Friday, April 28, 2017

Belief, 2

Studying about bias and prejudice led me to delve into research on ‘beliefs.’ Studies have shown that neither children nor adults have a well-developed capacity to distinguish the accuracy of their own beliefs. Adults are particularly vulnerable with regard to maintaining self-deceptive beliefs, especially when comparing their own intelligence and attractiveness with that of others. Most people overestimate their personal abilities, and unfortunately their inflated beliefs cause them to suspend their ability to test reality (e.g., smokers underestimate their risk of lung cancer, managers make overly optimistic forecasts that lead their organizations into initiatives that typical fail or fall short of expectations). In surveys, approximately 90% of the respondents believed they were smarter, healthier, and more industrious than the average individual.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Each person is free to choose the beliefs to accept and those to reject. Therefore, there are more than 6 billion belief systems in the world and no two are identical. The frontal lobe is critical in directing our ability to act freely and make decisions. One may have less conscious choice that ordinarily believed, however. Studies by Benjamin Libet showed that several milliseconds before a person makes a conscious decision, there is electrical activity in the brain that likely represents a subconscious generation of the thought the person is about to have. Which means that humans are likely not responsible for every thought that crosses their mind. They likely are responsible for the thoughts they continue to harbor and cogitate upon once the thought reaches conscious awareness.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bias Can Convert

It is easier for the brain to first quantify objects into pairs and then to differentiate them into opposing groups: right or wrong, lights or dark, Republican or Democrat, etc. This neural process of simplification and generalization is a form of biological stereotyping because it does not take into account individual differences and nuances. Once an oppositional dyad is created, the brain will then impose an emotional bias on each (root for favorite sports team and disparage the other). This includes people from different cultural, religious, and ethnic background. Unfortunately, this inborn us-versus-them mentality easily converts into racism. So it appears that bias in innate, prejudice is learned.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Bias appears to be built into the brain as a function. Meaning that the fastest determination the brain is believed to make when confronted with something new is whether or not the new something is like you or unlike you; something you’ve seen before or never seen before. Brain scans have shown that the amygdalae (two little almond shaped organs, one in each cerebral hemisphere) that registers fear, react when one first observes a person from a different ethnic background. However, there can be a significant variance in the response based on a variety of internal and external influences. The brain’s initial reaction can decrease in less than half a second. When faced with any belief that conflicts with one’s own, it takes additional effort and time to override biologically-based cognitive biases, but by doing research suggests that you can become more open minded. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fish, PTSD, & Social Transmission

A report in Proceedings of the Royal Society B described a study that showed fish can learn fear from role models. According to the study’s authors, environment can influence the social transmission of fear. The study showed how risk aversion can be learned. The researchers also suggest their study may shed light on how fear disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develop in humans, which research shows can be influenced by social environment. For example, PTSD symptoms can be acquired from friends or family who have suffered trauma.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Aphorisms, 4

  • Stop hiding your light under a bushel.
  • The cover of a book may not always match its contents
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • The pen is mightier than a sword and a computer more powerful than dynamite
  • The quality of genuine mercy is not strained.
  • Less is more
  • You are shaped by what you choose to love
  • The only things certain are change, taxes, and death
  • You become like those you choose to hang with
  • You are the average of the people you spend the most time with

Thursday, April 20, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 9

Four key behavioral characteristics describe and define the dimension of Emotional Sensibility:

  • Able to respond to emotional stimuli of low intensity (don’t need to be hit over the head with high intensity to get your attention)
  • Can be empathetic (different from sympathy) and yet can still get the job done
  • Experience improved interpersonal relationships (tend to live at ‘joy’ and are not knocked down or become immobile by the choices of others)
  • Choose a positive can-do mindset, self-talk, and use affirmation—a positive style of speaking—when communicating with yourself and others

Likely you have some of these dimensions already in place. Identify and hone those that are missing or relatively undeveloped. You can do it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 8

Five key behavioral characteristics describe and define the dimension of Emotional Maturity
  • Are self-aware (as brain matures)
  • Care for yourself and help to develop others (as the superego develops with brain maturation)
  • Able to delay immediate gratification for a more desirable long-term reward
  • Can adapt (each brain only has its own opinion and you know yours but can alter it or agree to disagree)
  • Are flexible (able to brainstorm options and alternatives successfully and can compromise to reach group consensus when necessary)
More Tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 7

Dr. Dahlip Singh of India has described three psychological dimensions of high EQ at work that motivate individuals on the job to maximize productivity, manage change, and resolve conflict. They are Emotional Competency, Emotional Maturity, and Emotional Sensitivity. I’ll comment on each of these individually. Four key behavioral characteristics describe and define Emotional Competency:

·         Tackles emotional upsets and avoids emotional exhaustion (no ‘stuffing it’ or creating a ‘slush fund’)
·         Possesses optimum self-esteem (neither under- or over-inflated but balanced)
·          Handles egoism (takes the initiative to prevent and/or resolve conflict)
·         Uses tactful responses to emotional stimuli (no overt response may be most appropriate at the moment)
More tomorrow.

