March 3, 2014
Maintain Status 

This week's tip is the first in a series of five derived from a neuroscience-based model which identifies the drivers of human behavior in interconnected environments like the workplace. The model, known as SCARF, stands for the domains of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness. In each of these domains, the brain will naturally seek to minimize danger and maximize reward.


Status is defined as our importance relative to others. When we feel that we compare unfavorably to others, the brain releases cortical which increases the body's stress level. Conversely, when we feel good about ourselves and our status within a group, dopamine (a neurotransmitter related to reward and pleasure) increases in the brain, as do memory and information processing.


In the workplace, leaders can help employees maintain status by publicly recognizing contributions, decreasing competition among staff, and focusing on successes.


Rock, D. (2008). SCARF: A brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. NeuroLeadership Journal, 1(1), 296-320.


Imagined Conversations: A Technique for Enhancing Work Relationships       


Pepperdine Colleague, the alumni magazine of the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, has profiled Paula Thompson's dissertation research on imagined conversations in the workplace. Thompson found that people used imagined conversations to process prior events, undergo catharsis, and release pent-up frustrations. Many of her research subjects discussed imagined conversations as a coping tool in response to unhealthy or chaotic workplaces.


"Previous research on imagined conversations focused on marital or family relationships," Thompson said. "I wanted to look at imagined conversations in the workplace because success in most every job is dependent on effective communication."                         
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