August Brainstorm

Aug 03 2002 by Jurgen Wolff Print This Article

Research on how to influence people revealed that when you give a reason for your request, the rate of compliance goes up significantly. This is true even when the reason is obvious or not especially compelling. In one study, when someone asked to move up in a queue at a photocopy place by saying, "Excuse me, I have five pages to copy, may I use the Xerox machine?" they were granted permission by 60 percent of the people they asked. When they added the simple reason, "because I am in a rush," 94 percent of the people said yes!

TIP: The next time you want someone to do something for you, add a “because” statement even if you think the reason is obvious or weak, and notice the difference.

A study at the University of Tennessee suggests that grudge-holders have higher blood pressure and that releasing such feelings may improve general health. Psychology professor Katherine Lawler told Psychology Today magazine that three steps can lead to forgiveness:

First, face the pain of betrayal and allow yourself to experience the associated emotions rather than suppressing them. Second, put yourself in the shoes of the wrong-doer to understand why he or she may have acted the way they did. Third, choose to forgive. Understand that this does not mean you approve of what the person did, nor that you will necessarily have further contact with them, only that you are ready to let go of the offense and move on.

TIP: Consider whether you are holding on to any negative feelings about an incident or person in the past. If so, try the three steps above, and notice whether you feel lighter and more energetic when you have let go of these feelings.

Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler magazine, says, "The best-kept secret of business is that great leaders are nearly always extremely lazy, as well as being capable of bouts of intense work. This is not just a weird coincidence. It is because laziness means time to think; and thinking time leads to good ideas, and good ideas, rather than unthinking toil, give the edge in the business world today."

TIP: If there is no lazy time in your schedule, book some. Use it to take a walk or a swim, or just to sit at a café watching the passing parade (but have a pad and pen handy to capture ideas that come up during these times).

4. IMPROVE YOUR AQ You have heard of IQ, your intelligence quotient, and probably EQ, your emotional quotient, but consultant Paul Stoltz believes that it is your AQ, or adversity quotient, that really determines your success.

His research suggests that as life becomes more complex we encounter more adverse events every day, and the ability to handle them creatively is essential. People who feel most in control of their lives have the highest AQs and are most successful. You can raise your AQ by doing the following:

  1. Recognise the scope and duration of the problem (in other words, realise that this, too, shall pass).
  2. Immediately look for solutions rather than trying to pin blame.
  3. Focus on how you have solved similar problems in the past and how the skills and knowledge you used then might help in this situation.
  4. Determine who could help you deal with the problem and ask for their help. 
  5. Break the problem down into manageable chunks and address them one by one.

TIP: The next time you encounter any adverse event (this could be as small as a negative comment from a colleague or a minor financial setback), notice how you respond. If your response is not as constructive as you would like it to be, try the five steps above and notice how that changes your behaviour and feelings.

A “ringer” is a fake among the real--for example, a professional gambler who pretends to be an amateur. You can use the Ringer Technique to try out your creative ideas. If you tell friends or colleagues an idea, their relationship to you may well colour their reactions. Instead, bury the “ringer” among a batch of other ideas and then ask them to pick the best one.

For example, if you have an idea for a novel, write a brief summary of the story (like the summaries found on the back of a book). Copy the summaries of four or five real books and put yours among them (for best results, do not use books that are so well known that their summaries will give them away). Then ask your friend or colleague to rank them in terms of how interesting they sound, or on any other criteria you think apply.

TIP: You can use this technique to test all kinds of new ideas. Don’t tell your friends or colleagues that there is a ringer among the real, or they will focus on trying to find it.

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." - Mark Twain

Til next time, Jurgen

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About The Author

Jurgen Wolff
Jurgen Wolff

Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. His goal is to help individuals liberate their own creativity through specific techniques that can be used at work as well as at home. His recent books include "Focus: the power of targeted thinking," a W. H. Smith best-seller, and "Your Writing Coach".

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