The Digitization of Psychology

An assumption is often made that knowledge can or will bring about change in human behavior. That viewpoint ignores the reality that emotions play a major role in changing behavior because there are so many knots in the wood of human nature.

In my interview of Amy Bucher, I asked her about live experts vs. avatars vs. chatbots. For consumers interacting with a digital product online, which of these three approaches is most successful in effecting change?

What her research suggests is that avatars serve as an ideal middle ground between a mechanistic approach (chatbots) and a costly, fully human approach (live experts). Why? The answer lies in emotions. By using an avatar’s face on screen, an intimate enough connection is simulated. At the same time, online users don’t feel at risk of being condescended to by a live expert. In other words, the emotion of trust—of being shown respect—gives the nod to avatars, and a reason for live experts to improve their EQ skills.

The Psychology of Using Design to Motivate Change

Released today: episode #30 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Amy Bucher, the author of Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Amy Bucher, PhD, works in Behavior Change Design at Mad*Pow and previously worked at CVS Health and Johnson & Johnson. She received her A.B. from Harvard University and her M.A. and PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan.

This episode addresses both the barriers and levers to achieving behavioral change. Among the barriers are cognitive biases, like a Status Quo Bias, as well as growing both emotionally and mentally exhausted by changes that require too much willpower on behalf of the user. Opportunities to promote change include having accountability buddies to help guide you, and avatars that have proven highly effective in providing information in a trust-building, nonjudgmental manner.

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Quote by Everett M. Rogers from his book, Diffusion of Innovations. "Only 2.5% of people like to be guinea pigs for something new."

“Problems, the problem is you –what ‘ya gonna do, you’re a problem,” snarls Johnny Rotten on the only studio album The Sex Pistols ever recorded. While punk rock isn’t the force it was in 1977, the problem of trying to solve problems, both business and personal remains central to our daily lives. Enter Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg with his own take on the matter. Given that only one in 25 of us is open-minded about participating in something new, our problem solving could benefit from a methodology to push us forward. 

Here is the Danish author’s in a nutshell:

  • Frame the problem– Create a written statement that avoids being too vague, too ambitious, or else not ambitious enough (because a preferred solution is implied).
  • Look outside the frame– Consider expertise outside your group, plus look to prior events and hidden influences for a fresh perspective on the problem you’re trying to solve.
  • Rethink the goal– Understand the benefit of the benefit you seek on order to arrive at a more valuable solution.
  • Identify solution sources– Are there instances where others have already solved a version of this problem? If so, learn from those examples.
  • Finally, gain perspective– Admit that you and the various shareholders interested in problem-solving have biases and may be contributing to the problem as well as blocking a superior solution. Remember that successful collaboration requires vulnerability which, in turn, requires fostering an atmosphere of trust for everyone involved.

Stop Solving the Wrong Problem

Released today: episode #29 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, the author of What’s Your Problem? To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photograph of the author, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg and his book "What's Your Problem?" for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast

Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg is a globally recognized expert on innovation and problem solving whose clients have ranged from blue-chip companies to The United Nations. His work has been featured in The Economist and the Financial TimesHR Magazine named him a “Top 20 International Thinker.” 

This episode covers the author’s Rapid Reframing Method for solving people-related problems in particular. Specific topics include: how emotions can either facilitate or hinder the challenging of established mental models, how reframing fits the top 3 skills of importance for the future economy, and why “vagueness” is the enemy of change.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc

Could Workplaces Become Semi Ghost Towns?

Propelled in part by Covid-19, all sorts of changes are afoot in today’s workplace:

  • 70% of companies are offering full-time workers the ability to work from home.
  • Workers are relocating outside of major city-centers to feel safe, save money, and have more space, now that they don’t have to be in centralized offices and can work remotely. 83% of employees are in favor of relocating and 20% have done so in 2020.
  • Over 72% of workers favor a hybrid workplace model, allowing for structure and sociability (the office) while also enabling independence and flexibility (the home).

Combine these trends with the need to upgrade skills as Artificial Intelligence makes inroads, and what do we see? In the future, workers will be more on their own than at anytime since the shift from farms to factories over a century ago. In navigating change, keeping your eyes open to learning (curiosity) is going to be vital to surviving and thriving on the job.

