Learning Lab

Managing opinions; are you favourable?

By Amy Brann

Do you remember being around a colleague when they are speaking poorly of someone else? How did it make you feel? What about someone who is known for tending to speak negatively about lots of different people?

We have a natural response when people are speaking negatively about others. Perhaps you remember feeling uncomfortable when someone said a co-worker had been slacking off recently. You knew their son has been ill and your co-worker has had to spend a lot of time at the hospital. Or perhaps you hear someone saying that your boss has been really snappy recently. You agree, but it feels disrespectful to be talking about her behind her back.

We’re not even focusing on this from a practical perspective in this article, but that is extremely powerful too. When you simply talk about someone you don’t know the full picture. You may find yourself concluding something very different if you knew what was really going on for a person, like people tend to do with their friends.

You feel better when you surround yourself with people you respect, and people you respect you tend not to speak poorly of. When you feel better you tend to perform better. So by seeing the good in others practically you could find yourself increasing your effectiveness, efficiency and productivity.

Research in America recently looked at college students and how they rated their peers and what else that meant. They found that the students who tended to rate their peers positively (being trustworthy, nice and emotionally stable) ALSO reported greater life satisfaction, less depression and better grades and test scores. Interesting right?

The research also showed that the classmates of the volunteers who had rated their peers positively were more likely to be well regarded by their classmates. They were more likely to be judged as being agreeable, conscientious and emotionally stable. This is also interesting and gives us some food for thought.

The converse also appeared to be true. The people who negatively rated others seemed to be more disagreeable, antisocial and narcissistic. The lead author of the research said most surprisingly “The stability of these tendencies means that they may consistently act as a lens that darkens your experience of other people or brightens it”.

One of the interesting questions raised is if, potentially through executive Coaching, the filters were changed so a person saw the good in others, whether others would then see them more favourably. From our experience at Synaptic Potential we believe this to be the case. We also know the power that comes through working with people we respect.

So if you are looking to get the best out of yourself or others through leading or managing them – it could be very profitable to look at how you are thinking about and then speaking about other people. With the tools and techniques available today we are able to recondition how people process things. So changing things previously thought of as unchangeable personality traits is now possible quicker than ever before!

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