Are You a Skilled Social Actor or a Social Chameleon?

We all engage in impression management – trying to put our best foot forward and “fit in” in social situations. Two psychological constructs address how people “perform” in social situations, and there are subtle, but important, differences.

The first construct is called Self-Monitoring, and it is the ability to read social cues and alter one’s behavior in order to try to “fit in” to a specific social situation. Often the high self-monitor controls his or her behavior in order to impress others or to receive others’ social approval. Low self-monitors, on the other hand, are less concerned with self-presentation and are more likely to express their true attitudes and feelings, regardless of the social circumstances (think about someone who expresses their true political feelings regardless of who they are interacting with, versus the high self-monitor who sizes up the crowd [liberal vs. conservative?] before sharing, or not sharing, political opinions).

The second construct is called Social Control, and is skill in social acting. Persons high on social control are also able to control and manage their impressions, but they are not as highly affected by the social situation. Instead, the high social control individual possesses a social self-confidence and poise that allows him or her to be effective in a wide variety of social situations. Instead of the high self-monitor’s tendency to “blend in,” the person high in Social Control tends to stand out in a positive manner.

Our research has found that individuals who possess a great deal of Social Control, and who are also expressive and outgoing, are more likely to be perceived as potential leaders, and to lead social groups. High self-monitors are also likely to be chosen as leaders because they represent the “prototype” of a group leader (because they fit in).

One problem with the high self-monitor is that in the desire to fit in with the group and gain their approval, the person may become a sort of “social chameleon,” changing attitudes, opinions, and feelings in an effort to fit in and be accepted. From a leadership perspective, this can mean the leader is highly sensitive and responsive to the social climate (and the leader changes views depending on the crowd, and may appear “wishy-washy”). Socially, the extremely high self-monitor fits in, but we never get a sense of who the social chameleon really is or what he or she believes in and stands for.

On the other hand, the person who is extremely high on social control moves confidently forward, and works to bring others along with him or her. The downside of too much social control, however, can be a sort of arrogance born of the supreme self-confidence that the individual possesses. Social control thus needs to be balanced with a sensitivity to others, and consideration of their opinions and feelings.

So, where do you fall on these two dimensions?

Here are some sample items from the Self-Monitoring Scale (agreeing suggests high self-monitoring):

• In different situations and with different people, I often act like very different persons.

• Even if I am not enjoying myself, I often pretend to be having a good time.

• When I am uncertain how to act in a social situation, I look to the behavior of others for cues.

Here are some sample items from the Social Control scale (again, agreeing suggests high social control):

• I can fit in with all types of people, young and old, rich and poor.

• People from different backgrounds seem to feel comfortable around me.

• I can very easily adjust to being in almost any social situation.

Published by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.



Riggio, Ronald (1987). The Charisma Quotient. New York: Dodd Mead.

Riggio, Ronald, Riggio, H., Salinas, C., & Cole, E. (2003). The role of social and emotional communication skills in leader emergence and effectiveness. Group Dynamics, 7, 83-103.

Snyder, Mark (1987). Public Appearances/Private Realities: The Psychology of Self-Monitoring. San Francisco: Freeman.

Snyder, Mark & Gangestad, S. (2000). Self-monitoring: Appraisal and reappraisal. Psychological Bulletin, 126(4), 530-555.

Positivity is King!

From President & CEO, Rich Bernstein

Choosing Mars Venus as the vehicle to hold you accountable to achieve your potential is a great step. Congratulations on taking action. You’ve chosen the right brand for your needs as we continue to gain momentum and change lives for the better. It is the start of the New Year, and to keep your energy high and focused on success I wanted to briefly talk about remaining positive as you come across obstacles in your path to personal success.  I often tell my coaches to “believe more in yourself that you are successful, more than others think you aren’t successful.” Attitude is everything. When we are optimistic about ourselves and our outcomes, and we put in the belief, effort, and action to bring about this change; then the only way to move is up. There you have it the sweet smell of success.

