Mars Venus Explains the Man Cave

It's not a couch.  It's a MAN CAVE.

It’s not a couch. It’s a MAN CAVE

Couch time, A Right time for Men ?

We live in a world right now that is fast paced. The leaps technology makes in just a year are staggering, aren’t they? How many people have just one email anymore? How many people use their cell phones not only to talk, but to text, email, use GPS, surf the internet, listen to music, and schedule appointments? How many people were using Nooks or iPads last year in March verses this year? What about using Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook accounts? I first read Dr. John Gray’s best-selling relationship book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus back in 1992, when I was 11 years old. I understand men needing cave time backwards and forwards. Or so I thought until our recent family vacation began with a 15 hour trip (including 2 car rides and 3 flights/2 layovers) that quickly turned into an ultra-marathon 20 hour trip to include all the above with 3 delayed flights, high winds, and a snow storm to navigate through…and then the next day our toddler on our 6 year anniversary threw up on Mommy, and only Mommy, seven times! Remember I said I understood cave time? Turns out the more important factor is implementing this concept ESPECIALLY when the going gets tougher.

Did you know when men experience more stressors in their life, their body gives out little signals telling them to stop, sit down, relax, and do nothing? As women we scratch our heads, beat our chests, complain, yell, cajole, and constantly question why the first thing the guys in our life do when the pressure is building is to shift gears, disconnect, and go into a zone or nothing box where frankly women are not allowed. When women get more stressed out, we do the opposite of sitting, because our to-do list keeps growing, as our brain works even harder to make sure everyone and everything is taken care of. For women the most important thing we can do to reduce stress is to connect with others by talking things out and emoting. It’s how our bodies are designed to respond to stress!

When we interrupt a man during his cave time his stress level increases, because we are not giving him time to replenish his testosterone. When men tune out, want to listen in to their favorite sport’s team scores, fall asleep on the couch, or just plain sit down to sit and do nothing….it is their body’s physiological response to how a man’s body increases the stress-reducing hormone testosterone.

It is hard enough adjusting a toddler to time zone changes, on top of having food poisoning. Unwittingly I kept piling on demands. As we were negotiating gym schedules, fitting in time at the hot springs, time with grandma, and time with our friends vacationing with us—my husband jokingly said one of the things he most looks forward to on vacation is uninterrupted time to read. What this really translates to is uninterrupted time for my hubby to replenish his testosterone. When I’m attentive to his needs, then he is able to replenish his store of testosterone, and thereby reduce his stress. And believe me, after the first two days of travel and re-adjustment and non-stop go, this statement from him is priceless. He is the epitome of patience, so when he gave me this gem, the least I could do was ensure he got his reading time! If he is less stressed out, then he becomes more attentive to my needs. As the “nurturer” and “care-giver” in the family, I have to remind myself daily to make sure I do not interrupt my husband in his cave.

When I allow my husband to tinker in his cave, or do nothing he replenishes his stress-busting stores so he can help out at home and with the kids faster than if I jumped on him when I needed relief myself to begin replenishing my stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin.

It sounds counter-intuitive; however, it is inversely proportional to how much help I receive in growing our son, tending to running a family, and investing in our relationship. When I allow him this uninterrupted time to relax his muscles by sitting and reading, he is able to replenish his testosterone quicker, than if I interrupted or bugged him to help me out the second he walks in the door from work, or the second I begin to get overwhelmed about the stressors of traveling with a toddler, dealing with delayed flights, making sure reservations are not cancelled due to our delayed arrival at our destination, and uncertainties if our luggage will show up at the same time as we do! For some guys it may be watching a favorite TV show, surfing the internet, reading the newspaper, or tinkering on a hobby—or all the above…but, by allowing him this time to unwind and rest his muscles, I am actually investing in the longevity and well-being of our marriage. When I allow him to do this, and I make this time sacred for him, then he is able to rejuvenate, and give back to the needs I require to both reduce my stress, but more importantly receive his help—whether this is being a good provider, helping out around the house, or being heard when I need to talk out my day.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

 

Best Questions To Ask In Your Job Interview

Caroline Howard, Forbes Staff

Anyone who’s ever been on a job interview knows the pause: The moment when the interviewer’s q&as come to a stop, she looks you in the eyes and says: “And do you have any questions for me?”

Preparing for that crossroads in the interview is crucial, say recruiters and hiring managers. It’s the time to turn the table. And you don’t want to be caught off-guard with crickets in your head. You’ll appear indifferent, or worse, clueless. Alternately, if you’re buzzing with questions and give the interviewer what feels like the third-degree, it will immediately signal that you are unfocused or too aggressive.

“This is an opportunity to look like a leader and show that you are engaged in the interview,” says Cynthia Shapiro, a career strategist based in Woodland Hills, Cal., and author of What Does Somebody Have To Do To Get A Job Around Here?

“The best questions are really all about them and not about you,” says Louise Garver, an executive coach for the past 23 years from Broad Brook, Conn., and founder of Career Directions, LLC. “They have one thing at their core: How can I contribute value to the team and the company.”

