Psychology

Tips for work from psychology are as numerous as germs in a ball pit. With so much trashy “advice” available online, you might just believe that psychology is the “ball pit of science” – lots of fun but not that clean. You’re not alone.

Widely considered a “soft science” and lower on the bookshelf of scientific study than the rest; exactly what the word, “soft” means for science isn’t clear (or clean). But the implications are.

Within the hierarchy of scientific evolution, psychology is less important, largely intuitive and less rigorous than the so-called, “hard sciences.” The last link in the chain would seem to be: “Psychology is the ‘easy’ science.”

I couldn’t disagree more.

Why does psychology have a reputation for being a “lesser” science?

My opinion is that psychology is so intertwined with our daily lives that we take it for granted; as familiar to us as swimming is to fish. And there’s logic to support this. For example:

Premise 1: Everyone questions their own or others’ thinking and behavior.
Premise 2: Psychology is the study (i.e., question) of thinking and behavior.
Conclusion 1: Therefore, we all use (i.e., practice) psychology.

TRUE. Everyone privately (some, publicly) question(s) their own thinking (including feelings) and behavior. We’re all self-conscious to some degree. Further, as higher-thinking social animals, we all question what, why or how others think, feel or do. (There are exceptions, but I’m sticking with people in the functional “ball-park.”) A second syllogism:

Premise 1: We all practice psychology.
Premise 2: “Good” psychology employs the scientific method.
Conclusion 2: Therefore, we’re all good at psychology.

FALSE. Most people are unaware of, and frankly unconcerned with, the findings of proper scientific research in psychology.

many persuasively evaluate, counsel, and promote incompetent beliefs with impotent practices.

As a result, many persuasively evaluate, counsel, and promote incompetent beliefs with impotent practices. We don’t know others, or ourselves, as well as we think we do.

Think of someone you interact with somewhat regularly; you “know” them.

  1. How well do they really know themselves?
  2. How well do they really know you?

“Duh?” May be. But you’re the “other” to that same, “someone else.”

Let’s get real.

we don’t know others, or ourselves, nearly as well as we think.

The truth is that we don’t know others, or ourselves, nearly as well as we think. Assumptions, biases, stereotypes and a host of other psychological processes push our attitudes and behavior away from the objective truth all the time. Worse? Most of the time we don’t even realize it.

This stuff really matters.

a minor assumption in the boardroom creates major implications in the break room.

Ultimately, the leverage point for any change is at the psychological level. You’ll always find a wellspring of psychology at the ‘headwaters’ of any individual or organizational outcome. A trickle of psychological “error” at the mountain top swells into tumultuous whitewater downstream. In other words, a minor assumption in the boardroom creates major implications in the break room.

It’s hard.

the general population’s fact-based knowledge of psychology is one tenth of one percent.

Some experts estimate that we understand about 10% of the way psychology works. I think that’s high. Let’s say I understand about 10% of what the greatest minds of Industrial/Organizational psychology do; one percent of the “way it is.” Respectfully, let’s estimate that nearly 30 years studying and practicing I/O psychology has put me above 9/10 who’ve focused their talent elsewhere (woo-hoo!). That means the general population’s fact-based knowledge of psychology is one tenth of one percent.

This is completely hypothetical. But the knowledge pool certainly isn’t deep. (Did I mention that most believe and behave as if they know this stuff?)

Why Psychways?

Though they may be hard and deeply rooted in assumptions of variable justification, the truths of psychology can be learned. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist. (What’s with the “rocket scientist” comparisons?)

there’s a lot more junk science to circumvent today

I learn more every day — mostly that I know less. The amount of information is swelling via innovations in technology and turbo-charged accessibility. But there’s a lot more junk science to circumvent today than when I started my career. Thanks to those early, grueling years of study without computers, internet authors or celebrities of popular “paperback theory,” I give credit to my most important lesson: Know what you’re reading!

Don’t let seminal research fade from — or mysteriously appear on — the radar screen of scientifically-based knowledge.

Seek out primary sources to insure claims even if said research is cited. And be sure to cite sources yourself!

My Selfish Need To Share

The primary purpose of my writings is to help you move your beliefs closer to reality by building your awareness of how people think, feel and behave at work – for real. Psychology Tips for Work aims to share with you some of the most predictable strengths and errors of human thought and behavior at work. As an added benefit, it will help you in non-work situations, too. (Doing this isn’t as easy as reading ANYTHING, no matter how clear or true. My consulting company, Talentlift, is how I offer direct support to client organizations, teams and individuals.)

There’s another reason I trumpet.

Quality Control

The worst offenders are those who have expertise but use it to exploit the good intentions of individuals with junk science and products specifically designed to sell. Despite knowing better, they subvert or manipulate the truth out of their greed.

in the time it takes to find a parking spot at IKEA, attendees of the certification workshop are convinced that they’ve become psychological experts.

The most typical tactic of such “experts” is the “certification” workshop. (Note, a certification workshop does not necessarily mean you’re being sold a bad product – but you are being sold!) Miraculously, in the time it takes to find a parking spot at IKEA, attendees of the certification workshop are convinced that they’ve become psychological experts.

Let’s review. (Can you tell this “gets my goat?”)

Here we have,

  1. Experts in psychology,
  2. Paid to sell,
  3. Tricky tools,
  4. Using slick techniques, (see #1)
  5. To empower others,
  6. In two days, or less,
  7. To be experts in psychological assessment.

Call their bleepin’ hand!

Ask to see the technical manual. Don’t even worry about getting something you might not fully understand. If the vendor is pushing dope, (oops) they WILL NOT share a proper technical manual with you. It doesn’t exist! Instead, they’ll offer some amazing marketing material.

Hold the line.

Once you’ve got them pushed to the edge you’ll hear, “Aspects of our instrument are proprietary and trade secret,” blah, blah, ….

Game Over.

Protecting the “secret sauce” does NOT preclude or protect a vendor from providing detailed and rigorous evidence of quality including the design, rationale, proper use and psychometric integrity of their instrument.

{Okay. I’m simmering down.}

A Precautionary Word about my Style (as if you need it now)

This ain’t no academic journal, but I do cite research

My goal with Psychways is to provide psychology tips for work backed by research, without boring you to death. Who said sharing “specialty knowledge” has to be so f*ing formal?

Some of my writings are rated, PG-13. So I’m not a saint. I tell it like it is. Like I’d share it with you over a burger and fries. Some say I’m edgy; others that I’m loose – I prefer to think of myself as being likeunto the Shakespearean Fool. This ain’t no academic journal, but I do cite research and share personal experience to lend scientific support to my posts as frequently as possible.

Psychology tips for work — I hope you find them helpful.

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