I came across someone’s facebook status the other day that said, “I will fail more times today, than other people will ever try.” Isn’t that poignant?  Mars Venus does this on a daily basis, both within the coaching network and externally with you, our clients. There are three ingredients to success that we at Mars Venus Coaching believe strongly: (1) positivity, (2) taking action, and (3) accountability. When you are able to look at life as full of possibilities, then obstacles become easily surmountable. Obstacles whether they are identified or unforeseen are easy to overcome, especially when you join the Mars Venus Coaching team, whether that is as a coach or a client. Our coaches are client’s themselves, as we routinely network with each other to support one another’s short and long term goals. Why do I say life becomes easier to navigate when you first have a positive frame of mind? The second step is creating an action plan that specifically transforms your dream into a vision with goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results oriented, and time-framed. The third part to being successful, which Mars Venus brings to you, is accountability. Once you have a plan, you have to take action in order to actually make a change in your life. Fear is a big part of our resistance to change. This is why a positive attitude is so important when choosing to undergo major life changes. Studies show people are better able to follow-through and adapt to change when they have someone else holding them accountable to complete these necessary actions. By doing something new, you are taking a step forward to the future you envision for your success. Add to this a mindset that it will all work out in the end, and you will be setting yourself up for success. In trying, and moving yourself forward the point is you are taking action. We here at Mars Venus Coaching give 100% effort and 100% positivity every day. We require this of you as well, because we cannot be more committed to the process of change than you. Why? You’re the driver. Mars Venus Coaching is your vehicle to get to your desired end-state faster. Every time you meet your goals, we will be there right with you to help you get to your next destination.

When you choose to live your life with positivity, that inner light is bound to shine through. Other people will be attracted to this positive energy, and the more you help raise other’s optimism by your enthusiasm, the more people will come back to you for more. In a world where many people wish they were living their dreams, wish they were fulfilled, wish they had more…time, love, wealth…We know what the secret is to success—it’s positivity. If your emotions back you 100%, meaning if you believe in yourself and your vision, then when you take the action steps to implement your goals, you will be successful, because you are not standing in the way of your potential by naysaying. This secret attitude—positivity—will trump negativity any day. Positivity is King. And, you have it. Now go out there take action. You are in the business of changing and transforming lives.


Asserting Your Boundaries at Work

It is hard to see the good in others if they have been taking advantage of your hard work ethic. It’s difficult to change the “rules” of who does what, when you’ve been accepting the work of others, because everyone “assumes” that you’re just better at it. Why rock the boat, right? Except you’ve just about had it. Going to work is not joyful, and you may feel a palpable cloud descend when you go to work. So, what can you do to change the dynamics? Re-examine your job description to make sure you’re being paid for what you do in a typical day. Did you know based on your gender, there may also be miscommunication going on between you, your co-workers and your boss?

Re-Set Your Boundaries

Write Out Who Does What

  1. Make a list of the tasks you are required to do based on your job description, and any recent performance evaluations you’ve received.
  2. Make a second list of the tasks that have been added since you accepted your job, that are not a part of your job description.
  3. Make a third list of the tasks you’ve taken on that are other’s responsibility.

Set Your Intention

  1. Make a fourth list of what tasks fit your job description that also incorporates what you’ve agreed to do in writing or verbally with your boss.
  2. Look at your fourth list and put an asterisk (*) by the tasks you verbally agreed to do—and decide if these tasks are up for negotiation.

Why? In your contract you work X number of hours a day, the tasks you perform should match your position, and should be able to be fit within the hours you work each day. If you are over-tasked, then it’s time to renegotiate your terms.

  1. Decide what the best approach is for your workplace to renegotiate your terms.

This is where you are going to discuss face-to-face the discrepancies between what you do, and what you are paid to do. This is where you say, “I haven’t minded helping you do (your) work in the past, but I have to re-focus on my responsibilities and priorities.” This is where you offer to train them on what you have been doing for them, but then you return the responsibility to them. You may request a meeting via email, but it is best to re-negotiate in person.  Take your lists and a written agenda with you to clarify the boundaries you are redefining. Choose what’s best for you, a:

  1. Formal meeting with you and your boss.
  2. Informal meeting with you and your boss.
  3. Formal meeting with you and your co-worker.
  4. Informal meeting with you and your co-worker.

When you’re figuring out the best approach, remember to be tactful not accusatory. You either prefer to communicate in a passive-aggressive style or passive style. The best form of communication is assertive—when you are able to be open, honest, forth-right, tactful, and the other person is able to stay on the same page as you while you’re communicating.

Non-Verbals Count Too!

Pay attention to if you are slouching, avoiding eye contact (your culture and race also affect what’s appropriate or the norm), mumbling, fidgeting, using too much hand movement—it all affects how the other person interprets what you’re verbally saying to them.

