The Liking Gap

Recently I read there is a “liking gap”, you can find this idea explained on various article publications and even HBR. After reading I thought about how this concept could help drive teams to higher functioning performance. In summary, researchers placed different groups of people in a room and asked them to get to know each other. After, the participants were surveyed and asked to rate the likability of the people they spoke with and how they felt people thought about them. I bet you could guess what happened. People generally liked others and thought that others didn’t like them. Reading this made me think about a few different concepts at play particularly at work.

Mirror lake in Yosemite National Park

You may be aware of this concept already, many might find the effect to be common. It is important though to push past these thoughts and think how we can apply it to our lives. To apply the effect let me summarize it a little one more time. When placed in situations where we are meeting people for the first time we are more likely to interpret their feelings about us as less positive. In contrast, we are more likely to find others more likable. According to research the effect was greater among peers, less between managers and direct reports. This means we are underestimating our value we bring to others.

My reflection on this is two part, one for the self the other as application. First, on ourselves. It’s no ones surprise that mental health is a subject that is becoming more and more important. Part of this paradigm is our belief or confidence in our self-efficacy. Our belief that we can perform to meet specific goals, I believe, this is at the core of our mental health. And so it seems when we encounter new people this belief is challenged but only by the narrative we tell ourselves, or our second guess. This effect then should be considered when we are reflecting on our experience in a group. We all need to have a higher view of ourselves and give a little more credit. And as with everything there is balance to be created here. You have value, worth, and ability but your uniqueness isn’t the only recipe to your teams success. Bringing me to our communication.

Santa Cruz Island

Knowing that others are likely feeling this way when they meet us, we can change their narrative by inserting a different one. When we find ourselves with new people or people in general we can communicate what we appreciate about them. It would seem to me that if most of us guess wrong about ourselves we should be telling each other how much we value one another. This would have at least two benefits. First, people would leave the interaction feeling better about themselves. The other would be keeping ourselves from narcissism, as we increase our appreciation of others our ego stays in a healthy check. We can change how others interpret the interaction by telling them the value they bring. Which has added benefits to ourselves outside of the liking effect.

The point is not to get everyone to like you, that simply won’t happen. We are pre-disposed to limit the value we bring to others especially in the first interaction. That effect can be detrimental to the speed at which a team grows and develops. As an individual we should be second second guessing the value we bring to others and a particular situation. We should also be practicing positive communication with others. Tell each other what we value or appreciate about them. With little changes to ourselves we might be able to make a larger, long lasting change.

I hope that we can take this and grow a little bit better today.

Perspective Shift

How you can be more impactful in the work place- building your sense of empowerment.

As someone that goes to work every day, like many of you, it might be inherently obvious that we will complain about work. When we aren’t planning and setting goals we tend to blame our environment for our perceived negative outlook. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, work is hard, however this mindset can change your perspective on work.

Confession time: think about how many times you have solved the HTH equation? If you are not familiar with this let me explain; the HTH equation was developed to understand just how many Hours Till Home you have left in your day. If you are like 80% of Americans who are unhappy with their jobs you may have done this five- ten times last week.

In order to feel empowered at work and shift that perspective to something positive we need to change our WHY we are going to work. There are always more reasons than monetary to get up early and (select to apply to your profession)

  • Drive to a desk chair and exercise our fingers
  • Jump into a truck cab and practice freeway navigation
  • Carry around tools and keep track of where they ran off to
  • Stand in front of judgmental youth

You get the idea, we all have nuances to our job…

and sometimes these can drive us crazy!!

One way to construct a different why for our work is to ask yourself “What are you learning?” Now I know what you are thinking, “ugh another person telling me I need to learn something. Look man, I work long hours and I’m not going to go open a boring book after those hours. I have some Netflix to catch up on” BUT, that isn’t what I’m talking about. According to psychologist Albert Bandura, we practice what we know we will be successful at, in other words we fall into a routine of easy wins. One way to stretch ourselves is to engage in activities where success isn’t guaranteed. The easiest way to do this is by learning, either a skill, procedure, or concept. Go to work with the intention that it is somewhere you will learn something new. When engaging your work life this way you are no longer letting the work day happen to you, you are now controlling what happens during your day.

Having a drive to learn doesn’t always come naturally.

If you are stuck with finding this multidimensional construct about work, it might be time to set some goals. Setting goals at work in conjunction with a learning mindset can give us that extra boost in the morning. There is a wealth of information about how to set goals and each one is important and meaningful. Here are the three most important factors to using goal setting tools.

  • Feedback- you need feedback for setting proper goals, the easiest way to accomplish this is in the form of metrics. These can then be posted somewhere in your work space, lunch box, fridge at home as a reminder. It turns out the place you set this isn’t as important but the…
  • Commitment- how you define your goal is key so make sure to give it some thought. You want to set out to do something that is attainable but is outside your norm. Mix this with our passions and curiosity to bring that extra bit of dedication.
  • Task difficulty- do you have the skills to accomplish the tasks needed to achieve the goal? If you are like me you aren’t athletic, so my goal isn’t going to play for the NBA but, my goal might be something like “play a game of basketball and make two baskets”. I may not have the skills to do this today but I can grow into this ability.

Once you have set some goals you are on the road to perspective changing. You can go into work with more reasons than monetary and be someone that makes decisions rather than decisions made for you.

If you are not able to move jobs or start a new career you might feel stuck and helpless. If you can look at changing your perspective of why you go to work you may be able to breathe a breath of fresh air and walk into your job ready to take on the day. You are the one to make the moves to change that perspective.