouldn’t be aware of danger and would do silly things, like not jumping out the way when a car comes barreling down the road towards you. Emotions tell you what is important, what needs your attention and what action is required. Only when something is important enough does it capture your attention, this all thanks to the emotion that brings it to the forefront for you. And you only learn something when it is important enough to be able to react appropriately to such a given situation. In other words, emotion not only tells you what is important, it also is the motor for your learning. Emotions are primary. Emotions motivate. Continue reading “Effective Communication Is About Understanding Emotion”

Why Leaders Give Feedback

An important task you have as a leader is giving feedback. Not only in terms of task performance (so that the other knows how he or she is doing), but also in terms of social behavior. This article is about just that: giving feedback on someone’s behavior with the intention that the other actually does something with that feedback. In other words, you give feedback because you would like to see different behavior. In a previous post, we looked at the difference between compliments, criticism and feedback. We now deal with the rules you should follow in order to increase the chance that your feedback will lead to desired results. Continue reading “Why Leaders Give Feedback”

Compliments, Criticism And Relationship

An important task you have as a leader is to give compliments and know how to deal with criticism. Compliments motivate; criticism has a negative effect on relationships. And good relationships already facilitate an environment in which the other is more willing to do things differently. In this article we therefore focus on what the effects of compliments and criticism are. In a future article, we will concentrate on a related skill: Giving feedback. Continue reading “Compliments, Criticism And Relationship”

It’s About What You Add To The Interaction

What really makes a good leader? Many theories and models try to show us the way. The discussion may be approached from several perspectives. For example, what are the characteristics (or personality traits) of effective leaders, what do effective leaders do or what are process models in which the nature of the work is connected with the type of leadership that is effective? We’re not going to deal with all the approaches in this post – that would require a book in itself! We’re going to focus on one of the common factors: the leader’s social skills. Why? Because attractive leaders are also much more effective leaders. Specifically we will look at one element of these social skills, one which especially makes leaders attractive, both to the people who work for them as well as to others, either higher up in the organization or outside: their ability to always add something to any interaction in which they engage. Continue reading “It’s About What You Add To The Interaction”

Multitasking And Listening

In an ideal world, people would understand exactly what they wanted from one another. Unfortunately, people don’t always understand what someone else wants of them. In this manner, the majority of problems between people occur due to a problem in their mutual communication. In an ever more distracting world, where we are constantly faced with all kinds of stimuli begging our immediate attention, multitasking is perhaps one of the most influential factors feeding miscommunication. To understand what goes awry, we will first consider the process of communication. Continue reading “Multitasking And Listening”

Dealing With Shame

Shame and guilt are two emotions people experience, and should therefore also be functional emotions. That we generally experience them as something negative may be clear. In simple terms, shame has a limiting effect: It prevents us from ‘going over the top’, and in that sense it has a protective intention. As with all emotions, shame only becomes problematic when it is overly limiting or not present at all. This could be due to all kinds of factors: Poor or misplaced emotion regulation or inappropriate appraisals or expectations, to name but two. To put it differently, shame as a normal reaction isn’t problematic and is functional, just as the normal experience of fear prevents us from doing potentially dangerous things. In a similar way, guilt is adaptive too, as it stimulates us to restore matters when we have done something inappropriate.

In this article we look at how shame and guilt influence our experience and behaviour. We start by making a distinction between them, as the two emotions are easily lumped onto the same pile. After that we will review specifically how people deal with shame. Continue reading “Dealing With Shame”

Listening Is Collaboration: The Basics

The importance of an open attitude was the subject of a previous article. An open attitude is largely your own responsibility. Yet it takes two to tango: You and the other are interdependent; an open attitude is but one side of the coin. If the other doesn’t tell you anything, you have nothing to listen to! In other words, listening is a collaboration and requires some form of interaction in what is called the collaborative relationship. In this relationship the other will need to be stimulated to be vulnerable, unless it is your aim only to talk about the weather! So next to your personal characteristics (including an unknowing and curious attitude), you will need to activate and stimulate interaction with the other. In this article I introduce the basics of this collaborative relationship and your role in its creation, in another article I will delve a little deeper into the subject. For now, let’s begin with the ideas of unconditional positive regard, congruence and empathy and how those three may be used to build this relationship. Continue reading “Listening Is Collaboration: The Basics”

An Open Attitude

Conversations run smoother when you have an open attitude towards your conversational partner and actively create a good working relationship. The collaboration is most effective when the other feels safe and listened to. This all sounds rather obvious, and is rather clichéd too. That’s why in this article we consider how to actually do this. Continue reading “An Open Attitude”

Do Difficult People Actually Exist?

Image: © 2016 P.L. Houtekamer

Try the following: Write down one of your good qualities and call that A. This can be any sort of quality, such as proactive, friendly or empathic. Now think about how another person would experience your behaviour if you were to exaggerate this good quality, and call this B. If you exaggerate ‘proactive’, for example, that could be experienced as meddling or pushy. There isn’t one correct answer; think about how you would experience an exaggerated behaviour in another. Now, think about what could be an opposite of B, but in a positive sense. For meddling that could be being patient, for example. This positive opposite, you call C. The last step is to exaggerate C: Someone who is too patient never gets going, or is passive, for example. This is called D. Now for the million-dollar question: Do people who demonstrate the behaviour D tend to irritate you? Continue reading “Do Difficult People Actually Exist?”