How to Make the Most of Life: The Promotion/Prevention Mindsets Explained

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Yes I’d like to know how to make the most of life. It’s the only one I’ve got after all. So, do I a) go out and make the most of any situation, come what may or b) do my best to avoid making mistakes or get caught out?

Yikes, I can feel my eyes being inextricably drawn to my navel…. No, no, resist the gazing and read on… Let me explain the prevention and promotion mindsets and how they influence your life.

No man is an island

Being connected to those around you is a basic human need. You might work in an office full of people but if you’re not connecting to them in a meaningful way, you will over time become lonely and isolated at work. This is not good!

Lonely people do not lack social skills

It may come as a surprise that lonely people do not lack social skills. They may however, have adopted a prevention focused mindset when attempting to connect with others, which in their eyes gives them the best chance not to annoy or bore the other person. This mistake avoidant mindset tends to lead to increased anxiety which in turn leads to;

  • commenting less on what a conversation partner says
  • making fewer attempts to continue a line of conversation
  • stating fewer personal preferences (and thus revealing less about oneself)
  • asking fewer questions

They may succeed in avoiding controversial topics but they have unwittingly succeeding in appearing self absorbed, having little interest in others and being aloof. No meaningful connection made and the loneliness continues.

How trying to get people to ‘not dislike you’ backfires

Anxiety blocks natural socially valuable responses such as mirroring, enthusiasm, smiling eye contact, absorption in conversational topics and so on. It makes it difficult to tend closely to another person as the brain is put on alert for danger by anxiety, causing focus of attention to flick around.

In an attempt to appear ‘nice’, prevention-focused people often smile and nod in response to a partner’s conversation. The trouble is, this can also signal lack of interest, such as when someone says Mmm… hmmmm… when they are distracted.

Don’t try to ‘just survive’

My husband, Roger Elliott experienced had a profound mindset change regarding public speaking. Early in his public speaking career, he was quite nervous before delivering training events. He read the book ‘Inspire Any Audience’ by Tony Jeary, which radically changed his approach. He was no longer focused on just surviving the experience (prevention focused) and adopted a ‘how can I be great at this’ approach (promotion focused). Now he could talk the legs off the proverbial donkey and not worry a jot who was listening.

Break the chains that bind

Break the chains

Focussing on not making mistakes helps you make those mistakes. I’d like to ring the cliché bell and say – there are no such thing as mistakes, just learning opportunities! Relax, take a deep breath. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Really happen??

Interventions that work

  • Relaxed people are easy to be around. They listen to what you say, they ask interested questions, heck they just exude love from their pores. So to become more relaxed, you might want to build some stress management into your daily routine. You will connect better and establish meaningful relationships with those around you.
  • Make a list of all the possible outcomes of a situation, making sure the positive outcomes out-number the negative. That way you begin to focus on the opportunities (promotion mindset) and get a more objective view on the negative outcomes.
    Just before you meet someone new, imagine a conversation you have had with a good friend or relation, maybe where you shared a joke or recounted a tale and you felt a strong connection with that person. Being immersed in a good memory will remind the body how to be comfortable and spill over into your imminent meeting.
  • By training your brain to be promotion oriented, you are more likely to make the most of life. Bad things are not permanent, aren’t your fault entirely, and don’t affect your entire life. Yes maybe things might not go quite how you expected, but you did it regardless and who knows, you’ll probably do a whole lot better next time :o)

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