7 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Deal With Stress and Pressure

Entrepreneurship is a challenging endeavor that requires a lot of effort and dedication. Entrepreneurship is full of times when stress and pressure come into play, but most entrepreneurs will only show the sales and hundreds of orders. Nobody shows the slow months, disputes, rude customers and difficult vendors, lost packages, delayed shipments and long work days. In reality, entrepreneurs are forced to overwork, experience doubt and worry about getting consistent sales.

Keeping up with the demands of running a business is difficult, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. A correct approach can make it easier for you to run a “small” business and make it happen! This article will discuss a few solutions that can help you to manage pressure and stress in running your business. Let’s dive in!

1. Have a positive attitude

A positive attitude is one of the most important traits of a successful entrepreneur. A positive attitude towards work, customers and business partners is essential to achieving goals and building a successful business. Stress and pressure are inevitable in any business, but a positive attitude can help you deal with them and stay focused on your goals. A positive attitude can also help you to see challenges as opportunities, and it can also help you to stay motivated and focused on your goals. A positive attitude is not always easy, but it is worth it.

2. Find a support system

Support systems can be a helpful way of managing stress and pressure as an entrepreneur. Many people find them helpful in relieving the pressure and helping to stay organized. Many different support systems are available, so it is important to find the one most comfortable for you. Some of the most common support systems include joining an entrepreneurial community and finding a mentor.

A properly functioning support system can help entrepreneurs deal with issues without worrying about them. This can help them to focus on their business and not have to worry about the personal aspects of their life. An effective support system translates to increased individual and business productivity.

3. Maintain a work-life balance

A work-life balance is something that is often talked about but not always practiced. Many people consider work-life balance a luxury, but it’s not. With the ever-growing levels of pressure and stress in today’s society, finding a way to balance your work and personal life is more important than ever. Working too much and neglecting our personal lives can lead to much pressure and stress.

Lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits, and too much caffeine can all add up over the long run and hurt our mental and physical . Without mental and physical fitness, we may feel like we can’t succeed without putting in the extra hours, and we may start to feel overwhelmed by our work. While there are many ways to maintain a work-life balance, some of the most common methods are setting reasonable expectations, exercising, resting and maintaining a healthy diet.

4. Find a hobby

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands of being an entrepreneur, consider finding a hobby to help take your mind off things. Hobbies offer a sense of relaxation, a diversion from the hectic tasks of running a business and the opportunity to share one’s creativity with others. Choosing something you’re passionate about can help reignite your enthusiasm and help you stay focused.

Many options are available when choosing a hobby, and you don’t have to be an expert to start. Just be sure to choose something you’ll enjoy, and you’ll be able to stay focused while you work. Hobbies can provide a sense of accomplishment and contribute to a sense of well-being.

5. Hire staff to help or delegate duties

Delegating duties as a way of dealing with pressure and stress can be difficult, but with the help of the right people, it can be done. When faced with high-stress levels, many entrepreneurs turn to hiring staff or delegating some of the work to other members. This helps them take some of the load off and enables them to create time for themselves. For example, hiring an administrative assistant can help to alleviate some of the pressure and stress associated with running a business.

6. Develop an action plan

Action plans are an essential component of any successful business. They can help you deal with pressure and stress and, ultimately, increase your chances of success. With a plan in place, you can anticipate challenges and make the necessary adjustments to keep your business on track.

An action plan can help you stay on track and set goals and progress. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your plan. Make sure to consider your goals, the available resources, and the time commitment you’re willing to make.

7. Ask for help

Entrepreneurs are often lauded for their ability to go it alone. But many people don’t realize that even the most successful entrepreneurs have a team of people they can rely on for advice. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It shows that you’re willing to admit when you need help and are open to suggestions from others. Asking for help is a sign of maturity and wisdom.

Source: 7 Ways to Combat Pressure and Stress

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Critics by Ronen Menipaz

There’s a psychological and physical price to entrepreneurship that simply needs to be acknowledged by every entrepreneur, both novice and experienced. Building and running a business is more stressful than you initially imagine or anticipate

Why?

