Niggles

I read somewhere that your spending pattern varies according to the denomination of currency you have. If you are out shopping and have 500 rupees as a single note then the first buy is delayed as long as possible but the entire amount gets spent soon; if you have 500 rupees as five 100 rupee notes then the initial urge to spend is less but it takes longer to spend the entire 500. I thought this might not be true until I observed my snacking habit on weekends. I have the habit of snacking on biscuits in the evening while watching TV, most of the time I end up eating the entire pack. One weekend I ended up buying individually wrapped biscuits instead of the regular pack, to my surprise I did not consume even half of what I used to have regularly.

How the seemingly expendable wrapper can alter the behavior or consumption of someone? Our brain is wired or conditioned to be in a state of anxiety neutrality which in other words is a comfort zone. The inertia to stay in the comfort zone will be too great that there must be a strong justification of the increase in comfort or well being has to be justified in order to come out of the comfort zone. Niggles play an important part on how someone either breaks a bad habit or catches a good habit. Most of the bad habits are niggle free to catch on and will cause utter discomfort when quitting, a great example is smoking. In my case the individual wrapper is a niggle which prevented me from consuming more than what I require.

Every workplace has lots of niggles, I have seen people not using the intranet site just because it requires a password or times out frequently. A very good example so far I have observed is the reading habit and the library policy. Man power shortages have reduced libraries in many small/mid size companies to mere shelves with locked doors. Checking out the book through a system is mandatory even for reference to prevent loss of books. While this may sound to be a fool proof system to save books from getting lost, it defeats the purpose of books as there is an entry barrier.

Some niggles are not too obvious, my mom was finding it difficult to get used to cell phones and was next to impossible to keep her phone on. One weekend spent a good amount of time trying to get her into the comfort zone of using cell phones, but she said if all that you want me is to have a phone then get me a landline where I can lift the receiver to speak and put it down to switch it off. She was right, I was trying to force my way of using phones which is very new while she had used phones the old way for 40 years. Niggles prevent effective communication between developers and clients across different timezones over the phone, the same client who had relied on many senses is now forced to rely only on hearing. This niggle may cause the person to avoid calls and stick to more comfortable form of communication.

If the urge to catch on a good habit is strong or the potential benefit of overcoming the niggle is tangible and big enough then the niggles on the way wont matter much, but if we don’t understand what they are or what the benefit of overcoming it then we would perform less efficiently than what our resources, time and environment permits us to do.

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