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20 Jun

We work better together with the right music

Datum: 2017-06-20 18:02

The fact that our phys­i­cal envi­ron­ment influ­ences how easy or dif­fi­cult we per­ceive our work to be, is well known. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, one tricky aspect of this fact is that we are some­times con­fined to our present where­abouts and have to do a task right where we are sit­ting — regard­less what our sur­round­ing envi­ron­ment is like.

Luck­i­ly we always (yes, I dare say always) have the pos­si­bil­i­ty to do some­thing to make com­plet­ing the task eas­i­er and get it done with less effort. The researchers Knif­fin, Yan, Wansink and Schulze in USA and Sin­ga­pore have in their recent study The sound of coop­er­a­tion: Musi­cal influ­ences on coop­er­a­tive behav­ior” found that peo­ple who lis­ten to hap­py” music while they work coop­er­ate bet­ter with oth­er peo­ple than those who lis­ten to sad” or no music at all.

In two dif­fer­ent exper­i­ments the effects of lis­ten­ing to dif­fer­ent kinds of music on how much we are pre­pared to con­tribute to the col­lec­tive was stud­ied, using a mod­el in which gen­eros­i­ty was reward­ed only if oth­er mem­bers of the group were gen­er­ous as well. Peo­ple who lis­tened to hap­py” music gen­er­al­ly con­tributed more — and also got more in return (since every­one in the group were lis­ten­ing to the same music).

Work­ing indi­vid­u­al­ly, together
The test sub­jects were in the exper­i­ments asked to work towards a com­mon goal with­out hav­ing any direct con­tact with the oth­er mem­bers of the group, whilst lis­ten­ing to music. Many will rec­og­nize this sit­u­a­tion from their work­places — work­ing with and for oth­ers, but doing the actu­al work by ourselves.

So, giv­en that the results from the study are accu­rate, what if we would be able to col­lab­o­rate bet­ter with those we work with and for, sim­ply by lis­ten­ing to the right music (and with­out putting the least bit addi­tion­al effort into the equation)?

Do this
If you want to see for your­self if care­ful­ly select­ed music can put a sparkle to your day as well, choose a few songs that always lift your spir­its and put togeth­er a playlist (in Spo­ti­fy, for instance, or your stream­ing ser­vice of choice; Con​sum​er​sAd​vo​cate​.org share this review of the best music stream­ing ser­vices).

Through­out the week, when you need to get work done dur­ing which you do not need to speak with oth­ers, lis­ten to the playlist while you are work­ing and notice if it makes a dif­fer­ence to your mood and how your per­ceive the work.

On Fri­day after­noon, look back at your musi­cal­ly infused week and eval­u­ate if you want to lis­ten to music while work­ing more often from now on.

Music fills us with joy
If the con­clu­sions drawn from this study hold true, the hap­py” music ought to have a pos­i­tive influ­ence on how you col­lab­o­rate with oth­ers. Exact­ly how our dai­ly work is affect­ed will prob­a­bly be dif­fer­ent from one per­son to the next.

Will we end up with few­er con­flicts and annoy­ances if we inter­pret emails with a more open mind? Will we get out of tight spots eas­i­er because we are act­ing out of a greater sense of trust? Well, if we do, it will def­i­nite­ly be worth try­ing this sim­ple method.

What’s your jam?
What do you pre­fer lis­ten­ing to when work­ing? Either tell us in a com­ment or share a link to your favorite song or playlist.