Fascinating business and psychology books for you to read

best business psychology books 2016

Here are a few business and psychology books to watch out for and read this year.


The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It … Every Time – by Maria Konnikova

Think you can spot a con a mile away?

Think again. You can be conned, just like anyone else. Cheats may be a dime a dozen and easy for most people to spot, but the Bernie Madoff’s of the world are much harder to recognize.

What makes them successful at it? How do they pull it off?

From schemes totaling millions of dollars to small scale fraud, Konnikova details the things all of them have in common.


Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business – by Charles Duhigg

Ever wonder why some people get so much more done?

Now you can understand and learn to apply the same principles to your own life.

This book draws from behavioral economics, neuroscience, psychology, and the experiences of CEOs, four-star generals, educational reformers, airplane pilots, FBI agents, and Broadway songwriters to show the difference between the busy and the genuinely productive.


Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World – by Adam Grant

Grant explores how to buck the trend and create new policies, ideas, and practices without risking everything.

How to speak up and not be silenced; how to build allies and choose the time to act; how to battle self-doubt and fear; how leaders can build a culture which welcomes dissenting opinions; and how to help your children to find their originality.


The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why it Matters – by Daniel M. Wegner & Kurt Gray

We know humans can think and feel, but what about animals? A computer? A corporation?

Minds are a matter of perception, according to the authors, which opens a whole treasure trove of new insights into fascinating human behaviors.

For example, why do we eat some animals and not others? And, how can cruelty come from otherwise good people?


On Being Human: Why Mind Matters – by Jerome Kagan

What do you know and why do you know it?

That’s the question from psychologist Jerome Kagan.

He deals with kinds of knowing, the meaning of words, the influences of social class, education, morality, and emotion, along with other complex issues of the human condition.


What Works: Gender Equality by Design – by Iris Bohnet

Unconscious bias can hold us back, and de-biasing people’s minds is a difficult and expensive task.

Diversity training is limited in its success, but by de-biasing organizations, rather than individual people, we can improve people’s lives and productivity.


Does Your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy – by James R. Flynn

Nature vs. Nurture is at the heart of this book.

It’s probably not much of a surprise that family environment can either be an advantage or disadvantage to intelligence levels.

But why? What about the concept of autonomy? How does that influence intelligence? Genetics and family aside, can we choose to develop our cognitive performance?


If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? – By Raj Raghunathan

If intelligence is supposed to help with making decisions, smart people should be better equipped to make good life choices.

So, why doesn’t that necessarily lead to happiness?

Raghunathan tries to answer that question.


Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions – by Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths

Ever wonder if computer algorithms could be applied to daily life?

Well, according to Christian and Griffiths, they can.

And they can help with questions like when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices, and much more.


Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise – by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool

Do you think innate talent is needed to excel?

Most people would say so, but almost all humans have the seeds within to do so.

It’s a matter of reducing the process down to attainable goals and practices.

Peak offers advice on setting goals, identifying patterns, and motivating oneself and others.


The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence – by Dacher Keltner

Power is said to corrupt, but how does it change our behavior?

How is it that we so often lose our power, which was so hard-won?

Power which endures comes from empathy and giving. Power is given, which is often forgotten.

By misunderstanding where power comes from, we set ourselves up to lose power. We can only retain it by understanding it.


Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Why do some succeed and some fail?

Grit, that special blend of perseverance and passion, is what makes the difference between success and failure, rather than genius.

But, most importantly, grit can be learned.


Idiot Brain: What Your Head is Really Up To – by Dean Burnett

What if I told you conspiracy theories are the result of a healthy brain?

Did you know memory is egotistical?

Brains are the seat of consciousness, but they are downright disorganized and fallible.

Humans have made many mistakes trying to understand the brain, but there is much to explore and celebrate.


Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior – by Jonah Berger

There are many subtle influences that affect the decisions we make, and the process by which we make them.

Everything from what we buy and what we eat, to which careers we choose are influenced by things we may not even recognize.

We are highly influenced by other peoples’ behavior, both in conforming to and diverging from that behavior.

When we understand social influence, we can know when to embrace it and when to resist it.

Fixing common challenges with cross cultural commnication

cross cultural communication problems

Working in settings where diversity is prominent, is a great experience to have.

You have a chance to experience new perspectives and insights.

However, to be able to roll in these riches, open communication is a necessity.  Colleagues must be willing to share, for sharing to occur.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen that easily.

