by Ben Miele
Dan found that making eye contact helped, but the go-to strategy to get people to give money to a street beggar is having the beggar extend his hand for a hand-shake while making eye contact.
Much more interesting is Dan’s take-away observations:
“I think there are two main lessons here. The first is to realize how much of our lives are structured by social norms. We do what we think is right, and if someone gives us a hand, there’s a good chance we will shake it, make eye contact, and act very differently than we would otherwise.
“The second lesson is to confront the tendency to avert our eyes when we know that someone is in need. We realize that if we face the problem, we’ll feel compelled to do something about it, and so we avoid looking and thereby avoid the temptation to give in and help. We know that if we stop for a beggar on the street, we will have a very hard time refusing his plea for help, so we try hard to ignore the hardship in front of us: we want to see, hear, and speak no evil. And if we can pretend that it isn’t there, we can trick ourselves into believing –at least for that moment– that it doesn’t exist. The good news is that, while it is difficult to stop ignoring the sad things, if we actively chose to pay attention there is a good chance that we will take an action and help a person in need.”
How does that apply to employee recognition and rewards? Think about when you’re more likely to help someone else. Doing so requires several steps:
1) Lifting your head up out of your own work to notice the needs of those around you.
2) Caring enough about your colleagues to then extend the help. (Interesting research shows people are 100% more likely to help a colleague a second time if the colleague actually said “Thank you” when help was offered the first time.)
3) Potentially overcome the social norms of your workplace culture – whether that be to help others or to thank them for help given to you (or both).
Do people ignore others in need of help in your workplace, or do people tend to help – and thank – each other?