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Get active, if you want new ideas!

Employees need courage, space and clarity, though



Who wants to profit from ideas made by the team or team members, should not wait and hope but proceed proactively: 1. Establish an environment where employees can articulate themselves fearlessly and 2. Support ideas and consider them seriously. Otherwise the staff still – according to a recently published academic survey article from the US – is overly reticent. They still calculate with negative consequences, even where actually not reason for worry is necessary. And they still anticipate it will not pay off anyway. Therefore enormous amounts of potential are staying unused furtheron.

The scientists recommend urgently to focus on managerial trainings how to set up and steer opinion building and decision processes in teams. Additionally, they continue, any organisation is well off in hiring only those superiors who are capable to build trustworthy relationships between themselves and their teams.

Perspectives on employee voice: A primer for managers. Butler/Whiting. In: The Psychologist-Manager Journal, vol. 22 (3-4), Aug-Nov.2019, 154-167.



From the practice:

No modern leader dares to take innovative ideas of employees into question basically. Without convincing the staff regularly, though, that you and your organisation really really really do want to hear what people think, it still does not work yet.

So what can you do exactly? 1. Talk offensively about your serious interest in ideas, suggestions and opinions – and do this again and again at any given occasion, not only once. Talking is here the key to success, don´t email and think you are off duty. 2. Provide space by reserving a fixed time slot for collecting ideas (and don´t bring across this only takes place if everything else has taken less time than scheduled) – either within your meetings or in setting up a venue for that on its own. 3. Accept only ideas for solutions, not further descriptions of the problem. 4. Communicate in advance what you will do when with all the ideas – this is to demonstrate that it is not due to your personal taste or simple arbitrariness if ideas are followed up or not. Mention limitating factors now and not later. Nobody likes to bring up anything which might go bad in your drawer or is not feasible from the start.

Passionate workers tend to be exploited

Study finds irritating legitimization of poor treatment





To love one´s job and to burn for it with passion is not only advantageous: you are, if you don´t pay attention, going to be exploited – by superiors, by business partners, by peers and co-workers. „You like it anyway“ is pretty often the explanation for not paying at all or too little, for making a mess of people´s work-life-balance and for assigning them tasks which have nothing to do with their regular work.

These are at least the results of a new study conducted by Oklahoma University in collaboration with Duke/SC. In a project which started five years ago and involved more than 2.400 participants the researchers identified with the help of eight different scenarios a new sort of modern exploitation: to take advantage of people who specifically display joy and engagement in the way they earn for their living. In doing so only weak resistance is to be expected: 1. Highly motivated employees or freelancers are actually poor in denying when they should do more for less money and 2. The environment does not describe this exploitation as such, but as legitimate.

The academics conclude: „We are not at all anti-passion, but who then brings more than he/she gets, should do this voluntarily and not pushed by the system.“

Understanding contemporary forms of exploitation: Attributions of passion serve to legitimize poor treatment of workers“, Kim/Campbell/Shepherd/Kay, In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology“, 118(1), 121-148, 2020.



From the practice:

Over decades leadership theories have predominantly preached one rule above all: to exert one´s job with passion makes one more successful than others. Or to put it even simpler: what you like to do, you do better.

Having this in mind the new study seems to be an important critique which was long overdue. This is why I sometimes have asked myself whether the often cult-like mantra of some of the big corporations – „Everybody here has to have fun at work“ – is nothing less than a hidden strategy to exploit personell easier and better.

Don´t focus on the big ones alone, though: this new sort of taking advantage of people pops up in various fields and levels, you may observe this with start ups, in arts and with us self-employed guys in particular.

So it is important for those of us who give work and hand out tasks to reflect regularly if we rip off people who are known for loving their job. And in the same way it is important for those of us, who go to work with joy and engagement and who have difficulties in marking off themselves to ask from the very beginning for an adequate compensation and to negotiate for a fair workload.

Please don´t get me wrong: I love my job and I recommend to all clients, to search unconditionally the source of their passion. But I am strictly against too much job – since life is offering so incredibly many more terrific options.


All kind of gestures support comprehension for all of us

Producing gestures creates better effects than just observing them




There are not first, second or third category gestures: all of them – regardless whether they emphasize, complement or help to structure your soundtrack – support comprehension of speech. And this without any exception and with all age groups. Previously noted differences between children and adults when it comes to the reception of gestures in general have now proven to be irrelevant. These are the most important results of a recently published meta-analysis from Sydney/Australia where 83 studies covering the impact of gestures between 1970 anmd 2018 have been examined.

