March 20, 2012
There is a remarkable video of a talk that has recently been posted on the web by TED.com. It’s about how introverts work and it is remarkable not just because this simple, 20 minute talk has notched up an incredible 1,270,000 views, despite only being posted a couple of weeks ago, but also because it is confidently delivered, against all her inclinations, by an avowed introvert.
As Susan Cain explains in her talk, public speaking is not a natural territory for introverts. Very rarely will you see a conference stage or a boardroom paced by an introvert as they espouse their views on the matter in hand. The people you see doing this are much more likely to be extroverts, who are significantly more comfortable than introverts with sharing the contents of their minds and hearts and far more inclined to engage in debate and discussion with others who agree or disagree.
Introverts, and that’s at least a considerable minority of the population (although estimations vary, with some arguing that it could include anything up to 50% of the population), just don’t tend to put themselves in these types of situations. Reluctant to offer snap responses and preferring reflection and individual decision making to any common workplace practice such as arguing a case, negotiating an outcome or riding the wave of a discussion, introverts’ favourite spaces are far from the battlefields of meetings, public speaking or vigorous debate.
More importantly, they just don’t do their best thinking there. They struggle and usually fail to achieve their true potential in these environments, in stark opposition to extraverts who rely on external inputs and communication to stimulate their creativity, develop their ideas and help form their opinions.
So what then is introverted Susan Cain doing on stage commanding both a live and a huge global online audience?
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October 27, 2011
Fascinating research on the link between personality and a sweet tooth has been making the news recently.
A team of psychologists from the US have carried out a set of experiments which clearly suggest a link between a liking for sweet food and a “sweet nature”.
As compared to those who don’t like sweet things to eat, people who do like sweet things score more highly on the trait agreeableness which covers aspects of personality such as friendliness, warmth and cooperativeness. What is more, these people are more likely to offer help to others in need than those who prefer other tastes.
Apparently the link is also evident to others. When asked to evaluate someone’s personality, if we are told they like sweet foods then we are more likely to say that they are friendly, warm and cooperative than if we think they like savoury foods. The link between cooperation and sweet foods doesn’t stop there. In a further experiment, Dr Brian Meier and his colleagues investigated whether eating something sweet – regardless of preferences – actually influences how agreeable we feel. Amazingly, people who ate a piece of chocolate were more likely to help others and to see themselves as more friendly than people who ate something savoury.
So this is great news for chocoholics, who probably already knew to be suspicious of anyone who says they don’t like chocolate. And obviously, for those of us who can polish off a family pack of Maltesers/M&Ms/chocolate digestives in under 30 seconds, this is vindicating evidence at last that we are simply demonstrating and enhancing our innate loveliness…
Leaving this self-congratulation aside however, the research also highlights a fundamental human tendency to ascribe certain characteristics to people on the basis of other, apparently unrelated evidence. Here, the research reveals that there may be real links between the ascribed characteristics and the observed one, but there are many other intuitive links made in the course of our social interactions which are as yet untested, but which create influential and often self-fulfilling models of other people’s personality.
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June 24, 2011
Personality tests litter the internet.
A rare few are legitimate, well-researched and appropriately worded tests that can give a pretty accurate indication of an individual’s tendencies and preferences in theoretically sound areas.
Most are simply not worth the megabytes they take up – but, hey, if they are a fun diversion, or maybe start the process of informed self-discovery, then what’s not to like?
One online personality test however, based around respected and established research, is available free of charge to the largest social networking site in the world and is currently being used to collect information from any of its 687 million users who complete it and sign the disclaimer allowing it to be used.
“myPersonality” is in fact a number of personality questionnaires developed for Facebook by graduate psychology researchers David Stillwell and Michal Kosinski. At their last count, there are currently over a million monthly users of the questionnaire and a significant proportion allow the researchers access to their anonymised data.
In academic terms this is a goldmine – albeit one of a self-selected sample of Facebook users who choose to complete the questionnaire – and Stillwell and Kosinski go to great lengths to make both the data and the platform available to other researchers. We can expect some fascinating research findings to emerge very soon.
However, Facebook users are customers. They are targeted by advertisers constantly and they already give away much invaluable personal information that help advertisers target their audiences and send selective messages to those people most likely to buy. Will big business be able to use the data on someone’s personality to sell to them better?
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April 28, 2011
What? You mean you haven’t heard anything about it?
Well, no. Like most people, you probably haven’t heard much discussion about it because it’s one of those psychobabble terms that doesn’t easily trip off the tongue and so it gets very little air-time outside of academia.
But it’s something that we probably all have some awareness of, and with a bit more understanding we may well be able to give a good account of how much we tend towards it ourselves. More than this, research to date indicates that it might be one of the unseen and unmeasured features that means one group of people can perform better than another, when on paper everything else is equal.
What Exactly is Positive Affectivity?
Positive affectivity is the personality trait that predisposes someone to generally feel positive, optimistic and to pick themselves up quickly after disappointment or setbacks. It is the tendency towards feeling happy about situations and outcomes and to express positive responses to adverse situations.
However, it’s more than just being in a good mood because it’s an enduring and measurable variable of behaviour. Some people are more like this than others and this difference follows them across all sorts of situations.
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March 4, 2011
No1 in the series on aspects of Customer Service Personality
Of all the facets of personality that are fundamental to outstanding customer service delivery, Customer Service Orientation is arguably the most elemental. By that I mean, even if an employee has every other quality in abundance, if they yet lack Customer Service Orientation, they may struggle to deliver excellent customer service.
For example, a customer service representative could be highly resilient, have a strong drive to achieve and possess a good degree of interpersonal understanding, but if they do not also have a real commitment to customer service and a motivation to please the customer, when more challenging customer interactions occur, they may find that they cannot effectively tune into or deliver what customers seem to want.
Not only that, but it tends to be very clear to customers when a customer service representative is particularly high or low on Customer Service Orientation. It determines both effort and time given to listening and trying to help the customer and so tends to be a primary feature of the customer service interaction for customers. Because of this, it is likely to be one of the most significant contributors to how the customer feels about their contact with the organisation and has the potential to shape their overall evaluation of the organisation.
What Exactly is Customer Service Orientation?
Customer Service Orientation, or by some of its other names, Service Orientation, Customer Focus, Customer Excellence etc, is the psychological manifestation of the belief that customers and their perspectives are of the highest value and consequence in an organisation.
Any description of Customer Service Orientation would therefore draw on values, feelings, attitudes and preferred patterns of responsive and proactive behaviour that predispose an individual to the delivery of outstanding customer service.
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February 7, 2011
It is clear that organisational culture, training and management practices and systems contribute greatly to the quality of an organisation’s customer service.
Unfortunately however, over time, even the most motivated, resilient and helpful people can lose the will to deliver excellent service if an organisation fails to champion, encourage and reward employees who prioritise customer satisfaction.
Likewise, no amount of direction, support, incentivisation or motivational speeches will lead to excellent service provision, if the jobs are filled with people who don’t have the natural inclination or the personality to make customers happy.
People can learn the right way to do things and can be empowered to make decisions that will meet each customer’s needs. But having an instinctive feeling for what will help, a knack for tuning into the needs and perspectives of all kinds of customer and a drive to keep working out solutions are most likely to be instinctive and enduring traits that can take years to develop, if at all.
The characteristics that makes one customer service provider outshine another are almost always related to their personality, values and attitudes and it means that some people are naturally better suited to customer service roles.
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