Making Robots Our Friends, Not Our Overlords

Released today: episode #27 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Jamie Merisotis, the author of Human Work in the Age of Smart MachinesListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Merisotis is a globally recognized leader in philanthropy, education, and public policy. Since 2008, he’s served as the president of CEO of Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation dedicated to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all.

In this episode, the topics range from why and how the economy is rapidly becoming people-centered, to why the power is shifting from employers to workers as part of the 4thIndustrial Revolution. The role that academia can adapt in providing more practical, flexible life-long learning is also covered.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

How Do Animals and People Handle Threats?

We’re in the stretch drive now of the 2020 presidential race, and from the debates to other staged events what might we learn from animal nature that applies to human nature? Plenty. Do any of these survival techniques remind you of what happens among candidates and in office politics, too:

  • Exaggerating one’s ferocity (growling, baring teeth literally or figuratively);
  • Puffing up one’s capability or accomplishments (to intimidate others);
  • Being or bluffing about being poisonous (therefore all the harder to conquer and absorb);
  • Engaging in deception (through camouflaging or mimicry of a more powerful ally); and finally
  • Being colorful, bright and intense (verbally or physically) to achieve social dominance.

Never forget that evolution sadly isn’t worried about theoretical questions of right and wrong. What works, wins, and winners-take-all wasn’t invented yesterday.

Animals do it, people do it, and in this case I don’t mean “fall in love.” There are five key
tricks of the trade to coming out on top in office politics.

Or Else: The Use & Abuse of Threats

Released today: episode #22 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David Barash, the author of Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Barash is a research scientist and author who spent 43 years as a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, Seattle. He’s written over 240 scientific papers, written or co-written 41 books, and been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This episode covers three key areas: the natural world, individuals and society, and international affairs.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Clues to What You Might Detect on Stage

Photographs of Joe Biden and Donald Trump with arrows pointing to emotional expressions of anger, sadness, happiness and disgust to help TV viewers of the debates make sense of their emotions.

The fantasy is that citizens carefully, rationally, sift through political messages and information, making consciously informed decisions about which candidate to support based on the issues of the day. The reality is that 75% of Americans can’t name all three branches of government, 20% believe the right to own a pet is enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and 10% of our country’s college graduates think Judge Judy is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

So don’t think for a moment that emotions and intuitive, gut-reactions and biases don’t drive election results. How best to spot what a candidate is feeling?

Bear in mind that in ambiguous situations—think presidential debates—how we assess what’s being communicated is 55% from the face, 38% from the voice, and merely 7% from the words. Yes, facial expressions matter. So here is my cheat-sheet guide for you to use while watching the first debate on September 29th when the 7% of Americans who have supposedly not made up their minds may instead make up their hearts.

Chart of emotional expressions to look for in the first 2020 Presidential debate of Joe Biden and Donal Trump

Special Upcoming Roundtable Edition of Podcast

Airing on October 2nd will be a special, one-hour edition of my “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast. It features a pair of political scientists, John Hibbing and Jonathan Weiler, who specialize in the emerging field of biopolitics: how our emotions, personality traits and even, perhaps, our DNA can predispose us to a liberal or conservative political orientation. This special edition will focus on how swing-voters in play may have responded to what they saw and heard during the 1st presidential debate.

Images of the book Predisposed by John R. Hibbing and the book Prius and the Pick up by Johnathan Weiler for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight

Is It Expensive To Be Yourself?

Released today: episode #20 of my “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast, featuring Timothy R. Clark, the author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2020). Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of the Author Timothy R. Clark and his Book The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety

How does any organization invite the true, full participation of its members?

