July 2012

Yahoo Mail, with its more 250 million users worldwide, wasn’t working for many of them on 7/31/2012.

The company hadn’t disclosed any details about how many customers were hit by the outage, what the cause is, and how long the problem will last. Spokesman Jason Khoury said the outage affected a “small subset of customers.” Their statement:

“Yahoo mail is currently inaccessible to some users. We are working to correct the issue and restore all functionality immediately. We know that this may have caused some inconvenience and we apologize to our users who might be affected.

How To Check If Yahoo Mail Is Down

Yahoo does not have a public service status page but there is a Web site called downforeveryoneorjustme.com that can be used to check if Yahoo Mail is down. To use it, go to the shortened URL, http://www.isup.me and enter “mail.yahoo.com” into the box and hit Enter on your keyboard.

How to Check if Gmail Is Down

According to CNet, Google provides a comprehensive service status page that not only shows the status of Gmail, but other Google Apps services as well. To check Gmail’s status, go to https://www.google.com/appsstatus.

Google Apps Status page

Google Apps Status Dashboard Screenshot by Ed Rhee of CNet

How to Check if Hotmail is Down
The Windows Live service status page shows the status of Hotmail, as well as Messenger, SkyDrive, and others. To check Hotmail’s status, go to https://status.live.com

Windows Live service status

Windows Live Service Status page credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee of CNet

Marketing Returns

Jim Lowell, Fidelity Investor, in a Forbes article, brings our attention to two possibly misleading practices in reporting performance numbers that can be used in Mutual Fund advertising campaigns:

  1. How fund returns are calculated.
  2. Who earned those returns.

1. Annualized Returns Don’t Tell the Whole Story

“Annualized” returns don’t tell the whole story on fund performance. In fact, they can mask the real story.

Flat Yet Soaring?Jim gives the example of 2005, a volatile year, and by the third quarter, returns were flat. Yet, looking at the chart below, several funds report being up. How can that be?

In times of high volatility, the performance numbers you see over a period of a few months can be very confusing when taken out of context. This can make the quarter-end rankings of mutual funds by their three-year, and sometimes five-year, numbers unreliable. Citing returns through the end of 2005’s third quarter focus on single-period returns, and lack context. Returns for the single 3-year period and single 5-year period ending in September 2005, can be very misleading.

The Greater Context – Compared to What?: The bear market virtually hit bottom at the end of September 2002, hitting a nadir in mid-October before rebounding for a positive return that month. Consequently, by the end of the third quarter, 2005, the 3-year returns ending September 2005 would be up compared to that dismal period, and that would make them look a bit too rosy.

By contrast, the 5-year numbers might look a little worse than they should, given that their starting point, the end of September 2000, saw the stock market just 6% below its March record high.

The table below shows (in red) spectacular looking annualized 3 year returns, while the five-year numbers mostly look dismal. The net result is that, ranking the funds by their 3-year returns, the ranking would look quite a bit different from the ranking based on 5-year returns.

However, look at the average 3-year and 5-year rolling returns for each of the funds in the list based on monthly performance going back 10 years (in blue.) Ranking the funds by these rolling return figures, youfind much greater consistency in relative fund performance.

One important reason is that the 3- and 5-year returns measure just two time periods, but the rolling returns measure more than 80 three-year and more than 50 five-year periods.

Annualized Returns Are Inconsistent, Rolling Returns More Consistent

Fidelity Fund 3-Year  Annualized % Return 5-year Annualized % Return 3-Year Rolling % Returns 5-Year Rolling % Returns
Aggressive Growth 17.1 -20.7 3.3 -2.4
Capital Appreciation 20.1 0.3 8.4 6.5
Contrafund 15.8 3 9.6 7.5
Value 20.4 14.4 9.2 9.1
Utilities 19 -4.6 4.8 1.5
Diversified International 21.2 6.3 9.8 8.5
Emerging Markets 27.5 8.5 -3.2 -3.8
Medical Delivery 23 21.3 6.6 8.4
Excerpted from the September 2005 issue of Jim Lowell’s Fidelity Investor . Click here for more of Lowell’s insights and analysis of Fidelity funds, and to subscribe to Fidelity Investor.

2. Manager Changes Aren’t Accounted For

Over the five years ending in 2005, there were more than 50 manager changes at Fidelity, and this is consistent with the average manager turnover rate in the fund industry.