There’s always the pressure of failing – as simple as that. Not every business goes well. You’re taking responsibility for a team of partners and employees. You make promises you’re not always entirely sure you can deliver.  Even when you’re experiencing success, it’s not entirely a 100% sure thing. I almost shut down a business that was profitable because I didn’t count on it growing so fast.

It’s a great thing to see and experience but my cash flow deficit was nine times more than in the beginning. Once that ball starts rolling, it’s difficult to stop it. You scramble to find money and solve the problem (which is a bit absurd as the business isn’t going under) in real time, all the while taking care of your employees who are hanging by a thread of your actions. 

The thing is – you can’t really shake off their pressure and incoming stress because they want to feel secure, and you project the image of that security. Even though entrepreneurs are a self-determined and intelligent bunch, many feel the profound and influencing pressure effects that the surroundings exert on them. Yet, they also feel they can’t be leaders and at the same time admit they’re struggling.

Whether as a group we are embarrassed to admit we’re vulnerable, see it as a weakness, or whatever the reason is, entrepreneurial pressure isn’t discussed nearly enough. That’s a mistake. Don’t be fooled by the successful image the leaders you look up to convey. It’s like social media – people only show the highlights. But I assure you – all entrepreneurs struggle with pressure and the sooner you address it, the faster and better you can manage it and become a better entrepreneur.

Too many times as entrepreneurs we get so focused on success that taking care of ourselves takes a backseat. Such MO takes a toll on the wellbeing of an entrepreneur. The very nature of this job is to juggle many roles while facing the constant risk of failure, various setbacks and ongoing voices in our heads and around us telling us we must succeed. And every single one of us, regardless of how experienced or inexperienced we are, face some version of these defeats along the way.

Being aware of the amount of pressure this line of work entails is an important first step in managing and mitigating the potential negative effects. For some, this is still a taboo topic despite recent efforts to popularize discussions about mental health. It shouldn’t be and we mustn’t let it be.

Dealing with pressure ultimately boils down to personal perspective and the importance you place on the task at hand. By being aware, you can prevent (or stop) sabotaging yourself and lead a healthier and more productive life and business. Will the world really end tomorrow if you don’t succeed 100% of the time? I don’t think so. And the paradox? The less stressed you’ll be, the higher your success rate.

Once you’re aware of what you’ll be likely facing down the road, it’s easier to be prepared to deal with it head-on. Learning to cope with and perform under pressure is crucial not only to be successful but also to be effective while doing it. Speaking from a competitive standpoint, you risk falling behind those who do master handling the scenarios where a major hurdle comes up. And in this often cutthroat environment, recovery will be extremely hard.

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What Old Dogs Can Teach Us About Aging

For many of us, our dogs are our constant companions. Whether collie or retriever, purebred or mutt, dogs climb mountains with us, travel on airplanes with us, and eat the scraps off our plate.  

And as we get older, so do they. In fact, dogs experience a lot of the same age-related changes that humans do, from greying hair and creaky joints to more serious conditions like cancer or cognitive decline. Today, scientists are learning how comparing different dog breeds can give us new insights into the aging process — for both our canine companions and their owners. 

Old Dogs, New Tricks

One major project currently underway is the Dog Aging Project. Headquartered at the University of Washington, the project is working with dogowners across the country, gathering info about their pets’ lives, lifespans and medical ailments.  The project has more than 32,000 dogs already enrolled, though co-director Daniel Promislow says it’s kind of just getting started. “Over this past year, we’ve sort of launched into the next phase, which is pretty exciting,” says Promislow. One key development:

Building out their logistics network, like where to store computer data and physical samples and how to make that data easy to sort through. The second development? Time.  The scientists behind the project hope that this wealth of data could soon be used to see which health problems are commonly found together, and even figure out how long problem may lead to another.

 “Once we move into this longitudinal phase, which we’re now doing, we can identify how something that happens early in a dog’s life eventually impact his health late in life. That’s the real power of discovery,” says Promislow. “Years in the future, a veterinarian could enter some information about the clinical history of a dog and know that a particular diagnosis was more or less likely.” 

