Once again thank you for taking the time to read my weekly article. I know many of my 1st circle “LinkedInners” are out there reading and liking, sharing and commenting my articles. Thank you. To those of you reading and enjoying the read please let me know by liking, sharing and commenting.
When I posted my first Covid-19 article named COVID-19: The Confinement Roller Coaster Wave, my fantastic business partner Cyrille Gay chose an amazing picture of a roller coaster in black and white. I did not know at the time, that this image would become our trademark image throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
Where we live, summer is in the air and we would like to think it is vacation time.
We would like to be able to just enjoy the nice warm weather and relax. However, our minds are still focused on the work that needs to be done.
TransitionKit takes care of companies and their employees. Our interactive webinars focus on understanding the psychological impact Covid-19 has on employees and organisations. They are designed to accompany staff and management.
Our PNKR© (see post about PNKR here) tool has proven to be of great support to individuals and companies alike in these troubled confinement, deconfinement, reconfinement times. We use it in our webinars and the compounded results can be shared with management teams.
The results show that companies have managed Covid-19 very differently.
The more trust (see link trust vs mistrust) there is in a company, the better the company has been able to manage the Pandemic crisis.
PNKR© has given us insight to how employees experienced confinement. Keywords such as trust, work from home or relationship with colleagues came up often, illness and accident rates, etc. seamed less important and generated less complaints.
In our experience work from home resulted in closer relationships between employees with more empathy for example which came as a surprise for many of us. What also surprised our participants is that in the vast majority of cases, the list of positives was much longer than the list of negatives.
Positives most often cited are: more time at home, no commuting, better performance for those with good networks and no child care issues. For those with small children obviously the work/life balance was more difficult to cope with, realising the job was right, the environment was not (that could also be under negatives.)
Negatives most often named are: too many video conferences and too long (in one company six-hour video conference without breaks, unfair monitoring in companies lacking trust in their employees), companies not prepared for the work at home transition.
Keep, most wishes from the confinement period are the fact that many enjoyed the working from home experience and would want to be able to continue working from home for part of their time. They often mentioned the fact that spending more time with family and namely with children was a positive experience.
What employees say about the life they would like to Return to the most in post Covid-19 at work, is being physically at work (balanced with teleworking), spending time with colleagues and clients. They often mentioned how much they missed the social side of their lives.
Those unhappy at work noted for example how much they became aware that the job they are doing is great, but the environment is wrong. Several of our candidates are now looking for new jobs. They came to realise that their health and mental health problems had to do with their job. Several candidates said “when I go back to the office I come home with a headache” or “my stomach problems flared up again”, one HR professional could not cope with how her company was treating and firing staff during the Pandemic. She accelerated her own job search with our assistance and has just signed a new contract. Several of our candidates transitioned during Covid-19 with interviews via video conferencing for which we specifically trained them.
In our most recent webinars caring employees used PNKR© to pinpoint what if re-confinement hit in the fall. They are concerned for their company: In their analysis, these employees suggest a number of actions and precautions the company should consider putting in place.
As Matthieu Poirot argues, to manage efficiently companies should consider their employees experience to co-create viable, efficient, productive and healthy work environments.
If you have concluded that your job is ok but the company philosophy is not, it may be the right time to act and consider a program with TransitionKit to plan your move. Be proactive, get ready to move. Know your options. Don’t stick your head in the sand but rather take a long view. Life is too short and valuable to spend up to 40 or more of your working hours per week with people whose values and philosophy you do not share. Should your company be planning a downsizing you should be preparing yourself proactively.
Let us support you to avoid being taken by surprise.
As always, take care of yourselves,
Once again thank you for joining me.
Covid-19 is creating havoc. We are all reading about anxiety, depression, PTSD and other psychological symptoms.
If you need professional help, do get in touch with your MD first. If you don’t have a GP reach out to a professional helpline, a trained psychologist or psychiatrist.
Remember, a psychologist has full university training and a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, who in many countries is allowed to prescribe medication. Psychologists in most countries are not authorised to prescribe medication. Check your national authorities.
Today I want to introduce you to DOSE ©
As you know from my previous Covid-19 posts, we are ALL experiencing the emotional roller coaster I presented in March (link)
It is now time to provide more useful tools to have in your toolkit to be able to cope with the emotional wave I described. I don’t want anyone to drown!
Most of you will have experienced the wave gush of emotional flooding since the beginning of the pandemic. The timeline is personal: for some it started in December following the news coming from China, for some it hit home later.
If you have been personally hit hard by the wave, I extend my thoughts to you. If you have been an onlooker to hard hits, you also get my sympathy of course.
We are ALL in this together in one way or another. So, we all need efficient tools to ride the waves to prevent going under. Positive psychology, meditation and mindfulness, are current buzz words. However, I find that in conveying them, in my opinion, something’s still missing.
I was lacking some form of understanding, which in my case prevented me from letting go and using mindfulness for example to its full extent. And let’s face, it I don’t always have the patience and time to meditate for 45 minutes per day, which when I was trained was what you were supposed to do!
Already 15 years ago, I “secretly” modified my practice in how I introduced and taught mindfulness to my candidates looking for jobs.
There was no way was I going to tell candidates, who had recently learned that they had lost their job to spend 45 minutes per day “meditating” when they had bills to pay and a job to find!
Based on the book of my acquaintance Loretta Graziano Breuning, “Habits of a Happy Brain” (also available in French), I created DOSE© an easy to remember acronym.
By learning how to use DOSE© you will be able to master positive stress better, use it to advance and you will learn how to understand your negative stress better. This is important as your hyper negative stress is what will get you into the mental lockdown… procrastination, anxiety, fear blocking you from moving forward.
Let’s dive into the emotional roller coaster.
Our brain is designed to cope with life’s ups and downs: it’s an amazing 2kg blackbox which stores all the information it needs to get us through the GOOD and the BAD times.
For many of us right now, it is partially a bad time.
The Covid-19 tsunami has thrown us out of our comfort zones. Some of you have lost everything and loved ones. That is the worst-case scenario and I know it’s happening to millions of people around the world.
Some of you have lost not everything, but a lot. Your job? Your security? That is quite enough to lose in such a short time to lose ones bearing.
Some of you, on the other hand, are on the top of the wave and surfing. For sure, some people are in areas where business is thriving… some in an honest way, some maybe in shadier ways. Human nature…
Where ever you stand, DOSE© will come to your rescue. Because understanding DOSE© will allow you to better fend for yourself. It will, in my opinion, also help you better let go, appreciate positive and Realistic© psychology (my definition) and benefit from the likes of mindfulness, yoga, praying sincerely and other practices.
Just practicing mindfulness, yoga, praying, etc. won’t bring the quick fix results you are looking for. People with years of experience sometimes get there. Right now, we need something more EFFICIENT to alleviate the anxiety, pain, fear and hurt NOW.
How D-O-S-E helps you survive?
Helps you seek rewards and motivates you to get what you need, even when it takes a lot of effort
Helps you build social alliances and motivates you to trust others, (link to trust vs mistrust) to find safety in companionship
Helps you get respect from others and motivates you to get respect, which expands your mating opportunities and protects your offspring.
Helps you ignore physical pain so you can escape from harm when you are injured.
*In Habits of a Happy Brain (L. Graziano Breuning)
You can’t see your “DOSE”, because these HORMONES are invisible to the eye, but you feel them – they are the ones responsible for your “yes I did it” feeling (dopamine), your hug and smile (Oxytocin) your happiness and confidence (Serotonin) and your boost (Endorphin)
You can learn to react more rationally (system 2) and not on the spur of the moment when they hit you (System 1 = irrationally)
Once you understand which Hormone is pulling you either to positive energy or negative energy (negative stress) you will be able to take the first step to stay calm and make rational (system 2) decisions (see link to cognitive bias article)
Next week I will go further into how you can learn to DOSE© better thus getting a new hold on your life. It’s once again an amazing tool. Using it in conjunction with the other tools from Transitionkit’s toolkit, you will transform your life forever.
We are giving all this away free of charge as part of our modest support to the global community.
Please share, like, comment my articles.
Needless to say we are also open to support your companies and you individually.
For that do get in touch with us (Contact Us)
Wherever you are, stay safe.
Thank you for joining me again.
To Trust or not to Trust?
Last week I wrote about cognitive bias based mainly on the Kahneman’s work. Click here for the link.
Today, I share with you the literature scan I have made, digging further into the phenomenon trying to better understand the diverse human reactions I have experienced in my clients, family and friends before and during lockdown and now during the deconfinement period.
How can I trust the info that is delivered to me?
Depending on your information source, you trust your source or not because of your cognitive bias filter.
Who can you trust?
Digging into the readings, it appears that it is vital to understand the trust versus non-trust aspects of information sourcing.
