[p2p-research] The human brain in the workplace | Reuters

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Fri Nov 6 03:39:25 CET 2009

Some of the emerging science that may shape how we design p2p networks:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The modern workplace is an emotionally charged 
landscape of constant threats and unconscious fears that can addle or even 
destroy our brainpower, according to three recent books on neuroscience.
   The flow of brain chemicals triggered by common workplace experiences -- 
feedback session, anyone? -- can erode our ability to think straight, 
harming productivity and diminishing our capacity to solve problems or work 
well with others.
   Yet when approached with greater regard for how our brain operates, work 
can also be a deeply rewarding, creative experience. Getting there, though, 
may require ditching some of our more counterproductive work habits, the 
authors say.
   "One of the things organizations need to do is respect the deeply social 
nature of the brain. People are not rational, they are social," David Rock, 
author of "Your Brain at Work" (HarperBusiness), told Reuters in an 
interview. "The social brain is such that we are really driven to increase 
social rewards, and we are really driven to minimize social threats."
Offering even constructive feedback, let alone punishment for poor 
performance, can serve to underline the "alpha" status of the giver, writes 
Jacobs. Organizations that want people to learn should avoid cookie-cutter, 
depersonalized approaches to feedback, explore more self-appraisal by 
individuals and teams, ask questions rather than give answers, and strip as 
much status-threat as they can from the process.
-- Build a virtuous circle. Help colleagues feel safe in those key areas 
defined by Rock: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness.

--Paul Fernhout

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