They’re also collecting DNA samples from the dogs, which could help reveal the underlying genetic causes of disease. Beyond that, dogs in particular present a rare opportunity for researchers thanks to the artificial selection pressures that have shaped them.

It’s All in the Genes

Exactly when and where dogs were first domesticated is a matter of debate, but scientists think it was at least 14,000 years ago. Since that fateful day, breeders have shaped our canine companions by repeatedly choosing for specific traits like intelligence, attitude, or speed. The signs of this artificial selection and in-breeding are visible in dogs genetics or, more specifically, the amount of variation in their genetics.

“Across all dogs, it’s about the same as us genetically,” says Promislow. “But within a single breed it’s like having a whole bunch of full siblings. Or even closer.” This means that specific breeds of dogs may have traits built into their genes.

Variation in a gene known as IGF1, for instance, accounts for nearly half of all size differences between breeds.  What does this actually mean for researchers, though? Essentially, if a particular problem shows up frequently in a given breed, it may be due to something in that breed’s genes.

The IGF1 gene has been implicated as influencing both size and lifespan, possibly helping explain why large dogs tend to die younger than small ones, though it’s still being researched. Meanwhile, variants in a gene called SLC2A9 may be behind the high rate of urinary problems in Dalmatians, whereas a gene region called CDKN2A/B could contribute to the high rate of certain cancers in Bernese Mountain Dogs.  

Looking at cancer in particular helped kickstart another major project, the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, says geneticist Janet Patterson-Kane, the project’s principal investigator.

The research team has recruited a one-time cohort of over 3,000 golden retrievers and have been going since 2012. By looking at just one specific breed, they can zero in on the effects of individual genes.  Plus, the fact that researchers are studying one breed helps them see things beyond just genetics, as well.

Because the dogs are quite similar genetically, you may be more likey to tease out the influence of something environmental or dietary to their health, says Patterson-Kane. “There’s a power in taking dogs that are quite similar to each other, and then you’re looking at the factors acting upon that,” says Patterson-Kane. 

Lessons for Humans

What’s more, studying how dogs age could help us not only help our pets, but ourselves, too. The SLC2A9 gene that causes Dalmatian urinary problems also exists in humans, for example, and could be the target of future research.  And with regards to environmental exposure, because our canine companions get exposed to a lot of what humans do — like home pesticides, second-hand smoke, or even asbestos — and suffer the same problems humans do, a dog’s health may serve as warnings for their owners.

 Studies suggest that a pet dog contracting a type of lung cancer called mesothelioma could be an early warning sign of asbestos exposure for the humans in the household.  Both The Dog Aging Project and The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study are still ongoing, though the researchers behind the latter say they’re now coming to the end of many of their enrollee dogs’ natural lifespan. “We are losing a lot of dogs right now.

It’s just one of those sobering things,” says Patterson-Kane. “But those samples from those dogs are a legacy to those dog’s lives. And after they’re gone, we’re still going to be getting those samples out looking at that data.” The hope is that more researchers, not just veterinarians but also people in other fields, will be able to use the group’s data. 

The Dog Aging Project, meanwhile, is continuing to recruit new dogs. “The Dog Aging Project welcomes dogs of all ages, from puppies to geriatric dogs,” says Promislow, adding that the research project takes dogs from all around the country. “What better way to discover the cool things that science can do then, by doing it through this dog who you love and who’s a part of the family?”

By James Gaines

Source: What Old Dogs Can Teach Us About Aging | Discover Magazine

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Crypto Cards Are Giving Bitcoin Purchase Power

Spending your cryptocurrency was once a headache-inducing endeavour. Not only did few merchants accept bitcoin as a medium of exchange, but without access to the now ubiquitous fiat off-ramps, you had to source a buyer willing to exchange fiat for digital. That entailed a degree of risk since peer-to-peer marketplaces that protected users with an escrow system didn’t exist.

What a difference a couple of years makes. These days it’s easy to use bitcoin and ether to buy goods and services online, in the metaverse, and in the meatspace, with payment gateways handling conversion at the point of sale. The spender authorizes the transaction while the processor converts their crypto into fiat in real time, de-risking the transaction for merchants sceptical of accepting volatile virtual currencies. Everyone’s a winner.

Debit Card Meets Digital Value

Of all the infrastructure put in place since the emergence of the digital asset sector, few have done as much to accelerate mainstream adoption as crypto-friendly debit cards. Payment giants Visa and Mastercard have rolled out support for cryptocurrencies on their vast networks, giving users access to their crypto portfolios and the ability to quickly and cheaply convert them into traditional currencies for spending purposes.

This is not a globally acceptable solution as many countries take a hard line stance against cryptocurrencies, with financial laws in place that ban citizens from buying, selling or even holding them. A crypto-fiat card, convenient as it may be, won’t be of much use in Algeria or Bolivia. But in countries where Visa and Mastercard are accepted, your purchase power is assured.

Explaining its shifting attitude towards the digital economy earlier this year, Mastercard wrote that it “isn’t here to recommend you start using cryptocurrencies. But we are here to enable customers, merchants and businesses to move digital value, traditional or crypto, however they want. It should be your choice, it’s your money.”

Mastercard’s growing crypto partner network now includes wallet application Wirex, bitcoin payment service provider BitPay, digital asset manager Bakkt, and FDIC-insured mobile banking application LVL. Last week, the company announced that it was also joining forces with five startups to “solve global blockchain challenges” as part of its Start Path Crypto accelerator program.

As well as LVL, the companies participating in the program include smart-contract builder Ava Labs, AI-centric mobile banking app Envel, peer-to-peer savings platform Kash, and crypto rewards platform NiftyKey. Three more leading cryptocurrency service providers in the Asia Pacific region, Amber, Bitkub and CoinJar, will soon be launching crypto-funded Mastercard payment cards.

Visa has embraced digital assets with an equal fervour, having teamed up with over 60 crypto platforms including Circle, BlockFi, Coinbase, FTX and Anchorage. The firm even launched its own Global Crypto Advisory Practice last year, pitched at financial institutions keen to win or retain customers by expanding their services to include digital currencies, stablecoins, and NFTs.

Much of Visa’s crypto business has been conducted in concert with payments startup Simplex, which specializes in providing users with on and off-ramp capabilities via both credit and debit cards. Simplex was this year acquired by Canadian payments processor Nuvei in a deal worth $250 million, and Nuvei is in turn rolling out branded Visa cards to its partners throughout Europe. There clearly are many different entities responsible for giving crypto more purchase power.

By enabling millions of consumers around the world to spend digital assets with a swipe of the card or smartphone, two non-crypto native firms have struck a surprising blow to the hegemony of traditional financial institutions when it comes to payments. The dominance of traditional players in the payment space has been waning for some time as innovative forms of digital payment have emerged. Square’s Cash App boasts over 40 million monthly active users and digital wallets like Venmo, Revolut, and Wirex have also built large international user bases.

Banks No Longer Payment Kings

Many alternative payment platforms continue to allow users to fund their accounts through connecting their bank accounts. Crypto-friendly debit cards, for example, often display a fiat balance and crypto balance with account-holders able to shift funds accordingly and spend either fiat or crypto at the point of sale. In the future banks could be frozen out altogether. Stablecoins, a digital asset whose value is pegged 1:1 with the US dollar are now being supported on cards. 

Like other cryptocurrencies, stablecoins can be spent like cash anywhere Visa and Mastercard is accepted with cards such as the one offered by crypto platform Voyager Digital, which supports the USDC stablecoin. If many crypto users are only interacting with the legacy fiat system because of its supposed stability, they could turn their banks on fiat entirely by using assets like USDC and USDT as a kind of proxy fiat.

There is another benefit of stabelcoins as cryptoassets like bitcoin often come with a capital gain tax burden, when converted into cash and spent. Stablecoins are better suited to being a medium of exchange.

The debit cards offered by major crypto-native platforms such as Coinbase and Crypto.com, all in partnership with Visa, allow users to spend their trading profits (including those made from selling NFTs) and earn perks such as cashback to inspire loyalty. Crypto.com’s rewards also include free Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime and unlimited airport lounge access, with support for around 90 digital assets.

Visa’s various industry partnerships meant that over $1 billion was spent on their crypto-friendly cards in the first half of 2021 alone. While that is a drop in the ocean to a company whose payment volume totalled $8.8 trillion last year, the number is only going up.

“One thing that continues to put people off entering the space is the perceived difficulty of spending cryptocurrencies,” notes Shahaf Bar-Geffen, the CEO of fintech platform COTI, “Banks are slow to adopt which causes issues, so a debit card that’s connected directly to your crypto wallet, and accepted almost anywhere, is probably one of the easiest solutions to a crucial adoption problem.”

Unlike many crypto platforms, COTI is built especially for payments. Its flagship COTI Pay product can process all payment types natively, both online and off, including crypto and stablecoins, credit cards, and even a merchant’s native coin. That said, it too has partnered with Simplex (and by extension, Visa) for its debit cards.

It’s fair to say that crypto-friendly debit cards can offer greater functionality than their fiat equivalents, which for the most part operate solely as payment cards. As well as cashback, they often come with referral bonuses, rebates on different services and even in some cases, lines of credit. The latter feature is offered by wallet maker Ledger’s new Crypto Life card, which allows holders to obtain credit by using cryptocurrency as collateral. While such a thing is common in the burgeoning decentralized finance space, it’s the first time such infrastructure has been available via a card.

The aptly named Crypto Life card will be available to customers in the U.K., France and Germany in the first quarter of 2022, and for US customers in the second quarter, with Ledger Chief Experience Officer Ian Rogers stating that it represents “a step toward replacing traditional bank accounts.”

The gap between traditional finance and crypto is closing, and this can only be a good thing for consumers looking to get more bang for their bitcoin. The crypto debit card landscape is already crowded with competitors, expect the perks to get juicier and the number of supported digital assets to increase in the coming year.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I cover fintech, crypto and digital assets, and sustainable finance and investments, and promote policies for a transparent, secure, and quality digital financial future for everyone.

Source: Crypto Cards Are Giving Bitcoin Purchase Power

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How To Talk to Someone Who Always Gets Defensive

Maybe you’re talking with your spouse. Or friend. Or brother. Or colleague. Whoever it is, you know that no matter how carefully you say something, the words won’t get through. They’re just so damn defensive.

You want to scream stuff like, “It’s not a personal attack” or “I’m just trying to have a conversation.” Mostly, you want to ask, “Can you just stop being so defensive?”

Here’s the thing: No, they probably can’t. It’s right there in the word. They’re defending. “It implies there’s a threat,” says Ellen Hendriksen, clinical psychologist and author of How to Be Yourself. It could be you, but just as likely your words are triggering something deep-seated.

Once their fears are ignited, all focus is danger related. It’s hard for the defensive person to get out of that mode. And saying something like, “Don’t get so defensive,” is about as effective as saying “Relax” to someone panicking.

So what can you do when talking to someone who always gets defensive? Turn up your empathy and turn down your assumptions, because you’re most likely going into the interaction hot. You’re bracing for that person to feel threatened and that ends up threatening you.

“Then we have two reptilian brains talking to each other,” says Laura Silberstein-Tirch, licensed psychologist and author of How to Be Nice to Yourself. That means both of you are down to three options: fight, flight or freeze. “It’s a limited repertoire.”

You want to open that up. You can open that up. It means going in with a different attitude, almost a blank slate, where what’s happened in the past doesn’t matter, and instead of continuing to pull on a rope, and trying to “win” the discussion, you drop it. As Silberstein-Tirch says.“Our hands are free, and we have the freedom to choose how to respond.”

How to Break Through Someone’s Defenses

There’s no one thing to say to talk to a defensive person, but it’s like any successful communication. Hendriksen says to stay in the first person – “you” ups the threat level – and focus on specific acts rather than making things eternal character traits. Example: “That presentation wasn’t at your usual level” is taken better than “You’re not really good at public speaking, are you?” You can also pepper in ways to make any criticism a show of confidence, with something like, “I’m saying this because I know you can handle it and because you’re really smart.”

“Turn it into faith in them,” Hendriken says.

But nothing is magic. Defensive people can turn the most benign comment into an attack, and there’s also something called sensitization. It’s like when hot coffee burns your tongue. Everything else, no matter how cool, will set it off, says Hendriksen. Your words, regardless of how thoughtful, can do that.

In those times, acknowledge the reality. It could be, “This might not be the right time. When would be better?” Or be even more direct with, “It seems what I’m saying isn’t working. How would you approach this problem?” In either of these scenarios, you’re out of the struggle, and giving responsibility to the other person to provide some insight and help with the solution.

“It allows them to show their cards a little more,” Silberstein-Tirch says.

Hitting Refresh

A common frustration in arguments is that the same issue comes up over and over, particularly with relatives and spouses. One approach is to have a meta-conversation, Silberstein-Tirch says. That is, talk about talking.

Consider saying, “I notice when we talk about your mother, things go off. What can we do about it?” Here, you’re not talking about the issue, but talking about talking about the issue, and that one step removed makes it easier for the other person to engage. Rather than bumping heads, you’re now teaming up on the problem, which in couples therapy is called unified detachment, Hendriksen says.

But what also helps is to come into the conversation clean, like it’s the first time. You stay away from lines like, “I know you’re gonna get defensive,” a preface that has never caused someone to exhale. Instead, you want what Silberstein-Tirch calls “beginner’s brain.”

It means being present for the conversation that’s about to happen. It’s impossible to do this every time, but if you can foresee a difficult interaction, deep breathing can help slow you down. So can noticing three things you see, hear, and feel, in that order. “It grounds you in the here and now,” she says.

It all sounds doable and probably helpful, but also like a bit much, especially for someone else’s triggers. Really, it’s not your problem.

Maybe so, and if you had to run through these options all the time with a person, it would be too much. But if it only happens occasionally with someone you care about or need to keep working with, then it might be more beneficial to swallow some ego and take into account what matters the most in the long-term.

“It’s the difference between being right or being effective,” Hendriksen says. “Do you choose being right or the relationship?”

By

Source: How to Talk to Someone Who Always Gets Defensive | Fatherly

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Finding social roles in Wikipedia

HT Welser, D Cosley, G Kossinets, A Lin… – Proceedings of the …, 2011 – dl.acm.org
… Instead, we chose these roles because they are relevant to both the social interaction common
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[PDF] On the Evolution of Wikipedia.

RB Almeida, B Mozafari, J Cho – ICWSM, 2007 – Citeseer
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Motivations of Wikipedia content contributors

HL Yang, CY Lai – Computers in human behavior, 2010 – Elsevier
… about posted topics. However, unlike other general virtual communities, social interaction
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Building a signed network from interactions in Wikipedia

S Maniu, B Cautis, T Abdessalem – Databases and Social Networks, 2011 – dl.acm.org
… Our study sheds light into principles underlying a signed network that is cap- tured by social
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Evaluating authoritative sources using social networks: an insight from Wikipedia

NT Korfiatis, M Poulos, G Bokos – Online Information Review, 2006 – emerald.com
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Who did what: Editor role identification in Wikipedia

D Yang, A Halfaker, R Kraut, E Hovy – … Conference on Web and Social …, 2016 – ojs.aaai.org
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Casting a web of trust over wikipedia: an interaction-based approach

S Maniu, T Abdessalem, B Cautis – Proceedings of the 20th international …, 2011 – dl.acm.org
… Our preliminary study provides valuable insight into principles underlying a signed network
of Wikipedia contributors that is cap- tured by social interaction …

Volunteers in Wikipedia: Why the community matters

H Baytiyeh, J Pfaffman – Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 2010 – JSTOR
… enable worldwide communication that supports social interaction, cooperation, and collaboration
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[PDF] Why do people write for Wikipedia? Incentives to contribute to open–content publishing

A Forte, A Bruckman – Proc. of GROUP, 2005 – jellis.org
… motivations that participants bring to a social interaction, an incentive … and power) are subtly
determined through interaction and discourse … In Wikipedia, the power of participants is not …

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Expert participation on Wikipedia: barriers and opportunities

D Taraborelli, D Mietchen, P Alevizou, A Gill – 2011 – oro.open.ac.uk
… and cultural nature, from the lack of incentives from the perspective of a professional career, to
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The Role of Empathy In Improving Patient Care and Decreasing Medical Liability

Studies reveal that more than half of all practicing physicians demonstrate signs of burnout. Contemporary physicians face tremendous pressures due to a confluence of factors, including balancing heavy patient loads within constrained schedules, the increasing complexity of patient health problems, and increasingly burdensome COVID-related documentation requirements.

