In the business world, one of the most desirable personality traits is assertiveness. Sales managers revere assertive salespeople… those who show a bold forcefulness in the pursuit of a sale. Employees are applauded for being assertive in problem solving and thinking out-of-the-box. Leaders are acclaimed for their hands-on, assertive management style.
Within the spectrum of forceful behavior, assertiveness is considered the middle ground between aggressiveness (too much force) and passivity (not enough force). But how does an executive, manager or entrepreneur achieve just the right balance of assertiveness? Is there a perfect degree of assertiveness that is right for all people, all positions and all situations or is it more subjective? And can one’s natural level of assertiveness be improved or adjusted as needed? Continue reading
Last week, we discussed the many mental, physical and emotional benefits to anticipating positive life events. From big events such as vacations to minor pleasures such as a nap, the anticipation of something positive is even more beneficial to a person than the actual vacation or nap. As a business strategy, anticipation can give entrepreneurs and professionals ‘a leg up’ against competitors, psychologically stressing the competition. It is a strategy used often in sports. That is the up side of anticipation.
However, anticipating negative events, while equally impactful, is believed to be detrimental. We give this kind of anticipation a name… it’s called worry. Dating back thousands of years, philosophers have been pondering the concept of ‘anticipating problems’. Seneca, the Roman essayist, philosopher and playwright, was quoted as saying “He who suffers before it is necessary suffers more than is necessary.” Indeed, the general wisdom from philosophers and religious scholars is that worrying causes a person to experience a sense of dread needlessly while waiting for the bad thing to happen.
Yet there are some who have argued that there is a benefit to anticipating a negative event in that it can serve to decrease the negative emotions when the bad thing finally happens. We can dub that the ‘soften the blow’ effect. Anticipating problems and issues ahead of time can also help make them a little less frightening, and allows for planning to avoid or work around problems when they happen. Moreover, worriers argue that even if the bad event doesn’t happen, there is additional joy that results from anticipating that something bad was going to happen and then finding that it did not happen. So what is true? Is anticipating trouble a positive or negative? It depends. Let’s look at the science to find the answer. Continue reading
Summer is here and many are in the throes of planning their summer vacation. Plan away. It’s actually good for you. How so? Researchers from the Netherlands set out to measure the effect that vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts. They studied happiness levels among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom took a vacation during the 32-week study period. The research controlled for differences among the vacationers and those who hadn’t taken a trip, including income level, stress and education. Published in the Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, the study showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. Vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks!
The only vacationers who experienced increased happiness after the trip were those who said they were “very relaxed” on their vacation. For them, post-vacation happiness lasted for only two weeks after the trip. Those who experienced stress or had a neutral vacation (meaning that it wasn’t stressful but it wasn’t all that relaxing either) did not have any happiness after their vacation. So the biggest boost in happiness was derived in anticipation of a vacation, not during or after the vacation.
Clearly, anticipation – the expectation or yearning for something in the future – can be a powerful agent for happiness. Does this speak to something fundamental in human nature? Is looking forward to something better than actually living it? And does anticipation of other major life events have the same effect on people as ‘vacation anticipation’? Do we derive as much joy anticipating other big life events such as getting married, buying a property, closing a deal, or completing a project? Is working toward a goal more fulfilling than actually achieving the goal? And could there be any benefits to anticipating the small pleasures of life? If so, can businesses capitalize on the benefits of anticipation in its approach to sales and marketing? Continue reading