Welcome to the first article in the Positive Priming Series. I’m extremely passionate about the tool of priming because I’ve seen its effects repeatedly–with both myself and my clients–and it’s a concept that I use often. This will be the first in a series of articles designed to help you learn the power of priming, as well as some helpful tools for priming yourself and others.
So what exactly is priming?
Priming is a term used by scientists to talk about the fact that every decision we make is unconsciously influenced by what we have previously experienced. I use “positive priming” similarly to the way positive psychologists use “kindness priming.”
Multiple studies have been done during which researchers primed participants with positive or negative words or images and then tested their tendency for optimism. For example, during one study, half the participants watched negative news and the other half watched light-hearted cat videos. It’s probably not surprising that the group that watched the negative news had more negative responses to the questions they were asked afterward. Believe it or not, cat videos can make you more optimistic. Now you can tell your boss that you need to watch them at work to improve performance.
Think about the last time you read or watched some really awful news. Or the last time you received a scathing review at work. Did that exposure affect your mood afterward?
There has even been research done with sports teams showing that those who have won are more likely to win the next game, and when a team has lost they are more likely to lose. So when talk about “losing streaks,” there really is such a thing.
It’s remarkable how deeply certain stimulation can affect how we act.
I use positive priming in my teaching and speaking all the time. When I’m addressing a group, my ultimate goal is to move hearts and minds to action. So I try to open with a story or a statement that will prime them for success.
I often start with this quick experiment (feel free to try it yourself right now): “I want you to take a moment think about a time or event in your life when you felt very smart or accomplished. Think deeply about what you liked about that moment and what you had learned to get there. Reflect on those positive feelings and how satisfying it felt to learn something new.”
What you’ve just done is prime yourself positively around learning, so now you are more ready to absorb new information, and chances are that you’ll do it better because of the positivity you’ve created around it.
In our next post, we’ll talk about in more detail about how to use these techniques to prime yourself, and the power that can have. The fact is, if you want to be a highly influential person, positive priming starts from within, so learning how to energize yourself using positive priming is a valuable tool for being a great influencer.
If you have any questions about priming, or feedback on this post, I’d love to hear from you.
In the meantime, check out the following videos if you’d like to learn more.