On Relationships

>> Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Advertising agencies are at heart service organizations. Our shops are stuffed with wicked smart and creative people, with people who love solving puzzles and working out what makes others tick. But ultimately the ideas and work developed at advertising agencies are for naught if they aren’t funded by a client in the service of selling their product.

So the relationship between the folks who have the products – and the money – and the creative teams who are hired to sell those products becomes a big part of whether or not we get great work into the marketplace. A brilliant idea that isn’t embraced by the client is a useless idea, and a creative team that pursues their own agenda and loses sight of their job to sell product is just as worthless.

Which makes a recent experiment by Eli J. Finkel and Paul W. Eastwick super interesting to anyone working in the advertising industry – and I would guess anyone in a service industry.

It's about something called the approacher bias.

The researchers were out to test the commonly accepted idea that men were less selective than women when it came to choosing someone to date . Their hypothesis was that this lower standard actually had nothing to do with whether you were a man or a woman, it had to do with who was the approacher and who was the approachee.

You’ve probably guessed by now, but I’ll go ahead and confirm that the researchers proved out their hypothesis. It didn’t matter whether you were a man or a woman, if you were the one doing the approaching, you tended to be significantly less selective and to find the person you were approaching more attractive. However, if you were the one being approached you tended to be much more…judgmental.

All of this happens unconsciously without us even knowing that it is happening. But now that you do know that it happens, whether you are the approacher or the approachee, you can take some steps to neutralize this unconscious bias.

What I like to do to is to make myself at home. I hang my coat in the closet instead of bringing it into the meeting room. I put my bag out of sight. And for those of you who know me, yes, I take my shoes off (don’t worry; I’m wearing a nice clean pair of socks).

These might seem like little things, but they make a big difference in setting the right tone for collaboration that allows great work to flourish. Remember, it’s not just how good your idea is, it’s whether or not you can help everyone to get behind it. Removing the approacher bias is a good step in the right direction.

Hope this finds you well,

Jacob Braude

VP, Strategist


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