In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a young artist who fell in love with his own carved image of a woman. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was touched by his devotion and blessed him by bringing the statue to life.
Today we use the phrase "the Pygmalion effect" to describe having high expectations of others and then those expectations become reality.
This is a psychological phenomenon better known as 'a self-fulfilling prophecy'. When we believe something, we think and act according to that belief, and this leads to goals being achieved.
Research showing the Pygmalion effect
An example of this is the following prolific real-life study which gives us an example of how the Pygmalion effect can manifest in real life: Researcher Rosenthal informed the teachers of a school that certain children showed promise and would achieve more. These children were chosen at random and there was no objective reason for them to be more promising than the others.
The study was designed to gain insight into the effect a teacher's expectations would have on a child. And the amazing result was that the children randomly assigned as promising showed dramatic improvement in a short period of time.
The teachers of these children asked them more questions, encouraged them and helped them more. And in turn, the randomly chosen children thrived and conformed to the teachers' belief that they were special.
In this article, we are going to look at ways in which we can apply this amazing phenomenon in our own lives and in relation to others. Positive expectations can open up a world of possibilities and we should embrace this in our lives.
Avoid negative expectations
An obvious way to apply the Pygmalion effect is to avoid negative expectations in life and work. Don't forget to formulate your goals, tasks, ideas and more in terms of possibilities. Don't waste your precious energy worrying or imagining all possible worst-case scenarios. This does not mean that you give in to unrealistic expectations, but is simply meant to remember that the glass is always half full.
Even when it comes to creating a positive expectation mindset, we can use feedback to help us. If you're not in the habit of nurturing positive expectations, you can count on a responsible partner or mentor to remind you to look for the best in others.
Also give feedback to your own team and colleagues by supporting them. Help them feel confident by focusing on their best qualities and potential rather than any limitations.
Be aware of subtle signals
Managing small cues such as body language or unconscious word choices is difficult because these actions are done without awareness.
To consciously use the Pygmalion effect in your own life, learn to create your own little physical signals. Use power poses and maintain an upright and confident posture. Keep your neck straight and force yourself to always talk to people with the utmost confidence. When you act and behave in a certain way, you will start to believe positive things about yourself.
Also give people in your team subconscious signals by using open body language. Don't offer them solutions, but guide them to find their own answers. These small actions show that you trust them and this will give them confidence in their own abilities.
Set high expectations
The whole idea behind this phenomenon is that you approach your goals with passion and hope for the ideal result. When you work with a team, have high expectations of others by believing that they are doing their best and are absolutely capable of great things.
Think of it as continuously giving others and yourself a '10' in life.
It is important to note that you are not trying to be perfect or have a forced positivity. But it's about believing the best about yourself, others, and the situation you're dealing with.
Finally about the Pygmalion effect
The beliefs we hold can manifest in real-world achievements. The Pygmalion effect in particular focuses on seeing good qualities in yourself and in others. These expectations lead to interactions that empower others and help you achieve your goals. With the tips given here, you will see the beauty in others, just as Pygmalion did in his statue, and bring such potential to life.