Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Quieting the Self

Another paper on happiness that I was reading had some very interesting advice.  The researchers mentioned three ways that one can quiet the self and become part of an emergent social entity, which leads to a unique kind of hive happiness.

One was is individual.  You can quiet yourself through productive means like yoga and meditation.  You can also quiet yourself through less productive means like drugs and alcohol.  In both cases, you quiet yourself, but don’t necessarily join a collective. So this is only second best (the yoga/meditation, not the drugs/alcohol).

The second is in “hives.”  This is the term they use for groups of 10-100.  They are large enough that your personal contribution is not essential/salient but small enough that you are not meaningless/anonymous.  This is the one they consider ideal.

The third is subservience.  In this way, you let someone else make all the decisions and you are an anonymous part of the group.  Fascism does this at the political level and some cults do this at the religious level.  This is the one these researchers dislike the most. 

I find it interesting because I will expand it to workplace management. Can we use the idea of hive happiness to make our workplace more productive.  I know this sounds kind of touchy-feely, but there is research behind it.  The first insight is to create a sense of community among your team.  Not just work collaboration, but things like a softball team, group happy hours after work, or getting together to watch the local sports team.  Something not work-related that creates a social bond.  The second comes from Robert Sutton at Stanford. He calls it the no a--hole rule.  Just one of these can ruin the hive happiness, even if everyone else gets along.  It’s up to the manager to remove the a—hole from the team.