At the core of cognitive psychology and how humans learn is pattern recognition. That is, we learn by being repeatedly exposed to something and then ultimately recognizing a pattern contained within. Once we recognize the pattern, the concept ‘solidifies’ in our mind. For example, a baby that repeatedly hears ‘Mommy’ when the same woman holds him ultimately identifies the woman as ‘Mommy’.
This core way that humans learn has implications for us in our career development. Every time we ‘publish’ something to our colleagues, whether an email, a presentation, a blog post—anything–we are cementing patterns and solidifying a construct our colleagues have about us. Thus, we can establish continuous patterns of ‘he/she does quality work’ or we can establish patterns of ‘he-she half-asses it’. The way that humans learn dictates that every ‘touch-point’ in a pattern further solidifies our colleagues construct about us.
While this may be intuitively obvious, what might be a change in thinking for some is the recognition that we aren’t fooling anyone by half-assing a project/email response. That is, people know when we’ve done so. The recognition that a collection of such instances means that people are ‘learning’ about our patterns and we are potentially developing a reputation for lack of quality may be enough to give us pause before doing so. Likewise every time we take the time to publish something of quality we are developing a reputation for quality. It goes without saying the impact the reputation we develop has on our career development.
Either way, in everything we do we are contributing to a reputation of some kind.
- About the Author
Nathan Safran is a former Analyst at Forrester Research where he covered the Digital Home. While at Forrester, Nathan authored research studies on trends, attitudes and behaviors of consumers toward technology adoption and use.
Nathan has been quoted as a subject matter expert in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Fortune magazine. Currently, Nathan heads the Research Department at Conductor, Inc an SEO Technology Platform firm.
Nathan writes at exceljockey.com about the intersection of Business, Technology and Psychology. See the About page for more info. Follow Nathan on Twitter: @Nathan_Safran