When I help my clients identify how to get what they want at work using Dr. John Gray’s Mars Venus Coaching system based on goal setting, 90 day plans, and understanding relationship dynamics they are often surprised and amazed at how being cognizant of gender communication dynamics at play helps them set and keep their boundaries when they interact with others at work.

Gender Differences in Communicating

Typically…Men prefer to communicate to solve problems.

                 …Women prefer to communicate to connect with others.

If a man feels attacked or threatened, based on the wiring in his brain he will do 1 of 2 things, because an increase in stress causes him to be more single-task oriented:

  1. He will either fight back if he thinks he knows the answer or can solve the problem.
  2. He will remove himself from the situation, disengage, and ignore the problem until he has unwound and then figures out how to solve the problem (or continues to ignore the situation, because it is not a big enough “problem” yet for him).

If a woman feels attacked or threatened, based on the wiring in her brain she will do 1 of 2 things, because an increase in stress causes more cross-talk between the left and right hemispheres of her brain:

  1. She will want to talk it out, ask questions, connect to others to make sure everyone is okay. She may not necessarily resolve the issue, she’s just talking to better understand the situation and all the dynamics at play.
  2. She will become more emotional, because blood flow in her brain is making her respond to how the issue will affect everyone else good or bad.

Knowing these tendencies, women can approach men by presenting a problem with a solution already present, i.e. the list of tasks you agree to be responsible for, offering to re-train co-worker, and justification for redefining job description. In turn men can approach women, i.e. with a list of tasks open for negotiating knowing they may need to discuss all the dynamics, with an answer not necessarily a part of this discussion, but forthcoming if she’s given a chance to connect first with you as a person. These are generalities, but they help identify how a request for redefining boundaries may be taken by other’s in your workplace as you set about assertively renegotiating your job.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

The Secret to Hiring Stellar Employees Who Stay

What helps employers find better employees? Most employers utilize online employment websites such as monster, careerbuilder and craigslist or they use the long trusted classified ad for posting employment opportunities with their company. Some employers have even taken the online screening process to a new level by checking out potential employees on Facebook in an attempt to qualify candidates. Discussing the relevance of that topic is better left to a separate article.

Although most employers today are pulling employees from basically the same pools, what can they do to give them the edge on hiring the best candidate as well as retaining that candidate once they become an employee? If you hire a person on the first meeting, you can be sure that it will not be the same person in two weeks. You’re taking a risk. You truly are calling on the luck of the draw if you base your decision on the first interview. Typically, you show the best version of yourself when you first meet someone. How about after meeting someone for the fourth time? The four step process requires applicants to show up in person four times. Those able to follow through and are consistent in their demeanor are the ones who really want the job.

Outlined below is an effective hiring process that you may not be aware of, but is more time-efficient and cost-effective than most hiring process in the long-run. If your company has been experiencing a high turnover rate and you are looking to make a change to your hiring process, then pay close attention to steps outlined below. Here’s a proven recruiting and induction system on how to get the cream of the crop.

The 4 hour format is designed to give 1 hour meetings over 4 times with 1 or 2 days in between.

Step 1

The first time you meet is in a group. (Don’t tell applicants beforehand that it is a group interview.) The first meeting let’s you see how they interact with other people as you identify their personality profile. Near the end have an impromptu stand up session where applicants tell the group about themselves and why they should be hired over everyone else. A typical group is about 8-10 applicants. Companies often require group work, and this meeting is designed to weed out people who do not perform well in a group.

Step 2

Prior to the next meeting, one to two days later, you will narrow your group down to the qualified number of candidates. Only these candidates will be brought back for the 1-on-1 deeper interview, which will include an overview of: job expectations, their work history and ethics, etc… What’s important to the process in this step is that you pay attention to their punctuality, attire, demeanor, and overall presence. This is where you will get the first inclination as to whether the person at the first interview is the same person in front of you now. The number of candidates you take to this step isn’t as important as the level to which the candidates are qualified.

Step 3

Two to three days later will bring the remaining qualified candidates back for a reverse group interview. This is where they meet the rest of the team or the portion of the team that is pertinent to their position. This time each of your team members can ask questions to assess if the applicant is qualified and the candidate has an opportunity to ask any questions they may have. What’s important for you at this point is to pay attention to the dynamics of your team and the candidate in order to determine whether they will work within your organization. Identify what three things are absolutely essential for this applicant to do well? Include your existing team members in review of each candidate’s performance.  Now that you have seen the candidates three separate times you can take the face-to-face experience from each meeting and consider if they were consistently punctual, courteous, and dressed professionally. At this point you should have narrowed your group down to one candidate that has met or better yet exceeded the job requirements.