Stephen Pinker, Dan Ariely and Yuval Harari share with us their understanding of Covid-19. All three of these important scholars are telling us, how influenced we all are by our different biases.
For Pinker, many of us went into “overdrive” meaning our stress (system 1) went totally out of control. Pandemics are “part of life” and not “divine coercion” as was believed in the middle ages and as some groups may still believe today. Ariely points this out, when telling us how special efforts need to be made to get certain groups of people to adhere to the necessary shutdown rules.
Steven Pinker points out that when we are sick and/or threatened by epidemics/ pandemics we tend to become more introverted, xenophobic and prone to emotional disgust
He explains that in today’s 21st century, our intellectual, cognitive system allows us to act fast. Within 2 weeks the virus’s genome had been identified, hundreds of world class scientists are working round the clock to develop vaccines. Public health care programs are being rolled out all over the world.
Steven Pinker asks why we had no well-functioning “firefighter” brigade ready. Share your thoughts or comments with us!
If I take the liberty to summarise my thoughts after having reread Pinker, Ariely, Kahneman and Harari, I would argue that the main problem today is the fight of misplaced egos of world leaders on one hand, and the scientific community on the other. And even within the scientific communities, opinions diverge.
Right now, it would appear that the population overall would listen more to the scientific leaders (system 2 rational scientists) and even more so when the political and scientific leaders act together as in Switzerland.
Steven Pinker further points out that “your political standing predicts your behavior to health measures” he adds that depending on what “tribe” you belong to, your behavior towards authority will change in the face of a crisis like Covid-19.
The very big question is how to get a large number of the population to be more rational.
Did you know that more people die from bee stings and drowning in the swimming pool for example than from terror attacks and epidemics/pandemics? Check our last week article
Our brain has a hard time to compute the exponential character of the pandemic. Somehow at the outset we had a problem to compute the numbers.
The main effort is to reduce the Fear impact which is what gets system 1 irrationality skyrocketing. An old proverb says “Fear is not a good counsellor” and in the case of Covid-19 the pictures and stories told from China and Italy at the beginning of the pandemic seem to have “frightened us to death”, making many of us, as Pinker, Ariely and Harari all say overreact. Fear induced reactions to events are often irrational.
Now it’s time for us all to “calm down and reset our brains” using our rationality.
Going back to the office is a huge step for those who went into Pinker’s “overdrive” during the crux of the crisis.
If you feel that you cannot cope and that your anxiety and stress levels are still out of control, you may want to get professional help.
It would be a shame for society and individuals to recover from Covid-19 but remain vulnerable and develop lasting psychological and somatic damage. Preventing an outburst of phobias, stress and anxiety disorders is now highly recommended.
Many companies are therefore putting in place our webinars as well as offering personalised help lines to accompany staff.
In many languages there’s a saying that translates into “trouble never comes alone”. This appears to be true in some cases now. Many of the clients calling our help lines, call for personal reasons that got out of hand during lockdown and conflictual relations at work. In my personal experience few are complaining about home working. Those suffering from home working are mainly doing so either because of the work load especially at the beginning of the crisis and child care issues. In our sample we find that many people actually have a longer list of positive outcomes from the lockdown than negatives. Our tool PNKR© allows to analyse this in a qualitative and quantitative SWOT analysis.
Finally, it is always a good idea to cross check information and never rely on one source only. Whether political or scientific.
We wish you all a great week,
Thank you for joining me once again.
Over the last 15 days we created and rolled out some 50 interactive webinars in English and French, with several hundred participants on
“How to bounce back serenely from Covid-19” https://www.transitionkit.com/interactive-webinar-how-to-bounce-back-serenely-from-covid-19/
In today’s article, I share one aspect of the webinar which appears paramount to me which is the cognitive bias based on Daniel Kahneman work (with Tversky) which earned Kahneman a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (Shared with Vernon L. Smith in 2002) on the psychology of judgement and decision making and behavioural economics.
Based on Kahneman’s as well as on Olivier Sibony’s (HEC Paris) work, I am inclined to describe what we are experiencing as a BC and AC time period (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/going-from-bc-19-ac-19-new-era-marion-aufseesser-stein) and therefore I am talking about the “AC era” rather than a “new normal”.
Why and how is Cognitive Bias influencing our world?
According to Wikipedia’s definition:
A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own “subjective reality” from their perception of the input. An individual’s construction of reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behavior in the world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.
We are totally subjective when under emergency stress. Saving lives is the prime objective.
