Ray Dalio runs one of the world’s largest hedge funds; Bridgewater Associates. His fund oversees $75 Billion and he is personally worth over $4 Billion. It’s a challenge for me to write a constructive comment about many of the people on Wall Street these days but this is worth reflection.
Money talks. People listen. And, Dalio has outlined 295 principles for his employees to follow in an 83 page manifesto (Wall Street Journal June 19), “Money Talks: A Hedge-Fund King Philosophizes on Truth and Weasels”:
“Principle 8: There is nothing to fear from truth …Being truthful is essential to being an independent thinker and obtaining greater understanding of what is right.”
Principle 11: Never say anything about a person you wouldn’t say to him directly. If you do, you are a slimy weasel.”
Okay, I haven’t read the rest of the billionaire’s principles and I’m not a fan of calling anyone a name (although there is something provocative about the word “weasel”) but seeking the truth by focusing on facts, data, behavior and not talking about people behind their backs are important ingredients for a respectful culture at work.
Respect in business is a fully compatible with getting business results. You and I can reinforce a greater culture of respect by seeking fact- and data-based truths and avoiding gossiping about others. When we present views, bring data. When we are tempted to bad mouth someone behind their back – don’t.
I believe that positive optimism is important in a work place. It is connected to the value of abundance in the sense that one focuses more on the ”have” than “have not.” On the other hand I don’t promote nor believe in blind optimism. Sometimes things are just plain difficult, painful, and lousy. We get hurt, feel bad, and frankly can mistreat or get mistreated by others. These are facts and part of the human condition. How we respond though is often in our control and a choice we can willingly make. Being abundant is the choice to move forward, which often appropriately involves getting help from others. Acclaimed journalist, author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich provides a measure of balance in acting/thinking realistically while remaining positive.
In the work place we need both: tough minded realism on the status of things; and positive, forward movement in response. They are not mutually exclusive. One thing you can do is to insist on providing and asking for data in reviewing job related matters. Facts keep blind positive thinking and helpless despair in check.
There are two great articles linked in my May 13 blog on smiling too.
I strongly believe one of the keys to treating others with respect is listening. And arguably the most important four words in support of listening are, “What do you think?”
Please consider the impact if we asked each other more often, “What do you think?” Then, really listened to the answer. I strongly believe it would state, “You are important. I respect your insight, judgment, experience, and contribution.”
Unfortunately we can get trapped into thinking more about what we want to transmit than what we might benefit from listening. Through all of next week try this: increase the number of times you ask others, “What do you think?” And then, see what happens.
Harvard did a study that affirmed that spending $5 dollars a day on others increased people’s sense of self and well being. (According to Dr. Phil June 6, 2010. You can also refer to a study by University of B.C. psychologist Elizabeth Dunn.)
The overall message here of course is that giving is one of the most powerful elements in creating positive well being.
So why do we have such difficulty with this in the work context? We do not literally have to spend $5 dollars on people at work, but we can generate positive well being by giving in small yet meaningful ways. One of these ways is to give encouragement and recognition. When we take the time to observe and acknowledge other people in a positive way, everybody wins.
Tom Peters suggests in his book The Little Big Things, 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence that the positive to negative ratio might be out of balance at work, “A lot of managers have the hardest time giving any positive reinforcement.” So how about you and I commit to spending “five dollars” on each other at work EVERY DAY by recognizing one another in a genuine way. The Return on Investment is fast and bigger than we may realize.