Tag Archives: Neuroticism

Self Compassion, not Self-Esteem, Enhances Performance

Juliana Breines

Juliana Breines

Self-compassion is treating one’s own mistakes with the same support and compassion offered to others, and it is more important than self-esteem to develop skills and performance, found University of California, Berkeley’s Juliana Breines and Serena Chen.

Self-compassion enables people to accept their mistakes and shortcomings with kindness.
It also enables equanimity when people are aware of painful thoughts and feelings.
Self-compassion is optimised when people accept responsibility for disappointing performance outcomes, and use this information to improve future performance.

Serena Chen

In Breines and Chen’s research, volunteers considered a personal setback with either:

  • self-compassion or
  • self-esteem enhancement (focusing on one’s positive qualities and accomplishments).

People who practiced a self-compassion tended to view personal shortcomings as changeable, and said they felt more motivated to improve performance by avoiding the same mistake.

Another task induced failure, then provided an opportunity to improve performance in a later challenge.
Participants who viewed their initial test failure with self-compassion devoted 25 per cent more time to preparing for future trials, and scored higher on the second test than those who focused on bolstering their self-esteem.

Self-compassion can enhance performance, suggested Breines and Chen, because it enables more dispassionate assessment of actions, abilities, and opportunities for future improvement.
In contrast, self-esteem-bolstering thoughts may narrow focus to consider only positive characteristics while overlooking opportunities for improvement.

Robert McCrae

Self-compassion measures were related to positive personality characteristics outlined in Robert McCrae and Paul Costa’s five factor model of personality known by the acronym OCEAN:

Paul Costa

  • Openness (curious vs. consistent/cautious)
  • Conscientiousness (organised vs. careless)
  • Extraversion (outgoing vs. reserved)
  • Agreeableness (friendly vs. unkind)
  • Neuroticism (nervous vs. confident)

    in a study by Kristin Neff and Stephanie Rude of University of Texas, and Kristin Kirkpatrick of Eastern Kentucky University.

Kristin Neff

Neff’s team found that higher levels of personal well-being, optimism, initiative, conscientiousness, curiosity, happiness were associated with self-compassion.
Higher self-compassion was also related to lower anxiety and depression.

In contrast, self-criticism, was associated with imagined assessments by others and comparisons with other people.

Mark Baldwin

McGill University’s Mark Baldwin found that participants who imagined an important person providing evaluative feedback experienced more negative self-evaluations, self-criticism, and negative moods.

Compassionate self-appraisals enable people to perform better and experience more positive moods than self-critical evaluations.

-*How have you applied self-compassion to improve performance?

Related Post
Working toward Goals with “Implementation Intentions”

©Kathryn Welds


Interpersonal Envy in Competitive Organizations and the “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY) Antidote

Workplace envy is rarely discussed, although it is a logical outcome of competition for scarce resources:  Recognition, advancement, power, reputation, compensation in explicit or implicit organizational “tournaments.”

Jayanth Narayanan

Jayanth Narayanan

National University of Singapore’s Jayanth Narayanan, Kenneth Tai, and Daniel McAllister broached the near-taboo of workplace envy as an inevitable outgrowth of social comparison and related “cognitive dissonance” in attempting to self-regulate or return to emotional and equity “homeostasis.”

Daniel McAllister

Daniel McAllister

They differentiated malicious envy from benign envy and argue that the latter can drive performance through emulating admired outcomes.

This process, called firgun in Hebrew, is characterized by happiness, envy, and support of others, and is positively related to organizational success.
Mudita in Buddhist texts, refers to similar feelings of vicarious joy at another’s success and good fortune.

Hidehiko Takahashi

Hidehiko Takahashi

Narayan and team posit that envy is pain at another’s good fortune, and Hidehiko Takahashi’s team at Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences demonstrated that the social-emotional pain of envy is a variation of the physical pain experience.

Their fMRI study found that the emotional pain of workplace envy is physically manifested in activation of the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex.

Nathan DeWall

Nathan DeWall

As such, Nathan DeWall of University of Kentucky and colleagues reported that Tylenol™ reduces behavioral and neural responses associated with social pain in two fMRI studies.

Narayanan argues that envy exerts its differential effect on workplace behavior through each individual’s specific:

  • Core self-evaluations (self-esteem, self-efficacy, locus of control, and neuroticism),
  • Referent cognitions” regarding warmth, likeability, and competence of the envied  person
  • Perceived organizational support

Workplace envy, they argue, can affect:

  • Social undermining
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Job performance

Narayanan and team proposed that those with higher self-esteem are less prone to negative workplace behaviors when experiencing on-the-job envy.

They propose that people are less likely to socially undermine the envied individual when the envied person is viewed as both warm-likeable and competent.

Similarly, they suggest that people who think their organization values them and their work, and supports their work and career development efforts are less likely to decrease job performance when envious at work.

Chade-Meng Tan

Chade-Meng Tan

Search Inside YourselfGoogle’s Jolly Good Fellow ChadeMeng Tan proposes the mindfulness-based program “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY) as a way to self-manage workplace envy and other painful social experiences, by developing skills in:

  • Trained attention
  • Self-knowledge and self-mastery
  • Creating useful mental habits.

-*How do you manage workplace envy when you notice it in yourself or others?


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