Clark is the founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, and ranks as a global authority on senior executive development, strategy acceleration and organizational change. He’s the author of five book, and over 150 articles. Clark earned a doctorate degree in Social Science from Oxford University.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Why showing respect and granting permission are the keys to unlocking potential.
  • What lies beneath stunning statics like, only 36% of business professional believe their companies foster an inclusive company culture, and only one-third of workers believe their opinions count; whereas, 50% of workers report being treated rudely at work at least once a week.
  • How a leader’s “tell-to-ask” ratio relates to whether that person suffers from the narcissism that limits the effectiveness of so many leaders.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

The Death of Tired Sales Assumptions

Black and white photo of Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock with arrows to facial expressions and their emotions expressed via facial coding, in the play "Death of a Salesman".
Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock on stage in Henry Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Two plays have most defined how we see salespeople. One is shown here, from the original staging on Broadway of Henry Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman. There’s rage, but most of all there’s sadness in a drama in which Lee J. Cobb (playing the broken-down salesman Willy Lowman) moans: “The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.” In vain his wife, played by Mildred Dunnock, tries to comfort him.  

“The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.”

Lee J. Cobb in Death of a Salesman

What’s the other play? It’s David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Again, rage plays a role but really the key emotion is the fear that gets instilled in a crew of salesmen. From the film adaptation that added the character of Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, here is the movie’s most famous moment: “We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see the second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired.”

“We’re adding… to this month’s sales contest…first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado…Third prize is, you’re fired.”

Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross

Let’s broaden and update the picture. As Daniel H. Pink pointed out in To Sell is Human, we’re all salespeople. Something like 40% of our time on the job is devoted to cajoling—persuading—selling others on what we would like to see happen.

What’s the real key emotion of effective sales nowadays? It’s surprise: eyes-wide-open curiosity. As Colleen Stanley points out in this week’s podcast, a salesperson who’s constantly learning about prospects, their needs, their hopes, their fears, and how to better connect with them, including online during Covid-19, is who you actually want to hire. Yes, steak knives are for losers but not in the way Blake meant. Serving up spoonfuls of comfort and hope would be more like it.

A Few Sales Tips

Using EQ to Build a Great Sales Team

Released today: episode 19 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Colleen Stanley, the author of Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode. 

What does it take to connect successfully with somebody you’re trying to “win over”? 

Stanley is the president of SalesLeadership, a sales development firm. She’s been named by Salesforce as one of the top sales influencers of the 21stcentury and also a Top 30 Global Sales guru.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • In hiring, what should you be on against in both yourself and the job candidate? An eye for the “something” missing that you may or may not be able to resolve is one key.
  • Exploring a variety of buyer personas, including specifically: The Poker Face prospect, The Nitpicker, and The Glad-Hander. How best to dislodge an incumbent vendor so you can make the sale?
  • What is mean by helping a person on your sales team “untell” a story that is hindering that person’s effectiveness.

Dan Hill, Ph.D., is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Working Remotely, Feeling Likewise

In The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, there’s the entry: “ALONE, adj. In bad company.” On the packaging of this mock Fisher-Price product offering, the despair of a crying baby is a burden wine promises to relieve. While “Covid-19” will win hands-down as 2020’s Word of the Year, being “remote” from colleagues, from happiness, and from one’s other numbed feelings, should be on the runners-up list. Look at the upside: at least this parody product isn’t cross-branded with Clorox to include ingesting some bleach to solve your woes!

A World of Zooming and Zapping

Another runner-up for Word of the Year in 2020: Zoom, in all its manifestations. For everything from conference calls to being fired.

Communicating Virtually Is Like Eating Pringles Forever

Released today: episode 16 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast series, featuring Nick Morgan, the author of Can You Hear Me? Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Nick Morgan and his book cover "Can you Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World. The Book cover is blue with yellow and green communication doodles. The title of the podcast episode is Communicating Virtually is Like Eating Pringles Forever.

How can we protect ourselves amid the emptiness and treachery of virtual communication?

Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. He’s written for Fortune 50 CEOs as well as for political and educational leaders, and coached people for events ranging from TED talks to giving testimony to Congress.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • What’s the likeliest way to lose the trust of others during a conference call, and how can you best hope to restore it? 
  • Why are most online webinars a disaster and what kind of format improves them best?
  • If powerpoint presentations are no longer the way to go in selling to prospects in online calls, what’s the alternative?

