Dark Moon on the Rise

Quote "Across history, what creates the risk of political instability is the behavior of elites." by Jack Goldstone and Peter Turchin

Yesterday’s New York Times includes an editorial, “America, We Have a Problem,” that cites three core ingredients putting America at risk. The ingredients consist of “othering”, “aversion”, and “moralization”: basically, ingredients that denigrate a person or political party that holds opposing views, rather than finding common ground.

Punitive intolerance and anger are often found in tandem, as my latest podcast guest explains more fully. Mix in money, power, and race; then add media-stoked anger and you have a recipe for an explosion.

Calling it the “Turbulent Twenties,” the scholars Goldstone and Turchin have modeled economic and demographic trends that suggest a political crisis is brewing in America, on par with the Civil War era. When the country’s elites are keen on protecting their own selfish happiness, the risk is great that the general public’s feelings of disappointment and distrust will turn to rage. Almost 30 years ago Goldstone predicted the rise of a figure like Donald Trump. Now would be a good time for another Lincoln or FDR.

Anger, Politics, and the Health of American Democracy

Released today: episode #33 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Steven W. Webster, the author of American Rage: How Anger Shapes Our Politics. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Webster is an assistant professor of political science at Indiana University. His research and writings focus on the role of anger in American politics, including the growth of “negative partisanship” in our country, and the ever greater polarization separating Democrats and Republicans.

This episode covers the behavioral implications of anger in American politics, from increased intolerance, blame, and aggression, to an ever-deepening lack of trust in government’s efficacy. Among the topics being addressed is the role of the media and internet in stoking anger; how democratic norms are threatened by partisan taunting; and the way anger invites loyalty to party over country.

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

Of Changes & Values

From David Bowie to Tupac Shakur and others, songs about CHANGES abound. More prosaically, however, change proves hard to pull off. Since individual behavior changes must also happen for larger, company-wide initiatives to succeed, let’s turn the focus to individual change. Sustained personal change depends on tapping into deep-seated, inner motivations, which brings us to a person’s values system. 

Forget hackneyed corporate vision statements. What’s your own vision statement? If you had to choose, what five values might you select as most important to you? And if you created a bucket list of things you want to accomplish, personally and professionally, what 12 items might be on that list and why? In other words, how might those items or goals reflect your values and help you change and develop as a person, closer toward what you consider your ideal self?

Inspiring Sticky Change

Released today: episode #32 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Ellen Van Oosten, co-author of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photo of Ellen Van Oosten and her book Helping People Change for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast.

Van Oosten is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Faculty Director of Executive Education at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. She is also the Director of the university’s Coaching Research Lab. This episode investigates not only what one wants to do in life, but also what one wants to be? To sustain change, be positive. Hunt for gold, not dirt, Oosten writes, and identify heroes from various stages of your life in order to help focus your dreams.

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

What Growing the Pie is Really About

I’ve been busy writing and crowdsourcing diabolical definitions for my latest book, The Devil’s Dictionary of Work Life & Commerce. Art Markman, my guest for the 14thepisode of my podcast, gave this entry for NEGOTIATIONS: “A dignified discussion held by people dividing the pie, all of whom channel their inner five-year-old because deep down everyone wants the whole pie.”

Guess what! In wanting the whole pie, we blow the deal, and negotiations expert Leigh Thompson knows why and also what the better options are. First, the shortcomings consist of 1) being either soft as pudding and avoiding conflict or being tough as nails and pounding our fists to get as much of the existing pie as possible; 2) taking the even-steven route and dividing the pie 50/50%; and/or 3) making compromises because neither party explores where mutually advantageous agreements might be realized.

What’s a better outcome? The answer is growing the pie by finding the sweet spot(s) where trust can built up by not asking the other party to sacrifice. Instead, find out where one party’s gain isn’t actually the other party’s loss. Thompson’s book covers 41 “hacks” to avoid the “traps” negotiators typically fall into. Her favorite is The Dessert Tray, i.e., offering the other party an array of options of equal value as far as the first party is concerned and learning from that hack where the real opportunities for a win/win reside.

Negotiating at Home, at Work, and Virtually

Released today: episode #31 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Leigh Thompson, the author of Negotiating the Sweet Spot: The Art of Leaving Nothing on the Table. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Thompson is a Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. This is the latest of her 10 best-selling books. The episode covers the differences between scripted and unscripted negotiations and how expressing disappointment, rather than showing anger, helps make negotiations turn into a success.

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

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

Coping with Covid-19 Related Stress

University of Phoenix Quote "68% of Americans feel that everything is out of their control"

The number of Covid-19 cases is rising quickly again in America. If Donald Trump’s post-election shenanigans mean he’s serious about running for President again in four years, then it’s time to prepare for the political equivalent of Covid-24. No wonder so many Americans feel uneasy. 

Anxiety is rooted in a feeling that you’re not up to handling the circumstances you face. That sensation can trigger profound, prolonged sadness (depression) because your situation feels hopeless.

 Fortunately, the topic of my podcast this week involves seven habits people can foster to help them cope with adversity. Depending on your personality type and existing interests in life, you may gravitate to one or more of the following habits:

  • Three ways to make physical connections: by 1) exploring nature, 2) by having a household pet, and 3) by listening to your own body through breathing exercises like those yoga teaches.
  • Three ways to enhance your cognitive appreciation through: 4) enjoying the power of laughter, 5) music, and 6) stories. 
  • The final habit is 7) spiritual: using prayers and meditation to anchor in something you do control, your own values and sense of being. 

