Not making a decision is a decision!

I’m thirteen in the race, going with a speed of 180 kph, slowing down to 110, entering the first right corner of a chicane, countering quickly to the left top. I am not aware that the tires are overheated, which affects the adhesion. Losing the grip I touched the wall hard, bending the tie rod of my steering. I already know that the rest of the race hangs on the changed geometry of the front wheels. The steering wheel started to work differently when cornering. I’m in the middle of the tenth lap out of the 14, and I wonder whether to go to the PIT STOP to perform a time-consuming repair, or to risk a total loss of steering during the remaining laps and finish as the last one. I have to make a decision, still being focused on what is going on the track. I feel that my concentration is falling apart. My brain begins to focus on things that avert my attention from the track. I am trying to save myself in a u-turn, losing more than half a second after leaving the apex. I pass the entrance to the PITSTOP. The decision is to go further. Risking the points for losing my position. If I survive I will gain a few points. 4 laps are dragging longer than the previous 10. I finish 13. The position from which I started the race. Feeling relieved I know that I could have finished a few positions earlier. Shit happens. If I had returned to the PITSTOP to repair the damage that would’ve meant the end of the race. My decision proved to be correct.

Sport, which depends on loads of variables verifies our decision-making skills, especially in crisis situations. If you do sports, which depends only on your preparation, the possibility of a crisis is lower. In car racing, where you have to take into account the large number of variables such as the setup of the car, the temperature of the tires, adhesion, changing track conditions, other rivals who can damage your car, the occurrence of a crisis is much greater. The same works in business. In a small scale business, the possibility of a crisis is small. The larger the scale, the greater the likelihood that something will go wrong.

decision

In the previous post I referred to speculation in negotiations, without having a full picture. In this post I want to refer to a similar topic, but in the area of management. One of the components of the management is decision making and bearing the consequences of these decisions. Although the prestige associated with the executive position can be exciting, the consequences of bad decisions will not excite anyone, apart from competitors. Managerial position is not limited to wagging your index finger and telling your team – Do this, do that! An effective manager must possess many of the characteristics associated with Emotional Intelligence, which are responsible for success or failure of an organization or group they are responsible for. One of such characteristics is the ability to call the right shots. Invaluable asset is a thorough analysis of data. As you already know our brain is lazy (read the dark side of the twenty-first century) and does not like to be overloaded with data. The excess of information often leads to a decision paralysis, which was experienced by Thad Allen, head of the Coast Guard rescue operation during the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. His decision of not closing the airspace over the region resulted in several dangerous situations in which the aircraft narrowly escaped the collision.

When conducting management, negotiation or communication training I observe a bizarre tendency, which seems to be a recipe for their critical situation. The managers, when they have to make a difficult decision, act in two ways. One way of dealing with the uncomfortable decision is tossing a coin, or any similar approach. This method most often appears on negotiation training. The other way to deal with a difficult situation where there is a need to make an unpopular decision is a complete denial of the problem, manifesting openly that nothing critical happened. Such an approach is popular on training in management, where some critical decisions can be postponed due to naive thinking that limited time will save the trainees from any consequences. I do not understand it, as I cannot imagine settling the results of the race with a coin toss. Preparing the car badly, choosing the wrong setup, not knowing the racetrack inside out, not learning the braking points, not considering the behavior of other race drivers on the track will result in only one possible outcome – my chances of finishing the race in one piece are none.

Personally, both professionally and privately I am a supporter of a military approach to decision-making. Sun Tzu leaves no doubt – Military experts do not make mistakes. If they decide to act, their impact is irresistible. I therefore say: “Know yourself and know your enemy, only then your victory will not be endangered. Know well the terrain and weather conditions, then your victory will be complete.” In order to make good decisions, you need to perform data analysis. But first you have to have it. No data translates into speculation. This means a deficit of cognitive resources causing fear to arise. Fear makes you unable to make any decision. No making a decision is a decision not to make any decision.

Tomasz Piotr SIdewicz

Why does pride walk before the fall ?

