All the Buzz at Work

As you know, I love words and phrases and the way people construct ideas.  Sometimes it’s extremely creative, and other times, well, it gives me a nice laugh.

And, I’m back with another set of buzzwords for the workplace.

So, the new terms for today are “Micromoves,” Productive Distraction,” and “Arrival Fallacy.”

Micromoves.  It seems researchers have been cataloging our moments and interactions in the workplace and say that our relationships are sort of like a dance – composed of small moments, not necessarily choreographed and certainly and not set to music.

It goes like this: you say “thanks” when someone gets the door for you and you get a positive hash mark.  You delay in responding to an email and you get a negative hash mark.  You make a derogatory remark about a colleague’s suggestion at a staff meeting – big negative.

All of these tiny moments add up to whether a coworker trusts and likes you, and once a definition is encoded in that person’s mind, it can’t be changed easily.  It more likely becomes set in stone.  In fact, people will probably look for more evidence to support their summation of you.  The Good.  The Bad.  And the Ugly.

Micromoves aren’t always intentional, or even perceived, but the bad ones carry far more weight than the good ones.  One author suggests journaling your micromoves so you will recognize patterns and then you can improve your relationships with your coworkers.

Since these are all tiny movements, and some may not even be noticeable, I’m not sure how you’re going to journal them.  Nor do I think an employer would smile about you using work time to catalog your interoffice relationships, but this could possibly bleed into the next workplace activity, or non-activity.

Productive Distraction.  For a moment this is going to sound pretty technical.  The investigators coining this term studied the neural markers for early attention, called sensory gating, to measure creativity – “divergent thinking and real-world creative achievement.”  “’Leaky’ sensory gating, the propensity to filter out ‘irrelevant’ sensory information, happens early, and involuntarily, in brain processing and may help people integrate ideas that are outside of the focus of attention, leading to creativity in the real world.”

This translates to: allowing your employees a certain amount of time to play around on their cell phones, be absorbed with their social media platforms, or even playing electronic games, may improve their creativity in the workplace.  Many workers are used to being distracted in the digital world of information overload and actually perform best in this environment.  They pull outside data, seemingly totally unrelated, into the projects they’re working on.

Now this runs counter to the research I’ve read that says multitasking leads to failure.  No one can successfully multitask and perform the tasks well.  So maybe it would be better to structure the distraction time in discrete blocks apart from the focus on work projects.

Arrival Fallacy.   And then there is this.  When we finally make the climb to what we think is the top of the career ladder, to our dream job, we discover we’re not happy.  Not so much of a dream after all.

In fact, the unhappiness may be even greater now because before, while we were on the ascent, we had hope.  Hope that things would be so much better, that we’d be so fulfilled in so many ways, and now it’s a big letdown.

Achievement doesn’t equate to happiness.  And this gets back to some of my earlier posts.  We cannot find happiness with some external search.  Happiness is an internal thing.  No place, no person, no job, etc., is going to provide it for us.

To sum up: Make sure your micro-dance is balletic if you want to have workplace friends, stay distracted to become a creative genius, and don’t expect your promotion to fulfill your expectations and dreams.

Humm, back to the research  . . .


Photos: In keeping with the workplace theme, I picked pictures of me before I retired.  I didn’t include one of my last workplace because that was considered taboo by a few toxic entities, and one of those entities even thought that any picture being taken inside that workplace constituted appropriation.  Somehow a pic would automatically represent an endorsement of some type??

The feature pic was originally me running around at the state capitol.  But I changed it after I went out hiking today and came back with a nice dragonfly.

The one below was taken at the U.S. Supreme Court.  In keeping with my pattern of doing things backwards, I was sworn in for the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of my legal career. So no, I’ll not be presenting any cases there.  🙂

I had made it to my dream job a few years earlier and definitely experienced arrival fallacy.  I’m not sure about micromoves, but there were some macromoves by a small group of people that really stunk the place up.  But I wasn’t distracted while I was there,  I usually spent 10 hours a day extremely focused on legal research and then retired to the dream house and dream spouse, only to have another rude awakening.  🙂 My post Coffee explains that one.

US Supreme Ct Building 10 - Me & Justice Marshall

Articles used for this pieces were:

The Little Things That Affect Our Work Relationships

Creative Genius Driven by Distraction

Doing Creative Work When You Can’t Stop Looking at Your Phone

You Accomplished Something Great. So Now What?

Link Rot: As always, I can’t guarantee how long any hyperlinks to articles or posts on the Net will be functional.  They have a tendency to disappear over time or be hijacked to other sites.





28 thoughts on “All the Buzz at Work”

  1. It makes me a little crazy when coworkers sneak away to send a text message or play a game? on their cell phones – but maybe it’s just ‘productive distraction’ at play. I guess I grew up with constrained work ethics. And multi tasking has always been one of my pet peeves – I simply have to focus on one thing at a time to do a really good job of it. And micro moves? Seriously? I mean on one level it does make perfect sense, but as you point out, not many employers would encourage journaling about your relationships with coworkers.Perhaps I am just an old dinosaur…. It’s all great food for thought though. Very interesting, as per usual. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I grew up with that same set of ethics, but we also usually find, if we’re the ones doing the good job, while others play, we get rewarded with more work, and for some reason, the poor workers are tolerated. I don’t know who has time for this type of research and speculating – it gets funny at times 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Arrival fallacy is a good one. The others, I’ll have to meditate on. And yea, multi-tasking has been proven counter-productive to actually accomplishing anything. You FEEL busy, but sigh–just another illusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I’ve been thinking a lot about positives and negatives and how we relate to them so this was really timely for me…. plus Supreme Court pic… daughter is enamored with the Supreme Court and I’m pretty sure it’s why she decided to go to school in DC

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What’s work got to do with it? Surely these interactions affect all our relationships (and people’s opinions about anything – not just colleagues – are hard to shift once determined).
    The only difference is you spend longer at work (until you retire). And you can’t choose your work colleagues as you can your friends (neither can you get away from each other). If you can control your reactions in life, you can control them at work (or vice versa – depending on which you think most important).
    I’ve noticed that ‘Arrival Fallacy’ continues into retirement. A number of people I meet in groups and clubs have nothing to talk about except grumbles and general dissatisfaction. They looked forward to retirement and now find it less fulfilling without any goals to aim for – even when they were someone else’s goals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point Cathy. These researchers focused on work, but you are right, it applies across the board. I’m sorry to hear that some in your group have felt arrival fallacy in reaching retirement. I’ve learned quickly that you need to figure out what you like to do that’s within your means and then go do it. No point in grumbling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly – why bring everyone else down.
        What I like to do is writing. And it’s free! (Mostly)
        Trouble is, there’s no time for the housework and gardening (my excuse always used to be the pressures of work…)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting terms. I like “Productive Distraction” best, and I think it applies. I read about the 52 | 17 rule of productivity, which essentially means that optimum productivity was achieved with 52 minutes of solid, focused work followed by 17 minutes of break. I have found that writing works best if I embrace those breaks I need every hour as being an addition to the writing experience rather than a subtraction from writing time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very interesting post with an unique perspective, it’s funny because while I am on my 9 to 5 job, I take care and do work on my blog as well, I guess that’s completely wrong but I am still doing my 2 jobs the best I can without neglect, but sorry boss I have a business to grow 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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