There was only one significant deviance: if you yourself are producing gestures in order to describe a specific topic more easily, you learn and your comprehend even better what you are talking about than if you are just watching someone else´s gestures to the very same topic.

When our hands help us understand: A meta-analysis into the effects of gesture on comprehension. Dargue/Sweller/Jones. In: Psychological Bulletin. Aug. 2019 145 (8), 765-784.


From the practice:

Nothing new to me: gestures do always have a positive effect and those who keep saying too many gestures are confusing and should be avoided, are wrong. Gestures support not only the comprehension of statements, they do contribute also to the liveliness of any communication between people.

Gestures can promote authenticity, too. Extravert persons make bigger movements and more, introvert smaller and less, but trust your body: it will find its natural amount by itself. Conversely, you can appear totally artificial and annatural by making gestures which are apparently rehearsed, as well.

This is why I am extremely reluctant with concrete recommendations where and which specific gestures to make – apart from three exceptions: how you hold you hands while standing (always above the belt line), while sitting (put your hands always casually onto the table) or when 3-dimensional objects are to be shown by hands.



“Thanks” increases commitment in insecure relationships

Longterm binding intensified by expressions of gratitude





Bond shy people who are anxious about emotional closeness or even avoid this at all perceive the „Thank you“ oft he beloved partner positively: such an expression of gratitude not only strengthens satisfaction and commitment within the relationship, in the long run binding problems might be generally attenuated. These are the outcomes of a five-part study, conducted by the University of Toronto in the lead. Interesting: the frequency of expressing gratitude is within an insecure relationships more effectively than the degree. To perceive gratitude enhances the partner´s feeling to be cared and that someone is responsive to one´s needs without triggering their fear of being pressed to much. Hence, „Thank you“ is beating any kind of sacrifice, offer for support or physical affection, when you want to make emotional closeness per se tasty.

As a follow up the scientists are planning to examine which form of gratitude expression ends up with the best results regarding commitment in romantic relationships.

Saying „Thank you“: Partners´ expressions of gratitude protect relationship satisfaction and commitment from the harmful effects of attachment insecurity, Park/Impett/MacDonald/Lemay, In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology“, advance online publication, 2019.



From the practice:

Saying thank you pays off. Not only in private, but of course also professionally. I do mean here not the sort of gratitude which is regulated by compliance rules and anti-corruption laws, but these little nice gestures of appreciation which cost nothing except a call or a textmessage – by email or what´s app or Imessenger.

Direct, personal and nonexchangeable expressions of gratitude do come better across than general set phrases. And don´t underestimate the impact of saying thank you in front of others: i.e. when you are emailing to a bigger group and there is an opportunity to thank one of the receivers explicitly within this conversation, do it!

To thank someone is a signal for resonance, though: to confirm that you have got message. How many of us skip this type of thank you because they don´t consider it necessary! You simply miss the chance to convey security and politeness.

Does saying thank you differ depending on payed or non-payed engagements? For me yes, but only when it comes to intensity and length – not in general.

Women try to win over with details, men with the Big Picture

Communication differences depend on group size and when it counts






Women and men communicate on different abstraction levels: Men tend to talk about the big picture and use explanations pretty often, whereas women score higher by focussing on details and concrete steps to be taken. If the audience is small and psychologically close the gender gap is widening. These are the results of six studies at the USC (University of South Carolina) which are interpreted by the scientists like this: Girls prefer to move around with one or two girl friends looking for emotional closeness which helps them to learns early to avoid too general talk and to show care by accurate communiation. For boys on the contrary due to sports teamsize and competition as such are still more common during their upbringing – therefore their talk is more general and they are less inhibited to present themselves in a positive way.

These differences in the communication approach are additionally getting significant when you want to look good: Women then focus on details and specialist knowlegde, men with context and goals.

„Gender Differences in Communicative Abstraction“, Joshi/Wakslak/Appel/Huang, in: Journal of Personalitiy and Social Psychology“, Oct. 2019, Advance online publication.






From the practice:

Have we finally found the reason why women on average tend to promote themselves much less convincingly then men? Because they in their communication approach bet on the wrong horse?

