Thursday, August 7, 2014

How your business's religious affiliation safeguards against negative reaction

 

"Customers are more likely to forgive firms when service
failures are associated with religion, no matter what
religion was used in the scenarios: Christianity, Judaism or Islam."

While companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A are at the forefront of debate over the religious rights of employers, a new study by a Grand Valley State University researcher shows religious affiliation can safeguard companies against negative reactions to store policies.

Kelly Cowart,
Assistant professor of marketing
at Grand Valley State University
The research, led by Kelly Cowart, assistant professor of marketing at Grand Valley State University, examines the effect of a firm's religious association on customer perceptions of the firm, especially when a service failure occurs. A service failure is defined as limited hours of operation or a temporary store closing.
 
Cowart said the current findings indicate that religious affiliations may buffer against some of the negative fallout that ensues in the wake of a service failure, as consumers do not penalize such firms as heavily as those without an affiliation. "More importantly, the findings suggest that a religious affiliation can garner favor even when the religion is not the dominant religion in society," she said.

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Two experimental studies were conducted in which participants assumed the role of a customer visiting a restaurant for the first time. In study one, the customer either ate a meal at the restaurant or could not eat a meal due to the restaurant's closing for an annual holy day. In study two, the restaurant is closed for weekly religious worship rather than an annual holy day.

"Results from both studies revealed that customers are more likely to forgive firms when service failures are associated with religion, regardless of attitudes toward the religious group," said Cowart. "The results were similar no matter what religion was used in the scenarios: Christianity, Judaism or Islam."
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Story Source: Materials provided by Grand Valley State University.  Kelly O. Cowart, Edward Ramirez, Michael K. Brady. Religious affiliation: buffering negative reactions to service failures. Journal of Services Marketing, 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

Are you seen as a jerk at work?

Credit: © diego cervo / Fotolia
New research shows that many people seen by others as under-
assertive or over-assertive think they're appropriately assertive.
 
New research shows that many people seen by others as under-assertive or over-assertive think they're appropriately assertive. The study also reveals that people seen as getting assertiveness right often mistakenly think they've gotten it wrong.
 
Jill Abramson was recently ousted from her position as the executive editor of The New York Times for being, among other things, too "pushy." But did Abramson -- who has also been described by the media as "polarizing" and "brusque" -- know during the course of her tenure that others viewed her as being overly assertive? A new study from the Columbia Business School suggests that there's a great chance she didn't.

"Finding the middle ground between being pushy and being a pushover is a basic challenge in social life and the workplace. We've now found that the challenge is compounded by the fact that people often don't know how others see their assertiveness," said Daniel Ames, professor of management at Columbia Business School and co-author of the new study. "In the language of Goldilocks, many people are serving up porridge that others see as too hot or too cold, but they mistakenly think the temperature comes across as just right -- that their assertiveness is seen as appropriate. To our surprise, we also found that many people whose porridge was actually seen as just right mistakenly thought their porridge came off as too hot. That is, they were asserting themselves appropriately in the eyes of others, but they incorrectly thought they were pushing too hard."

Based in part on research previously conducted by Ames and former Columbia Business School Professor Frank Flynn, the new study is called, "Pushing in the Dark: Causes and Consequences of Limited Self-Awareness for Interpersonal Assertiveness" and will be published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin this month. In short, the research shows that many people seen by others as under-assertive or over-assertive think they're appropriately assertive. The study also reveals that people seen as getting assertiveness right often mistakenly think they've gotten it wrong.

The Research
Ames and fellow researcher Abbie Wazlawek -- a doctoral student at Columbia Business School -- conducted four studies to test their hypotheses about the connection between assertiveness and self-awareness. Three of the four studies involved participants who were MBA students enrolled in negotiation courses at Columbia Business School, and one study involved an online survey of 500 US adults.

The MBA student studies paired up developing professionals for mock negotiations over issues such as licensing rights. After the deal-making, each person answered questions about their own assertiveness and their counterpart's assertiveness. The negotiators were then asked to guess what their counterpart said about them. A key question for the researchers was whether people knew what their counterparts thought of them.

The studies found that, generally speaking, negotiators have a lot of work to do in the self-awareness department. For example, one study found that:
  • 57 percent of people actually seen by their counterpart as under-assertive thought they had come across as appropriately assertive or even over-assertive.
  • 56 percent of people actually seen by their counterpart as over-assertive thought they had come across as appropriately assertive or even under-assertive.
  • Together, these results suggest that people seen as getting assertiveness wrong in the eyes of others had about a coin-flip's chance of recognizing how they were seen.
"Most people can think of someone who is a jerk or a pushover and largely clueless about how they're seen," said Ames. "Sadly, our results suggest that, often enough, that clueless jerk or pushover is us."

The researchers were surprised to discover another pattern in their results. Ames and Wazlawek found that many people getting assertiveness right mistakenly thought they were seen as pushing too hard. In multiple studies, Ames and Wazlawek observed a good share of people displaying what they called the "line crossing illusion." These people believed that they came across as being too assertive -- or had crossed a line -- during negotiations, when in fact their counterparts saw them as being appropriately assertive.

