www.similarminds.com offers some free tests to give you some personal insight.
www.similarminds.com offers some free tests to give you some personal insight.
We are literally bombarded with sensory images, sounds and goings on all day long. Just imagine what your life would be like if you were aware of every single one of them—it would be mental bedlam! The hair down your neck after a haircut, the clicking sound of your keyboard, the hum of the fan, the voices that surround you. You are saved from that sort of nerve-racking experience by a wonderful design feature of your brain called the Reticular Activating System.
The RAS consists of a bundle of densely packed nerve cells located in the central core of the brainstem. Roughly the size of a little finger, the RAS runs from the top of the spinal cord into the middle of the brain. This area of tightly packed nerve fibers and cells contain nearly 70% of your brain's estimated 200 billion nerve cells or a total of 140 billion cells.
The RAS acts as the executive secretary for your conscious mind. It is the chief gatekeeper to screen or filter the type of information that will be allowed to get through. Everything else is filtered out. You simply don't pay attention to those other 'messages.' Like the restaurant noises at high noon when you are engrossed in a meaningful conversation—you screen them out.
Only two categories of information are allowed in:
1. Information that is valuable for you to have right now. For example: say that you live in New York but you will be traveling to Kansas City to conduct a seminar. You check the weather there for several days before you leave so you will know what clothes to pack. Ordinarily, you never pay attention to the weather in that city. But now you have a special need to know because it affects you. After your visit, will you continue to monitor winter storms there? Yes, if you form some bonds with people you care about. Perhaps not if you have no further ties there.
Maybe your husband is a car buff so he always notices all the cars on the road. You couldn't care less until it is time to shop for a new one. Once you decide on what you want you may stop paying attention, unless you notice the same model of the one you now drive.
If you are at a party and conversing with an interesting person in a crowded room you are fully engrossed and unaware of any specific sounds, even the din of voices. But let someone across the room say your name and you most likely will hear it instantly. 'Why are they talking about me?' you wonder.
2. The other kind of information that is allowed in is the sort that alerts you to a threat or danger.
You don't pay much attention to ads for refrigerators until your 15-year-old model begins making strange noises..Suddenly, your food investment is threatened. Replacemnt is the only option. That's when you see the full-page spread of refrigerators ads. They are everywhere. Really, those ads have been there all along. You just didn't pay attention. Now your RAS alerts you to key you in on what is available because you need to know.
If your children are riding bikes on your busy street and you hear a sharp horn blast you race to the window to check on them fearing danger. But, If they were still inside you might not even hear the sound.
In view of this, it is easy to see why it is that people so often say, "I'm not interested." They have no need to know information at that time. Sales people know this very well so the diligent ones seldom throw away a name. They follow up.
Circumstances may change, sparking fresh interest all of a sudden.What a good reason to watch how this censoring device works in people! If you want others to tune in to what you want to get across to them (think kids, spouses, bosses) answer their question: "What's in it for me?" especially if you are making a request.
If you think this is being manipulative there is something else we need to talk about. It will be coming sometime later so stay tuned.
When I began this blog in 2003 I wrote a post on this subject. The overview bears repeating since there is so much confusion on the difference between Questioned Document Examination (QDE) and Handwriting Analysis (HWA) to assess personality traits.
They are separate disciplines, requiring separate training and separate certifications to practice professionally. They are not interchangeable skills.
QDE work involves analysis of just the physical characteristics of writing. It determines who wrote what. (It is not always possible to come to a conclusion.) QD examiners may be called into court to testify as an "expert witness." They can be hired by either side to do that. But, many cases are settled long before they go to court. The important distinction is that personality assessment is no part of that work.
HWA to assess personality also requires studying the physical characteristics because they mean something. The indicators they show have to be decoded to determine what personality traits show up in a given sample of handwriting. It is a logical process. The analysis has to be done in an orderly way using a worksheet and then the results must be explained as to what the traits are and what they mean. It is a big challenge to do that well. (Some QDE folks like writing the kind of reports called for in that work. In my view, HWA reports are more difficult to write because you are explaining the complication of what makes people tick. Fascinating to me.)