Perhaps. I am a little bit sceptical, though since I have observed this approach – pushing details instead of context – also with men. It is not the gender according to my expertise, but self confidence which is responsible whether you dare to talk about the big picture where you can fail and where you might be not the expert for. Another reason for this communication style might lie in the bias to facts and figures only of specific professions like legal, financial oder scientific experts. These people continously entrap themselves in details although context is demanded because they feel safe in the first and uneasy in the latter one.

My experience has made it very clear: it not an either or, it is a both and! You do need content and details if you want to communicate successfully with employees, business partners or voters.





Discussions: Not losing is more important than fighting

Chance of Success predicts defense strategies








Regardless how laborious argueing might be: discussants take the offensive and defend their standpoints attacked when chances of success are big. If this not

then most of them refrain entirely from convincing anyone at the panel and are simply satisfied not to lose. The most popular defense strategies: to dodge to the hostile argument or to qualify one´s own standpoint („This is an exception to the rule“, „Finally that´s not so important“ ) and make it irrefutable („This is a matter of taste“).

These are the results of a study from Yale recently published online. Based on that the scientists conclude, professional argueing can be anticipated pretty well.

Counter-Argument Self-Efficacy Predicts Choice of Belief-Defense Strategies. Goldberg/Carmichael/Hardin, In. European Journal of Social Psychology., 2019.



From the practice:

The study is fine, but the key question must be: what do you have to take into account and how do you have to prepare in oder to take the offensive successfully?

  1. You should be highly motivated, otherwise your engagement will suffer. 2. You should know in advance with which facts and examples you want to defend your standpoint. Describe consternation and relevance. 3. You should anticipate the potential reactions of your interlocutors or co-discussants and ideally tackle them proactively. Don´t let anyone escape with flat arguments when it really is at stake. The audience in the livingrooms, in the event halls or at the pubs will notice that and won´t like it.

Conversely you know from now on: Who tries to qualify your standpoint or wants to make it irrefutable, feels inferior and has come to his/her end.



Moral obstinacy makes compromising difficult

Liberals in political negotiations more generous than Conservatives





If morality is key political negotiations tend to be more aggressive and less open for compromise – regardless if the negotiators represent extreme positions or belong to the moderates. And it is worth to state that morality does not bear any ideological mark: neither the left nor the right political spectrum have taken a lease on moral alone. Liberal voters are apparently more generous in their offers to negotiate than conservatives, though. These are the results of three consecutive US-studies where insights of behavioral economics and moral psychology are combined for the first time. The researchers do point out explicitly that according to these findings high morale paradoxically might impede a core principle of representative democracies – the negotiation of opposing political claims.

Moral obstinacy in Political Negotiations, Delton/DeScioli/Ryan, In: Political Psychology, July 28th, 2019.




From the practice:

Pragmatism versus morality? Ist his the game? No. I do believe, everybody needs both. If people with high moral standards and strong ethical claims actually forgo all compromises possible and obstinately keep maintaining their ground, they would be isolated very quickly and would not be closer to their aims in any way. The Brexit chaos can be mentioned as a very realistic example here.

In my coachings with clients from the political area we elaborate on the highly individualized boundaryline between compromise and self-denial. Frankly speaking, this is not always an easy task, and in my opinion there is never a general solution for all. But I´ve got one key learning out of these types of cooperation: If you have to compromise please communicate your deal transparently and tell why it was your preferred choice. This is in any case more credible than hushing up the background and to pretend there have never been ethical values of yours ever since.

Mindfulness as important antecedent of Authentic Leadership identified

Being self-aware means better listening and higher effectiveness






Good news for all who are not natural born leaders: training your mindfulness consequently, makes your doing as a superior easier. Leaders who learn to observe and evaluate in the here and now their emotions, thoughts and deeds unbiased, tend to be mindful also in dealing with their teams and peers. Hence, being self-aware makes better listening possible, enables open discussions or processing and ensures congruency between values, talk and walk. Leaders are in this way perceived as more authentic and more credible which increases in turn team satisfaction and team performance over time. These are the results of two new consecutive studies, carried out in the Netherlands and Germany, where factors which lead to or facilitate Authentic leadership were examined.

The researchers furthermore recommend all organisations to integrate mindfulness as a main criteria for Leadership into their respective recruiting procedures. Not only because it is of so much value for so-called Positive Leadership, but also because it can be trained in a time- and cost-efficient way to everyone.