We tend to take irrational, system 1 and not system 2, rational decisions as described by Kahneman in his book.
What are system 1 and system 2?
According to Kahneman definitions:
System 1: is fast, automatic frequent, emotional, stereotypic, unconscious.
System 2: is slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious.
In essence, thinking fast and slow makes most of us realize how strongly we are influencedby our former assumptions and patterns and how little we really analyze new albeit uncomfortable data.
Our behaviour is much more influenced by the environment of the moment than we know or want.
Given the information gathered, that most of us make up our minds from, we easily understand how strongly we are influenced and how little we take the time to find reliable sources. (If we find sources we believe we can trust, which in the case of Covid-19 is a major problem given that we should be able to trust for example WHO, but given the politics can we trust WHO? What about Bill Gates? To trust or not to trust – that is the question! Many of us don’t know whom to trust (anymore?).
Studies show that people tend to trust the scientific community more than the politicians. Then again there are varying scientific communities with very different approaches. In addition to this, studies show that certain populations will trust celebrities more than politicians and the scientific community.
In summary: I am drawing our attention to the fact, that what you think is your personal analysis and judgement (system 1) needs to be seriously challenged by yourself and become a concerted (system 2) reflection. Then and only then, will you be making your own personal judgement.
My LinkedIn articles are voluntarily short teasers and non-exhaustive. On a subject as complex as our thought process I invite you to read original Kahneman articles. I also invite you to follow Olivier Sibony (HEC, Paris) in English and French
Wishing you all a great week and take care of each other,
(Thanking Cyrille Gay, my business partner for being the best sparring partner, editor and visual designer you can wish for)
Deconfinement without jams!
It’s again a special week. Like all previous weeks but this one has a particular flavour. Why is this week different from all other weeks? Because, in my country of residence, (Switzerland) deconfinement from our semi-confinement has begun.
What is the impact on our daily life in AC-19 read after Covid-19?
In addition to a return to “BC-19” (read before Covid-19) traffic level, I observed an overall very aggressive road behaviour, particularly towards bicycle riders. Lots of hooting too.
“AC-19” sees the beginning of a new era. We’ll certainly be witnessing lots of changes compared to BC-19.
Some of the changes are definitely positive. Such as seeing friends again and socializing responsibly, being nicer with each other, smiling, smiling with our eyes. Living through this pandemic together brought us closer, discovering that we could live differently, work differently, discover abilities we didn’t know we had, or simply slowing down. We are full of hope and good resolutions for this new era.
Of course, not everything is better and most likely this includes the way we feel about our safety. Is it safe to deconfine? Is it the right timing? Do we all have enough masks, will we get access to tests? Uncertainty and anxiety are words often cited at this moment. We fear for our health and our loved ones’. Yes, deconfining can trigger anxiety as we, despite the sometimes-harsh conditions, got used to our new living conditions. And now what?
Interestingly enough deconfinement comes with its loads of questions. We feel confused by the often contradicting messages we hear from the authorities and news.
Deconfinement comes with different kinds of jams. Traffic jams, jam lines in front of shops, jam lines basically anywhere you need to go inside and do something. The general jamming can cause aggressive behavior, decompensating from confinement? Frustration? Fear?
Fear for some of us going back to the office. Going to places, taking jammed up public transportation where it may be impossible to keep the social distancing required, and where not everyone is wearing a mask (not mandatory in our country). And the risk for some and a reality for others, losing one’s job now. AC-19 comes with a lot of workforce adjustments and we deeply regret if you have been notified with a termination of employment. Or if you find yourself in the difficult position to set up a layoff plan.
How are we going to adapt to our AC-19 life?
If you haven’t yet filled out PNKR © (http://www.transitionkit.com/pnkr_tk_editeng/) it’s the last moment to do so before your brain forgets and transforms your memories of what confinement did to you in positive as well as negative aspects during Covid-19.
It appears that we are pondering our actions more: we are thinking differently before acting. Do I really need to …go somewhere, buy something? Whatever it is we think we need.
If I really need -or just want to? – run that errand when is the best time to do it?
Online shopping versus brick and mortar stores? If we are choosing to go to a real store because we need to try the product before buying, we might adapt our schedule to avoid jamming. Or like millennials, choosing to favor online shopping whenever possible.
Do I really need to …go somewhere, buy something?
