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Be nice: it pays

January 15, 2010

I have a tendency to be very demanding with my personal relations, maybe, because I’m very exacting on myself. Or maybe, it’s because I like to live on the edge, and after a while, this life style takes its toll by making me grumpy.

Not long ago, I realized that showing my love to my wife had the (unexpected) consequence of having her love me back a lot more.

So, it’s quite simple: give more to receive more in return.

Dr. Marcial Losada

Founder and executive director of Meta Learning

Interestingly enough, I recently ran into an eye-opening interview with Marcial Losada (In Spanish: part I and part II), where he explains his Meta Learning Model (same stuff, in English).

Marcial was initially interested in understanding how to improve the effectiveness of a group of people within an organization. Flourishing teams would be those that would show high performance across three indicators: profitability, customer satisfaction, and good evaluations by superiors, peers and customers.

Like a flower, a group or a couple, may flourish or languish!

It was discovered that 95% of what goes on is explained by the emotions involved, and only 5% by knowing the process. In other words, people may know what to do, but this has a minute weight in the effectiveness of a group, —it’s the positive affect involved in the interactions of a group that sustain its high performance.

Positive affect, or pleasant expressions (feeling grateful, upbeat, expressing appreciation, liking) predict well-being; whilst, unpleasant expressions (feeling contemptuous, irritable, disdain, disliking) predict an opposite outcome.

Other studies have shown that inducing positive affect carries multiple benefits:

  • Good feelings alter people’s mindsets, widening attention, broadening behavioral repertoires, increasing intuition and creativity.
  • Good feelings alter people’s bodily systems, improving cardiovascular aftereffects, alter frontal brain asymmetry and increases immune function.
  • Good feeling predict good mental and physical outcomes: (a) resilience to adversity, (b) increased happiness, (c) psychological growth, (d) lower levels of cortisol, (e) reduced inflammatory responses to stress, (f) reductions in subsequent-day physical pain, (g) resistance to rhino-viruses, and (h) reductions in stroke.
  • And, perhaps reflecting these effects in combination, good feelings predict how long people live. Several well-controlled longitudinal studies document a clear link between frequent positive affect and longevity.

To make a long story short:
(for the long version check the Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing study)

Observe a group’s behavior, counting positive (P) and negative (N) acts, as mentioned earlier, and use the following formula to determine the connectivity (c), or the strong lasting social connections between the members of the group, which determines the long term effectiveness of a group.

c = 15 + 2.67 P/N

c = 18 represents a low performance,
c = 22 a medium performance, and
c = 32 represents a high performance team.

Due to some Lorenz systems behavior, from where this formula is derived, there is an important breakpoint, which delimits the performance of a group: it will be pulled (permanently) either to the flourishing or languishing attractor.

This value is found for c = 22.74 or P/N = 2.9.

And this sums it up: we must get 3 positives, or better, for every negative in the interactions, in order to flourish. If not, languishing and low performance is a given.

Long lasting relations is the secret —and it might improve your news writing too…

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