Yet, rating agencies like Morningstar employ systems based on past fund performance rather than the individual manager’s performance history. So, even though the manager who may have been responsible for the actual performance of the product may no longer be running the fund, the funds may continue to use those ratings to promote their fund products.

Jim Lowell questions whether there might be an increase in manager turnover as many younger guns or experienced hands take the opportunity of their glowing short-term numbers to advance their careers by moving to a new fund family, or jumping from mutual funds to hedge funds, or from retail funds to institutional ones.

Bottom Line: Put 3- and 5-year “rankings” in perspective and read the fine print.

When people are asked what the most important ingredients in a relationship are, communication is rarely on the list. Yet we rarely are taught how to communicate effectively.

While communicating with others is a matter of either expressing ourselves or responding to someone else, the methods for doing each are actually different.

Here are 2 effective communication techniques that can help

Expressing Ourselves: “I-Statement”

When you are stating an opinion, making an observation, or expressing a feeling, the most appropriate format to use is called an “I-statement.” You may have heard of I-statements before and may even, hopefully, be already using them. I-statements allow us to state things in positive terms, to express ourselves directly and honestly, and to take responsibility for what we think, feel, and need while avoiding blaming or accusing others. In contrast, “You-statements” blame the other person, put him/her on the defensive, and often cause communication to be blocked.

To simplify things, we can use a kind of “formula” for I-statements:

  • “I feel/think/want(express the feeling/thought/desire)…
  • When (state the behavior causing it)…
  • Because (identify the reason)…”

The nice thing about this formula is that we can decide how much of it we want to use. It can be just the first line, or the first two lines, or all three; for example:

  • “Don’t you think you should mow the lawn?” as an I-statement becomes “I want to have the lawn mowed” or “I want to have the lawn mowed when it gets long because it really looks shabby.”

Another example:

  • “You make me angry when you’re late.” becomes “I get angry when people are late because I feel it’s very inconsiderate.”

Here are some statements that you can practice changing into I-statements:

  • “You always put those dishes in the wrong place.”
  • “You never talk to me.”

Responding To Others: Reflection

When other people are expressing themselves, it is not appropriate to use I-statements when responding. A more effective technique is called Reflection. Reflection is saying back, in your own words, the content and/or feeling of what the other person has just said.

The effects of using Reflection include:

  • showing people that you are really listening;
  • helping the other person feel better almost immediately;
  • easing the other person’s feelings of frustration;
  • helping cool down anger;
  • showing the other person that you’re trying to understand;
  • helping to build trust and cooperation;
  • fostering honest communication;
  • helping bridge communication gaps

What Reflection does NOT do: Question, challenge, argue, approve, or disapprove. We can use another, even simpler, formula for Reflection:

  • “Sounds like you’re feeling/thinking/wanting (express the emotion, thought, desire you hear)…
  • Because (state the reason you heard for it)….”

Obviously, Reflection requires us to listen very carefully to what the other person is actually saying. Yet we also do NOT have to be right in identifying the emotion or reason we hear because the speaker will automatically clarify it for us (and sometimes for him/her in the process). For example:

  • Speaker: “This postponement has really gotten to me.”
  • You: “Sounds like you’re feeling pretty upset because of the delay.”
  • Speaker: “Yes, I don’t like it at all and I’m getting darn frustrated.” OR “No, I think I’m more nervous than anything.”

What we need to remember, however, is that when we use Reflection, the other person is going to continue talking about what she/he is experiencing, so we need to make sure we have time to listen. When we first begin using I-statements and Reflection, it can feel artificial. It doesn’t take long, however, for them to become automatic. Experiment with them and you may find that your discussions with other people become much more productive and satisfying.

Related Posts:

On Communicating

Neuroscientist’s 5 Lessons on Corporate Communication

‎”Disputation and discussion are both futile.
Why is that?
Because nothing either party could say could possibly be true,
And whereas dispute picks out the false,
Which is too easy to see,
Discussion seeks the truth which is being pointed at,
Which is too difficult to describe.”

Wei Wu Wei, Posthumous Pieces, 1968

Related Post:

Neuroscientist’s 5 Lessons in Corporate Communications

The Disconnect Between Intention and Reality

An article by Naomi Troni, global CMO, Euro RSCG Worldwide discusses her company’s Prosumer Report, “Aging: Moving Beyond Youth Culture” in Forbes notes a disconnect between consumer intention and action:

I was struck that around three-quarters of respondents to our 19-country survey say they intend to age gracefully rather than fight it every step of the way. Yet…pharmacies are stocked full of youth restorers, ranging from anti-wrinkle serums and hair colorants to teeth whiteners…A new report from BCC Research…estimates  that the global anti-aging market will reach $274.5 billion in 2013, up 11% from 2008. Of that, $105.4 billion will be devoted to the “appearance” segment.

