In Greek mythology there is a story about a sculptor called Pygmalion. A group of ladies refuse to acknowledge Aphrodite as a goddess, so she robs the women of their sense of shame and they become prostitutes. Pygmalion becomes so disgusted that he vows to ignore all women and he decides to build an ivory statue of his ideal woman.
He begins to fall in love with it, smothers it in kisses, fantasizes about the statue, and even proceeds to bring it figs. One night, Pygmalion leaves to attend a festival to honor Aphrodite and prays that she can find him a woman who is like his statue. She goes inside his studio and is flattered that the statue looks similar to her, so she decides to honor his request. When Pygmalion returns, he kisses the statue and it turns to life. They go on to become married and bear children that are deemed to be the most handsome mortals in Greek mythology.
Within this story is a psychological phenomenon referred to as the Pygmalion effect
. It’s been noted in countless studies which show that having high or low expectations of others can actually accrue a measurable impact on their performance.
If you tell students they are top performers, they will perform better. If you tell donors they are top givers, they donate more. If you tell hotel maids they burn a lot of calories, they will burn more calories. Even when a computer gives you automated compliments, people perform better. These are all specific examples of studies that have been done which show the consistent results that the Pygmalion effect is real.
So, what is the take-away? Expect the best from people. Give genuine compliments about who they are and what they do. Higher expectations leads to better results across the board.
🍺 to a great week ahead!