Here are a few situations where challenges can arise during cross-cultural exchanges in the workplace, along with ways to overcome them, suggested by Ginka Toegel (Professor or Organisational Behaviour at IMD Lausanne) and Jean-Louis Barsoux (Senior research fellow at IMD).


Getting Ideas

Interaction and participation in the workplace is different for every culture.

Employees from more individualistic and egalitarian countries like the U.S.A, are more open to expressing their ideas, whereas people from hierarchical cultures, like Japan, wait for senior coworkers to voice their opinions. People from other cultures may be wary when it comes to revealing their thoughts because they worry about looking shallow or silly.

Patterns of communication can also prove to be an obstacle.  While some cultures prefer more methodical patterns, others are more comfortable with interruptions and overlapping conversations.

To fix this problem, you can better guarantee everyone’s contribution by having clear communication conventions.  Here are some interesting strategies to facilitate interaction:

  • Go around the table at least once, so that everyone has a chance to voice their opinions.
  • Ask open-ended questions, without providing your own thoughts first, so as not to influence responses beforehand.
  • Adopt a “four-sentence rule” to limit talkative members, giving everyone time to jump in respectfully.

Surfacing Disagreement

Differences during disagreements can be one of the biggest roadblocks in cross-cultural communication.

People from cultures that place importance on public image try to avoid confrontation for fear of social discord. Other cultures believe that having an open argument is a sign of trust.

Furthermore, different cultures contrast in how much emotion they show and expect from others during a debate.  Body language is also different in different areas of the world, so miscommunication can happen.

To remedy the possibility of unhealthy disagreements, here are a few methods to encourage healthy debate:

  • Designate someone to play devil’s advocate to consider and prompt discussion of the trials and tribulations linked to different perspectives. This methodology can show people that debates can be healthy, which can bridge the gap between cultures.
  • Go around and ask each person for a pro and con on a particular matter, so that everyone gets to argue both sides and learn that different perceptions do exist.

Providing Feedback

Constructive criticism is an important part of teamwork. It can help understanding and alignment in areas such as communication style, behavior and punctuality.  However, that can be a tricky minefield to navigate.

Different cultures see criticism and feedback in different ways.

The U.S. and similar countries see it as an opportunity for personal growth, but people from relationship-oriented, collectivist countries may not be used to voicing their critiques in public – preferring to share in private, informal settings instead.

Hierarchical cultures may not believe that it is their job to offer advice to team members, and prefer to leave that task to superiors/leaders.

Language used to give criticism varies as well.

Here are a few ways to bridge the gap when it comes to feedback:

  • Teach people to soften negative feedback by framing it in a positive manner and/or to provide it to the whole team instead of singling anyone out.
  • Lead by example and model any techniques you would like your team to use.

What makes one team more successful than another?

what makes a team successful

A team is not limited to a group of athletes.

Teams are created to do all sorts of everyday tasks, in almost every career field.

A team of chefs or cooks may be assembled to operate a restaurant. A corporation may assemble a team of executives to handle a major project. Or a team of volunteers may work together to organize a charity event.

Regardless of the goal being aimed for, the success of a team cannot happen just by getting smart individuals together. You need to build a smart team, in order to be more successful the the average team out there.

So what makes one team smarter and more successful? Anita Williams Woolley, from Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers. Read on, to find out.


Communication is a huge ingredient in any team. Smooth operations happen with clear and distributed communication.

Each member of the team needs to have a role and be involved, as far as communicating is concerned. Studies show that a team is much less effective, when team conversations/communications are dominated by one or two members.

There is nothing wrong with having a leader or dominant people in a team. However, a people need to recognize when they need to be listening to other members. Everyone needs to be involved and giving their full attention, as well as making a contribution vocally.

This applies to both physical and virtual communication.


Although a team leader may be necessary, studies have shown that a team accomplishes more without having one or two stand out superstars. Collective intelligence always produces more than individual intelligence.

A single person trying to accomplish more than their share or stepping out of their role can produce a negative effect throughout the rest of the team. When everyone is involved and the team is working together, they are more likely to accomplish more with less time and effort.


Gender diversity is important. Teams that have at least 50% women perform better.

One reason for this, is that women have more social perceptiveness.


Hundreds of teams that were tested, demonstrated more intelligence as a group when the team was more socially perceptive.

These teams show the ability to pick up on non-verbal communicating such as facial expressions and body posture.

The teams that are able to read each other’s minds through their eyes, demonstrated more collective intelligence and accomplished more.


It is also needed to note that as a whole, the collective intelligence of any given team is always driven by its lowest scoring member.

While a single person cannot make an entire team by themselves, any individual does have the ability of slowing a team down.

So individuals who may drag the team down, such as overly negative or dominant people, should be avoided. If such people must be included in the team, then they should be actively managed.


Watch this video for more insights on the topic:

Bad Days At Work: What Squashes Happiness at the Office?

happiness at work asia

WooHoo Inc. released some interesting findings in a survey it conducted involving 700 people from around the globe.

The survey was about bad days at work, how common they are, and what qualifies them as “bad days.”

Some might argue that a bad work day has nothing to do with the actual job itself. And, that’s probably true sometimes.

The survey specifically asked, “The last time you had a bad day at work, was it bad because of the factors at work or the factors outside of work?”

Seventy-four percent of respondents said it was factors at work.


So, here’s the ultimate question. What about our work makes us unhappy? According to the survey, these are the top five ways to kill happiness:

  1. Horrible bosses (lack of support and communication).
  2. Negative relationships with coworkers (complaining and bullying).
  3. A lack of direction (uncertainty about vision and strategy).
  4. No praise for work (lack of recognition).
  5. A huge workload (stressed and busy).

The lowest ranking factors for bad days at work, were lack of perks and also bad physical work environments. This fact confirms that workers are more interested in meaningful work than, for example, doing nothing all day or goofing off.

Something that should also be taken into consideration is that pay didn’t make the list. Is there a relationship between pay and happiness?

A study done that involved more than 200K employees suggested that a 10 percent increase in pay is only associated with a 1-point increase in satisfaction.


So, are you wondering how to not kill happiness at work?

According to a research study from Professor Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School, it actually comes down to everyday things that managers and leaders do and say.

Amabile studied the diaries of 238 professionals in 26 project teams from seven different companies, in order to learn about their personal work lives.

Overall, she found that people are enriched by a fulfilling daily work life and are powerfully influenced by particular daily events.

Her study found that the top five leader behaviors that have a positive influence on people’s feelings are:

  1. Emotional support.
  2. Positive feedback.
  3. Public recognition for good performance.
  4. Active listening and respect for individual opinions.
  5. Collaborating on work.

Results from Globoforce’s new WorkHuman Research Institute support the Harvard Business School results – especially the emotional support when it comes to employee happiness.

Workers who know that their company/leader cares about them as a person are 17 percent more likely to be happy at work and are nine percent more likely to be happy at home.

This survey shows that appealing to workers’ humanity and also trying to build a more positive work environment can provide rewards when it comes to employee happiness.


All of these studies confirm one thing, and that one thing should really be obvious to most people today — a miserable work environment can put a serious drain on time, money, and resources.

Companies and managers who want to stand out and make their employees happy should focus on the leader behaviors that are outlined above, if they want to experience the benefits of a happier workforce.

Making employees happy isn’t a hard task. It doesn’t take much time, it just takes some thought and dedication. Having a happy, positive work environment will be healthier for both leaders and employees, so why not make it a priority?

Calling All Extroverts & Introverts – Increase your career success & well-being

extroverts vs introverts job singapore

Are you an extrovert or an introvert?

To find out, or confirm what you already know, take a look at these infographics.

They also provide great insights on:


INSIGHTS FOR EXTROVERTS



extroverts career success happy singapore


INSIGHTS FOR INTROVERTS


introverts career success happy singapore

 

Body language – Fake it till you feel it

benefits of body language singapore

Body language expresses much more about you than the words that are coming out of your mouth.

Research shows that as much as sixty to ninety percent of our communication is nonverbal.

Are you aware that using positive body language can improve your confidence and mood, as well as make you seem more credible and trustworthy to others?

It’s true.

benefits of body language singapore

So, what exactly is positive body language?

Positive body language is defined as nonverbal movements and gestures that communicate interest and a positive reaction to what someone else is saying.

This includes posture, eye contact, space, and what you do with your arms and hands.

How does practicing positive body language improve your attitude? 

It affects your hormones.

Testosterone

Using positive body language is a natural way to boost your body’s testosterone levels.

Higher testosterone levels have been shown to boost confidence and help others to perceive you as more positive and honest.

Increases of twenty percent have been reported due to the use of positive body language.

Cortisol

This is a hormone in your body that is created by stress.

High cortisol levels can hurt your mental performance during stressful situations.

Decreasing cortisol levels, therefore, improves mental performance when the pressure is on.

The use of positive body language has been shown to decrease the cortisol levels in the body by up to twenty-five percent.

The Combination

Lower cortisol levels coupled with higher testosterone levels is a match made in heaven.

People with high testosterone and low cortisol levels have been shown to thrive in pressure situations, and often achieve positions of power.

Using positive body language is an effective way for you to increase your personal performance levels.

Perceptions

Your body language can signal to others almost immediately what kind of person you are.

Using positive cues can make you more likable, seem more competent, and even give you the upper hand in negotiations.

On the other hand, negative body language can make you seem standoffish, arrogant, and unwilling to listen, which tends to spoil the mood of all those around you (and your mood as well).

Wrap up and further reading

Traditionally, we have viewed body language as an outward display of how we feel inside.

While this can be true, this evidence shows that if we consciously act like in a positive way, our body releases hormones to make it a reality.

In other words – You can fake it, till you feel it.

To be more successful at work, in relationships, and at life in general, practice positive body language. Here are some tips to practice this.

You can also utilize the effects of body language by using a power pose when you communicate with others, to give off the vibe of being successful. People notice this, and will want to do more business with you.

It can also be extremely useful to deliver better job interviews and be better at pubic speaking & presentations.

How frenemies can help your career

friend enemy frenemy at work

Do you have a frenemy at work or otherwise?

If not, you should consider getting one.

Studies have shown that establishing this type of relationship with a coworker can be beneficial and may ultimately help you get ahead.

Keep reading to learn more about how this type of relationship is one worth developing.



What is a frenemy?

The term “frenemy” started popping up in casual conversations in the not too distant past.

Linguistically, the word is simply a combination of “friend” and “enemy.”

It refers to someone with whom you maintain a friendly relationship despite an underlying feeling of dislike or active rivalry.

Scientifically, it is known as an “ambivalent relationship.”

friend enemy frenemy at work


Social scientific study

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lehigh University combined to create a study of their students.

They conducted a study in which pairs of students were asked to communicate with each other via instant messages. Some of the students were told to ask questions to foster a frenemy-ship between two students.

The students were asked to evaluate their frenemies’ work (a blog post).

Frenemies did a better job editing the work of their partner and also felt more feelings of empathy toward them, than the partners who were simply friendly with each other did.


Why did the frenemies do better?

The researchers concluded that the underlying reason for the results can be found in the relationship between the frenemies.

Frenemies get under the skin of each other in a way that friends and enemies do not.

Generally, as you focus on how a frenemy is irritating to you, it also causes you to think about other aspects of the frenemy as well, such as their career, activities and how they tick.

There is also an underlying desire to compete against frenemies and ultimately do better than them.

Since you are constantly in competition mode with a frenemy, it will make you work harder so you can do better.


How can a frenemy make you better at work?

Although this study was performed on college students, the same conclusions can be applied to work colleagues and other people in your life.

When you develop a frenemy you can expect the following results:

  • A keener understanding of your frenemy.
  • An innate sense of competition with your frenemy.
  • A desire to work harder so you can perform better than your frenemy.

You can also have frenemies outside of work, who can help to motivate you and also provide great feedback on various career related issues.

This is especially useful when the person is well connected, smart and is doing well in their career.


Although it may not seem desirable to foster a relationship with someone you don’t particularly care for, it is actually a good idea.

If you have a relevant coworker or person you do not particularly like, instead of steering clear of the person, get close instead. Find out what makes this person tick, develop a frenemy-ship, and use the friction to your advantage.

Your work and career can benefit from it.

The Value of Friends at Work

benefits of friends at work

In a bustling world, where the tasks of one day run into the next and the next, work becomes a place to get the job done and leave.

Couple this with the extended hours that flood into evenings and weekends, and we all need to de-stress and blow off steam during the weekend.

That’s where our ‘non-work’ friends come into the picture. Keeping friendships outside of work permits us to take an often-needed mental break to rest from the office.

But what about having real/good friends at work?

Jobs represent productivity and often relationships do not fit this paradigm. Current research indicates that, as employees, we favor this productivity over the niceties of interaction.

There are several reasons for this preference:

So logically, it makes sense to keep work at the office and forge relationships beyond its walls.

However, valuable benefits are lost with this work-friend separation.


Value of Friends at Work

Studies conclude that 70 percent of employees report having friends at work as the most crucial element to a happy work life.

A good friend at work leads to a person being 1.2 times more likely to claim their job is an opportunity to do what they are best at every day.

These types of positive results speak boldly to forging friendships, even with shortened job tenures. Also, relationships can extend past working as colleagues and lead to a lifetime of connection.

Friendships via social media do not carry positive impact into the office. But, a friend having your back in the office promotes individual health in ways social media cannot reach.

Having a workplace friend, people perceive that their opinions are more highly considered, greater than 27 percent higher than those without friendships at work. These befriended individuals benefit from 137 percent more personal development support, 1.4 times more high-five praise in a week and 1.3 times more feedback about their progress in the last six months.

Experts studying workplace interactions often look at salaries, feedback, mentorship opportunities and a variety of other factors when determining what makes workers thrive.

The bottom line: Relationships trump meaningful work, leisure time and positive emotions, when it comes to achieving a thriving life. In fact, having friends who we see daily at work, increases our happiness as much as an extra $100,000 per year would.

Fifty-eight percent of men and 74 percent of women would turn down a higher paying opportunity if it included not getting along with coworkers.


Forging Relationships at Work

With all the data illustrating the value of friendships at work, how do you navigate the choppy waters?

After all, relationship building in the workplace proves challenging for adults and can make use feel exposed/vulnerable. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • According to Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, “Vulnerability is the key to emotional bonding, without which relationships tend to feel superficial and meaningless.” Use opportunities to rely on other people, and have them rely on you to achieve this. For example, relying on one another during projects and activities/games during corporate offsites, can help to foster bonding and friendships.
  • Share meaningful conversations and not just small talk. A number of research studies have shown that going beyond the comfort of small talk and engaging in a bit of self disclosure around non-workplace topics, can break down emotional and social barriers in as little as 45 minutes.
  • Avoid oversharing. Experts recommend avoiding topics relating to money, sexual history even romantic relationships (at first), illness or health concerns, and work performance reports and reviews. Also, start with simple lunches or commuting, before diving into longer outside-of-work engagements.
  • Relationship building fails if not viewed as a long-term process. Katherine Crowley, author of “Working for You Is Killing Me,” reminds us that a time investment over the long haul is the building block of relationships. Forcing or rushing the relationship dooms the process.
  • No gossip. Gossip creates a negative work environment and forms an unhealthy foundation for any relationship. “You may be finding rapport with some people, but you’re alienating everyone else,” says Jane Sunley, founder and CEO of the HR consultancy Purple Cubed.

Great Speeches to Provide a Shot of Career Inspiration

motivational and inspirational speeches talks

Inspirational and motivational speeches can be a great source for overcoming those little everyday struggles (and sometimes bigger ones as well).

Here is a selection of great speeches, which can provide some inspiration for your career.


“Empathy is Choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice.” says Brene Brown in his speech entitled “The Power of Vulnerability.”

To empathize with someone else, you have to open the doors of your feelings. This vulnerability gives you the power to look at yourself and go beyond your limitations.



In one of her speeches, J.K Rowling describes failure and imagination as the two essential ingredients for success.

Failure takes you a step closer to your true passion, while imagination gives you the empathy that makes you a better human being.



Steve Jobs describes the significance of the failure for success, in his most renowned speech at Stanford, where he shared how getting fired from Apple inspired his greatest innovations.

“Stay hungry, Stay foolish.” The signature quote was first cited in this speech.



Ellen DeGeneres takes you through the anecdotes of her struggles and says that that being true to yourself gives you the freedom from fear.

She says, “I know I’ll always be OK because, no matter what, I know who I am.”



In this scene with his son, in the movie The Pursuit of Happiness, Will Smith’s character shares the ultimate wisdom – to not undermine your dreams because of anybody, not even your father.

If ever you feel you cannot do something, remember his words, “If you want something, go get it. Period.”



Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, asks all career seekers to seek opportunities that create an impact rather than running after titles.

For a successful career, you need to care about your coworkers along with what you are working on.

She recommends that if you want to win hearts and minds, then you must work with your heart and mind.



Denzel Washington urges us to embrace failure instead of running away from it.

He challenges us to get used to our failures because everyone fails at something at some point. Failures prove that you are trying, and eventually they help you to lead towards your passion.

He reminds us, “Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”



Orlando Scampington, in his humorous motivational speech, takes us through various examples to make us believe in our unlimited potential.