False self-confidence is associated with an excess of self-presentation, which is manifested as an attitude: See! I’m awesome! If you’re very confident, but you have inadequate self-esteem, you may try to camouflage it by the excess of self-presentation. A necessary condition to ensure that the strategy of self-presentation in excess works is the audience, which mission is to be delighted.

Apart from the fact that you make the impression of being bold, sooner or later you will fall prey to being manipulated by someone, who recognizing your false attitude may send you a Trojan horse.

pride

When do you become a victim of manipulation? Always when you lose self-vigilance and are not able to manage your self-regulation (EQ). The hormone responsible for such a behavior is dopamine, which excess changes your perception of possible threat in your brain. Whatever it was, what you previously recognized as too risky, may seem very easy. In other words, you lose the ability to evaluate reality rationally. In contrast, having solid self-confidence is based on self-awareness constantly analyzing surrounding reality. The brain, in spite of influencing the public, remains in hormonal balance all the time and none of the hormones is in excess. Speaking the human language, although it does not make such an impression, the role is played perfectly and behavior is controlled, but still impacting the emotions of others (the audience). This small difference in physiology makes it easy to identify people with false or solid self-confidence.

Sun Tzu in “The Art of War” wrote: “Give the enemy young boys and women to infatuate him, and jades and silks to excite his ambitions. Keep him under a strain and wear him down”. Less subtle, but nonetheless very clearly Mike Tyson put it: “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth”. That is why the pride walks before the fall!

Tomasz Piotr Sidewicz

The dark side of the XXI century

In the previous post Funny money … I announced why social influence is becoming much easier, what you need to do to influence others and how to protect from succumbing to influence. What is necessary to influence others is effective communication. In the alleged text by Noam Chomsky  – “Top 10 ways to manipulate people” it is concluded that influence on masses needs simple childish language and tone, with focus on emotions, not reflection. These are just two points selected from the list of ten. Interestingly, Noam Chomsky denied the authorship of the text. However, many experts (including specialists from CIA) state that the text was not written by an amateur. (source – Racjonalista.pl)

barin_info_34gb

We live in a world of information indigestion. The researchers from the University of California, San Diego, in 2009 counted that daily we consume 34 GB (gigabytes) of information. What does this mean? Living in the era of information, due to fast-growing mobile technology, our brains to not go crazy from information excess tend to process information very selectively, what they consider to be necessary for our survival. Therefore, we choose the information that fits our cognitive structures mindlessly. You must always remember that your brain sees what it wants to see. Example – let’s assume you have an emotional need to posses a new car. Of course, it may seem that your choice is rational. Stop deluding yourself, unfortunately it is not. Your choice will be rationalized in the brain soon after. You consider the pros and cons of your decision, but in the first place, you have been driven by your survival instinct and your position (hierarchy) in the group (society). The better the position in the group, the easier way to survive. Instinct involves certain hormonal stimulation, which is your emotions. Returning to your car, your brain starts to absorb only the information that suits its purpose and is reluctant to process any information that does not fit the pattern. So you already have your dream car, you are able to spot the desired model on the street from a much greater distance than a lump of butter in the fridge. You start organising your first joyride and suddenly you find out that the car has a subtle problem, due to the technical parameters. So, what do you do with that information? First of all, you repress it and you start a mode of seflinfluence which I wrote about in the previous post.

What does it have to do with influence? Very much. Nowadays, with brains overloaded (allegedly 34 GB per day), as a result of lack of proper training, we have not been adapted to process such large amounts of information, which emphasizes the importance of saying – Ignorance is bliss. In fact, ignorance is a state of peace and quiet, but only in short run. If you do not want to think for yourself, one will for you. You think that you have the cognitive peace. Good! The next point of “Top 10 ways to manipulate people is”: encourage the public to be complacent with mediocrity

