Do certain colors seem to change your mood: Can walking into a spa help you feel more relaxed? Sit down in a restaurant and your stomach growls? Head to an upscale car dealership longing for something you’d like to drive away in?
Artists have long understood how various colors have the capacity to substantially impact moods, feelings and emotions. It is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence temperament, and cause physiological reactions. Certain colors can raise blood pressure, increase metabolism, or cause eyestrain.
This topic has been studied by marketers to better understand how certain colors send particular messages and influence purchasing decisions. A recent article by Yelena Moroz Alpert explores the topic, “How Color Affects Your Spending”. Over 12 experts were consulted to share a composite of how 10 different colors impact spending habits. For the full article, click here:
Here are some highlights of how colors are thought to impact temperament:
Blues can relax, soothe, and calm us. Blues can also improve focus and productivity.
Red is associated with passion and energy, as well as being a bit racy. Red can raise energy levels – it has been shown to increase blood pressure and heart rate – and is known for stimulating appetites and conversation.
Yellow makes many people feel cheerful, energetic, and happy, yet the color yellow – especially the brighter shades – can cause fatigue and anxiety with overuse.
Green is a cool color that symbolizes nature and the natural world. Green is often used in decorating for its calming effect as the color is thought to relieve stress and help heal.
Think about this idea of color’s influence when preparing your next presentation, document or even getting dressed for the big meeting. Of course you have to be prepared and know your topic, but if color can provide a small edge or maybe help you rethink the template you use for that PowerPoint presentation…why not take a potential advantage in your favor?
I was recently facilitating a workshop about, The 8 Dimensions of Leadership, to a group of Human Resource Professionals. We were talking about, “Becoming a Multidimensional Leader,” focused on three major themes:
1) The personality of the leader (that is, who you are as a person) is as critical part of the dialog about “what makes a good leader.”
2) Good leaders understand that being an effective leader requires integrating knowledge with a real understanding of emotional, psychological, and interpersonal “default settings” and “blind spots.”
3) Leaders who are rated highly effective by their teams are “multidimensional.” They have learned to be highly flexible in responding to the wide array of demands required by their organization. They can move outside their comfort zone and overcome the psychological barriers that keep some leaders from acting.
In essence, effective leaders are people who have a certain level of self-awareness and use that to more effectively respond or help others respond to challenges.
After introducing these themes, a hand shot up from the audience: “Defined that way, we are talking about leaders at every level of the organization – Right?” “Exactly,” I responded. But not everyone in the audience agreed. Some saw “leadership” as the work done by only group of people at the top of the organization.
The truth is that the definition of “who” is a leader has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. There has been a shift from highly hieratical organizations, which seem to create internal silos and limited collaboration and innovation, to flatter more collaborative structures. As Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic and current Harvard Business School professor writes, “The shift to collaborative organizations with flat structures is causing a reassessment of the ways that organizations develop leaders… Rather than just a few stars, organizations will need many talented leaders operating throughout the organization.”
Regardless of the method or the model, successful leadership depends, as George puts it, on “authenticity and how well-grounded leaders are.” That applies whether you are leading a global organization or a small team.
In your experience, what does successful leadership look like? Discuss in the comments!
Recently a credit card company made a mistake with my account. They are very sorry … but they won’t fix it. Anticipating a heavy travel schedule last month, I decided to call in and make 2 payments. One payment for the current month, and another payment for the following month – paying it early. Too early. Instead of recording a payment for the current month, and another for the following month – they just put me down as making two payments for the current billing period. As far as they were concerned, instead of paying early – I missed a payment, which not only blemishes credit history but also comes with a late fee.