On websites of some analysts I often see the line is blurred when explaining their credentials. Some list themselves as handling both kinds of work. That may be legitimate because they are qualified and capable in both. (I think most people specialize in one or the other.) It may not be if the analyst is not truly qualified. "Expert witness" sounds very official. QDE work is more highly regarded by the public and is in greater demand because there is so much shady stuff going on.
I got bored with QDE. I love doing personality profiling, writing about it and teaching it.
If you have an interest in personality profiling, which I assume you do since you have visited here, take a hop over the this website:
You will fine a very revealing and helpful profile to take. I found it different than others and the result for me was very accurate. My handwriting also confirms what I learned from it.
See what you think.
The one thing that stays with every one of us is how others made us feel. That goes for bosses too.
Here is an interview with Tom Rath. He is the grandson of the late Dr. Donald Clifton, who invented the StrengthFinder profile. Together they wrote, How Full is Your Bucket?
A GMJ Q&A with Tom Rath, coauthor of How Full Is Your Bucket? (Gallup Press, August 2004)
We all know that negativity is harmful. But did you know it costs the U.S. economy an estimated $300 billion a year? Or that the effects of intra-office negativity can scare away customers? In contrast, businesses that encourage positive personal interactions can gain a lucrative advantage over their more negative rivals.
Organizational positivity may seem like a new concept, but ideas on it have been churning for some time. A half-century before the American Psychological Association honored him as the "Grandfather of Positive Psychology" in 2002, Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., was studying the effects of positivity on people and organizations. His research led him to believe that positive human interactions had a vastly greater effect than anyone had ever realized.
To explain his insights, Dr. Clifton created the Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket. To put it simply, we all have a metaphorical bucket. The bucket is filled by positive interactions and emptied by negative ones. We feel great when our buckets are full, rotten when they aren't. We also have a metaphorical dipper that we can use to empty or fill other people's buckets -- but when we fill others' buckets, we also fill our own. Thus, an organization populated by people with "full buckets" would have much more positive energy than one of people with "empty buckets" -- and would be more productive and profitable.
The analogy developed a life of its own. Eventually, 5,000 organizations and more than 1 million people put the Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket into practice. By the late 1990s, mountains of hard science had accumulated that proved the theory was correct. People all over the world were asking Dr. Clifton to write a book describing the research behind the theory and suggesting practical ideas for using it.
In 2002, Dr. Clifton was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of cancer. He knew his time was growing short, and he spent his last few months working on the book that so many people had requested. Dr. Clifton asked Tom Rath, The Gallup Organization's global practice leader in strengths-based development -- and Dr. Clifton's grandson -- to help. They finished the book shortly before Dr. Clifton died, and the fruit of their collaboration, How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, was released this month by Gallup Press.
In the following conversation, Rath explains what negativity actually costs American businesses and describes the right and wrong ways to recognize employees' good work.
GMJ: When you say "fill someone's bucket" or "empty someone's bucket," you're speaking metaphorically. What do you mean literally?
Tom Rath: I'm talking about the momentary interactions we have with people every day. These interactions can be positive, negative, or neutral. One of Gallup's senior scientists, Daniel Kahneman, suggests there are approximately twenty thousand moments in a given day, and each one lasts about three seconds. [Winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economic sciences, Dr. Kahneman is Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and professor of public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. —Ed.] In our book, we point out that those three-second interactions are rarely neutral; they're almost always positive or negative. And we can deliberately choose to make them positive or negative.
GMJ: So what does this theory have to do with the workplace?
Rath: Our relationships with people are formed by small moments -- and relationships are crucial in business. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor show that the main reason people leave their jobs is because they don't feel appreciated. A Gallup Poll shows that in the last year, 65% of people received no recognition for good work in their workplaces. So clearly, there aren't enough positive moments or interactions happening in the workplace. As a result, our economy suffers, companies suffer, and individual relationships suffer.
GMJ: What's the financial aspect of positivity?
Rath: Gallup polling has revealed that 99 out of 100 people say they want a more positive environment at work, and 9 out of 10 say they're more productive when they're around positive people. Employees who report receiving recognition and praise within the last seven days show increased productivity, get higher scores from customers, and have better safety records. They're just more engaged at work.