Monday, April 17, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 6

Here’s an example of a low JOT behavior. Jerry set his alarm to be on time for an initial job interview over breakfast at the hotel. He was the first to arrive at the restaurant. Instead of ordering a cup of something to drink, patiently reading the paper, and showing he’d cared enough about the interview to be on time, Jerry allowed himself to get very upset. My time is important, too.” After five minutes he left and went back to his room and dwelt on these unhelpful thoughts, gripping, fuming, and grumbling until he jumped to conclusions (they must not be very interested in me), took it personally (My time is important, too!) and became more and more angry. When the boss texted seven minutes later that they had arrived at the restaurant and wondered where Jerry was, Jerry overreacted, firing back, “I was there on time. Where were all of you?” No surprise, the boss selected another candidate and Jerry still hasn’t seem to figure out how his overreaction may have played into that decision. More Tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 5

Low levels of EQ can been seen in more inappropriate or undesirable behaviors that one can even imagine. I tend to talk about JOT behaviors. “J” stands for jumping to conclusions; “O” represents overreactions; and “T” means taking things personally. Just working to reduce the incidence of JOT behaviors can take you a long way toward raising your level of EQ. When is the last time you exhibited one or more JOT behaviors? Remember, you can only deal effectively with behaviors that you can label and describe. Initially you may not even recognize a JOT behavior for days, weeks, or months. As you gain skills, however, the recognition time gets shorter and shorter. The goal, of course, is to become aware of an impulse to exhibit a JOT behavior BEFORE you have started down that path and course-correct. It’s amazing how many ‘messes” this can prevent. A “mess” prevented is one less to clean up.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 4

Perhaps because EQ contains the word ‘emotional,’ many think that EQ is synonymous with emotions. Not really. EQ describes how you handle, manage, express, and behave in terms of the four core emotions. Because the brain takes years to become developed (e.g., the prefrontal cortex right behind your forehead is likely not ‘done’ until mid to late twenties), you were fortunate if you had parents and care providers who possessed high levels of EQ. That way growing up you at least were exposed to desirable behaviors—whether or not you chose to hone the skills yourself. [Although this group of blogs is directed toward EQ in the workplace, as your EQ skills improve you will discover they benefit you in your personal arena, as well.] More tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 3

The formula for your Success Quotient goes like this: IQ plus EQ equals SQ (Success Quotient). What is fascinating is that IQ is estimated to contribute only 20% to your SQ, while EQ contributes 80%. As you likely already know, IQ or Intelligence Quotient describes potential inherited abilities for specific types of academic intelligence. EQ or Emotional Intelligence Quotient describes learned abilities distinct from, but complementary to, academic intelligence. (Refer to definition of EQ in yesterday’s blog.) At work, successful managers tend to have high levels of EQ, while less successful managers often have high IQ but low EQ. Dahlip Singh PhD, author of Emotional Intelligence at Work, has created an EQ Assessment that he hopes will be eventually approved and utilized by Human Resource Departments when interviewing and hiring new EQ employees. After all, reduce that 18% (refer to Monday’s blog) and potentially the company can be more profitable. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 2

How do you suppose company executives view the importance of high levels of EQ when their managers spend nearly a fifth of their work time dealing with employee conflicts instead of working on company business? It’s expensive, that’s what! To make sure we’re on the same page, this is my definition of EQ: Emotional Intelligence (EQ) involves the ability to know what feels good, what feels bad, and how to get from bad to good in a way that results in positive outcomes; including the ability to recognize each of the four core emotions (joy, anger, fear, and sadness quickly obtain the information the emotion is attempting to convey, and to exhibit actions and behaviors that tend to result in positive outcomes. Unfortunately, many try to get from feeing bad to feeling good by becoming involved with addictive behaviors, a strategy that tends to increase the likelihood of receiving a negative outcome with undesirable consequences. More tomorrow.

