Mindfulness Meditation Improves Decisions, Reduces Sunk-Cost Bias

Beanstalk Coaching:

It’s interesting to see research backing up what a lot of people who regularly meditate already know. I’m also interested in the suggestion that people take “mental time out” before making decisions: this is what people who are naturaly reflectors do, and I’ve found that they often come back with the best ideas and thoughts if they’re allowed the space they need.

Originally posted on Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary:

Sigal Barsade

Sigal Barsade

Brief meditation sessions can reduce the tendency to base current decisions on past “sunk costs,” which are not relevant to the present choice, reported Wharton’s Sigal Barsade, with Andrew C. Hafenbrack and Zoe Kinias both of INSEAD.

Andrew Hafenbrack

Andrew Hafenbrack

Sunk-cost bias” is the prevalent tendency to continue unsuccessful actions after time and money have been invested.
Frequent examples include:

  • Holding poorly-performing stock market investments
  • Staying in abusive interpersonal relationships
  • Continuing failing military engagements.
Zoe Kinias

Zoe Kinias

In these cases, people tend to focus on past behaviors rather than current circumstances, leading to emotion-driven decision biases.

Meditation practices can:

  • Enable increased focus on the present moment
  • Shift attention away from past and future actions
  • Reduce negative emotions.
Kirk Brown

Kirk Brown

Barsade, Hafenbrack, and Kinias asked volunteers to complete Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, a widely used trait-mindfulness scale developed by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Kirk Brown and Richard…

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Space to Think works for women…

I’ve been delighted at how successful the pilot group of “Space to Think” has been.  The anonymous survey has shown that the women taking part have hugely benefited from working together, and that the format is really effective.  You can have a look at the results here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-596C7HG/

Group members’ comments say it all: here’s a sample:


“It is just great to have a space where you can focus on what the real issues are and then have independent, non-judgement input from the facilitator and your peers.”

“It is a great place to stand back and consider issues in the round. It is good to listen too and learn and gain perspective through talking with others, uncluttered from work: a fresh perspective. It is also great to meet other CEOs and share the challenges we all face. I think this is important and will contribute to working development and my organisation in the longer term. “

“After every session I have actually implemented much of the suggestions received.”

“I like the themes and love your input and preparation of materials and questions that accompany this. It gives us a real opportunity to explore and consider the theme well and then discuss it. Interesting too to have the issue part – sometimes shared issues and interesting to discuss, sometimes very different but good to know and consider process and practice.”

“I have been going through some very challenging times and these sessions have come along at just the right time. Having people who are ‘walking in your shoes’ somewhere else is invaluable as they really understand what you are going through even though your issues are different..”

“Beanstalk Space to Think facilitated peer support has helped me to develop practical strategies to address staff and board issues within my organisation. (The most cost effective consultancy I’ve come across!)”

“It provides a fabulous opportunity for women in senior leadership roles to learn from and support each other, develop new skills, and benefit from fresh perspectives to everyday challenges in the workplace.”

So if you’d like to join the next group, or chat about your support needs, please drop me a line – annie@beanstalkconsulting.co.uk – I’d love to hear from you, and I’ll be starting up a new group in the late summer/autumn.


13 tips for working brilliantly with people

Space to Think is a new project for women running small to medium sized charities or social enterprises.  Here are 13 tips distilled from the wisdom of the current group.  They were so good, we just had to share them:

  1. Use the probationary period
  2. Recruit for attitude – it’s easier to train people in any skills they may lack
  3. Don’t be limited by your budget: you can bring almost any skill in through volunteers
  4. Every day is an opportunity to find out something amazing about the people in your organisation
  5. Sometimes the answer or solution to your quandary comes from someone unexpected
  6. Find out what resources and investment are needed to bring out the best in each individual on your team
  7. ACAS is there for you and is free and accessible
  8. Clarify your communication and be clear in getting your message across
  9. Recognise the whole person
  10. Tell people what they’re brilliant at
  11. Don’t delay telling people what they need to know
  12. Be compassionate in everything you do
  13. Leave your own emotions aside when dealing with difficult issues.

For more information about Space to Think, contact annie@beanstalkconsulting.co.uk.


Coaching Thoughts: … Of why many coaches resist supervision

Beanstalk Coaching:

This blog really sang to me. We owe it to our clients to make sure that we’re quality controlling our work, opening ourselves up to scrutiny, leaving that ego behind. In this very crowded and unregulated field, I would recommend that potential clients choose coaches who are affiliates of a professional body (such as the EMCC); undertaking regular supervision; and continually updating their own learning and development.

Originally posted on The Museletter:

I have offered a fair number of CPD presentations on professional Coaching Supervision and have been serving as a supervisor coach for the last 10 years. In that time I have heard very interesting conversations, both in professional associations and in coach training programmes, that coaches have relating to supervision. Reflecting on these I believe there are two reasons really.
  1. They don’t know enough about it,
  2. Ego.

Let’s start with the first one because the two reasons are interlinked.