On the other hand, people who are actively disengaged -- employees who are not only unhappy with their own roles, but are also scaring customers off -- cost the economy between $250 billion and $300 billion a year. And when we add injury, illness, turnover, and other factors associated with negativity or active disengagement, the cost could be closer to a trillion dollars, and that's nearly 10% of the U.S. GDP.
GMJ: Let's say you want to boost positivity in your workplace. How do you do it?
Rath: Wanting a more positive environment isn't enough. You need to do something, and it doesn't require a great deal of effort or some huge change in the way you approach things at work. It really just requires a little bit more concentration in the moment, and I think you can start with a few building blocks and go from there.
GMJ: What would those building blocks be for managers?
Rath: Well, don't overwhelm people with positive emotion in the workplace by cutting out negative emotion. Ignoring negative things that need to be changed is destructive and does nothing to alleviate negativity. Instead, we should focus on the way we're treating other people in our brief interactions with them.
Barbara Frederickson [director of positive emotions and psychophysiology at the University of Michigan] and Marcel Losada [M.I.T. mathematician] have been looking at scoring positive exchanges. They've discovered a 3:1 ratio. When a work team has more than three positive interactions for every one negative interaction, it is significantly more likely to be productive. When the team is below that line, it's significantly less likely to be productive.
GMJ: When I was in junior high, our principal would stand in the hallway and clap at us all day. "Go team!" over and over. I'm sure he was trying to increase positivity, but it was weird and annoying.
Rath: That would be downright annoying. I would absolutely recommend against excessive positivity and optimism. Any positive emotion that you're infusing into a workplace needs to be grounded in reality. If it's not realistic, sincere, meaningful, and individualized, it won't do much good. Telling someone "great job" is not specific. Saying "great job" and "here's exactly why I appreciate your work" takes it to an entirely different level. Not only does this fill their bucket a little more, it makes them more likely to repeat that behavior.
GMJ: Does recognition received in front of the whole company do more to fill a bucket than just a kind word from the boss?
Rath: It varies from person to person. Public recognition will motivate some people but not others. That's why the best recognition is tailored to the person who's receiving it.
I think anyone who manages another human being or is responsible for recognition programs needs to ask questions. Recognition is a very, very personal thing. Some people want their name in lights, and others just want a quick pat on the back. Much of the recognition that's given at a big ceremony or awards show is not as individualized as it could be, and it's often misguided.
GMJ: Your book is really tough on Employee of the Month programs. Why?
Rath: Often, these programs start with the best of intentions. Someone in charge wants to promote more recognition in the workplace, so he starts a monthly recognition program. In the first few months, a few people who deserve recognition get it -- and even though it's not individualized, it might seem helpful. Eventually, however, the list of employees who really deserve recognition ends, and management has to figure out what to do next. So the manager puts someone's picture on the wall, giving recognition to an employee who doesn't deserve it. Instead, it was just his or her turn. This kind of recognition doesn't fill anybody's bucket.
Some of the better recognition programs I've seen include awards developed for different roles -- specific awards created just for the person and the task they've accomplished. Usually, the more variation, the more individualization.
GMJ: How should a manager handle an unpleasant conversation with someone without emptying his or her bucket?
Rath: I think it's most effective to focus on the outcome. Often, when a negative topic needs to be addressed in the workplace, the discussion gets personal -- it's all about an employee's attitude, what she should do, what she's done wrong. It just gets ugly at an emotional level, when it could have been a more positive conversation.
Another problem is that a lot of performance reviews focus on an employee's "areas for improvement" or "things you need to fix." Managers who start the conversation by focusing on a few good things that the employee has accomplished, then moving on to areas that need improvement, set up a more positive framework.
GMJ: What impact do managers really have on workers' positivity?
Rath: A huge impact -- usually for the good, but not always. In the book, we covered a study done in the United Kingdom about what I like to call "boss-induced hypertension." The researchers found that people who harbored real dislike for their bosses over long periods of time increased their risk of heart disease and stroke by one-third.
GMJ: So when you come home and say to your spouse, "My boss is going to be the death of me" . . .
Rath: That actually might be true.
-- Interviewed by Jennifer Robison
The Q12 items are protected by copyright of The Gallup Organization, 1992-1999. All rights reserved.