So I called them and explained the situation, “Let me give you the transaction confirmation number that your representative gave me.” Certainly that would clear it all up, because that’s what confirmation numbers are for – to confirm or prove that you have done something, right? Nope. In a bored monotone she answered, “Ma’am the confirmation number doesn’t matter (what?!), all that proves is that you gave us money. You shouldn’t have paid a bill for the next month until the current billing period was over. Everyone knows the system doesn’t work that way.” Apparently not the rep who took my money and gave me the useless confirmation number. Sadly, over the next 2 hours I had 7 nearly identical, frustrating & sometimes rude conversations as I went up the chain of command. Finally someone said they would listen to the conversation that had been recorded for customer service training purposes. Six days later they called to tell me that I was right, the rep had given me wrong info but they could not – would not correct the error because (get ready) … I should have known that I couldn’t make a payment early … even if their own employee didn’t know. Mind-numbing.
THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Summarizing the customer experience in this situation:
- A customer intentionally did something positive and responsible.
- Working with an employee who does not know his own company’s rules & processes.
- The customer was told that the company gives out useless confirmation numbers that do not protect the customer.
- The company admittedly made a mistake, but will not make it right.
I have to believe that the above situation was not the objective & vision intended by the Executive Team, as the desired customer experience with their company.
The danger here is that many of us could confidently say, “That would never happen in my company.” Maybe not on the scale described above, but likely your organization’s processes and systems don’t account for every contingency or errors by well-meaning employees. Processes are very important & necessary, but if they took care of everything then you wouldn’t need employees – customers would simply interface with the processes directly. Chances are your team knows exactly where the sticky situations occur – and why it happens. Chances are good that they also have ideas about how to make it work better. How can you make it a priority to regularly review your processes to ensure that they aren’t making it hard for your customers to do business with you, and that your team members are empowered and encouraged to provide help and flexibility in the situations that may need it?
By the way I closed my account with that credit card company. The new company sent me a gift for opening my new account. I hope they don’t end up charging me for it and then refusing to take it off my bill …
Have you broken your New Year’s Resolution yet? In 2013 Laila Powers, a Human Resources Director with Atlas Oil in Taylor, Michigan has been focused on making a choice: she decided to be more joyful and appreciate those around her. Since setting this goal for 2013 Laila shares, “This is tough. I have to be careful and make sure it does not become a chore…that would zap the joy and defeat the whole purpose.” Although making a conscious effort to see the joy in every situation may present challenges, Laila has found it is worth it in the end. Laila has found, “Showing appreciation and thanking those around me for the simple thing builds our relationship and helps us focus on the positive.”
This new habit is one of the simplest steps you can take to boost happiness and many people are catching on. In a new national survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted for the John Templeton Foundation, 64% of participants said they express gratitude because it makes them feel good. In fact, feeling grateful and expressing it decreases stress, increases happiness and makes people feel better about life in general.
To take this a step further, people who document what they are thankful for reap a host of health and emotional benefits. You may want to get started with these tips from Robert Emmons, PH.D. adapted from UC Berkeley’s Great Good website: www.greatergood.berkeley.edu
- Commit to Happiness – Journaling is more effective if you first make the conscious decision to become more fulfilled and more grateful, research suggests. “Motivation to become happier plays a role.” Emmons explains.
- Go for Depth Over Breadth – Elaborating about a particular thing you are grateful for with more detail versus listing many things.
- Make It Personal – Focus on people, not things. You may also try subtraction, not just addition: Reflect on what your life of work would be like without a certain blessing rather than just tallying up the good stuff.
- Savor Surprises – Record events that were unexpected or surprising. These tend to produce stronger levels of gratitude.
Sure this may sound like a good idea, be more personally grateful, but how does it apply to organizations? The Gallup Q12 is a survey that measures employee engagement. It is widely regarded as the Gold Standard for measuring how engaged employees are in their organization. One of the 12 questions the survey uses to measure engagement is “In the last week someone has thanked me for doing a good job”.
I experienced the power of these two little words first hand rather early in my career. I was 23 years old, pretty fresh out of graduate school, working in a pretty tough manufacturing environment. To be honest, I knew many of the people in the plant did not take me seriously. There was Jake, a 25 year veteran to the plant who handled maintenance. One day he had solved a problem on the production line that made a big difference to the operation. In the break room, I saw Jake getting a cup of coffee. I decided to approach him and told him how impressed I was with how he solved the problem. I shared with Jake that what he did was going to make the work go so much better for the team and I thanked him for the time he spent on it.
