Employees who imagine confident, positive coworkers are more productive in real life
Exercise: come up with an imaginary co-worker.
Did you imagine someone who is confident and resourceful, someone who rises to challenges? Someone you’d enjoy working with? A new University of Nebraska-Lincoln study says that how you imagine your co-worker is probably a reflection of the traits you yourself display.
The study showed that your perceptions of others—even ones that are made up—reveals what kind of person you really are, says Peter Harms, the study’s lead author. The study, which will appear in a forthcoming edition of the Journal of Organizational Behavior, found that study participants who conjured positive imaginary co-workers contributed more in real-life workplaces, both in terms of job performance and going above and beyond to help others.
“When you make up imaginary peers, they are completely a product of how you see the world,” Harms says. “We can gain better insight into your perceptual biases. That tells us a lot about how you see the world, how you interpret events and what your expectations of others are.”
The researchers report that participants who envision workers as engaging in proactive behaviors or readily rebounding from failures are actually happier and more productive in real-life work.
We imagine this has applications outside the workplace as well: how do you imagine your fantasy friends? Lovers? Take note of what you express, and consider if you need to make perception changes in not only how you view others, but yourself!