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Daniel Pink on right-brain thinking and outsourced economics

VentureOutsource.com: How has ‘emotional intelligence’ in the Western workforce contributed to some of the ‘net positive’ job gains in the West? What are five (5) ways manufacturing operations employees can improve their emotional intelligence, and hopefully contribute more value to their organization, as contract manufacturing outsourcing and offshoring both continue to become more integrated in Western and European technology OEM company business strategies?

Pink: That right-brain skills like Empathy, Story, Play and Meaning are increasingly important in most professional jobs today should be great news. These are innately human aptitudes — they’re what make it worthwhile to be alive. During the Information Age — with its heavy emphasis on left-brain work, — many of us let our right-brain aptitudes atrophy. But the good news is that any one can develop these skills.

Here are five great ways to start:

1. Learn to read faces: The worlds leading expert on facial expressions is Paul Ekman. (www.paulekman.com) His latest book, Emotions Revealed (Times Books, 2003) is a first-rate guide to learning to decipher the emotions revealed on someone’s face. Ekman’s earlier book, Telling Lies (W.W. Norton, reissued 2001) explains, among other things, how to detect when someone is fibbing.

2. Play ‘A Day in the Life’ with colleagues: Have each participant write his or her name on a large piece of paper and then make two columns with the headings: My Frustrations, My Rewards

Next, post all of the sheets on the walls and ask everyone to walk around the room and write what they think the answers are for their co-workers. Then, each person reclaims her own sheet and everyone takes a turn responding to their colleagues’ guesses and while explaining what their workday is really like.

3. Say thanks: Feelings of gratitude enhance well-being and deepen ones sense of well-being. We know this thanks to the work of people like Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of the positive psychology movement. Seligman advocates making a gratitude visit. Think of a colleague who has been kind, generous or helpful to you but whom you’ve never properly thanked. Write a detailed gratitude letter to that person explaining in concrete terms why you’re thankful. Then, visit the person and read the letter aloud. Do it – you’ll thank me.

4. Laugh: Visit a laughter club. To find out more about the basics of laughter yoga and its founder, Dr. Madan Kataria (www.laughteryoga.org) These groups are growing at a rapid clip.

5. Dedicate your work: If you look at the beginning of my book (or almost any book, for that matter) you’ll find a dedication. You can do the same. Dedicate your work — a presentation, a report, a major problem solved — to someone you admire or who matters in your life. You can infuse your work with purpose and meaning when you think of it as a gift.

VentureOutsource.com: What was the last book you read and what did you like most about it?

Pink: The last book I read was Tested: One American School Struggles To Make The Grade by Linda Pearlstein. It’s an extremely compelling and well-reported account of a year in the life of a school in Annapolis, Maryland, and how it responded to an educational regime in which standardized testing has come to dominate.

The school in question, Tyler Heights Elementary, served a mostly low-income population. And to maintain its funding, the school essentially devoted every minute of the classroom day to preparing kids for the state test.

This drove out most other activities — not just art and music, but also science experiments. By the end of the book, it’s an open question about whether these kids are learning more under this approach. But the book isn’t against standardized testing. It’s a balanced account of the challenges public schools face today — and how heroic many teachers and principals are in trying to do the right thing in a very screwed up system.




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