Caroline Webb

Author, How To Have A Good Day

How behavioural science can help us all to have a good day at work

Caroline will demonstrate how tiny tweaks to our daily routines can transform our experience of what happens around us. These include the number of hours in the day, our level of intelligence, and even other people’s moods. With this kind of powerful insight in our back pocket, we can change our “luck” and put many more good days within reach.

Caroline is CEO of Sevenshift, a firm that shows people how to use insights from behavioural science to improve their working life. Her book How To Have A Good Day has been hailed as one of the top business books of 2016 by publications including Forbes and Fortune.

Before becoming CEO at Sevenshift, Caroline was an external senior advisor at McKinsey, and previously the partner and leadership coach at the organisation. 

Dots Live

Edit your reality and have a good day

“What is there open for us to control that’s not just down to luck? You can’t change everything, but understanding a little about how your brain works means we can shift and control more of our daily experience than we may think,” said Caroline Webb as she closed Dots 2016.

Let’s edit our reality

People experience reality differently, but why is that? Caroline explained to the Dots audience that the conscious part of your brain can only process a limited amount of information. Much of what’s around us gets unconsciously filtered out. We only experience a part of reality.

Our brain directs our attention to things that match our aims, attitudes and assumptions.

Caroline spoke about an experiment where a group of radiologist were shown a range of slides depicting lung nodules. At the end of the slide, a slide of a gorilla popped up. 83% of the radiologists didn’t see the gorilla, although they looked directly at it. Their goal wasn’t to find the gorilla, therefore they didn’t see it.

To combat this, we must be aware of our aims, attitudes and assumptions. Following this, we should set expectations which aren’t blurred by our personal biases.

How can we make time go further?

Multitasking makes us: slower, less accurate, less wise and less creative. Our brain has to switch off one task to switch on another. Yet most of us try to valiantly multitask. We’re faster and wiser when we single task.

How can you give yourself a break from constant interruptions? Caroline gave these three tips:

  • Go offline for your most important tasks.
  • Batch your tasks, especially email. Group together similar tasks so your brain doesn’t have to switch between tasks.
  • Start small and celebrate your wins.

Other people’s moods

Our emotions are strangely contagious – our moods sync within five minutes of being with each other. You can decide what energy to put into a room and change the mood. If you project a different emotion into the room, the mood will change.

How can you change your negative feelings towards a situation?

It helps to know about the Fundamental Attribution Error. We decide why other people are in bad moods, and we usually attribute this to their character.

We need to assume good person, bad circumstances and wonder what put that person into a defensive mode. Did their cat vomit on them this morning? This will shift your demeanour so you become more sympathetic.

Caroline ended Dots with this final piece of advice: “Share your reality by setting clear intentions. Make the hours go further by single-tasking. Become smarter by using positive framing. Assume good person, bad circumstance.”