Step 4

This is the actual final interview and hire, you will welcome back only the candidate(s) you are prepared to offer the job to. At this point you have considered their performance across all three previous meetings as well as your team’s input. You should find that you have a well qualified candidate who is serious about accepting a position within your company.

One final thought; it is very important to remember to close the door at step 1 if the applicant is not able to abide by your expectations. Follow this process to the letter and you will hire qualified employees who will stay with your company much longer than an employee hired from one interview, thus saving you money.

Creating a Character-Based Company the Mars Venus Way

We’re increasingly married to work. We spend most of our waking hours getting ready for work, going to work, working, driving home from work, doing ongoing professional development to get ahead at work, and unwinding from…work! The companies that incorporate core values into their business model are the places where people love going to work, and their customers love going to get a fix that they matter. Why? Companies that base their internal and external customer service on values, such as the ones Stephen Covey discusses in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, are successful. These companies are successful, because their services and products drive people together into a sense of connecting in a community of like-minded individuals.

So what are some of the core values that most people believe in?

  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation
  • Ethical
  • Teamwork
  • Trust
  • Quality
  • Dependability
  • Flexible
  • Adaptability
  • Growth
  • Reliability
  • Fairness
  • Proactive
  • Visionary
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation
  • Caring
  • Service
  • Members
  • Fun
  • Education
  • Legal
  • Partnerships
  • Democratic
  • Value
  • Competitive
  • Professionalism
  • Balance
  • Training
  • Relationships
  • Competency
  • Citizenship
  • Loyalty
  • Prudence
  • Stewardship
  • Strength
  • Confidentiality

The question you have to ask is how can my business meet their needs? What are we doing to meet ____ need? How do we convey these values to our internal and external customers? How do we create this climate? How do we market what we care about? How does the community we work in benefit? If you’re able to weave the values listed above into the fiber holding your business together, then you naturally become a business based on character.

One way that Mars Venus coaches help businesses incorporate these values is by asking the tough questions. They find where you are dissatisfied, and encourage you to find solutions and be proactive. Coaching is different than consulting because coaches help to motivate and provide accountability so businesses, and the individuals within them, reach their full potential.

Another way Mars Venus coaches help businesses to be a character-based company is by always paying attention to the glue which holds people together: communication. In order to have a healthy relationship that’s based on assertive communication, you must be a good listener, and able to see another person’s point of view without judging. They are personally trained by and use John Gray’s, PhD, material to help people have healthier relationships inside and out. Mars Venus coaches, whether they specialize in business, executive, or life areas, are trained to model and teach gender-based differences in the ways men and women:

  1. Use communication,
  2. React to and cope with stress,
  3. Buy products and services, and
  4. Sell products and services.

As I’ve stated in previous articles (Article #55:Innovation Drives Long-Term Success for Businesses), the success of a business also depends on its ability to adapt quickly to changing trends. So not only do businesses need to address how to make internal and external employees have a better quality of life, they also need to focus on innovation and creativity to stay competitive.

From reading the latest blogs on Forbes, bNET, and Financial Times the trend becomes apparent that the most fiscally successful businesses over time focus on character-based and values-based business models. In 2008, Bo Edvardsson and Bo Enquist published Values-based Service for Sustainable Business: Lessons from IKEA, which further details how important integrating core values are when creating a sustainable business. The best way to incorporate values-based services into your business is by having someone help you create measurable action plans (Mars Venus Coaching uses 90-Day Action Plans) and provide accountability to ensure you stay true to your core values when pursuing your vision in everyday activities.

Another way for businesses to increase quality of life for their internal employees is to partner with a life coach. Did you know does just this—they’ve hired a life coach as an employee! Who else has such great customer service, free shipping and returns, and often next day service?! While business and executive coaches can provide assistance with intra- and inter-personal relational dynamics—life coaches specialize in this component. It’s something to think about, right? It’s outside of the box right now in regards to how businesses do business. Just like gender intelligent buying/selling is innovative, so is hiring life coaches on staff. As an employee and a consumer, what do the trends say to you? As a forward-thinker, how would you then implement a solution like this for business sustainability?

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations