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Monday, April 24, 2006

Using Floccinaucinihilipilification For Team Assembly

Floccinaucinihilipilification is nothing to cachinnate about.

In a study of self-esteem it was found that those with a low self esteem tend to think negatively not only about themselves, but about most everything. From R.F. Baumeister's research titled "Does High Self-Esteem Cause Better Performance, Interpersonal Success, Happiness, or Healthier Lifestyles?" comes the following quote:

"The word floccinaucinihilipilification is allegedly the longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary, and it is defined as “the action or habit of estimating as worthless.” The definition of low self-esteem involves making a disparaging or low-worth judgment about the self, yet there is mounting evidence that people with low self-esteem are not merely negative about themselves. Rather, they express a generally negative attitude toward many events, circumstances, people, and other realities. That is, they have a tendency toward floccinaucinihilipilification."
When you look at assembling your team, whether hiring a new team member, promoting someone off the production line into the leadership team, or picking someone to play on your softball team this research shows us that we may want to stop and consider among other things their self-esteem.

Baumeister's research concludes that "If anything, high self-esteem fosters experimentation..." and "High self-esteem makes people more willing to speak up in groups and to criticize the group’s approach. Leadership does not stem directly from self-esteem, but self-esteem may
have indirect effects. Relative to people with low self-esteem, those with high self-esteem show stronger in-group favoritism, which may increase prejudice and discrimination."

If you want your team members to challenge what normal is, question why something is done and risk embarrassment and failure by trying to do it better, then self-esteem is a key factor in what you should measure. It really comes down to do you want your team to see the glass half empty or half full?