How Gorillas and Parasols Mess Up Meetings

Monday, April 13th, 2015

(#6 in The Energy Bar series)

You may know this story: researchers asked groups to count how often a team passed the ball to other members of their own basketball team. Pretty simple. They knew how to count, so they did pretty well at this simple task. But many of them missed seeing a gorilla walk onto the court, look at the camera, grunt, and walk off. Others tried the same experiment using a woman carrying a parasol. Still, many people only saw that they were looking for. (I know this seems too unbelievable to be true, but the experiment has been replicated many times. In fact, versions of it are probably going on in your organization right now.)

Imagine you’re in a meeting that is not going your way. A common response is to double-down and talk more, show more slides, and go into selling mode. If you weren’t so dead set on getting your point across, you just might have noticed the not-so-subtle appearance of a gorilla in your midst.

We do better when we expand our attention to include more than just the story we want to tell.

As you may know, I have been developing a really simple tool called The Energy Bar. It gives people a way to focus on more than just their own sales pitch.

Please give it a try. I think it’s got a lot going for it. 1. It’s free, 2. It takes hardly any time to use, and 3. it can improve our ability to engage with and influence others. I know this because I am using the tool too.

Here is a link to The Energy Bar. 

And please let me know how it works for you. Thanks.