Obviously, understanding what makes for this gap between intention and action so that marketing can bridge it is a key area of concern for marketers and researchers.

Perhaps the most famous such researcher is psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Economics. In his best-selling book Thinking, Fast and Slow, he examines the ways in which people make choices. He notes that most often they do so  automatically and not necessarily in line with their best intentions.

In The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Lifeevolutionary biologist Robert Trivers examines people’s tendencies to consider themselves better looking, smarter, more competent, and more honest than they really are.  He finds that this leads people to say and even believe they are doing something when observable evidence says otherwise – for instance, cutting back on the doughnuts.

Neuromarketing Investigates The Disconnect

These researchers and pioneers in neuromarketing are also exposing making the intent-action gap, and  looking at how different parts of the brain are brought into play by cues like branding or a spend-or-save choice in which they need to choose between splurging for pleasure now or delaying gratification for a later time.

The Birth of Neuromarketing: Medical Device Companies Target Marketing Applications

Overview:  Neuromarketing first originated in the works of Gerry Zaltman of Harvard University in the early 1990s. The neuromarketing industry began in 1991 when companies like Coca Cola hired academic labs in the US to study the effectiveness of advertisements with their sophisticated neuroscience equipment. The acquisition of  market research firm NeuroFocus, by the $5 billion (revenue) market research firm Nielsen in May, 2011 marked a significant milestone in the growth of the relatively new industry of neuromarketing, which uses neuroscience devices for market research. Over the past two decades the industry has grown to comprise eleven neuromarketing companies, which are competing for a portion of the $4 billion spent worldwide on qualitative market research each year.

The effectiveness of this still-nascent field of marketing has already been spotted by some dominant brand building companies. The first company, Neurostrategies, was started by professors at the neuroscience wing at the Emory University- Dr Clint Kilts and Dr Justine Meaux. Presently there are more than 90 NeuroMarketing consultancies serving various big advertisers like Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, Daimler Chrysler, Nestle providing clients insights into the way they should tinker their products, advertisements to boost sales.

How it Works: Neuromarketers use technologies such as EEG (electroencephalography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), which have been traditionally used by doctors and researchers to study neuropsychological disorders. Other technologies like MEG (magnetoencephalography) and TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) may also enter the market in the near future. While EEG and fMRI devices differ greatly in cost, appearance, and mode of operation, they both read brain activity in near-real time. They are said to provide a deeper understanding of consumers’ emotions and preferences than traditional market research modalities—surveys and focus groups. Although generally expensive, it is pregnant with the promise to fully understand consumers’ decision making process while shopping.

fMRI – an acronym of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a technology which uses basic Physics and Biology. It uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to create high resolution image of the living brain.  It draws on the fact that the Red Blood Cells(RBC) in the blood contain iron in the oxygen- carrying- part of the hemoglobin and these atoms create distortions in the magnetic field around them. While any part of the brain becomes active, the blood vessels in the specific region dilate causing more blood to flow in that region to supply the additional oxygen and glucose required by the more active brain cells to do their work. This large amount of freshly oxygenated blood in to the region causes a small change in the magnetic field.

The result is displayed as a patchy area of colour, amidst the high resolution grey background of the brain. The coloured area represents the active region as opposed to the grey background which represents the inactive region of the brain. Armed with such high-resolution 3D  images of the brain on a real time basis, one can pinpoint exactly which part of the brain is active.

This area-specific knowledge plays a significant role in the utility of fMRI. Several parts of our brain work together. Even as you read this article, the connectomes related to your visual sense along with the ones responsible for reading and understanding the material are working.  Each region with a rich intermesh of neurons is responsible for a certain activity. The more you stress on any activity, the more the work done by that part of the brain and more the blood flow in that region. The interesting part is, the region responsible for each activity is well demarcated in the human brain. While the whole brain is yet to be mapped by scientists, yet various centres of the brain are already known for various though processes such as reward centre, face-recognition centre, self-referencing centre, liking centre, anticipation centre etc.

The Awesome Power of Branding

What Scans Show: The above graphic illustrates the use of fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to monitor brain responses to tasting Coke or Pepsi. When tasting, only the sensory part of the brain lit up. However, when they were told what they were drinking, the area associated with emotional response also became active, tilting the scales tilted towards Coke. The response is common to various other similar brands.