The comment to “Funny money? No, thank you!” points out the need of teaching others how to think. I agree, but first we have to get rid of all technology impairing our thinking. If you doubt it take a simple test and divide 11171 by 17 on a piece of paper. Calculators, GPS, Google, etc, all these impair our cognitive processes and abilities in our brains. Another example – see to what degree of cognitive effort protagonist are forced in catastrophic movies. Without electricity, tools, weapons, they must survive in hostile environment. This does not change the fact, however, we all can be reflexive. Especially, when we are in a group and succumb to groupthink. In the nineteenth century, a man named Gustave Le Bon already knew this. His psychological analysis of crowd behavior (“Psychologie des foules” –  Crowd psychology, 1895) states that through the Industrial Revolution, political life is controlled by mobs, psychologically abnormal and irrational creatures behaving irrationally and ruled by instincts, with a tendency to yield to suggestions. His work inspired Dr. Joseph Paul Goebbels, the creator of propaganda in the Third Reich.

Well now let us summarize. We live in times of information inflation. Our brains are constantly focused on catching novelty and changes, that may be crucial from a standpoint of survival, but we are still slaves of instincts. It seems obvious, that in the age of information people should be much more reflexive. It is the opposite. Excess of information and choice accelerates defense mechanism in our brain called ignorance. Technology frees our brains from reasoning. We create procedures which we abide by mindlessly. Orwell’s “1984”? Recall the days of the Trojan War, Odysseus and cunning liar Sinon, who had used Trojan’s godliness (Psychology of crowd?) convincing them that the horse shouldn’t have been burnt down, but should have been pulled into town. The Greeks thought of everything. Even transporting rolls .

The antidote ? And here psychopaths enter the scene. Due to their brain dysfunction they have much greater ability to process and manage information. Drop the image of Hannibal Lecter. He never existed. Find the top 10 professions that attract psychopaths and draw your conclusions. If you are not able to process huge amounts of information take care of it. Knowledge is power because ignorance is bliss!

Tomasz Piotr Sidewicz

Funny money? No, thank you!

One of the most important characteristics of an effective persuader is the ability to use language properly. Relying on the obsolete theory of Howard Gardner on multiple intelligences (neuroscience rejects multiple intelligences as separate entities – more on this can be found in the book of Daniel Coyle “Talent Code”), verbal intelligence corresponds with an ability to use language effectively. Understanding written and oral communication, formulating complex expressions and adequate choice of words, all these define Howard Gardner’s verbal intelligence. A person with high verbal intelligence communicates with other people effectively, articulates his or her thoughts clearly, aptly chooses arguments justifying his or her position. One of the easiest exercises to develop alleged verbal intelligence is reading books, which is a disappearing activity in these times of tablets, smartphones and simplification of language usage.

A very interesting example of influencing language, changing the reference point is the statement of Maciej Strączyński, the president of Association of Polish Judges “Iustitia”, who addressed the 613 cases of speeding by judges, who due to their public functions enjoy immunity – Dziennik Gazeta Prawna (nr 232 3873 z 2014-12-01). Quote from Dziennik Gazeta Prawna:

Małgorzata Kryszkiewicz (DGP) – In 997 cases of exceeding the speed limit by public officers with immunity, 613 concerned judges. Are you ashamed of these statistics?

Maciej Strączyński – On the contrary – I’m proud of it.

Małgorzata Kryszkiewicz (DGP) – How come?

Maciej Strączyński – These 613 reported cases of speed limit exceedances apply supposedly to a period of three years. This means that every year we have to deal with more or less 200 cases in the whole country. There are 11.200 judges in Poland, much more than parliamentarians or diplomats. It is easy to calculate that a statistical judge is caught committing this type of traffic offense every 56 years. A judge usually serves for about thirty years. Statistically this means that one judge throughout his or her period of public service commits a half of traffic offense.