These circumstances—and more—challenge physician empathy, and even to some extent dampen it even further. Multiple research studies document a decline in empathy that appears to begin in the third year of medical school and persists during residency.  The pandemic has exacerbated this deterioration. In the past, empathy rebounded after the rigors of training were over, but today, empathy needs to be refreshed to help both patients and providers. Physicians who lose sight of the meaning, purpose, and rewards of their roles in patients’ lives suffer more from burnout than those who remain connected to their purpose.

The role of empathy training

In response to patients’ pleas for more empathic care and national media headlines calling for more compassion in medicine, which have been growing since about 2005, empathy training courses grounded in the neuroscience of emotions and emotional intelligence can be helpful. In fact, recent neuroscience research on the brain’s plasticity in up-regulating and down-regulating empathy provided evidence that empathy could be taught.

The research team in the Empathy and Relational Science program at Massachusetts General conducted a study of the effectiveness of the three, 60-minute empathy training courses in physicians. Researchers found statistically significant improvement in patient perception of physician empathy on a validated and reliable empathy rating scale called the “CARE measure.” Another study by the same team show that empathic physician behaviors resulted in higher ratings of both physician warmth and competence.

One of the most frequently asked questions about empathy training is, “Doesn’t this just add even more time to a busy doctor’s day?” Actually, it does not. Empathic care does not have to take more time. Courses on empathy training help health care professionals detect subtle emotional cues and nuances that indicate patient concerns so they can be addressed right away.

In addition, when physicians convey empathy, they put patients at ease, increasing trust in the provider-patient relationship. This creates a dynamic that ensures that small problems are addressed before they become bigger problems. Multiple studies have demonstrated that better medical outcomes are also correlated with strong empathy and relational skills.

Empathy training offers many benefits 

Courses based on empathy research and principles provide training for each of the following predictors of risk of increasing medical professional liability claims:

  1. Physicians’ uncaring attitudes, attitudes of superiority, or callousness
  2.  Communication failures including not listening, interrupting, or not being clear about availability or backup coverage
  3. Disparagement of previous care
  4. Failure to learn and manage patient expectations

Physicians can learn how to perceive patient emotions, manage difficult interactions, and communicate bad news. Empathy education teaches how to respond with empathy and compassion even in challenging situations, including informed consent conversations and inter-team conflicts.

In addition to greater patient satisfaction, doctors also discover the personal satisfaction that connecting with their patients in a more meaningful way provides.  “After empathy training, I feel that I like my work again, and instead of resenting all the demands, I’m remembering why I chose this profession in the first place,” a physician reported.

Interviews and research around empathy-based practices reveal that greater empathy not only improves patient satisfaction, but also helps to reduce physician burnout and improve physician job satisfaction. By using empathy-based skills, physicians, nurses, and other providers become more attuned to the needs of patients and their families. With this greater perception and shifts in attitudes, communication between providers and patients improves.

More empathic conversations will enable patients to trust their care to physicians who are confident in their skills without demeaning prior care they may have received. Patients will appreciate physicians who explain things clearly, ask about and understand their expectations, and form alignment about what is desired, likely, and possible.

Empathy-based training brings rewards

Through empathy-based training, physicians and other health care providers learn the skills to have honest informed consent discussions without causing undo fear, while also preparing patients for all possible outcomes. Empathic skills make for better physicians, better communications, and better conversations for all outcomes.

With a strong alliance, a reduction in medical professional liability claims is the result of increased trust, better understanding and expectations of all possible outcomes, and knowledge that physicians deeply care about their patients, because, when it comes to health care, empathy matters.

Helen Riess is a psychiatrist and author of The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences. This article originally appeared in Inside Medical Liability.

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