Be(com)ing Real: a Multi-source and an Intervention Study on Mindfulness and Authentic Leadership, Nübold/Van Quaquebeke/Hülsheger. In: Journal of Business and Psychology, pp. 1-20, 2019.




For the practice:

I do confirm: mindfulness leads almost directly to authenticity. Unless I know myself very well and reflect on a regular basis I will not be able to shape and influence my life – privately and in my job – matching with my personality. Wow! Not always an easy task, but in the end perfect for me, one could state. What makes mindfulness an even better aspect, though, is that it opens a new door towards people, too. Who does not like to be listened to and understood in a mindful way?! Who does not like have a boss who acts according to his/her words and announcements? Who does not like to support leaders who remember what they have heard from and talked to their employees, treating people regardless of their rank in the organizational hierarchy with respect and interest.












Report from Lissabon

500 Scientists at the 42nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the ISPP





„Empowering Citizens in Illiberal Times: The Political Psychology of Oppression and Resistance“ – with this motto this year´s conference of the International Society of Political Psychology, a discipline still not known in Austria, has taken place in Portugal´s capital from July 12th-15th. And here are the most interesting results from the studies, surveys and experiments presented:
• Lying Politicians do so mostly in their second term and as members of bigger parties.
• Groups who believe they do not get the appreciation they deserve („collective narcissism“) show vis-a-vis strangers significantly more aggression. In case they feel needed and think that the greater idea needs them to succeed, though, they can turn from haters to supporters, i.e. with the EU.
• Austrians wish their ideal politicians to be more emotionally stable, more extravert, more disagreeable and to a certain extent more open and more conscientious than they themselves on average.
• The attitude to be second class citizens is in Eastern Germany the prevailing motive for Right-wing populism and Right-wing extremism. The middle class and this particularly in smaller towns are hotbeds for radical political thought.
• Partisans do apologize moral misdemeanor of their „own“ politicians much more easily than in general. If there are charges of sexual misconduct conservatives are more frequently support the perpetrators, not the victims.

Conspiracy theories fostered most by extreme right-wingers

Checking facts and experiences is a good, contempt a weak counter-strategy






High season for conspiracy theories. This given the results of a metastudy, where siecntis from Kent, Oxfod and Miami have evaluated the previous conspiracy literature, are notably relevant:

  1. People foster conspiracy theories a) if the ydo not comprehend what has happened or is going on, b) feel weak and threatened and c) if they believe that the greatness of their group is not acknowledged enough by the outside world.
  2. Who has got or uses prejudices often, makes oneself predisposed to conspirative ideas of any kind.
  3. The web plays a smaller role than expected: conspiracy theoretists are predominantly read by conspiracy theoretists which keeps their content largely within their own bubble. There it might have a boost effect, though, expanding the gaps towards the socalled „others“.
  4. Most supporters of conspircay theories can be identified among the political extremes, left and right alike, still right-wingers are even more predisposed – typically conspiracy theorists are men with low education, low income or even jobless who are not connected with any networks.
  5. What helps not becoming immune to cpnspiracy theories: a) to have a good selfcontrol of one´s feelings, b) to fundamentally doubt all to simple solutions for complex cases and c) to be capable to detect non-serious posts in the Social Media.

Understanding Conspiracy Theories, Douglas/Uscinski/Sutton/Cichoka/Nefes/Ang/Deravi, in: Advances in Political Psychology, vol. 40, nr. S1, Feb.2019, p. 3 – 35.



From the practice:


Can do conspiracy theories anything good? Basically yes, since they could motivate to more openness in case of actual intransparency. In general, though, they do more harm than good according to the researchers, and should be always questioned and dissolved asap.

Sometimes my clients calculate to be confronted with conspiracy theories in the public – on TV or at panels. In these cases I continuously recommend to check first the facts and to ask for examples. The more precise, clear and logical the responses will be the easier conspiracy theories can either be revealed as pure phantasies or offer insight in circumstances which have not been public to this date. It also pays off to clarify personal experencies of people who again and again get back to conspiracy theories. In the end these theories are to be rejected almost always due to their lack of substance, but if we do so, we have to be careful not showing contempt – with our words and body language. People with small Egos – and therefore this counts for conspiracy theorists, too – need respect more than anything else. Otherwise their belief to be helpless against the powerfuls even increases. And so does also their rage.

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