I have heard a great lecture by Dr. Douglas Lisle, an evolutionary psychologist who is also training to become an Adizes Adjunct Associate. It was about “Stone Age money” and how it impacts our behavior today.

The lecture gave me some insights I want to share with you.

In the Stone Age, and for a long time thereafter, there was no money or any other means of exchange for barter. So if I did something for you, how would you pay me back? With gratitude, a sense of “I owe you”, and I would expect you to reciprocate.

Those who did most for the village-who hunted the best, and thus fed the village-got the most recognition and became chiefs, or something similar.

This went on for thousands of years. The result is that we have developed this “chip” in our heads, a storage mechanism like a bank account, to receive, store, and pay gratitude.

We need gratitude. Period. It is deep in our subconscious.

Now, what does this need for gratitude mean for management?

It means that merely getting paid for work is not enough. If you just got paid, but the paying party did not show gratitude, you would feel as if you did not get paid at all. You would feel like a prostitute.

Whoa! This was news to me. How often do people say: “You got paid, so what are you complaining about?”

The highest rate of suicide among the medical professionals is among dentists. They get paid in money only; no gratitude for drilling into your teeth.

The highest rate of turnover in the human services industry is among consultants. They just get paid money. No gratitude. Thus, when the question is asked, “what is the oldest profession?” the answer is not always prostitution. Often the answer is consulting.

Hello managers. Wake up. If you only pay your workers money and fringe benefits, you did not pay them in “Stone Age money” and they feel gratitude deficient. Not strange that they are not cooperative. Their deepest need-something that developed and was nurtured for thousands of years-is not getting fulfilled. This can sometimes produce dysfunctional repercussions for the companies we manage manifested in lower morale and productivity.

Always say “thank you,” your mother told you. Listen to your mother, and don’t stop listening for ever.


Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes