Monday, 1 June 2015

Selling Cynicism vs Selling Optimism Reaping the fruits of mutual cooperation

Reaping the fruits of mutual cooperation
Cynicism   Optimism

The Collins Dictionary defines a cynic as one who believes the worst in people and the worst outcome of events.

Perhaps more generously, business leadership guru /orchestral conductor Benjamin Zander defines a cynic "as a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed again.”

But what does modern psychology tell us about the cynic and their earning power?

University of Cologne researchers Olga Stavrova and Daniel Ehlebracht have studied cynics in both Germany and the United States and suggest cynics make less money in the long run than optimists.

 The only exceptions to this rule, apparently, are societies where holding a cynical attitude is the rule rather than the exception.
Aleksandr with Turkish Tea Glass
a cynic’s half empty glass
or an optimist’s half full?

Under most circumstances, the authors write, “overcoming cynical beliefs and building faith in humanity can help us enhance our financial well-being by reaping the fruits of mutual cooperation and joint efforts.”  *

"Cynical individuals are likely to lack the ability (or willingness) to rely on others, and therefore face serious impairments in regard to living and working in a social world."

 A study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that by comparing cynicism with average income among people from a range of countries, people with low levels of cynicism versus optimistic types, optimists earned almost £200 a month more than their cynical counterparts.

And it's not just their careers cynics are harming - it's been proven in the past that cynicism creates tension in relationships and lowers health.

"While previous research has associated cynicism with detrimental outcomes across a wide range of spheres of life, including physical health, psychological well-being and marital adjustment, the present research has established an association between cynicism and individual economic success," said Olga Stavrova, the study's lead author.

In the spheres of commercial negotiations, professional selling and buying trust is key in to collaborative opportunities in business. So  I think this research is worth studying for those in selling who can both meet cynical resistance daily in their work, as well as the inner battles of confidence that from time to time play on their mind.

Being cynical the study suggests means you lose out on collaboration opportunities.

Cynical people might think they're more discerning and therefore more likely to make the right decisions, but this isn't the case – because  they are less likely to trust others,
·         they often forego opportunities to work with others, which ultimately undermines economic success.

Priority of Risk Averse behaviour

Similarly, cynical individuals might be likely to over-invest resources on protecting themselves from potential deceit, "covering their backs" at the cost of focusing on their jobs.

National and cultural differences

Some cynics are more equal than others!

Being cynical has a worse effect on career progression in certain countries, namely in countries with higher levels of altruistic behaviour, lower homicide rates and lower levels of overall societal cynicism the report claims.

"There are actually some countries where cynical individuals do not necessarily earn less than their less cynical compatriots," said Stavrova.

"These countries are those with pervasively high societal cynicism scores, rare pro-social behaviour (e.g., charity donations) and widespread antisocial behaviour (as indicated by high homicide rates) - in other words, countries where cynicism might be justified or even somewhat functional".

A number of additional  studies  back up this work from University of Cologne 

The first utilizes data on 1,146 participants in the Americans' Changing Lives survey who were surveyed in 2002 and again in 2011.

Their degree of cynicism was measured by their level of agreement (or disagreement) with such statements as "Most people will use somewhat unfair means to gain profit or an advantage." They also listed their own and their spouse's joint income.

The second study used data on 497 participants in the General Social Survey. They responded to a similar set of statements in 2010 and again in 2012.

The results were strikingly similar. Both years they were surveyed, cynics had lower incomes than optimists. In addition, the researchers found a link between cynicism expressed in the first survey and income in the second, with optimists out-earning their cynical counterparts.

A third study featured 15,698 Germans who were surveyed annually between 2003 and 2012. The researchers found participants' "baseline levels of cynicism" affected their earnings trajectory over the next decade.

Specifically, the monthly income of the least cynical people increased by about 230 Euros € over nine years, while the most cynical people "did not experience any significant income increase at all over that period of time”

The researchers caution that this equation does not apply to all societies.

•           In nations with high homicide rates,
•           low levels of charitable giving,
•           and an overall high level of "societal cynicism,"
•           cynics earn as much as their less-cynical counterparts.

 In those parts of the world where a dog-eat-dog mentality reigns, cynicism apparently is warranted—although, even in such places, it did not provide any financial advantage.

So, unless you're living in one of those societies (such as Russia), "cynical beliefs about human nature have adverse effects on individuals' income," the researchers conclude.

"Although cynical individuals were more likely to report worse health and lower education, these differences could not completely explain their lower earnings," they write. Nor, it turns out, could the fact cynics "were more likely to be more neurotic and introverted."

After ruling those factors out, Stavrova and Ehlebracht came up with a more subtle explanation for their findings.

"Cynical individuals are likely to lack the ability (or willingness) to rely on others, and therefore face serious impairments in regard to living and working in a social world," they write. "They are likely to suspect mean motives behind other people's behaviour, might be less likely to join collaborative efforts and avoid asking for help in case of need."

These tendencies, they add, "may eventually undermine their economic success."
Cynicism is, of course, easy to fall into, especially for those who follow the news. 

But be aware that such a disposition colours many aspects of your life, including your finances.

Rewards generally require taking risks, and you're not likely to do so if you're convinced the game is rigged.

As Oscar Wilde said " A cynic is a man  who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing"

Good Optimistic Selling !

Related Links

Article: “Cynical Beliefs about Human Nature and Income: Longitudinal and Cross-Cultural Analyses,” by Olga Stavrova, PhD, and Daniel Ehlebracht, PhD, University of Cologne. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published on May 25, 2015.


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