Thought So

Published: Mar 20 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Alice Walker, author of “The Colour Purple" and civil rights activist said “The most common way that people give up their power, is by thinking they don’t have any”.

The reality of the power of what we think was driven home to me recently by the TED talk given by Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, who presented a kind of positive case for stress.

McGonigal had an interesting view to posit which was essentially that stress per se is not a negative thing, but the way we think about stress is.

A study in the US looked at groups of people who had experienced high levels of stress in the previous 12 months. This was a big study, 30,000 adults and an 8-year study.

They then further divided this group into peoples attitudes to stress. Did they feel stress was bad for you or not. Did they see stress as negative, unpleasant dangerous to your health. Or did they see stress as positive, getting the body ready for what is about to happen, exciting.

Bad news first.

Those who thought that stress was negative had a 43% higher chance of death as recorded in the public health records. But the good news is that those people who saw stress as a positive did not see any increase in death rate.

So how we think about stress has a massive physical impact on how our body deals with it. Watch the TED talk here.

One of the most common worries negotiators face is the fear that they do not have any power in the negotiations about to happen. Spending valuable time in preparation thinking about where your power lies not only helps in the negotiation, but it also creates a positive mindset for the discussion ahead.

Might not save your life, but will certainly improve it.

Alan Smith


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Alan Smith

About the author:

Alan Smith
My background is marketing and advertising. After graduating in Economics I entered the agency world to become, at 28, MD of London's largest independent below-the-line marketing provider.

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It’s amazing how many people go into negotiations with no clear idea about their bottom line. “We’ll see how it goes,” seems to be the rather naïve thought and of course they leave themselves open to the risk of a really poor and unprofitable deal at the end of it. It is empowering to know your bottom line, especially when you have internal agreement at senior level. Think about it: the other side are aggressively demanding that you improve your terms, but you know that what they are asking for is beyond your bottom line.

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