Well, I did not expect the reaction I got from him. I am sure he was glad we were the only two people in the break room, because I watched in amazement as his eyes welled up with moisture. He told me I was the first person to say “thank you” for his hard work in over 10 years. Imagine that? No one word of appreciation he can recall for a decade! I wondered how does this happen? Well, Jake became an ally of mine and a huge supporter. When I was trying to get some tough changes made in the plant, he served as a tremendous advocate. This all started because of two little words. THANK YOU. So you might want to try it. What have you got to lose? It may boost your outlook, health and relationships. That’s a resolution worth keeping.
Author: Alex Rozema
Have you ever thought about all of the things we have in our lives today, trying to imagine how we survived before they were invented? How did we write term papers before personal computers? Make popcorn before microwaves? Get a cavity filled before Novocaine? How did we live without the Internet, Google, Amazon, cellphones, and texting? Now you can add Everything DiSC® Comparison Reports to this list.
“Come on, really?!,” you say. Ok, I admit they may not be as indispensable as Novocaine… but while Novocaine dulls the pain, Comparison Reports can help prevent or reduce the very real pain of the interpersonal variety.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Everything DiSC Comparison Reports compare the DiSC styles of two people, highlight their differences and similarities, and provide tips for working more effectively with each other. People are encouraged to have a conversation about their similarities and differences, and consider how their working relationship may be impacted as a result. Afterwards, each person is asked to consider how they’ll apply what they’ve learned about working with the other.
So why are these reports so valuable?
- They’re the perfect tool to use in conflict resolution or when two people are struggling to work with each other. (And more importantly, in preventing conflict or struggle from happening in the first place!)
- They’re a quick way to help people understand differences and commonalities, in a very non-threatening or non-judgmental way.
- They build understanding and trust between a supervisor and direct reports, and between members of a team.
- They serve as a powerful component during important conversations like performance reviews, on-boarding, and aligning team members.
We recently recommended using these reports to a customer, who was having a challenge between two managers. Their relationship was nearly destroyed due to several business conflicts. We were brought in to help mediate their situation. The two managers glared at each other across the table, and we handed them their Everything DiSC Comparison Reports. After a few minutes of reading silently, one said, “Well this explains a lot!” Then they both burst into laughter, and began to have a conversation.
While the Everything DiSC Comparison Report wasn’t a miracle cure, it helped them to see that their personality differences (and similarities) were really the catalysts that ignited their “professional differences.” They began to appreciate each other’s differences and build a functional relationship, acknowledging that the other person’s behaviors are simply different from their own. They weren’t wrong, they weren’t right, they just were different!
If this story hits close to home, just know … we are here to help.
I recently read that 40% of our daily behavior is driven by habit not conscious planning. That made me very curious…
Then I came across this fantastic article in the February issue of Experience Magazine. You can read the full article here.
Habits are those choices that we make at some point and then stop thinking about it and just automatically do it. Researchers at MIT discovered a simple neurological loop is at the core of every habit. They dub this the habit loop. In other words, a habit is a formula that the brain automatically follows: When I see this cue, I will do this routine in order to get that reward.
This loop applies to both individuals and organizations. So, the key to changing a habit or behavior is harnessed in the power of this loop.
Step 1: Identify the Routine – With most habits, the routine is the most obvious aspect: It’s the behavior that you want to change. Research shows that habits aren’t actually broken, they’re modified – and it’s possible to satisfy harmful habits by adopting a healthier routine.
Step 2: Experiment with Rewards – The idea is to test different hypotheses to see what is driving your routine. The book suggests at that moment you catch yourself ready to do the bad thing that you always do (and that you want to change), that you write down a few words that come to mind at that exact moment. The exercise serves two purposes: it provokes awareness of what you are feeling or thinking, and it will help clarify the reward your seeking with your habitual behavior.
Step 3: Isolate the Cue – Cues are triggers for our habitual behaviors. To identify the cue ask yourself these questions:
- Where are you?
