Recently, I had the thrill of looking for whales. As a passenger, I just showed up, enjoyed the sightings, and got a DVD to commemorate my journey. However, I can imagine that the captain had to do a once-over before we left, monitor safety conditions during the trip, and check on the boat after we returned to the pier.
In the same way, every person is responsible
for keeping his or her ship afloat.
Let’s continue my discussion of the ABCs of Sails. Last week, we covered Attunement. What do you need to do to maintain your B for Buoyancy on your ship at each stage of a client’s voyage?
Before a meeting:
A surprising tool: interrogative (vs. declarative) self talk (Pink, location 1214)
- Those who ask a question do better than those who suppress negatives or over accentuate positives
Embracing all of who we are is the best way into the B—what Pink calls Buoyancy. Notice how Bob the Builder persuades Scrambler to be scrubbed:
Bob’s theme song asks, “Can we fix it?” and the chorus responds, “Yes we can.” This children’s program is, in fact, teaching our preschoolers a value tool for the rest of life!
In one 2010 study, researchers had two groups solving puzzles. One group was to use declarative self-affirmations such as “I am the best puzzle solver.” The other was to use interrogative self-talk: “Can I solve this puzzle?” The results? The questioning group solved 50% more puzzles! (Pink, 1233)
There are two reasons for these results:
- The interrogative draws out strategies and gives the solvers a head start on the problem.
- The interrogative allows the solvers to tap into intrinsic Big Why reasons for solving a problem. Declarative self-talk bypasses our intrinsic motivations. (One business owner I met with this week said, “After my faith and my family, I love doing numbers! I kiss my wife and hug my kids good-bye, go into the office, and sit in front of a computer all day solving clients’ challenges.” His self-reflection echoes the Big Why grounding of his activity).
During a meeting:
Negative emotions can capsize your canoe in an instant! On the other hand, consider how positive emotions influence the experience:
[Positive emotions] broaden people’s ideas about possible actions, opening our awareness to a wider range of thoughts and …make us more receptive and more creative.” Barbara Fredericson as quoted in Pink, location 1282
Frederickson has in fact found a golden ratio of thriving that has been echoed in works by Covey et al: when a person or a team has a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotional experiences, they flourish. Lest you think more is better, when they experience an 11:1 or higher ratio, life “becomes a festival of panglossian cluelessness, where self-delusion suffocates self-improvement.” (Pink, location 1314)
After a meeting:
Despite our best efforts to remain buoyant, we all experience negative self-talk.
Martin Seligman has framed three key questions to help us reframe this negative self-talk. These questions can keep us afloat when we feel we have sprung multiple leaks from a day of emotionally negative experiences.
For each of these questions, it’s important to ask yourself, “How can I look at this differently so that the answer becomes ‘No!’?”
- Is this permanent? (Will I always offer bad investment advice?)
- Is this pervasive? (Is it impossible to find a strategic partner?)
- Is it personal? (What did I do wrong?)
In addition, try Barbara Frederickson’s tool for tracking your emotional ratio over a day. You can even sign up for an account to track it for up to two weeks. Go to http://positivityratio.com
- Before a client meeting, ask yourself, “How can I close this client?”
- During a client meeting, ask yourself, “What am I feeling? Is this helping my client? How can I express positive emotion?”
- At the end of a workday: fill out the Positivity Ratio tool and ask yourself, “How might I change my responses to thrive even more tomorrow?”