Rewiring Your Brain to Escape Stress & Anxiety

Released today: episode #28 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Christophe Morin, the author of The Serenity Code: How Brain Plasticity Helps You Live Without Stress, Anxiety and Depression (SAD)Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

photo of author Christophe Morin and his book cover "The Serenity Code". The title to EQ Spotlight podcast "Rewiring Your Brain to Escape Stress & Anxiety"

Dr. Christophe Morinhas received multiple speaking, publishing, and research awards during his career. He holds an MBA from BGSU, and both a MA and a Ph.D. in Media Psychology from Fielding Graduate University. The episode focuses on three transformational steps: better understanding your personality and motivations, practicing self-love, and finally choosing among seven habits those that may best help sustain you and bring you more inner calm.

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.

Heading into the Storm

Implicit association tests (IATs) suggest a bias in America favoring Whites over people of color

With the Election next Tuesday, America is about to see how well the “glue” holds. Can our courts and police forces provide a sense of justice being impartially served? Or will we descend into bleak partisan chaos if the voting is close?

My concerns focus on the political divide between Democrats and Republicans with regard to the Supreme Court. A majority of the current Supreme Court Justices were appointed by presidents George W. Bush, Jr. and Donald Trump, who both lost the popular vote. Chief Justice John Roberts, Brett Kavanagh and Amy Coney Barrett were all part of the legal team that aided Bush in the fight to count or not count votes in Florida. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in Bush’s favor and the Florida recount ceased, giving the Presidential victory to Bush.

Recently the Washington Post reported that white nationalists were attempting to infiltrate law enforcement . Since wide-spread racial bias seems to exist across our society, aided by stereotypes, what are the odds these extremists could find fertile soil, at times, in trying to recruit allies that give them elbowroom? 

Let’s hope for the best. But if legal maneuvering delivers an Electoral College victory to Trump, despite Joe Biden winning the popular vote, protests could erupt that will make the Black Lives Matter marches seem tame by comparison. Then how will the police respond?  Will fears of racial strife, lost lives and looting make the perversion of democracy seem like the lesser “evil”? Over the next days and weeks leading up to Inauguration Day in January, we’re about to find out.

How to Promote Peace in the Streets

Released today: episode #26 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Thomas Abt, the author of Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence – and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the StreetsListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Abt is widely considered to be America’s foremost expert on the use of evidence-informed approaches to reduce urban violence. He is a Senior Fellow with the Council on Criminal Justice in Washington, DC. Prior to the Council, he held posts at Harvard University and in the U.S. Department of Justice.  Other media outlets that have covered Abt’s work include the Atlantic, the Economist, Foreign Affairs, the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio.

In this episode, the topics range from the human and economic costs of violence, to how a focus on a limited number of bad people, bad places and bad behaviors can improve situations that may otherwise look hopeless. The interview’s final question raises the specter of whether police bias in favor of gun-toting white vigilantes could ever become a serious issue or not.

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

Three Reasons Why We Care

Evolutionary psychology suggests that being kind-hearted to those we don’t know isn’t a natural instinct. Quote by Author Michael McCullough

What’s our kindness to strangers rooted in? Look to these three R’s:

  1. Reciprocity – a social instinct to help others in hopes of receiving help in return.
  2. Reputation – a social instinct to help others though ultimately in pursuit of self-glory, i.e., appearing virtuous.
  3. Reasoning – an intellectual determination that there are beneficial incentives for doing so.

What’s the difference between the first two R’s and the last one? Reciprocity and Reputation go strictly back to “me”: either wanting to attract allies so we can be safer and happier (Reciprocity), or wanting to feel better about ourselves (Reputation). The third R, Reasoning, offers plenty of overlap with the first two R’s, but ultimately comes down to a hard-edged cost/benefit analysis, stripped of emotion. You’re after prosperity, and the more resources you have the lower will be the relative cost of helping others.

For instance, you might aid trading partners down on their luck, figuring they will then be in a position to buy more from you later on if revitalized. The bottom line, McCullough argues, is that human beings aren’t readily given to helping strangers. It often takes the addition of the harsher 3rd R to push us toward being “kind.”

The world’s great religions–and the Golden Rule–were born as the volume of people our ancestors were interacting with was growing rapidly. Today, international trade is helping to drive the value of being seen as trustworthy even higher.

The Historical Progression of Empathy

Released today: episode #25 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Michael McCullough, the author of The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Michael McCullough is a professor of psychology at the University of California San Diego. He’s a fellow of both the American Psychological Association as well as the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. This episode first covers why people practice empathy and compassion, followed by seven stages of history whereby compassion became more generally practiced, and why.

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

Be Psycho-Logical

What’s better in business, and life, than always trying to be logical? It’s to be psycho-logical. Here are five insights from Rory Sutherland’s book for you to reflect on:

  1. Gain a competitive advantage by spotting the instances where universal laws don’t apply, and rivals haven’t noticed (yet).
  2. Relying on data can make you blind to important facts that lie outside your model; after all, data reflects the past rather than shines a light on the future.
  3. Being too rationale runs the risk of making you predictable, so competitors can anticipate and prepare for your next move.
  4. Evolution doesn’t care about accuracy, only fitness. So don’t get hung up on accuracy, strive for effectiveness.
  5. Prize understanding people over measuring things. Remember to factor in unconscious motivations as well as post-rationalizations to get a better handle on people’s behaviors, which shape attitudes and not the other way around.
How do animals attract mates and ward off rivals? They signal vitality in ways that cost them physically. Guess what? Consumers do it, too.

Spreadsheets Leave No Room for Miracles

Released today: episode #23 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Rory Sutherland, the author of Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Rory Sutherland is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, a legendary advertising agency. He’s a columnist for The Spectator and a former president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (the IPA). His TED Talks have been viewed over 6.5 million times. This episode covers lots of ground, including how important it is to not use logic as a filter, limiting your ability to notice the quirky patterns in people’s behaviors.