Monday, April 10, 2017

EQ in the Workplace, 1

What it your work style in terms of emotional control? Is it the same in situations where you perceive have more control versus those in which you have less control? Interesting questions because many a high-IQ brain has failed to be hired in top management positions—even though they possessed the skills requisite for the job. What blocked them? Their low level of Emotional Intelligence or EQ. Meaning that they failed to evidence EQ skills in terms of how they managed their emotions. In fact, US State News, August 19, 2006 reported that managers spend 18% of their time managing employee conflicts and that the percentage had doubled since 1996. No surprise, many of those employee conflicts involved low levels of EQ. More tomorrow

Friday, April 7, 2017

Aphorisms, 3

Enjoy some more aphorisms

  • A bird on your finger is worth three in a tree
  • A bad penny always turns up when you least expect it
  • A barking dog rarely bites—very hard
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • A penny saved is a penny earned—or at least not spent
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • Actions speak louder than words
  • All for one and one for all
  • All that glitters is not gold
  • All the world's a stage and we are only players—but there are players and there are players

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Good News & Bad News

A variety of conditions including surgery, cancer chemotherapy, peripheral nerve damage, and heart attack can lead to poor memory, depression, fatigue, and exaggerated responses to pain. A common feature of these conditions is that they induce inflammatory responses in the body, which lead to an impact on the brain and central nervous system or CNS. Until recently the CNS and peripheral immune system were thought to operate independently. Indeed, the term “immune system” is not generally included in the indexes of current major texts in neuroscience nor the terms “CNS” and “brain” included in the indexes of major texts in immunology. This is changing, however, due to new research that identified a physical connection between the immune system and the brain. Immune vessels go through the three meningeal coverings of the brain. There is also increased understanding of how immune-related events in the peripheral nervous system can influence CNS processes, thereby altering cognition, mood, and behavior. Moreover, these advances are suggesting that inflammation may have important long term implications for the brain. Indeed, the brain and immune system appear to have their hands shoved so deeply in each other’s pockets that it’s hard to tell which is which. Take good care of your brain and the immune system will likely benefit and vice versa.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Triggers for Inflammation, 2

In addition to lack of optimum nutrition and nutritional deficiencies (e.g., B12, Vitamin D, essential fatty acids, and vitamin C), other factors may trigger inflammation. For example:

  • Some medications (e.g., frequent use of acid blocking medications, overuse of antibiotics)
  • Individual response to stress, especially chronic stressors
  • Environmental toxins (e.g., pesticides, herbicides, food additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners)
  • Exposure to toxic metals (e.g., mercury, lead, cadmium)
  • History of repeated infections
  • Sedentary habits with a lack of physical exercise
  • Failure to obtain adequate amounts of sleep
These and other factors may actually damage the GI tract and trigger inflammation, which may then spread throughout the body and the brain. Remember, the GI tract is filled with neurons, perhaps as many as are in the brain itself.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Triggers for Inflammation

Some believe that inflammation may have its roots in the digestive system or gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the body’s main line of defense against what comes into the body. When working optimally, the GI tract is designed to remove toxins and harmful organisms such as bacteria and viruses from the food you eat before it has a chance to reach the rest of the body. Unfortunately, the digestive system may become overwhelmed by what is put into it and/or by what could be helpful but is not put into it. Reportedly some foods are more likely to trigger gut inflammation than others, including:

  • Refined sugars and candy and deserts made with them
  • Processed and refined foods - white rice, commercial white bread, and products made with white flour such as cookies, pastas, crackers, and many deserts
  • Highly acidic foods
  • Dairy products, especially whole milk products
  • Animal fats
  • Caffeine, alcohol, and sugary beverages
  • Food allergens and/or sensitivities

Monday, April 3, 2017

Inflammation – Brain

Inflammation can contribute to neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer’s, and other types of dementia. Inflammation can also attack brain tissue. This can be problematic because the brain is contained within a bony skull, so there is little expansion room for the heat, redness, swelling, and swelling that typically accompany inflammation—to say nothing of loss of pain and loss of brain functions. Encephalitis is an example of inflammation of the brain. It may be caused by an infection or from the immune system attacking brain. It often begins with flu-like symptoms that can worsen quit rapidly. Studies have also shown a link between brain inflammation and mood / mental disorders: anxiety, depression, autism, forms of dementia, and schizophrenia. Fortunately, some identified triggers of inflammation involve factors and items that may be partially if not completely within one’s control. More tomorrow.