- What time is it?
- What’s your emotional state?
- Who else is around?
- What action preceded the urge?
The key is that once we define our habit loop, you can begin to shift the behavior. You can develop a better routine by planning for the cue and choosing a behavior that more constructively delivers the rewards that you’re craving.
Step 4: Have a Plan — It sounds simple but it really requires a tremendous amount of energy to make a conscious choice.
Funny, story… after spending a few days thinking about the bad habit I have of eating late at night. I realized that my kids push my buttons at night when I am tired (the Cue) which makes me stress and then I get the munchies, so I grab the snack foods (the routine) and it does honestly make me feel better at that moment (the reward)!
My new habit loop is: When the kids start driving me nuts (the Cue), I grab my headphones (the routine), put on my favorite song and head for the treadmill … I feel better (the reward). Plus, hopefully now I can loose that extra 5 lbs. that’s been bugging me.
Things Your Mother Didn’t Teach You That Will Come Up in Business – Topic 1: How to Receive Criticism
Mom covered almost everything with you; do unto others…take your vitamins…wash your hands and many more gems of wisdom. I have the opportunity to work with many talented people in business and have noticed some common struggles seem to be stumbling blocks to success for people in the workplace. If mom didn’t cover this or maybe it got lost along the way, here is the first stumbling block: Productively receiving negative feedback or criticism.
Let’s face it, nobody relishes in hearing people tell them things that could be perceived as weaknesses. Who wants to hear about what’s not going so well? With a few simple techniques, you can turn this information into something productive and helpful for your own growth and improvement:
1. Don’t react, respond
When someone brings up a criticism, our natural reaction is to be defensive. We feel threatened and may try to explain or justify what’s going on. When we feel threatened, we tend to think with a different part of our brain (the primal) part. This part of our brain rules by being very reactionary. Think of the “fight or flight” response. So most people will either retreat or go into attack mode.
Try to resist this natural reaction and instead slow down. Take a deep breath and listen. Perhaps a question would be helpful: “Tell me more about why you think that?” You don’t need to agree with the person to hear them out. You could empathize with them by pointing out how they are feeling. “I see this situation is upsetting for you”.
You normally don’t owe them answer right away. Would it be more beneficial to take some time and consider what they have shared? Most importantly, would it make sense to actually thank them for coming to you with a concern? Sometimes a simple, “thank you for bringing that to my attention, I will certainly reflect on what you have said”, is the ideal response in these situations.
2. Recognize that nobody’s perfect
Secondly, if you believe this criticism has shattered a perfect track record, you likely need a reality check. We all have areas where we can improve. Some of them we are well-aware of, but others are legitimate blind spots. If someone shared something with you that seems to hit a blind spot, you have the most to gain from realistically considering what was said.
The most successful leaders who excel in their careers are always in a state of self-development. They consider what can be done to improve and make active plans to do so. If someone just shared with you something to work on, they have given you a gift. One you can make the most of or brush aside, potentially to come back to haunt you at some point in the future. If they told you, how many other people perceive the same thing, yet decided not to address it with you?
3. Seek to understand
When you take a few moments to consider the feedback that was shared with you, try to see it from someone else’s perspective. We often get so wrapped up in our plans, needs and agenda that we fail to consider the point-of-view others may have. Once you can relate to another’s outlook, you are in a better place to understand where their comments are coming from. From there you are in an even better position to address it (assuming it is something that needs to be addressed).
4. Find the truth
If after considering the feedback, you are still struggling with what to make of it, remember a favorite term of marketers: “Perception Equals Reality”. Sure, what people perceive may be their reality. However, it is not always equal to what is the truth, or intended. Ultimately, what is the reason why someone holds a particular perception? You may have to dig more deeply beyond what was said to understand the truth or recognize that your intent was misunderstood based on the perception that was shared with you.
If you can see the criticism as an opportunity to more deeply understand and improve, it will be a productive exchange. You may even come out of it as a stronger leader with an improved working relationship.