The contribution of neuromarketing as to why people are willing to choose one brand over the other given no significantly difference in product functionality, is that it provides insights into the consumers’ decision making process that traditional methods of marketing research are ill-equipped to decode.

Limitations of Traditional Marketing Research: These methods have attempted to look at the human brain as the Black Box. The responses to the questionnaires and focussed group discussions are used to understand what actually goes inside the human brain. However all these have significant limitations, not least the inability of many to articulate their complex and often involuntary feelings towards something. Participants tell the marketers what they think they are thinking, yet are themselves not aware as to what exact processes are going on in the brain.

Neuroscientists say that close to 80% of the human emotions related to the approximately 3×1011 neurons in the brain are rooted in the unconscious which are inaccessible to our direct, conscious introspection. Participants filling a questionnaire, despite his best intentions, is himself not aware of the rationale behind preferring a particular product. Advanced technologies like fMRI, magneto-encephalography, and more conventional electroencephalograms (EEG) can do exactly what the conscious mind of the participant misses out.

Applications and Insights

This technology has path breaking applications in the field of marketing and advertising.

Testing Impact: NeuroMarketing researchers can use fMRI to observe which areas of the brain activate when test subjects view, hear or even smell products, or when they view various advertisements.

If participants undergoing fMRI are shown a series of advertisements and the medial prefrontal cortex lights up, indicating increased neural activity, one can conclude that the participant is thinking about the product. This provides a sure way to test which advertisements have an impact on the viewers mind and which does not.

Honing Advertising: The real time imagery gives the indication which elements of the advertisement are effective and which is not, enabling Marketers to focus more on the ones which elicits the right response from the viewer and cull out the ones which fail to do so.

Product Positioning: This kind of data can be used to learn which elements of the advertisement are responsible for ‘neuroengagement’- things that appeal to us, and which ones for ‘counterforce’- our brains calculated way of trying  to avoid such appealing forces, enabling marketers to adjust product positioning.

For instance, in an advertisement for Rolls Royce, the product’s visual appeal may elicit ‘neuroengagement’ while the exorbitant price tag can result in ‘counterforce’. Such specific knowledge can save the advertisements millions of rupees which are unknowingly spent on elements having no desired impact on the viewer. Having known the consumers’ response to various stimuli it equips the marketers to position their brands to elicit the desired response.

Product Development: Daimler Chrysler has used fMRI to improve its car designs. In a study Daimler Chrysler showed test-subjects images of cars through a fMRI scanner while images of their brains were taken by fMRI scans. The study showed that sports cars stimulate the reward centre of the brain, which is also stimulated by alcohol, drugs and sex. Interestingly enough, when images of the front-view of the cars were shown to the test subjects the area of the brain, which is responsible for face recognition, in our brains, ‘lit up.’

The New Marketing Frontier?

The field of NeuroMarketing is still in its embryonic stage, but is developing with more and more new studies being conducted each year.

The utility of NeuroMarketing is of course dependent on the development of Neuroscience. Our present day knowledge of the functioning of the ‘neuronal geography’ in the brain is very similar to the late eighteenth century map of the world, hand-drawn by cartographers.  However with more and more studies and the development of sophisticated technologies like Brainbow, which can map individual neurons with 90 odd fluorescent colours, we might soon have the ‘Google Earth’ of our brain. The analogy shows that the implications are tremendous. If a better knowledge of the world geography was instrumental in colonizing half the planet, imagine the immense possibility that NeuroMarketing has for the marketers in influencing the consumers’ psyche.

Related Resources

There are many new neuromarketing companies offering important clues for content marketers. Here are some:

  • Emsense.com: This company sells a device that consumers can wear on their heads while in stores or shopping online so that marketers can monitor responses.
  • Dan Hill, author of About Faces and Emotionomics, runs the site SensoryLogic.com, specializing in reading faces and non-verbal responses of consumers to access marketing responses.

Snap! principle of neuromarketing and traditional consumer research:

Research customers’ habits, attitudes and brains to close the gap between inaction and action.

Related Sites:


About 75% of consumers are very satisfied with their doctors and nurses, but only about 50% with their health plans, and only 66% are happy with the overall experience.

Prepare for the Commoditization of Health Care

As health reform and state exchanges open up a retail market for more than 23 million individual shoppers by 2018, healthcare organizations face a crucial “moment of truth” and have to work harder for consumer engagement and loyalty, according to a report released today by the Health Research Institute (HRI) of PwC US titled Customer experience in healthcare: The moment of truth.

