Go Get Becky A Coffee


Oct 10, 2017

Learn How A Single Cup Of Coffee, And The 500ft Round Trip To Get It, Potentially Saved A Company Millions Of Dollars.


Have you ever gotten someone a coffee? Sure you have. Has getting someone a coffee ever been the single most important, potentially company-saving thing you could possibly do that day? For one of our clients not long ago it was, and this is her story.

Before we begin that however, we need to ask one other seemingly trivial question. Have you ever bought a car? Chances are the answer to this is also yes, which means chances are also great that you have experienced a specific type of cognitive bias known as the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon.

Your brain is an amazing machine. It stores literally terabytes of data on a daily basis. The bulk of this data is dumped within your subconscious which occupies approximately 90% of your mind. The remaining 10%, is your conscious, the place where you recall the data to be able to think and reason with it. If you view your brain as a computer, your subconscious is a hard drive with unlimited storage and your conscious brain is the very limited amount of RAM you have to actually do something with that data.

The Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon is an example of the interaction between these two parts of your brain when faced with something seemingly insignificant.

So, picture the last time you bought a car. Regardless how careful you were during the purchase, you spent at least some time considering the make, the model, the colour, etc. At some point during or shortly after narrowing the feild to your final choice…you began to see that car EVERYWHERE! It was as if legions of people read your mind, agreed with your choice of vehicle and ran out and bought one themselves.

Of course that’s not what happened at all. What happened was your subconscious had noticed the car each and every time you saw it, long before you ever considered buying one. However, it was insignificant at the time when stacked up against the reams of other data you were being bombarded with so while your brain “noticed” the car, it did not do so consciously.

That all changed the second you decided to buy one. Now as your brain consciously ponders the merits of the vehicle, your subconscious suddenly feels instances of the vehicle popping up are suddenly more relevant and is therefore making you pay attention every time you see one. The fact that your brain is processing instances of seeing the car on the road has not changed, your awareness of this happening has. This is the Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon.

Which brings us to Becky, the cup of coffee her boss walked to get her, and the boost in emotional intelligence we gave that boss which made getting Becky a coffee, the most important thing she could have done that day.

Becky is an EA within one of our clients and her boss is one of that company’s executives. Becky’s boss is responsible for acquisitions and divestitures and is very good at it. A few months back Becky’s boss was in the midst of a very complex deal with some rather contentious external partners. This particular deal had required the resources of many people within Becky’s firm as well as a tremendous amount of her boss’s consciousness.

We became involved when in the 11th hour of the deal, Becky’s boss noticed a rather small clerical error that had rather massive consequences on the deal. It was a simple mistake, that given the nature of how and when it was made, would be very difficult to deal with, and ultimately had the potential to blow up the entire deal.

Becky’s boss was understandably…agitated.

Part of our service to our clients is a proprietary web-based portal called SPIRAL. SPIRAL is a “Check-in” system that allows employees within our clients to hit a button on their desktop or phone, answer some questions regarding their emotional state at the time, and based on these inputs they are given a tailored prescription on how they can essentially “get out of their own way” and work to improve their emotional state quickly and efficiently, so as to prevent any fallout from that poor mood.

It identifies Blindspots; behavioural characteristics that only come out when we are in a heavily subconscious state. Because we are in our subconscious, we do not see these traits in ourselves, which is what makes them Blindspots. SPIRAL casts light on these traits, removing our clients inability to see them, preventing them from spiralling down any further (now you know where it gets it’s name).

If a respondent is in a particularly triggered state, as Becky’s boss was at the time, the system immediately notifies us, and one of our expert coaches is on the phone with that person in minutes to help address this issue right away.

Upon discovering the mistake and forecasting the potential fallout from it Becky’s boss checked-in on SPIRAL. She was understandably triggered and one of her Blindspots, that of Pettiness, was active meaning without some form of effective antidote, a natural state of Pettiness would be right at the surface, massively increasing the chance of her lashing out at some point in the near future.

Within our system, the antidote to Pettiness is to genuinely become Cooperative (one cannot be both Petty and Cooperative at the same time) therefore this was the instruction our coach gave Becky’s boss; “What is the most Cooperative thing you can do right now?”.

Without missing a beat she said, “Go Get Becky a coffee”.

You see Becky’s boss must walk past her desk to get to her own. She does it a dozen times a day, giving her ample opportunity to interact with Becky. Over the past week, she had been so consciously pre-occupied with the deal she was brokering that she didn’t fully process that Becky was ”off”. Her subconscious however had been keeping score the entire time, and now that she was being consciously coached to become more Cooperative, her brain made the connection; something’s wrong with Becky. No different than the car example above, she had just experienced Baader-Meinhoff.

Immediately Becky’s boss walked to the break room, made Becky her favourite coffee and walked it back to her desk. She told Becky that she seemed like she could use this, not only brining sincere relief and gratitude to Becky but also cementing a state of Cooperation within herself.

This ensured that the Cooperative version of Becky’s boss as opposed to the Petty version was the one that showed up on the call to attempt to resolve the deal, which she ultimately did.

Becky was left feeling as though she works for a great company, Becky’s boss experienced a higher emotional state, and their company avoided the disaster that would have ensued should the Petty version of Becky’s boss been the one to take the call to resolve the A&D issue, saving millions of dollars in the process.

So your call to action is to identify what your Blindspots may be and engineer a way for you to restore consciousness about them. If you’d like us to help, all you need to do is click here.

Regardless, a dose of emotional intelligence, at regular intervals, is one of the best things you can do to improve your corporate culture, increase engagement, and improve your own mental health at the same time. It worked for Becky’s boss and it will work for you too.


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