Tap Into the Power of Social Facilitation

Social facilitation is a fancy term for the tendency we human beings have (among other organisms) to perform better when we’re working alongside others or just being watched. It’s so basic that even bugs do it. Check out the principles below to learn how the presence of others can positively affect your behavior and harness that power to improve your own performance and results.

General Principles Related To Social Facilitation

Try these tips to understand the value of social facilitation and start using it to your advantage:

1. Engage in friendly comparisons. Studies show cyclists pedal faster when they bike together. It’s natural to try to keep up with the person next to you or exceed their output. Keep the comparison – and the competition friendly to avoid dropping into a negative thought process and attitude.

2. Focus on effort. Observing the accomplishments of others can inspire you to see new possibilities for yourself. When you can see that success is based as much or more on hard work rather than being a matter of luck or a special talent, it will encourage and motivate you to work harder.

3. Surround yourself with reminders. There’s a good reason why many workplaces put up a list of top employees or sales figures – it puts a “target” out there for you and other to work towards!

* Give yourself something to strive for by noting the benchmarks you want to surpass, then put an action plan in place that sets SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based) and accomplishments.

4. Capitalize on good moods and high energy. Social facilitation works best when we’re in good spirits. Hit the gym for an early morning yoga session or a pulse-pounding cardio class. You’ll feel more energized, stronger and more purposeful.

5. Visualize some company. If you’re on your own, you can still take advantage of the audience effect. For example, imagine experts are watching you and admiring your technique as you wash your car or complete other activities. Hear the roar of the crowd as you stack up accomplishments and let it power your forward to even more positive achievements.

6. Encourage attentiveness. Naturally, attentive audiences have more impact than those who are dozing off. Engage your audience and be an enthusiastic observer when your time comes to cheer others on. Be the “cheerleader” that encourages others to pay attention and get the most out of every activity.

7. Promote personal accountability. It’s hard to tell if anyone is slacking off when a lot of people are moving one piece of heavy furniture – or working on a huge project. Build in ways to measure individual performance, and reward those who are personally accountable.

8. Understand the opposite sex effect. Audiences of the opposite gender can sometimes inhibit performance if they make people nervous or distracted. Keep that in mind if the choir at your all girl’s school sounds off key when they first venture out. Encourage members of the group to support and positively reinforce each other and the audience becomes less likely to generate anxiety.

9. Seek solitude for tricky stuff. In contrast, we all tend to do better at new or complicated tasks when we can rehearse in private. Practice a new card trick before you show it to your friends. Work on your backhand in between tennis lessons. Take advantage of solitude to work through your processes and procedures to build your confidence that you’ll make the right move every time.


Specific Applications of Social Facilitation:

1. Work in teams. Many workplaces encourage employees to work in teams. You can also take the initiative to ask your supervisor to let you take over the conference room to assemble meeting materials or other group tasks. Team work leverages the experience, education and enthusiasm of all of the members – use that to your team’s advantage!

2. Give your laptop an afternoon out. Coffee shops and libraries are usually full of people who find they get more work done in public than if they lounge around at home. Find a place where like-minded people gather to work, and the collective energy can help you to achieve more.

* Even strangers can help each other out just by congregating in one place.

3. Find a fitness buddy. Enlist a family member or friend to help you stick to your exercise regimen and other healthy lifestyle habits. Even if you’re not doing the exact same workout or working at the same intensity level, the presence of someone else who’s striving for a common purpose (getting into better shape) can help raise your commitment level and performance.

* We’re more likely to stay on track when someone else knows what we’re doing.

4. Sign up for group activities. Almost anything that we do can be adapted for sharing with others. Put together a weekly poker night or basketball game. If you love to read, form a book club. Extend yourself to others and you’ll find your activities providing more positive reinforcement than if you’re always working solo.

5. Throw a party. It’s easy to feel isolated in a digital world. Stay in practice for socializing and cooperating with others. Accept more party invitations or throw your own. Work on your small talk and seek out opportunities to help others.

Put the power of social facilitation to work for you. Sharing activities promotes fun and productivity. It will be easier to accomplish your goals if you team up with others or just imagine you’re playing to an audience.