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6 reasons why being open to learning is your finest quality

in Editor Pick/Work Psychology by

There are billions of people on this planet and very few are really the best at what they do. The number one sportsperson in the world only holds that position for a brief period of time.

The highest paid and much loved actor can find themselves struggling on the small screen, trying to get in the limelight again. The top executive is only celebrated in prosperous times until it is time for fresh blood.

Each day, we have our own little triumphs and opportunities to shine. But many of us feel the need to promote our skills, experience and achievements at every opportunity. After all, if we don’t do it, who will?

This tendency to self-promote or to demonstrate our prowess is called a ‘performance-orientation’. I once worked with someone who was always quick to highlight their breadth of skills. They also liked to tell me the story of their childhood when they were identified as ‘gifted’ and put into a special program.

In other situations, the performance orientation isn’t so blatant. It can come in the form of someone resisting a good idea because it makes them feel inferior for not thinking of it themselves. It shows up when someone fails to listen because they are waiting to educate you about what they know.

But think back to those times you spoke to someone who genuinely paused to consider your view. Or maybe it was a moment where someone admitted to a group that they were unsure about what to do and were seeking some ideas. More often than not, you probably valued and respected them.

Think about the time you were truly engaged in what you were doing. It is often where you are learning something that intrigues or interests you. This is referred to as a learning orientation.



6 Key Benefits of a Learning Orientation

People like you. Yep, it’s funny that people tend to prefer your company when you are open to listening and learning as opposed to showing off your talents.

It improves cooperation. When groups adopt a learning orientation, they are not motivate to out-perform each other.

Improved resilience. If you always want to shine, this places a lot of pressure on you, including worries and doubts about what people think of you. If your goal is to learn, this is no longer such an issue.

Your attention improves. Because you are less concerned about impressing others, you can focus more attention to the task at hand and—ironically—enhance your performance.

Improved creativity. Individuals who adopt a performance orientation are generally more conservative because they want to maintain their persona in front of others. This closes their thinking to new or different ways of thinking. A learning orientation has the reverse effect.

You learn. Probably the most obvious benefit is that when you are open to learning, you may actually learn something that betters you as a person.
Now, if I was adopting a performance orientation, I might end this blog with ‘I hope you learned something’. Instead, I’ll close with remake more indicative of a learning orientation:

Please let me know what you think. Share your thoughts and challenge me.

Why they’re ignoring your advice

in Work Psychology by

When faced with a choice, research shows that individuals tend to be more pragmatic than idealistic. In contrast, when providing advice to others, individuals are more idealistic.

Say you’re about to apply for a new job. The first job may be low paid but could position you in a field that excites and interests you. The second job may not excite you but pays well.

In these hypothetical scenarios we like to believe we’d pursue our dreams but more often than not we move towards the safer option.

However, because our friends and colleagues are not entangled with the complications and reality of the choice, they are more likely to advise you to pursue the idealistic option.

These outcomes can be explained by an interesting line of research, which shows that distance from an event, such as a choice, makes us think in more expansive and open ways. However, when we are closer to the event, our thinking becomes more specific and we tend to focus on complications.

Think about how this plays out at work. You’ve been asked to advise on an important decision. Seeing the forest from the trees, you advise the tougher option that will generate the best quality outcome in the long-term.

Your manager ultimately selects the path of least resistance. You feel deflated. But what would you do in his or her shoes when genuinely faced with the same choice? Research demonstrates that when advisers are asked to put themselves in the shoes of the chooser, they also select the practical option.

Can being more pragmatic make your advice more convincing?

steve job’s influence was all about the skivvy

in Work Psychology by


You are more likely to change your views and agree with people wearing black. It is not clear exactly how colour influences our perceptions but researchers argue black is often perceived as more aggressive than other colours. This perceived aggression may make us more susceptible to conforming to the views of the person.​

In one study, for example, participants were more likely to deliver a guilty verdict of an innocent person if they were working with others wearing black and who were intentionally trying to sway the verdict to guilty. The same influence was not present when those people wore white.


in Work Psychology by


When groups gather, they have a tendency to share information that everyone in the group already knows, called ‘shared information’, rather than new ideas or information, called ‘unshared information’. This tendency often results from groups meeting to reach a consensus on an issue and is particularly prominent when under time pressure.

This means we are often discussing ideas, opinions and options that do not challenge our thinking or encourage more informed decision-making. Some of the ways to challenge this issue are to include people with divergent views, and intentionally discussing new topics rather than following the same agenda at meetings.

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