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20 October 2018
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ThinkFM 2016: Performance Through Psychology


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09 June 2016 | FM World Team

Katie Ledger, senior practitioner, complete-coherence.com

Think Productively and Brilliantly Every Day

12:05 - 12:35PM

“If I was to punch you in the mouth or stroke your thigh, you’re going to have very different reactions”

Katie Ledger began by discussing the notion of “internal” facilities management, which she explained as being the thoughts and feelings that workers experience throughout the day. 

Many of the problems in the world of business arise from how one individual communicates with another. Usually there is a workaround, but this originates from the person rather than a system or process. This thinking has major implications for management, which tends to use processes to fix problems.

Unfortunately, many people walk into a building in the morning and leave a part of their personality at the door, only to collect it again at the end of the working day. Ledger asked how we should ensure that people bring their whole selves into work every day. 

The important variable in measuring personal improvement is ‘vertical development’. This goes beyond simply the acquisition of knowledge and skills: “this isn’t changing what we know, but how we know it”. 

Ledger explained the core internal factors that make up a human being: physical – which includes the amount of intrinsic energy of an individual; emotional intelligence; values; cognitive ability and maturity. The important external factors are, behaviour, networks and impact. 

But how does this relate to productivity and results? Results are a function of how we behave, which is in turn affected by how we think and feel. 

“If I was to punch you in the mouth or stroke your thigh, you’re going to have very different reactions.”

Feeling is dictated by emotion, and at the root of emotion is our physiological response to stimulus. “Emotion is a packet of energy in motion. If someone is anxious, they experience sweaty palms, dry throat and tense shoulders. We can put a label on that packet of energy and we call it an emotion. 

“In the event of conflict and trouble, we have the capacity to bend, rather like bamboo shoots bending in a storm, before flexing back into shape.”

Ledger explained how a person’s heart rate variance can predict the risk of major illnesses and ill health. It also underpins energy, dynamism and our ability to respond to a threat. Understanding physiological procedures helps us to think clearly and respond, rather than simply to react. 

Using a member of the audience, Ledger demonstrated how our heart rates rise quickly in stressful situations; however, in office environments, it can be difficult to measure these things, meaning vital biological data can be essentially hidden from us, which in itself provides a significant hurdle to effective communication and productivity. 

Ledger showed how the most effective response to a stressful workplace situation is to “respond not react” by being aware of our own physiological processes, and, for example, using breathing exercises. These tools allows us to remain “coherent”, effective - and happy. 


The aim is for people to bring their whole selves to work.

FM can provide environments and systems to help employees control their physiology