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The neuroscience of respectful leadership – preventing professional disrespect

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Offices with toxic work environments are harmful to the employees, but where does that toxicity come from? A large percentage is disrespect

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If you have ever felt yourself being disrespected at work, or at least not getting the respect you feel you deserve, you are not alone. These actions can create a toxic work environment that don’t help anyone, but why does it happen and how can it be curbed? Well Gregg Ward has studied the subject and has an interesting take that we would like to share.

Gregg Ward is the Executive Director of the Center for Respectful Leadership, and the CEO of Gregg Ward Group. Gregg has been helping leaders develop their respectful leadership, emotional intelligence, and executive presence skills for over 25 years; working with Fortune 100 and 500 organizations around the world to inspire respect and leadership, emphasizing the measurable, bottom-line benefits they bring to leaders and their organizations. Gregg is the author of the best-selling, award-winning business book The Respectful Leader, as well as the Human Resources and Management handbook Bad Behavior, People Problems, and Sticky Situations.

By Gregg Ward – Executive Director of The Center for Respectful Leadership

Starting in the late 1990’s and for the next 20 years, researchers at Georgetown University and Arizona State University surveyed American employees to determine the amount of incivility, disrespect and rudeness they were experiencing at work. Shockingly, 98% of those surveyed said they had experienced it, and 99% said they had witnessed it. What’s even more troubling is the lasting impact of disrespect on individuals and organizational cultures.

Most of us assume that respect and disrespect are things we think about rationally. Rational thought occurs in the cognitive areas of our brains, within what scientists refer to as “the neocortex.” But recent findings in neuroscience indicate that our responses to rudeness, incivility and disrespect are much more emotional than rational, and are rooted in the primitive parts of the brain, called the “reptilian brain.”

Imagine you’re in a meeting and your boss continuously interrupts you (a not uncommon experience for many), dismissing your ideas as unworkable. Even though you “think” you shouldn’t be bothered by this behavior, you actually experience it anyway on a basic emotional level, regardless of what you tell yourself. This is because your brain perceives these interruptions and dismissals as threats, and almost instantly sends a threat alert to your Amygdala (the center of the Limbic system) which in turn triggers the release of stress hormones into your system including Adrenaline and Cortisol (aka “the stress hormone”).

These hormones are part of the fight-flight-freeze response that all of us experience to some degree when we’re under threat. Researchers have found that increased levels of these hormones resulting from constant exposure in the workplace to even small micro-threats (like being constantly interrupted) can have significantly negative impacts on our health, well-being, productivity and even our ability to think creatively.

Research also shows that respect and disrespect are contagious. You’ll know this to be true if you’ve ever walked into a meeting after it’s started and immediately felt a sense of energetic enthusiasm or chilly iciness between the participants. You can sense that something’s up even though they haven’t said anything to you about what’s actually going on. This awareness is driven by our unconscious brains constantly seeking information to determine if we’re under threat, or not. This is simply the human condition and has nothing to do with us being too sensitive or politically correct. It is simply how we are.

Organizational leaders ignore our fundamental humanity at their peril. A “toxic” work culture, wherein many are experiencing disrespect, rudeness and incivility on a regular basis, can seriously impact performance, productivity and partnership.

In 2016 researchers published a scholarly paper that clearly highlights the negative impacts that disrespect and incivility can have on entire organizations including increased complaints, absenteeism, turnover, mistakes and bottom line performance metrics. If you’ve ever worked (or currently work) in such a toxic culture, you know how uncomfortable this is, and how much of a detriment it can be to your well being.

What can leaders do to ensure their organizational cultures are respectful and civil? First, leaders can set the tone themselves by consistently treating people with decency and respect. Practicing what is often referred to as “common courtesy” is a great way to start, by saying “please” and “thank you,” regularly; greeting people cordially; using “reflective or active” listening, and never raising a voice in anger or upset.

Another effective “respectful leadership” practice is to quickly “nip disrespect in the bud” whenever it arises; demonstrating to the rest of the team that being disrespectful won’t be allowed. At The Center for Respectful Leadership, we refer to these and other related practices as the “RespectfulDo’s,” and they are part of the global movement we call Embrace Respect.

Recent neuroscience is teaching us valuable lessons about our working selves – especially in regard to the power of respect and civility. The question is, will we listen to the research and deliberately act upon it, or stay unconscious and risk the fallout from a toxic culture?

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Business Marketing

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.

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In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.

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Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:

BY JIM WHITE, PHD

Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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