How to inspire others

Is charisma training really effective?

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Picture 012a3Ask the average Joe on the street what makes a good leader and a frequent answer will be high confidence. But that is only part of the equation. Charismatic leaders must show solidarity with the people in order to win their approval. They must be seen as representative of the group. People want to know that leaders share their sentiments– feel the same way that they do. 

If a leader wishes to be a pathfinder, out of in front of the crowd, the crowd will not perceive them to be as appealing. This results is pressure on the leader not only to perform, but also to appear to belong.

Leaders must also express the high standards that they hold for themselves along with the confidence that followers can meet these standards simply by association. One of the most important rules of speaking to enhance charisma is to make statements…

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Failing to allow failure

It is better not to always succeed…

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nineteen graduation (2)At the beginning of my son’s senior year we went on a mad rush of college visits trying to find the most elite school offering a computer science degree where he would actually have a shot at getting accepted. MIT was out of the question.

In his early years of high school my son had pushed himself in some areas, such as progressing to calculus by his sophomore year and skipping the initial computer science class, but he struggled to get good grades in calculus and neglected other areas. Although he managed to make it to the top 10% he was nowhere near the top of his class. However, what caught the attention of some recruiters college recruiters was a computer science student that had been co-president of the debate team.

This occurred almost by accident. While in ninth grade, he was scheduled to attend classes at the senior high…

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Did you actually read what you thought you read?

Watch, very carefully…

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457px-Théophile_Emmanuel_Duverger_Two_children_reading cThe first few years my daughter was in grade school, she would sit at the table in the breakfast nook and do homework while I prepared dinner. One evening while I stirred cracker crumbs into a meatloaf mix, she sat reading a passage too softly for me to hear. Then she suddenly cried out “They can’t be big and strong! They are dwarf horses.”

That was my cue to subtly look over her shoulder and identify the error. “It says draft not dwarf. Remember those big horses with the hair over their hooves that pulled us around on the wagon ride?” I did not tell her then, but I saw that recognition of conflict with what she thought she read as an accomplishment. Her dyslexia made it necessary to deduce what a sentence said though recognizing a couple of letters in each word. Her mind did not always put the…

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The mystery behind the motivation to learn

Do intrinsic motivations exist?

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Picture 012a3 No matter how much we describe the function of the brain to illuminate how people learn, the biggest mystery is what causes people to want to learn. Typically when someone dives into why certain people excel at learning they come back up with “intrinsic motivation.” However, this explains nothing as an intrinsic motivation is simply another way of saying a person has as a strong internal drive. What causes this drive?

Let’s step back from the realm of learning to answer this question, “Why are people motivated to do anything?”

Typically it is because:

  • they think they must do it, or they will suffer
  • they believe they will gain from doing it
  • everybody else is doing it, and they want to fit in

Thinking that one must do something is accompanied by threat of loss. For example a man believes he must have a job because otherwise he would suffer…

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Feeling and knowing

The emotional side of learning

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ink1007 sunsetAlmost all articles on brain based learning will emphasize the importance of emotions in learning. Emotions are supposed to direct our attention and aid our memory. Learning accompanied by emotional impact lasts far longer than a lecture that goes in one ear and out the other. How exactly do emotions affect our ability to learn?

Our emotional state (often referred to as affect) may motivate us to learn, but emotions are not information stored in the same as cognitive learning. Cognition involves cortical processing from what we learn of the outside world through our senses. It is harder pinpoint precisely where emotions come from.

There are theories that emotions develop as a method of protection, an instant unconscious warning of danger based on past experience. But the instantaneous impulse of flight or fight do not serve us in the modern world very well. We often lash out in anger in…

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Confidence is appreciated more from the distance

If you are human, you are probably over confident…

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snobOne of the traits of leaders that make people want to follow them is that they exude confidence. They seem sure of themselves as if they know their way around and have a plan for where they are going. One of the traits that people dislike about their bosses is that they seem “sure of themselves.” According to 2014 Gallup poll, the most frequently cited complaint about work are narcissistic bosses, who assume that they are right .[1] 

Why do we applaud the person who speaks boldly in front of a large group, or in an interview, and then turn around and complain about someone who speaks with the same boldness to us?  

There are reasons this occurs. Most of us have a set of criteria for who has a right to be confident and who does not. We do not necessary tolerate confidence in others…

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Realistic lack of confidence

When confidence is not rewarded…

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Shyness_Of_angel copyMany researchers have duplicated the finding that women are more likely to show less confidence than men. Women are told if they want to make their mark in  any field they need to believe in themselves and show confidence like men do.[1] But that may not be best tactic to pursue.

Research showing disparity of confidence based on gender is frequently structured as follows. Men and women of a similar background or education level are given a task, followed by an inquiry of how well they did. Women typically underestimated their performance. But the average male does not correctly estimated his, either. The majority of men are over confident, assuming that they performed better than they actually did. In research based on math problems, Ernesto Reuben, a professor at Columbia Business School, found men consistently rated work about 30 percent better than their real scores.[2]

This trend also…

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What does being agreeable have to do with over-confidence?

I new look at confidence…

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Chicago phantom 2013 023Did you ever wonder how researchers determine levels of confidence? Typically this research is perform using a population of college students volunteer to take part in psychological tests (sometimes a requirement for a psychology course). To measure confidence, students take a general knowledge test and estimate how well they did. Most of the students are not very accurate at guessing their performance on the tests. Typically 40-50% typically are over confident, and 30 to 40 % are under confident, and the small remaining percentage accurately estimate how well they have answered the questions.

Of course the whole purpose of the test is not to find out how many over confident students exist, but to find the correlation between over or under confidence and some other trait. Sometimes populations are chosen based on this other trait, such as research on gender differences in grades for the same major. These studies  reveal…

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How to be less confident

Confidence is highly overrated…

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Joos_de_Momper_IcarusSearch on Google for information on how to be less confident, and over 90% of the hits will actually be explaining ways to increase your confidence. This does have its perks. According to research from Washington University overconfident managers are more likely to get promoted. Then, they are also more like to make investment decisions that hurt their companies.[1]

Interestingly, research from the business psychology department at the University College London found that males often compensate for lack of competence by showing more confident behavior.[2] Eventually people are going to catch on to this trend. For those of you that already see the handwriting on the wall, you should study how to become less confident.

The ancient Greeks called overconfidence hubris. Hubris had a connotation of harm to it that is not found in current ideas about overconfidence, which we tend to view  as a type of naiveté. But according to…

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Pinning down emotional intelligence

The difficulty with measuring emotional intelligence starts with actually defining it.

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Picture 057If you do any research on testing for Emotional Intelligence, you are likely to run into a couple of names repeatedly. One is Howard Gardner who came up with the idea that there are several types or modalities of intelligence.

Two of these, interpersonal and intrapersonal, have to do with comprehending feelings, moods and motivations.  Interpersonal is the detection of these in others, and intrapersonal is ability to perceive and understand these inside of oneself. Gardner does not illuminate how people gain these two types of intelligences. His idea is to test yourself to uncover the areas of your intelligence or interests. This will help you choose a direction to develop yourself through education, and also to select a career that suits you. As these tests are mainly for individual use, and not used by schools to place students or companies to determine who gets the promotion, there has been no real attempt to…

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