I hope all these speeches/words give you strength in times of failures, the boost to perform better than the last time and the faith to believe in yourself.

Sarcasm can make you and your co-workers more creative

sarcasm creativity team work

Sarcasm often has a bad rap.

It is derived from the Greek verb, sarkazein, that means ‘to tear flesh like a dog’ and might be seen as hostility in the guise of humour.

However, it can offer some benefits as well.

As per a new study by Francesca Gino (Harvard Business School), Adam Galinsky (Columbia Business School) and Li Huang (INSEAD), sarcasm can boost creativity.

The researchers had volunteers engage in a variety of neutral, sarcastic, and sincere interactions. After the subjects participated, they were then asked to handle creative tasks.

The results: sarcasm provides an excellent mental workout for the brain (pre) creative activity.

Francesca Gino, had this to say in the Harvard Gazette afterward: “To create or decode sarcasm, both the expressers and recipients of sarcasm need to overcome the contradiction (i.e. psychological distance) between the literal and actual meanings of the sarcastic expressions. This is a process that activates and is facilitated by abstraction, which in turn promotes creative thinking.”

“Not only did we demonstrate the causal effect of expressing sarcasm on creativity and explore the relational cost sarcasm expressers and recipients have to endure, we also demonstrated, for the first time, the cognitive benefit sarcasm recipients could reap.”

Adam Galinsky, had this to add about the results of the study: “Those in the sarcasm conditions subsequently performed better on creativity tasks than those in the sincere condition or the neutral condition. This suggests that sarcasm has the potential to catalyze creativity in everyone.”

“While most previous research seems to suggest that sarcasm is detrimental to effective communication because it is perceived to be more contemptuous than sincerity, we found that, unlike sarcasm between parties who distrust each other, sarcasm between individuals who share a trusting relationship does not generate more contempt than sincerity.”

However, the researchers stressed in their findings that overdoing it on the sarcastic front is not a good idea.

Never throw out a sarcastic comment every time the mood strikes you, but keep your sarcastic charm reserved for only the most appropriate and ideal moments. After all, you don’t want to burn bridges by becoming known as the co-worker who can never be taken seriously.

To summarise the findings:

  • Sarcasm can promote creativity through abstract thinking in both the expresser and the receiver.
  • However, it is best used between people who have a good relationship. Otherwise it may give rise to conflict more than creativity.
  • Don’t overdo it.

If you’ve ever been afraid or hesitant to ask for advice. Read this.

ask for advice at work

The failure of many employees to ask for advice keeps them from learning new and valuable skills/information every day at work.

So, the question remains: why don’t people ask for advice?

According to a recent paper by Professor Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, people frequently forego asking for advice out of the fear they will appear incompetent to coworkers or employers.

Turns out, that the opposite is true. People who look for advice are actually seen as more competent, as compared to those who don’t.

Speaking on the issue Brooks, another professor at the University, stated, “Information sharing is very important in organizations, if everyone sat in their separate silos and never interacted with each other, they wouldn’t learn anything from each other. By not seeking advice, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to learn from your co-workers.”

To gather their information for the paper, Gino analyzed the responses of many different college students and working adults, when asked about the impression they are left with when a coworker asks for advice.

While the overall findings are a good thumb rule, there are some twists and special cases to keep in mind.

Prior papers written by Gino suggest that anxious workers should wait until they are calm before asking for advice, as the emotional state could make them appear incompetent. Also they might not be able to make out if the advice given was of good quality.

Research also suggests those in neutral states often fail to take the advice offered to them, even if they are fine with hearing it. Gino claims that this “egocentric bias,” is what keeps people from taking advice that could prove helpful. This is good to keep in mind because you shouldn’t discount good advice due to the human tendency to think you know better. It’s good to be open to new perspectives.

The egocentric bias is more pronounced for those in power. Speaking on this issue, Gino states, “People who feel powerful tend to resist the advice of others, because they experience the advice as a threat to their own claim to power and feel competitive with their advisers.”

Further continuing her musings on how asking for advice affects social interaction in the workplace, Gino suggests that making your pursuit of advice seem flattering to the person you are asking can be helpful.

She believes this because, “By asking someone to share his or her personal wisdom, advice seekers stroke the adviser’s ego and can gain valuable insights. And remember people do not think less of you — they actually think you’re smarter.”


For more on this topic, listed to the following podcast from the HBR.