The Best Ways to Recognize Employees Research says praise should be individualized, deserved, and specific
by Tom Rath Coauthor of How Full Is Your Bucket? (Gallup Press, August 2004)
Do you receive too much recognition at work? Over the past year, I have posed this question to a few hundred people. And I have yet to hear a single "yes." Not one. So it's not surprising that a recent Gallup Poll found that almost two out of three people receive no workplace recognition in a given year. This underscores a recent finding from the U.S. Department of Labor that the number-one reason people leave their jobs has nothing to do with pay or promotions -- they leave because they "don't feel appreciated." There are probably many reasons for this. Some managers seem allergic to giving recognition -- maybe they don't get praise from their bosses -- while others may simply prefer a "tough love" approach that equates praise with "softness."
However, it's quite possible that people do get more recognition from their managers than they report -- but perhaps it's not meaningful enough to stick in their minds and make a difference. Think about the greatest recognition you have ever received. Let this memory play out in your mind for a moment. Did this recognition make you more positive? More productive? Did it change the way you looked at your job? Ask the right questions Now, think about how you recognize your employees' great work. Do you provide them with the same recognition that you like to receive? If so, it's no wonder most of them feel underappreciated.
According to Gallup's latest analysis of 10,000 workgroups in 30 industries, when it comes to recognition, individualization is key. In order for recognition to be meaningful, it must be tailored to the recipient's preferences, not the giver's preferences. Many people prefer tangible rewards or gifts, while others are more moved by words and acknowledgement. And while some people want to receive kind words in front of a crowd, others prefer a quieter, one-to-one commendation or compliment from someone they admire or respect. Not sure how to individualize recognition?
Just ask your employees questions like these: By what name do you like to be called? What are your "hot buttons" -- hobbies or interests you like to talk about a lot? What increases your positive emotion or "fills your bucket" the most? From whom do you most like to receive recognition or praise? What type of recognition or praise do you like best? Do you like public, private, written, verbal, or other kinds of recognition? What form of recognition motivates you the most? Do you like gift certificates, a title for winning a competition, a meaningful note or e-mail, or something else? What is the greatest recognition you have ever received?
In addition to being individualized, recognition should be deserved. Simply giving an Employee of the Month award in an attempt to energize your workplace won't cut it. Leaders and managers must ensure that recognition programs don't turn into "Whose turn is it next?" events. When this occurs, everyone usually ends up getting the award at some point -- even if they don't deserve it. Not only does this feel like a sham to the person delivering the award, but to the recipient, such recognition is about as uplifting as being picked last in gym class.
Finally, recognition works best when it is specific. Sure, telling someone "Great job!" might help a little, but telling him or her "That was a great job on the proposal," or better yet, "You did great work on the graphics in section three of the proposal" would mean a lot more. So when it comes to recognizing people for accomplishments, whenever possible, try to go beyond a simple pat on the back. Not only will this have more meaning for the recipient, but it also serves to reinforce the positive action you are rewarding. Fixing the wrong approach
Let's take a look at the difference that individualized, deserved, and specific recognition can make. Warren, a high-performing IT project manager, had received the same type of recognition for years. Every time his team completed a major project, Warren was honored at the company's monthly awards ceremony. Someone would call his name, and when he walked up on stage -- in front of a room of applauding colleagues -- a woman from the company's human resources department would talk about "what an amazing job Warren had done" and how his "top-notch work had moved the company forward." But this had little meaning to Warren and was not a great motivator. Even though Warren's company and the woman from HR had the best intentions, the regular recognition they provided was not individualized. For starters, Warren does not like to be up in front of a big crowd -- under any circumstances. And even though the woman in HR tried hard to shower him with praise, Warren was not exactly motivated by her fluffy descriptions of why he was receiving the award. He barely knew her. After this scenario repeated itself a few times, Warren's manager realized this recognition did not have the desired effect. So he asked Warren a few questions and quickly learned that his star employee did not like to receive recognition in front of a crowd (even though he did want people to know about his accomplishments). What's more, he would rather receive praise from someone he admired and respected, and he preferred kudos in writing. So the next time the opportunity arose, Warren's manager asked Jim, the company's chief information officer and a long-time mentor of Warren's, if he would write a note to Warren in recognition of his latest success. Jim wrote Warren a detailed e-mail message explaining exactly how his leadership led to this success. He explained how Warren's work added value to the company and their clients and made life easier for thousands of users. Jim also copied several of Warren's friends at work, his boss, and even his wife on the message. Then he printed a formal copy on company letterhead and had it framed for Warren. What was Warren's reaction? He described this as the "most meaningful" recognition he had ever received. And for months, he described how this event increased his energy and productivity.
