Man­ag­ing One­self

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

One piece of re­search that changed my views on many things while I was writ­ing the book was done by two psy­chol­o­gists, Craig Knight and S Alexan­der Haslam, where they ex­am­ined the ef­fects of ‘clean desk’ poli­cies. They got peo­ple to sit in var­i­ous of­fice spaces that they’d de­signed and do tasks like sort some emails, do some pa­per­work or other reg­u­lar of­fice tasks. What Knight and Haslam found was, first of all, that peo­ple didn’t seem to like a su­per min­i­mal­ist of­fice. If it was bare and there were no dis­trac­tions, peo­ple weren’t su­per com­fort­able. A much more pow­er­ful find­ing was that whether the of­fice was full of soft fur­nish­ing and pot­ted plants, or whether it was min­i­mal­ist or not, wasn’t the is­sue. The is­sue was: did peo­ple have con­trol over their spaces.

If you’re a neat per­son, could you make it neat? If you were a messy per­son, could you make it messy? Or would some­body else come along and change every­thing for you? They found that when peo­ple had con­trol over their spaces, they got loads done. They were happy. Com­fort­able. Pro­duc­tive.

But when the ex­per­i­menters came in and re­ar­ranged the space and said, “Oh, I’m afraid, you can’t have the pot­ted plant there. You can’t put your poster there,” peo­ple got very re­sent­ful and it was mul­ti­di­men­sional re­sent­ment. They hated the task. They hated the space. They hated the com­pany. It was just be­cause their au­ton­omy had been threatened.

From “Good News for Messy Peo­ple: How Dis­or­der can Con­trib­ute to Suc­cess”

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