1. Which percentage best represents the proportion of employees who threw a sickie in the last year? A) 15% B) 20% C) 30%
C) 30% It’s from CareerBuilder.com's annual survey. American and New Zealand employees are about equally disengaged in their work, so it’s a reasonable comparison. Skillset's award for creativity goes to the excuse ‘My grandmother’s body is being exhumed for a police investigation’. It’s an option for those who’ve already used up the old standby, ‘Attending Grandma’s funeral’. We thought 'being upset after watching The Hunger Games' was a worthy finalist.
2. What's the best way to explain how a candlelight dinner encourages love and lust? A) It's not the lighting really, it's just that we are more relaxed at the end of the day B) The candlelight does something to our eyes C) It’s the power of suggestion: candles = hot date. D) It's the meal
B) The candlelight does something to our eyes. If you chose C you may be on to something too, but work with us on this one. When we see dilated pupils, our brains assume that the other person must be interested in us.
But wait there's more...
When our eyes are dilated, our brains assume that it could only be because we are interested. Sound a bit far-fetched? The research suggests it’s credible. The brain assumes that if the body is acting in a particular way it must be true. Anxious about a meeting with the chief? Act confident and your brain will think you are. Yes, 'fake it till you make it' checks out.
3. Which colour could be described as Nature’s Prozac?
Pink. It’s a tranquillizing colour. Researchers have shown that painting the cells of violent offenders in pink calms them. Try that one at home.
4. A colleague has asked for your advice on the best way to promote safety at work. Which idea would be most effective? A) Point out the number of accidents last year B) Come up with a safety slogan that rhymes C) Explain the key message in a ten-word sentence.
B) Come up with a safety slogan that rhymes. Rhymes make messages, not just more memorable, but (oddly) more credible too.
5. Is it true that if you tell people that a wine is expensive they'll really believe it tastes better?
Yes. Researchers who switched prices on a middling cabernet found that people who thought it cost $90 a bottle rated its taste much better than people who thought it was a cheapie.
Maybe it only works for us regular folks. A few years ago a judge from the New Zealand wine awards cried foul after tasting a wine falsely labelled as a more expensive award-winner. He could compare the taste of the wines three weeks apart. Price had nothing to do with it.
6. You would like $400,000 for your house. Which price is likely to give you the best result? A) $400,000 B) $395,150. C) $410,000
B) $395,150 Precise pricing works better for most things. Researchers have found that properties sold closer to their asking price when the advertised figure was precise. The same researchers have found that it’s not just that a property or product may be cheaper. We judge precisely-priced products in a different way.
7. True or false? ‘Liars avoid eye contact’
False. It’s the most commonly held belief about liars in at least 58 countries, but it doesn’t match the evidence. (Blinking and fidgeting are not reliable signs of porkies either.)
One of our team is an authority on forensic interviewing and tells us that a change in eye contact can be revealing. Establish what’s normal for that person then look for increased breaks in eye contact or a sustained, almost challenging, stare. What the person is saying, and how, can be revealing too.