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Crowdsourcing The Devil’s Dictionary of Work Life

Images of three Devil's Dictionary books, and how to submit an entry for Dan Hill's crowdsourcing book

What an exposé is to journalism, satire is to literature: the use of humor to address and (possibly) right a wrong. One of my favorite examples is The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, a contemporary of Mark Twain. For example, BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen. A few years back, Jason Zweig, a personal-investing columnist for the Wall Street Journal, tried his hand at this approach, too, with The Devil’s Financial Dictionary, including for example: IRRATIONAL, adj. A word used to describe any investor other than yourself.

Now here’s your opportunity to join the fun! I’m crowdsourcing The Devil’s Dictionary of Work Life. To submit entries for any of the terms listed on my web site – or terms you want to suggest – go to my web site and add your contribution. Illustrations are welcome, too! 

This is my first entry: DIVERSITY, n. In senior management, a short white guy. And the guest on this week’s episode of my podcast, Cary Cooper, wrote this entry: APOLOGY LAUNDERING, v. The laundering of bland corporate boilerplate faux apologies like “It’s never our intention to cause offence” so that it comes out smelling like ‘sorry’, thereby allowing the media to assume the role of judge as well as jury.

What Inspired Me to Create The Devil’s Dictionary of Work Life?

From discovering Bierce’s classic to my first forays into the business world, here’s my journey and the opportunity to reflect on your own. As to other instances of corporate b.s. and the very real and often highly emotional stakes of work life, Cary Cooper offer plenty of insights.

Why Managers Should Say: “Sorry, I Wasn’t Feeling”

Released today: episode 13 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Cary Cooper, the author of most recently The Apology Impulse and Wellbeing at Work. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of the book "The Apology Impulse" by knighted author, Cary Cooper, This book explains why companies are apologizing like crazy

What are best-practices for alleviating stress in the workplace?

Cooper is the author/editor of over 250 books, and the president of the British Academy of Management. An advisor to the World Health Organization and the EU, he’s received both a knighthood and the CBE award from the Queen of England for “extraordinary contributions” to society.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • The difference between operational and cultural failures, and why CEOs find it easier to apologize for the latter by pretending the problem has to do with the former.
  • The percentage of workers who feel bullied by a boss at work on a constant basis, and Cooper’s estimation of the percentage of bosses who won’t be able to benefit from EQ-training and, therefore, should be given roles that don’t involve managing people.
  • What the implications and solutions for huge CEO pay amid what could now prove to be the single most significant economic downturn in our lives (due to Covid-19).

Dan Hill, PhD, is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Wealth Meets Supposed Legal Might

Zuckerberg shows anger; Bezos shows happiness, anger, fear & sadness; Cook shows surprise, fear and sadness; Pichai shows disgust. All four executives have eyes opened wide, showing anger, fear and surprise.

Yesterday these four tech executives testified via video chat before the antitrust committee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee. If you’re a Christian steeped in the Bible’s book of Revelation, their joint appearance might suggest to you The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: riders symbolizing pestilence, war, famine, and death. As a consumer or a woebegone business competitor of these four executives, however, you’re more likely to be wondering: who will ever restore our TRUST in antitrust enforcement?

From left to right, you’re viewing three household names and a fourth, Sundar Pichai, who now runs Alphabet (i.e. Google). What do Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, and Pichai have in common in these four photographs atop Wednesday’s New York Times article about the pending hearing?  The answer is eyes wide open, as if the four men are alert to seizing on new opportunities as they operate de facto monopolies, or at least duopolies, in domains like online search, online marketplaces, app stores, and advertising sales.

Have unfair, even illegal acts been committed by these tech giants? That’s for Congress and federal prosecutors to decide. Much clearer is that the FBI estimates losses from white-collar crime of between $300 to $600 billion annually. In contrast, the total is $4 billion a year for the blue-collar crimes of burglary and robberies. Don’t waste your energy; you needn’t guess which type of crime has the higher conviction rate.