Half of an offense per a single judge sounds much better than 613 offenses. A similar tactic comes from the world of negotiations, where changing a point of reference by conversion of a dispute makes the argument futile. Since the world of negotiations is the world of business and sales, this tactic is called “funny money”. An example of such a tactic – Price of 3.000 USD for a cleaning robot can be deterrent to a customer. However if we indicate that in a specific lifetime the cost goes down to around 3 USD a day, it automatically reduces the significance of the excessive price, provided the client uses the robot for 1,000 days, which in Polish standards equals a two-year warranty and only 270 days after its expiry. Who would accept such a job for 3 USD a day?

funnymoneyWhen reading this you could be coming to a conclusion that such a conversion is primitive, and being thoughtful is enough to recognize and defend against it. Now, if it was that easy to be thoughtful, actually no one would ever fall prey to influence. The point is that every of us have an innate aversion to process too much information, resulting in self-manipulation. Self-manipulation comes up when the area of a brain responsible for emotion analysis says ENOUGH!I do not want to analyze any variables any further. Let heaven ‘s will be done!

In my next post I will explain what is needed to influence others and why it is becoming easier to manipulate others.

Tomasz Piotr Sidewicz

Fear of influencing others (?)

After many many years of observations gained from conducting training in the field of conscious influence I came to a conclusion, that people are reluctant to use any techniques of influence consciously. Many a time I noticed in my previous posts that fear is a terrible adviser, since fear paralyzes common sense thinking. Why is fear paralyzing? Because of the need of taking responsibility for the impact of influence, the so called PRISONER’S DILEMMA.

Whether we like it or not, everyone uses social impact. The reason? – To make your life easier. Any form of communication among living creatures is a form of influence. Communication is not a transmission of information, contrary to what is commonly believed. Communication serves to interact with others and cause specific reactions or provoke. So everybody does it. Every single human being influences others, providing she or he shares the same location with other human beings. The simplest form of influence is ingratiation as a self-presentation. The hardest form is persuasion and eristic. The most common form of influence is lying and intriguing. Since people tend to delude themselves (ignorance is bliss), those who lie and plot do not have to make too much effort to be successful.

Fear of influencing others is like fear of being too attractive in terms of appearance. Certainly, there are situations when your attractive appearance can cause more harm than good. However the benefits of being attractive outweigh potential damage. Unfortunately, in many environments being too attractive is not accepted due to social conformity and common acceptance of bringing others down. These include corporations, in which there is a specific DRESS CODE, even specifying the length of fingernails, or prohibiting wearing sandals in the summer.

plotting

Human being is fairly simple animal, equipped with so-called limbic system, which is of great importance in decision making related to social behavior. Contrary to what we tend to think about ourselves, it is easy to manipulate and deceive us. Providing one accepts the cost of exerting influence on others, risk associated with the fact that someone may realize he or she has been manipulated pays off. Example ? – First date, bragging of one’s awesomenimity and subsequent verification of facts. All those who disappointed their partner for not being what they had presented, understand the nature of cost of social impact. By the way, I wonder why the attitude – DO NOT STAND OUT! is so common. Probably because you fear the consequences of disappointment of others.

In my next post I will present a technique called funny money, which is not as simple as it seams, however when well-played makes the whole argument substanceless. I will use the example of speech given by the President of the Polish Judges Association „Iustitia”, where in the course of an interview the president reaches for the funny money technique to reframe the whole problem he had faced. How did he handle it ? Read the next entry!

Tomasz Piotr Sidewicz

Success, professionalism and passion !

Passion – word meaning suffering, derived from the verb meaning in Proto-Indo-European language (proto-language) to inflict pain. Passion is not a hobby. Semantically or etymologically (etymology is the history of words ) the words have nothing in common. If you have passion, it’s basically suffering because of the pain passion inflicts, and yet suffering ennobles your character.

dreams_fear

A man without passion is like a vase without flowers. Hollow. Looking at them, you can see that something is missing. They may be put somewhere, but sooner or later they can be hidden in a cubbyhole with the other empty vases .

What does passion provide, beyond suffering ? It enriches and develops you. Development starts where comfort zone ends. Under a warm feather-blanket there is no room for any development. On a deck chair with a drink in hand? It is difficult to develop either. Jacek Walkiewicz said that professionalism is never a coincidence. Passion gives professionalism. Professionalism gives quality. And quality is luxury in life.

If you have any passion you know that everything is possible. You just have to want to realize your dreams! And dreams? If you are not afraid of your dreams it means that your dreams suck! Act! Compete with your dreams!