But what makes a positive customer experience in healthcare? Consumer perceptions are built across multiple channels — in person, online, on the phone and newly emerging channels such as mobile devices and retail health clinics.  And the “commoditization” of health care now means that ideal experience will increasingly be defined by non-clinical elements, including convenience, customer service and staff attitude.

Study: The Customer Experience is Make or Break

In Customer experience in healthcare: The moment of truth the first in a series of HRI reports on healthcare consumerism and related business implications for organizations in the post-reform health market,  HRI compared the experiences and attitudes of consumers in the bankinghotelairline and retail sectors to those of consumers in the healthcare industry.

The Findings:  While a good or bad customer experience can make or break a bank or hotel,

  • healthcare consumers are nearly 2x as likely as airline, hotel, and banking customers to say that staff friendliness and attitude dictate whether the experience was positive or negative.
  • As many as one third of consumers said they would be willing to switch their health insurance or healthcare provider if another company offered a more “ideal experience.

Kelly Barnes, U.S. Health Industries leader, PwC says:

The voice of the customer may be the best kept secret in healthcare, but that’s changing as consumers exert greater control over how their healthcare dollars are spent and exercise power to vote with their feet and wallets.  Hospitals and insurers are competing for loyal customers served by new care and coverage models in a more retail-oriented health market.

The study draws on findings from PwC’s Customer Experience Radar, a unique nationwide survey of roughly 6,000 consumers across nearly a dozen industries.

Health Care Lags Other Service Industries

While consumer expectations in healthcare track those of consumers in other industries, healthcare payers and providers are significantly behind other industries in responding to the wants, needs and preferences of consumers.

HRI found that healthcare consumers also present several important challenges that make them more demanding of better service. Healthcare consumers:

  • Are least likely to share a positive story – only 44% of healthcare consumers and 54% of provider consumers tell anyone within a month of having a positive experience compared to 70% of retail and 66% of banking customers.
  • Are less forgiving of providers with whom they have had a negative experience. 6 out of 10 negative experiences are more likely to be remembered for longer compared to other industries – however, 88% would be willing to return to a retailer who apologized after a bad experience, and 66% of disappointed health insurance consumers are willing to forgive and forget if their frustrations were acknowledged.

Research by Bruce Temkin corroborates these findings.

African Americans are much more loyal to their health plans than Hispanics or Caucasians. How does this change your engagement strategy?

What Matters to Healthcare Consumers

  • Staff attitude was cited as the main contributor to positive moments of truth by 70% of consumers in the provider sector, compared to 38% of retail shoppers and 33% of bank, hospital and airline customers.
  • Personal experience is the top reason for choosing a doctor or hospital  – more than two and a half times more important than to consumers in other industries. By contrast, price and convenience ranked higher on a list of attributes consumers expect across other industries, with price being the #1 driver of purchasing decisions for consumers in every industry but the healthcare provider industry.
  • Conveniences and services rank high:
    • 69% want facilities that offer multiple services in one location;
    • 65% appreciate the ability to exchange information through online and mobile channels of communication;
    • 57% place a high value on patient education they receive during a visit; and
    • 53% percent place a high degree of value on the cafeteria and access to WiFi and other entertainment.
  • Choice of physicians and quick claims payment topped consumers’ list for health insurer services:
    • 87% value choice of providers;
    • 60% seek claims processing within two weeks of service;
    • 49% want information provided to them in both paper and online formats; and
    • 43% value website content that provides information about providers and plan information.

Important Lessons

  • Customer Feedback Forums: One key takeaway HRI outlines is for health organizations to open up forums for customer feedback so they can proactively monitor and manage customer experiences. Paul D’Alessandro, Health Industries Advisory principal and U.S. customer impact leader, PwC writes:

Lessons from other industries have slowly made their way into the health industry, but most healthcare companies — whether payer or provider — still have a ways to go before they can match the transparency, convenience, and overall quality of experience individual consumers often demand in other sectors.

  • Customer experience metrics have been gaining traction in healthcare and are expected to become more important as incentive payments to health organizations become linked to patient satisfaction scores.

Metrics will become vital since, starting in October,2012, Medicare will reduce base payments for each hospital discharge by 1% as part of its Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program, which uses consumer assessment scores, known as HCAHPS, as a key component to calculate value-based incentive payments.  Patient satisfaction scores will determine 30% of the incentive payments, while improved clinical outcomes will determine the remaining 70%

A full copy of the HRI report can be downloaded at: www.pwc.com/us/HealthcareCustomerExperience

A Prominent Neuroscientist’s Take On Workplace Conversation

Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College, recently published a book entitled Words can Change Your Brain co-authored with  Loyola Marymount University communications expert Mark Robert Waldman).

Compassionate Communication

The authors discovered a valuable strategy called Compassionate Communication, a 12-step strategy that allows anyone to create a special bond with whomever they are speaking that aligns both brains to work together as one. In this unique state—free from conflict and distrust—we can communicate more effectively, listen more deeply, collaborate without effort, and succeed more quickly at any task. The following comprises key points of an interview with Dr. Newberg conducted by Steven Kotler in Forbes:

Q1: What are the forms of communication?

While we usually think about language, both written and spoken, as the main way of communicating, research shows that we communicate in so many other ways including facial expressions, eye movements, body position, and body language. For example, a recent brainscan study found that one can tell, by looking at a CEO’s face, if he or she is trustworthy, has strong leadership skills, and is financially successful in governing the corporation.

Q2: What are the most important things being communicated?

While we always need to be able to communicate our thoughts and ideas to others, in business, it appears that being able to communicate your values and vision may be just as important. For example, researchers in the management department at Drexel University in Philadelphia recently conducted a 100-year profile study of 75 CEOs of major league baseball teams. Those who encouraged confidence and optimism in their teams won more games and attracted more fan attendance. And they showed more concern for others than for themselves. But CEOs who showed signs of conceit, vanity, and egotism won the fewest games and attracted the least number of fans. Here we see that kindness and positive support makes all the difference in the workplace. For example, Marcial Losada, the director of the Center for Advanced Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, showed that in the business world, the most successful teams of individuals were those who were the most positive when communicating to each other.  Such values are essential to communicate in the workplace.

Q3: What Is The Value of “Making Money”?

Interestingly, making money rarely shows up on an individual’s personal or professional values list.  So why do so many people equate money with personal satisfaction, even though the research is clear that social satisfaction is more rewarding?  Neuroscience provides a possible explanation.  It turns out that monetary and social rewards stimulate the same neural circuits in the brain.  Every time a person contemplates his or her personal and social values, it stimulates the same reward circuit in the brain.  This research strongly suggests that focusing on your inner values can be both pleasurable and rewarding, and that it should neurologically reinforce behaviors that are associated with the values individuals believe in the most.

Q4: Why Is Focusing on One’s Inner Values So Important for Effective Face-To-Face Organizational Communication?

Harvard business professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, considered by many to be one of the 50 most powerful women in the world, recently posted a blog entry about the importance of directly addressing values in the boardroom: “In organizations that I call ‘supercorps’—companies that are innovative, profitable, and responsible—widespread dialogue about the interpretation and application of values enhances accountability, collaboration, and initiative”.

Dr. Kanter finds that when people share and discuss their deepest values in the business world, it strengthens the alignment of the entire group.  Employees’ personal values become integrated with the company’s policy, and this helps to guide the ethical choices of the corporation.  Discussing business values openly, Kanter argues, eliminates the need to impose impersonal and coercive rules.

The organization becomes a community united by shared purpose, which reinforces teamwork and collaboration.  People can be more readily relied upon to do the right thing, and to guide their colleagues to do the same, once they buy into and internalize core principles.  People can become more aware of the drivers and impact of their behavior.  And, as I have seen in leading companies, active consideration of core values and purpose can unlock creative potential.

Q5: Is it important to bring the value of compassion into the art of negotiation?

Creating a sense of compassion as part of the negotiating practice in business may have profound effects. Deborah Kolb, at the Simmons College Graduate School of Management, emphasizes the importance of showing deep and genuine appreciation when negotiating with others: “Appreciative moves alter the tone or atmosphere so that a more collaborative exchange is possible.” This, she adds, helps to insure that all bargainers establish a common trust, away from “unspoken power plays and into the light of true dialogue.”  And remember: the more you communicate in a warm, supportive, enthusiastic, and genuinely caring way, the more you will be perceived as a transformational leader.

Overall, the evidence shows that developing improved communication techniques, particularly those that rely on personal values and also compassion, can have a potentially dramatic effect within businesses. Such communication may be able to enhance the success, cohesion, and productivity of a business. We have begun to develop and test specific approaches to improving communication and describe these approaches in our book, Words Can Change Your Brain.

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