On Economic Mobility & Learning Capacity

This week’s podcast episode concerns the story of a 150-pound, high school viola player jumped by three plain-clothes police officers who found him “suspicious looking.” Yes, an innocent black kid living in Homewood, a downtrodden neighborhood in Pittsburgh founded by Andrew Carnegie long, long ago, is a far cry from the wealth being generated in Silicon Valley. In today’s video, I briefly address why eyes wide open – curiosity – learning capacity – is emerging as the key to success in life.

Released today: episode #12 of Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight podcast series, featuring David A. Harris, the author of A City Divided: Race, Fear and the Law in Police Confrontations. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode that appears on the world’s largest book podcast with over 1.2 million downloads monthly.

David A. Harris' photo and his book cover "A City Divided Race, fear, and the Law in Police Confrontations" will be on Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast

How do we move police forces from a warrior culture to connecting better with communities they serve? 

Harris is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s law school and is the leading U.S. authority on racial profiling. In addition to also being the author of Profiles in Injustice (2002). Harris hosts the podcast Criminal Injustice.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Harris’s vantage point on what the Minnesota legislature got right and only half-right in recently approving a police accountability measure in the wake of the George Floyd killing.
  • Why navigating fear and anger is so hard for both black suspects and the police alike.
  • What role a lack of familiarity – and trust – plays for officers and suspects in trying to avoid escalating their encounters.
New Books Network and Dan Hill's EQ  Spotlight podcast logos

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Adverse Circumstances, and a Bad Boss

Now blissfully many years ago, I survived two bad bosses in a row. The first was so capriciously mean-spirited that one day on the job our department secretary, a sweet, devout older woman, called me over with glee to tell me the latest joke making the rounds. “Why is Linda going on vacation?” The punchline was so she could write a new introduction to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Half a dozen lawsuits against the company for being subjected to “mental cruelty” would soon be filed by my colleagues. 

As to the other boss, well, that person ran a public relations operation with New York City real estate moguls as clients (Donald Trump wasn’t among them). By my second week at that firm, my neck was iron-tight and incapable of turning even a quarter-inch either direction with ease due to the stress of working there. When I confided my condition to a coworker, she breezily remarked: “Oh, everybody gets sick here by their second week on the job.”

Many of us have had bad bosses, but the two men I’m highlighting this week have it worse than most everyone. They’re stuck in dire circumstances. The first is obviously Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has to deal with the coronavirus and Trump’s back-biting. The other is Bill Stepien, Trump’s new manager of a campaign dealing with both Trump’s self-induced chaos and a double-digit deficit in the presidential race against Joe Biden. Fauci is certainly the kinder spirit of the two men. Stepien’s biggest claim to fame is being fired by former New Jersey governor Chris Christie for exhibiting “callous indifference” amid Christie’s Bridgegate scandal. Come to think of it that makes for a third, bad boss. That’s because I had taken on being manager of Christie’s first, brief foray into politics. The lure? Christie was challenging a fellow Republican who had claimed women were incapable of being good judges given their menstrual cycles.

What do Fauci and Stepien have to do now? Engage in what I call “reverse innovation”: whereby the situation is so dire that you have to practice creativity and triage both aggressively at the same time in order to have any chance of success. I’ll be elaborating on what “reverse innovation” means in a business context in my video below.

Reverse Innovation: Creativity & Triage

Creativity & Innovation, Demystified

Released today: episode #11 of Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight podcast series, featuring Nir Bashan, author of The Creator Mindset: 92 Tools to Unlock the Secrets to Innovation, Growth, and Sustainability. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode, hosted on the New Books Network (NBn).

Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast features a photo of Nir Bashan and his book's cover, The Creator Mindset

Why is the corporate fallback being “analytical” (as opposed to nurturing creativity)?

Bashan is a creativity expert who has spent the past two decades devising a formula for sustained creativity. Besides his blue-chip corporate clients, Bashan has also worked on album, movies and advertisements for people like Rod Stewart and Woody Harrelson, won a Clio and been nominated for an Emmy. This is his first book.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Creativity’s three unlikely personal traits (hint: courage is one of them).
  • Why self-doubt and complacency are both threats to successful innovation, and how to overcome each in turn.
  • Design obstacles Bashan has witnessed, plus five more from my book Emotionomics.

Dan Hill, PhD is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc.