A colleague in the field of Appreciative Inquiry, Mille Themsen Duvander, who lives in Denmark, emailed me asking if she could interview me for the final phase of her PhD research project. Her research project is an inquiry into the field of AI practitioners and she’s developing an emerging grounded theory about the organic growth of AI practitioners. I was happy to have such a conversation, as I fit the subject group.
For more than 80 minutes, our conversation flowed over and around a number of subjects. It could have flowed longer, but for other commitments. I recorded the conversation, not sure if I’d make a podcast episode out of it. We had a couple of choices – I could “can” it; publish the uncut version; or edit and release. I chose the latter and produced a 30 minutes show. I captured pieces that I considered might be of greatest interest to listeners. I hope I got that right. Mille is delighted to come back in the future to share her findings with us, after she has submitted her dissertation.
We touched on a range of subjects, including intuition, empathy, humanity, the relevance of experience to reach understanding, deepen connections and relationships . A topic we often came back to was energy. Human energy and what does mean, we asked, and what is our capacity to influence that.
As a result, I started to google the term “human energy” and “relational energy” and I list below a few of the resources that came up. You also might enjoy them.
- An academic paper published in The Journal of Applied Psychology, Relational energy at work: Implications for job engagement and job performance (full citation below). The four authors conducted four independent studies, “seeking to establish relational energy as a valid scientific construct and evaluate its impact on employee engagement and job performance.”
Upon reviewing the data, it became clear that participants resonated with different types of energizer stimuli. While not all individuals were energized by the same means, motivational arousal emerged as the common crux of the experience of relational energy….our data revealed motivational arousal as the most prominent and consistent feature of relational energy….Drawing from this finding, we conceptualize relational energy as energy which comes from another person, which captures the energizing toward the accomplishment of work tasks. Thus, we define relational energy as a heightened level of psychological resourcefulness generated from interpersonal interactions that enhances one’s capacity to do work… To be clear, we are not implying that relational energy is a different “type” of energy, but rather use the adjective “relational” to identify the level at which energy (or energetic activation) exists or is enacted.
Further Quotes on Human Energy
- Wayne Baker, one of the authors of the above paper also wrote this excellent article, The More You Energize Your Coworkers, the Better Everyone Performs in Harvard Business Review.
To understand how this works, think of people in your workplace who buoy you up, who lift your spirits. What do they do? What do they say? Some people are energizing because they give off positive vibes. As an employee in a large company told us about his boss, “She energized me because she loved her job and was in general a very happy person. She always came in with a smile on her face which created a positive atmosphere.” Others energize us because they create genuine connections. In conversations, for example, they devote their full attention and listen carefully.
- From Sloan Review, What Creates Energy in Organizations (Cross, Baker, Parker)
Spend some time in most any organization and you are sure to hear people talk about the level of energy associated with different people or projects. In some instances, an initiative may be characterized in terms of the energy “around” it. In others, a team in which ideas flow freely and its members build effortlessly on one another’s work will be described as “high energy.” In still others, a particularly influential person may be known as an “energizer” — someone who can spark progress on projects or within groups.
- From Forbes, The Hidden Source of Energy at Work (Sebastian Bailey)
Energy, like emotion, is contagious. There are people who exude energy, making others feel more alive and enthused simply by interacting with them, and then there are the energy drainers who deplete energy reserves. Naturally, we gravitate towards the energy boosters. And recent research shows that bosses who energize reap the rewards in terms of employee engagement and performance.
With ‘relational energy’ it's the everyday interactions that matter, not showpiece presentations.
Links to the Articles on Human Energy
Owens, Bradley P., ORCID 0000-0002-5948-4973 . Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, US, [email protected]
Baker, Wayne E.. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, MI, US
Sumpter, Dana McDaniel. College of Business Administration, California State University, Long Beach, California State University, Long Beach, CA, US
Cameron, Kim S.. School of Business, University of Michigan, MI, US
Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 101(1), Jan, 2016. pp. 35-49.
US : American Psychological Association
ISSN:0021-9010 (Print); 1939-1854 (Electronic)
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