Warren's story illustrates what we see time and time again when organizations create meaningful and memorable ways of recognizing excellence. According to Gallup research, regular recognition and praise leads to: lower turnover increased engagement among colleagues better safety records and fewer accidents on the job higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers an increase in overall productivity What are the keys to making this happen in your workgroup? Simply ask a few questions, listen, and remember that it just takes a little effort on your part to make recognition meaningful.
Tom Rath is Gallup's Global Practice Leader for Strengths-Based Development. He is coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket? -- a book that draws on decades of research to explore the differences between leading an enthusiastic life and a miserable one.
Recently, I had a conversation with a business owner who is in the trades. He is always concerned about how to motivate his workers to produce more. He overheard me talking to a friend about a television program I watched about a hair salon in California. The program featured the dilemma of the man and wife owners who had a declining business and had no idea how to fix it. Paul Mitchell (of the products by his name) came in as a consultant. He worked with them to analyze the problems and set out a plan to correct them.
They began with the mission statement of the company and then arranged to hold a meeting with everyone. (Something new for them.) I watched the faces and body language of the salon's employees. At first, they clearly were disengaged, unhappy and unmotivated. Some comments indicated that not all was going well between the young women.
The improvements began with the rewriting of the mission statement. That step set the course. Simultaneously, several other ideas were implemented: redoing the entry waiting area to be more friendly and welcoming—adding candy, shiny apples and lemon water. Then they worked together to make the product display more inviting so customers could touch them and they did other things to upgrade the salon.
The biggest change came at the next company meeting. The owner was openly tearful in saying how much the business meant to him and how much he appreciated every single person's contribution—something he had neglected to say before. The program shifted to fast forward to show the active things they did. From that point on the employees were involved instead of being bored stiff as they had been before. They began to feel a part of things and took counsel and suggestions to heart.
Within a few days things were on the upswing due to helping the receptionist put some heart into her telphone and greeting skills and implementing many suggestions Paul and his team offered. The turning point really came when the owner let his people know they were such an important part of potential success. I was struck by the power of openly and sincerely recognizing individuals.
The business owner I mentioned at first, someone I know well, listened to all this. When I asked him if he found it easy to recognize his workers he said that if he did that too often they would want more money. "So, do they deserve it?" He smiled, "Well, come to think about it, a pack of beer would do it for one of my guys."
Defensively, he said he does tell them, "Good job..." once in a while. "Them?" you say? I am asking about individual commendation; is that hard for you to give?" The answer seemed obvious; he would find that difficult.
After almost twenty years using handwriting analysis in doing personnel evaluations I am convinced that lack of recognition sours more employees about their job than almost anything else. The evidence of the need for appreciation screams off the page and the unmistakeable evidence that a person has not received it does too. Seems to me if some employees aren't doing a job well enough to deserve some they shouldn't be part of the company.
In the whirl of the day few managers take the time to notice and commend. When I analyze their handwriting they are surprised to hear that about themselves. They are often quick, efficient and productive people but people skills can be weak. Maybe they mistakenly think money is the only way to motivate and they aren't about to offer that.
Do they miss that many other things motivate people: an idea person wants to be heard, a frazzled worker may need the reward of a little time off, a person who loves responsibility craves more things to do as a way of answering a need within, an employee who has the gift of developing others may want to mentor, a resourceful person wants to get to use that gift. Great managers pay attention and get to know their people. The clues as to what motivates a person are identifiable in handwriting and I can be of help in finding them. I am available for hire!
More to come about recognizing people. May it start at home! Stay tuned...
As 2004 ends you may be reviewing your hopes and prospects for the new year. It seems a natural and appropriate time to think about how your life is going. One of the areas of chief concern is bound to be your work.