While the "line crossing illusion" might seem like a harmless or even endearing mistake, Ames and Wazlawek showed that it can be costly. Those who mistakenly thought they had over-asserted themselves were more likely to try to repair relationships with their partners, sometimes agreeing to a less valuable subsequent deal just to smooth things over. As the researchers put it, these negotiators were attempting costly repairs for something that wasn't broken. The result was that both sides frequently lost out on what could have been a better deal.
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Story Source: Materials provided by Columbia Business School. D. R. Ames, A. S. Wazlawek. Pushing in the Dark: Causes and Consequences of Limited Self-Awareness for Interpersonal Assertiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

SALES TECHNIQUE: When to crowd - or not crowd - your prospect.

Photo: BodyLanguageProjectCom
Approach Avoidance: She subtly moves away from him as he leans 
toward her; she is following her natural instinct to move away.  
We probably all had the experience of having a sales person get right into our face as they try to pressure us into buying.  It's not comfortable, and now we know why.  It's called "Approach Avoidance."  This is something I learned long ago during on-the-job sales training from a wily old sales dog - and now I now what it's called, and why it works.

We, the human animal, learned over our millions of year of existence to fear something that was approaching.  As Chicago Booth School of Business professor Christopher K. Hsee, explains in his recent paper, "In our long struggle for survival, we humans learned that something approaching us is far more of a threat than something that is moving away. This makes sense, since a tiger bounding toward a person is certainly more of a threat than one that is walking away."

We still have negative feelings about things that approach us -- even if they objectively are not threatening. Though we modern humans don't really consider such fear, it turns out that it still plays a big part in our day-to-day lives.

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"In order to survive, humans have developed a tendency to guard against animals, people and objects that come near them," Hsee explains. "This is true for things that are physically coming closer, but also for events that are approaching in time or increasing in likelihood."

Hsee, along with Chicago Booth doctoral student Yanping Tu, and Zoe Y. Lu and Bowen Ruan of the University of Wisconsin, suggest that this fear, or as they call it "approach avoidance," is actually an innate tendency.  Even seemingly docile entities, such as deer, have a fear factor attached to them since there could be some uncertainty to a wild animal's behavior.

Innate?  Programmed into each of us, literally part of our DNA.

According to the researchers, these initial investigations into approach avoidance are of practical use in a number of areas.
  • Marketers, can use this information. to determine if they should gradually move a product closer to viewers in a television commercial, or whether that will actually harm the image of the product. Similarly, 
  • Speakers who tend to move closer and closer toward their audiences during their speeches should think twice, as doing so may cast an unfavorable impression on listeners.
  • Salespeople can be sensitive to visual cues from their prospect to maintain a non-threatening distance, a distance comfortable to the prospect.
"Approach avoidance is a general tendency, humans don't seem to adequately distinguish between times they should use it and when they should not," Hsee adds. "They tend to fear approaching things and looming events even if objectively they need not fear."

As Hsee says, there is a flip side to this, as anyone who has conducted a negotiation knows. Crowding the other party or parties in a negotiation is a of using their innate discomfort to get them to agree to something or to yield on a point of dispute.

The fact is, the personal space between us can be a tool to use when working with people, something to think about and to use as you go through your day.
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Story Source:  Materials provided by University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Christopher K. Hsee, Yanping Tu, Zoe Y. Lu, Bowen Ruan. Approach aversion: Negative hedonic reactions toward approaching stimuli.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

A simple, inexpensive method for preventing computer fraud

Source: becauseirocklikehell.tumblr.com
Running a small business is time consuming.  There's so much to do and often so little time in which to do it.  Consider the possibility of your business experiencing computer fraud.  Suppose an employee either deliberately or accidently misusing the information on your computer system.  How much time would it take you to clean up the mess?  Could it even put you out of business?

Fortunately, Shalini Kesar, a computer scientist at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, has devised an anti-fraud strategy for business that is straight forward and effective.

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"Computer fraud can result from incompetence, ignorance, negligence in the use of Information Technology or deliberate misappropriation by individuals," says Kesar. This results in the destruction of not only the main information systems but also backup systems, causing damages up to hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Kesar points out that reported cases of computer fraud only represent a tip of a potentially large iceberg. Anecdotal evidence suggests that employees pose one of the greatest threats because they are in a better position than "outsiders" to engage in computer fraud, Kesar adds.

Opportunistic computer fraud could be minimized, however, he says simply by raising managers' awareness and knowledge.

"Lack of awareness of social and technical issues among managers largely manifest themselves in a failure to implement even the most basic safeguards and controls," the researchers conclude, "Concomitantly, if management ignores wider organizational structural issues then this too increases the likelihood of a potential offender committing computer fraud."

These two main insights point to Kesar's seemingly obvious solution, which simply involves teaching management about computer security and then subtly communicating management's new-found knowledge to employees.

Spend some time learning about computer security then let your employees know - subtly - that you have done this.  Which takes less time and costs less money?  Educating yourself?  Or suffering a fraud that can cost you and your customers money?
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Story Source: Materials provided by Interscience Publishers. "Educating Managers On Computer Fraud Could Cut Crime." ScienceDaily.