LEADERSHIP & If Your Boss Thinks You’re Awesome, You Will Become More Awesome #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “In this research on managers who consistently rated employees higher than average, the employees actually had better self-esteem and worked harder. In other words, thinking more highly of people motivates them to think more highly of themselves … and to achieve more.”

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2015/01/if-your-boss-thinks-youre-awesome-you-will-become-more-awesome

STRATEGISTS & How Visionaries Can Ruin Their Plans By Thinking of Worst Case Scenarios

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This journal article points out that strategic thinkers ( i.e. those who envision the future) also have an Achilles’ heel, in that they tend to envision more negative reactions then they will actually encounter. This reminds us that having faith and seeing a positive future is more helpful than fearing the negative.”

Anticipatory brain activity predicts the success or failure of subsequent emotion regulation.

Denny BT1, Ochsner KN, Weber J, Wager TD.


Expectations about an upcoming emotional event have the power to shape one’s subsequent affective response for better or worse. Here, we used mediation analyses to examine the relationship between brain activity when anticipating the need to cognitively reappraise aversive images, amygdala responses to those images and subsequent success in diminishing negative affect. We found that anticipatory activity in right rostrolateral prefrontal cortex was associated with greater subsequent left amygdala responses to aversive images and decreased regulation success. In contrast, anticipatory ventral anterior insula activity was associated with reduced amygdala responses and greater reappraisal success. In both cases, left amygdala responses mediated the relationship between anticipatory activity and reappraisal success. These results suggest that anticipation facilitates successful reappraisal via reduced anticipatory prefrontal ‘cognitive’ elaboration and better integration of affective information in paralimbic and subcortical systems.

Read more at … http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23202664

CONFLICT & The Biological Reason Why Negative Comments Stick With Us So Much Longer Than Positive Ones

by Judith E. Glaser, Harvard Business Review, 6/12/14.

Why do negative comments and conversations stick with us so much longer than positive ones?

… Chemistry plays a big role in this phenomenon. When we face criticism, rejection or fear, when we feel marginalized or minimized, our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that shuts down the thinking center of our brains and activates conflict aversion and protection behaviors. We become more reactive and sensitive. We often perceive even greater judgment and negativity than actually exists. And these effects can last for 26 hours or more, imprinting the interaction on our memories and magnifying the impact it has on our future behavior. Cortisol functions like a sustained-release tablet – the more we ruminate about our fear, the longer the impact.

Positive comments and conversations produce a chemical reaction too. They spur the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others by activating networks in our prefrontal cortex. But oxytocin metabolizes more quickly than cortisol, so its effects are less dramatic and long-lasting.

This “chemistry of conversations” is why it’s so critical for all of us -especially managers – to be more mindful about our interactions. Behaviors that increase cortisol levels reduce what I call “Conversational Intelligence” or “C-IQ,” or a person’s ability to connect and think innovatively, empathetically, creatively and strategically with others. Behaviors that spark oxytocin, by contrast, raise C-IQ.

Read more at …http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/06/the-neurochemistry-of-positive-conversations/