Overseer or Partner

Overseer or Partner

The word “supervision” is a heavily laden word, with connotations of power and control. The medieval origins of the word are by themselves (c1588: overseer of others’ work) a block for coaches understanding the importance of the practice of subjecting your work to voluntary scrutiny for the benefit of the customer.

The way it is still used in psychological and academic practice, which has a power connotation of…

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No Longer Pursuing NLP

testimonial_image.jpgI like to learn new things.  I’m curious about how different people work, and I’m curious about what works for different people.  Before I started on my coaching journey with Myles Downey and the School of Coaching, I’d been to one of those cheap one day introductions to NLP.  I decided there and then not to pursue it, mostly because I was concerned about the lack of ethical framework; the way that selling stuff seemed to segue into therapy without there being any boundaries; the lack of a sense of responsibility for a client’s well-being.  I was lucky enough to get a place on the School of Coaching course, which led to a genuine academic qualification and placed values and respect for the authority of the individual at the heart of everything we did.  As I developed in my learning, I realised that there was a link between person centred coaching and the counselling training I’d done way back in the 1980s.  The goals and focus of coaching and counselling may be different, but the values around how we work respectfully with people are the same, and both need to sit within an ethical framework, one in which the practitioner is accountable to the client, preferably through a professional body.

So how did I find myself contemplating NLP again?  First of all, there was the offer of a free two day course that came through a trusted network.  And I have friends who work with NLP, friends I respect.  And I’d been very pleasantly surprised by a CPD seminar presented by Sue Knight through the EMCC.  And, when I rang the person delivering the training, it was clear that ethics were important to her too, and her background was in psychology, rather than sales. I did the first two days, and enjoyed them.  I’m a magpie for things that may be useful, at some point, in my work.  Some of that introductory thinking made sense, and I was intrigued by the eye movement stuff.  I had a week in which to sign up for the next two days – which would get me a diploma! – after which the price would rise dramatically (beginning to see a pattern?) and, somewhat uncharacteristically for me, I signed – and paid – up.  But by the end of the “diploma” weekend (no-one fails, by the way), I had made a very firm decision to end my dalliance with NLP.

So what happened?  Well, first of all the trainers started to disclose some of the more subtle tricks of the trade.  They didn’t talk about “if you decide to go further and take the practitioner course”, they talked about “when”.  There were ways of using language that manipulated the “client”.  I began to have the very uneasy feeling that I’d been duped into doing this course because they’d used suggestive language during the freebie.  My sense of uneasiness grew throughout the weekend, a gut feeling of dis-ease.  So much of the focus was on the practitioner influencing, leading, planting suggestions, and I could see how easy it would be to manipulate someone without their having a clue about what was happening.  Sales and personal development should not, in my mind, share the same bed.  There was no talk about empathy, none of the beautiful active listening that is central to person centred approaches, none of the creativity that we can bring to a coaching session through following the client’s interest.  There are some useful things, to be sure, and I wouldn’t trash everything by any means; but the most valuable thing I learnt was that sometimes you have to take a wrong path to get back on the right one, and I have been incredibly blessed by having the teachers – in counselling, coaching, yoga, and life – that I have had along the way.  I want to continue to develop and work in a way that honours the other’s own resourcefulness and integrity.

Space to Think – Women Leaders of Smaller Voluntary Organisations

Nourishing space for women running small to medium voluntary organisations

Starting February 27th – join up now!

How might things be different for you in 9 months’ time if you have regular support in an environment where everyone has particular skills and expertise that they share, and where there’s space and time to think, reflect, gather strength? 

This is probably the most difficult and challenging period in modern times for small to medium charities and social enterprises, especially those working with vulnerable people.  You are working long hours, multi-tasking, keeping your boards and management committees up to speed, and trying to keep your staff team healthy and buoyant.  But who’s looking after you?  And where do you find the space to think, reflect, share with others in a similar position?

I have created this monthly group with you and your needs in mind.  Working in a group of up to 6 women, initially for 6 months, we will focus on:

our challenges our gifts
our issues our shining futures

Each session will have time and space for members to work on individual issues, as well as focusing on a specific theme.  We may bring in guest speakers.  I suggest the themes below, and more may emerge as we work together:

*money – raising it and managing it *meetings – making them work for you *people
*politics *time *taking care

I am mindful that your organisational budgets are severely stretched, and one of the first things to go is usually paying for your own support.  Running the group from my home in South London will keep the costs down, and I can throw in lunch and a taxi service to and from the station.  The cost for this pilot introductory programme of 6 sessions, each of 3 hours, will be £175.

I’m a qualified executive coach and member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council.  I have been running a successful coaching practice, working with charity CEOs and senior managers since 2010.  I’m also CEO of Share Community and have worked as a senior manager in the voluntary sector since 1996.

We’re starting in February, and places are filling fast, so if you’re interested in finding out more, please e-mail me straight away at annie@beanstalkconsulting.co.uk .

Most sessions will be on Fridays, with the occasional Wednesday or Thursday.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

With very best wishes,