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)?
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).
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.