Since you will blossom when you are able to use your innate talents the Gallup folks came up with 12 questions that will test help you to assess where you are in your work situation.
Their publication, "First, Break All the Rules" sets out some of the principles underlying these questions. That book explains what makes a good manager, based on 80,000 in-depth interviews conducted over many years. (The code to take the online questionnaire is also in a new copy of this book.)
Spend a few minutes and reflect on your answers to them. You may find it easier to assess if you are a good fit doing what you do. Pay attention to question three in particular. It is the key.
I will be talking more about talents/themes and their development into strengths—and how handwriting analysis can add more evidence on how well you recognize and use your talents. They are as much a part of you as the color of your eyes. You first need to be able to see them.
These are Gallup’s 12 questions:
The chart below is taken from one of the Gallup Corporation websites. It will give you a brief introduction to the 34 talents/themes from the StrengthsFinder Profile. The explanation is not a substitute for the complete descriptions in the book, "Now, Discover Your Strengths" but it is a start in understanding how talents/themes differ.
As defined in the book: a talent is defined as, "your naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior." That is what the profile measures.
Research and my own experience have convinced me that very few people have an easy time identifying their natural talents. (How did you do when I asked you for just 3 of yours?) Instead, most of us tend to harp on and try to improve our perceived weaknesses, which is usually frustrating and perhaps even fruitless. Wouldn't it make more sense to identify innate talents (or "themes") and work on developing them into strengths? But, you cannot "discover your strengths" until you know what raw materials you have to work with. So what are your innate talents?
In my coaching practice I use the StrengthsFinder (it is correctly spelled) Profile along with handwriting analysis. Here is how it works. The client obtains the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths and uses the code included to take the online questionnaire. (The code can only be used once. It must be a new book to ensure that the code has not been used already.)
The questionnaire consists of 180 questions that ask for your top-of-mind responses. It is fun and easy to take and the results will give you insights unlike any profile you may have taken in the past. I have interviewed many who have taken it and they have all confirmed it changed their life once they assimilated the results.
When I heard about the book a year or so ago I decided to read a library copy. After considering each of the 34 themes or talents as they were described I scored myself.
Later, I bought the book and took the online questionnaire. My personal scoring only matched 2 of the 5 when compared to the official scoring. Once I reviewed the descriptions and then deeply considered how I usually have approached things all through my life I could see that the official result was a better fit.
As the book explains, the end result gives you a laser-quality pack of five top strengths to apply in every area of your life because they are fully transferable.
After clients identify their talents I analyze their handwriting. I have yet to find that a handwriting did not corroborate the results of the S.F. Profile. The two assessments provide a great foundation to begin a coaching relationship—truly a headstart for the client and me.
Both the coach and the client need to understand the descriptions of the 34 strengths, which are each listed and described on a single page of the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book is easy and essential to read because it rounds out the understanding of why it works, it answers questions people are bound to think of later and provides background on how strengths may influence each other.
Among the rave reviews listed on the Amazon page were some critical comments from some purchasers who thought that the book didn't go far enough in explaining interrelationships of strengths. "So, now that I know what my talents are what do I do with them?"
Would it have been possible to cover all the possible combinations of 5 out of a possible 34 talents? No. According to the book, there is only a one in 34 million possibility that two people could have the same set of 5 talents in the same order.
So, taking the profile is just the starting point. It is an eye-opener to see how you have used the talents you have—or not. Handwriting analysis shows how people view themselves: how clearly they think, how stable, intense and consistent their emotions are, as well what fears get in the way. This information is discussed very kindly and very gently with clients. That, coupled with the SF Profile results, becomes the basis of our coaching relationship.
Talents are inherent. Our work together adds encouragement, more knowledge or access to it, and my support to help clients make even better life choices.
By the way, I have no connection with the Gallup Corporation, the source of the S.F. Profile. I do have an affiliate relationship with Amazon. If you choose to order a book through the link to the left I will get some credit but that does not cost you more. It is a small commission paid by Amazon and I use it to help keep this weblog afloat.
I want to tell you more about my results with the StrengthsFinder Profile and some of what I have learned since.