10 quick ways to improve your work life, distilled from tons of research:


Andrew O’Connell has a piece in Harvard Business Review that dishes out some useful research-based tips. Highlights below:

  • Being nice doesn’t always pay: “Men who are significantly less agreeable than average earn 18.31% more than men who are significantly more agreeable than average, while the comparable figure for women is 5.47%,”
  • Wishing people luck works: “Activating a positive superstitious belief can boost people’s confidence, which in turn improves performance…”
  • Looking at evocative images after trying to remember something improved recall: “The viewers of negative images remembered 57% of what they had previously recalled, compared with 44% for people who saw neutral pictures.”
  • Ladies, hold off on kids: “Postponing motherhood leads to an increase in women’s earnings of 9% per year of delay, according to Amalia R. Miller of the University of Virginia.”
  • Joke when negotiating salary: “Job candidates who jokingly requested ridiculously high salaries received 9% higher wage offers than candidates who made no such jokes…”
  • Threatening works too: “Across a range of industries, 74% of new hires in a recent study chose to negotiate their compensation, and they increased their starting salaries by an average of $5,000, say Michelle Marks of George Mason University and Crystal Harold of Temple University. The most effective tactics included persuasion, threats, and even misrepresentation; compromising and accommodating approaches to negotiation were not associated with any negotiated salary gains, the researchers say.”
  • Ladies, don’t spend too much time grooming: “For women, an increase in personal grooming time is associated with lower earnings…”
  • People in sales should mimic their customers: “Among customers who solicited salespeople for information about an MP3 player, 78.8% bought such a product from mimickers, compared with 61.8% from nonmimickers. Afterward, customers who had been mimicked were more positive about the salespeople and the store.
  • Ladies, drink coffee: “When it comes to collaboration on stressful tasks, caffeine impairs men’s performance but boosts women’s…”
  • Guys, might want to eat more: “A man in the U.S. whose weight is 25 pounds below the mean earns $210,925 less, on average, across a 25-year career than a man whose weight is at the mean…”

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