In Switzerland, online grocery shopping has become very popular since about 15 years and obviously even more so since the beginning of Covid-19. At the same time, we see an ever-growing number of local producers organizing home delivery to counter the loss of clients wanting to queue up and those not satisfied with the longer delivery times offered by the online stores.
Interestingly, in Geneva, authorities have decided to introduce larger bicycle lanes, to facilitate use of bicycles and anticipate on the fear that the population might feel about public transportation. This is a major change, here in Geneva. We can easily imagine that the same is happening in more countries.
We now see masked security agents at the entrance of stores with disinfecting lotion to be put on our hands.
This generates inevitable queuing lines, steel barriers, markings on the floor everywhere. You know like the ones, when we used to go to see a show, or we went to a sports event. The difference is that, in BC-19 times we were hoarded and pushed each other. Remember?
Now, in AC-19, we politely smile at each other from behind our masks.
Luckily, if we haven’t had a facelift our eyes will smile back … thank goodness for that.
Some human emotional element can be seen even with a mask on.
To read more on smiles and eyes movement, check the web for real or fake smiling and eye movement articles. (https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/spotting-a-duchenne-smile-how-to-identify-a-genuine-smile/)
The information could come in handy especially if you are in a working environment with a mask on policy.
We will adapt. Humans will adapt. That is what stress processing is all about in human beings. Remind me to write about resilience and coping with AC-19 stress soon.
Take good care of yourself until we meet next week,
Another confinement week flew by.
I promised myself to be at your side all through COVID-19 with an article per week.
It’s my contribution to being supportive to the community.
I first described PET’s & ANT’s in my book written in French (Link) and I read something similar in a book by A. Grant.
Positive Expected Thoughts (PETs), if you have more of these you may be more of an optimist, and Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANT’s), if you have more of these you may be a little bit more inclined to be a pessimist, a worrier or anxious.
Most of us are a bit of both and that’s ok, as long as our ANT’s don’t interfere too much with on getting on with life.
Our lives are made up of good and not such good times. (See the Rollercoaster article)
Life’s rollercoaster can be compared to a child’s toy, the yoyo. A yoyo goes up and down. Sometimes knots form in the string. In life, these “knots” are the obstacles we meet. They can be internal, such as health problems, or external, for example unwanted situations we find ourselves in and then have to cope with.
During COVID-19 many of us are experiencing both internal and external events impacting our life and/or closes one’s lives.
Understanding ANT’s and PET’s helps us identify the mechanism that triggers our reactions given any situation and breaking away from the vicious circles PET’s entails.
Being able to adapt to the ups and downs of life is what brings us serenity and prevents negative stress building up.
A child usually instinctively knows what to do when his yoyo gets into a knot. As adults, we don’t always know how to react when “life knots” appear. Should we carry on trying, or stop and ask for help?
If you are stuck, asking for help is far more beneficial.
People with PETs are usually energetic and enthusiastic. Their Positive Expected Thoughts, help them see that doors will soon be opening. PETs get us moving in search of solutions.
When we have ANTs, or Automatic Negative Thoughts, we are stuck in vicious circles. Our “engine” is at a standstill and we have trouble rebooting it again.
We go around in circles, without being able to do anything to get moving again.
Many of us experience periods in life when nothing goes the way we want it to go.
“My company is in a bad way. Lots of employees are going to get sacked… If I’m one of them, I’m sure I’ll never be able to find a new job… at my age… with the same salary! What on earth am I going to do? I’ll never be able to cope!”
Which path to take: ANTs or PETs?
Transforming automatic negative thoughts into positive expected thoughts is similar to changing one’s outlook on the half empty glass into a half full one!
It’s all a matter of perspective, and positive projections.
If you are more PETs than ANTs keep it up. Being realistically positive is a great way to face life’s challenges.
If you are more ANTs than PETs become a “copycat”, watch and imitate that person who is always so positive. Talk about it with that friend. Start small. Give yourself time. Changing old ingrained behaviors and thought patterns is hard work. If you’ve been living with lots of ANT’s it may take some time to lose the habit.
If you need support, do get in touch with me.
Maybe in your country’s deconfinement is starting. Take the opportunity of this new beginning to stick to the PNKR’s (click here) you described a few weeks ago when you did the exercise described in the PNKR article.
Post Covid-19 gives us all an opportunity to do things differently. It’s a new era.
“Just do it now “and let go of those internal barriers you have put up and may have been fighting against for years.
Take care and do remember, your comments and shares are important to me.
Coaching Psychologist FSP/ASPCo
Mob: +41(0)79 342 50 92