Friendlier workers more productive, study shows

It may seem more professional to stay impersonal with other professionals and workers at the golf facility, but, in fact, friendlier employees are more productive.

A comparison of the American work ethic to approaches in other countries shows that keeping an emotional distance may not be the most effective way to get the job done, says Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, a psychologist who led the study at the University of Michigan.

According to Sanchez-Burks, friendly workers pay attention to indirect meanings, work well with other cultures and are perceived as trustworthy. An impersonal style blinds workers from noticing differences in style. They often fail to notice nonverbal communication. What is literally said will be followed closely, but information about the context in which the information is conveyed--information often critical for task success and productivity--is lost.

Sanchez-Burks concludes that "this type of miscommunication, like ships passing in the night, is further exacerbated in diverse organizations (domestically and internationally) because rarely are people with other cultural backgrounds as impersonal as mainstream Americans."

Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August 2003. (c) 1998-2003, RealAge, Inc., and Reuters Health Information.