Here, the five most important questions to ask at a job interview–plus a debatable no-no–so that you’ll make the right impression and get the job offer.

1. How would you describe the ideal candidate?
What this question does is enable the hiring supervisor to imagine you actually in the job as he or she is describing the position, says Shapiro. Technically, it is a form of transference. But practically it’s a way to role-play. “I’m so glad you said you need an Excel wiz. In my last position I…” Grab this as an opportunity to describe yourself doing the very things the interviewer outlined by using past experiences and wins.

Continuing this line of questioning–”What are the top three qualities you’re looking for?”–will reveal key information. Take mental or actual notes (it’s OK to have pen and paper handy–it’ll keep your hands busy) in order to shape your responses accordingly for future interviews or later in the conversation.

2. How do you envision this position supporting you?
At face value, this question has nothing to do with the job candidate herself–and the interviewer will certainly appreciate that. You’ve likely already listed all your past job and educational experiences. Instead of more me-me-me talk, it translates to I’m-all-about-you. “What you’re saying to your potential employer without saying it is, ‘I’ll make your life easier,’” says Shapiro. “That alone will put you at the top of the list.”

3. How does this position fit into the company’s long-term plans?
This query will open the door to discussions about the position and overall business strategy. It is perfectly appropriate at this point to ask about the person who is leaving (left or promoted?) or why the position was created, says Garver. You will also want to ask about the specific challenges and goals of the job, and the company’s vision for it in the next six months, year and five years.
If you feel uncomfortable, you can always couch your queries as permission-based statements, as in, “May I ask…,” says Garver.

4. How would you define “success” for this position?
The question drills down into a win looks like to the hiring supervisor and the company, says Shapiro. (Hint: many companies do not have performance evaluation systems in place, so you may catch your interviewer by surprise.)
This question not only reveals the kind of boss you are applying to–is he or she hands-off or a micro-manger?–but will give you insight into the company’s procedures and culture. “You need to put on your Sherlock Holmes hat during a job interview and be a silent observer,” continues Shapiro. “That is the only way you can determine what kind of a boss your interviewer will be and the kind of company you may be working for.”

5. What can I do for you as follow-up?
You want to know how you can grease the process in your favor. What you are saying, though, is “How can I help you.” And the more you find out about who or what group will be making the decision and their timeline, the more influence you have in terms of making the right contacts and sending follow-up information. “What employers are looking for are people who really want to work in the organization and are enthusiastic about affecting the outcome of the interview,” says Garver.

What’s the salary range?

Of course you want to know. But this matter of keen interest, along with other forms of compensation and benefits such as health insurance, child care, vacation, 401(k) and tuition reimbursement, is of some debate.
“This is my career, this is my life, I’d better bring up money,” says Debra Benton of Benton Management Resources of Ft. Collin, Col., a professional speaker and executive coach with 30 years experience working with such companies as Verizon, Campbell’s Soup and the USDA. “One subject you want bring up is money: ‘Money is not my main motivation in this job but what is the range?’ That shows my character. It takes courage and confidence to ask those questions.”

But many other experts advise a don’t-ask-don’t tell policy prior to a job offer in writing. “Never ask about salary and benefits,” says Garver. “Don’t ask any questions related to your needs.”
Why? You don’t have much negotiating power until they decide they want you on board. “Bring salary up too early and they’ll think that’s all you care about,” says Shapiro. So what should you do if THEY bring up salary before the offer? Simply say it would be something you’d consider. “Once they make the offer, it means they want you. Then negotiate. It shows that you’re serious.”

Five Reasons Baby Boomers Need To Review Estate Plans (And It’s Not About Taxes)

Kaycee Krysty, Forbes Magazine  3/29/2012

Conventional wisdom has it that baby boomers are about to receive one of the largest waves of inheritance in history. But in a recent speech, “Capacity for Care: Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow,” Paul G. Schervish, Boston College professor and renowned researcher on wealth and philanthropy in America, made a startling pronouncement: Boomers will give away much more than they receive.

That’s a call to action to review our estate plans. Wills, trusts and other documents put in place years ago may no longer reflect who you are, what you care about or what you have today. With so much at stake, being intentional about who gets what is more important than ever. It’s not about our parent’s generation anymore. It’s about us.

In fact, Schervish’s remarks really hit home for me. Just before our recent trip to Hawaii, my husband Michael and I suddenly discovered that although we had talked about changes in our plan, we had never gotten around to communicating them to our attorney. Yikes! We found in our file notes about possible changes and marked up old documents, but no new ones. You can bet that this resulted in a flurry of activity before we got on a jet to fly over the ocean.

As I looked over those changes I was struck by how different our thinking is now, in our late 50s and early 60s, than it was the last time we tackled these issues.
In midlife planning tends to be mainly about making sure your affairs are in order and leaving enough for those left behind. If you have kids, their needs are front and center. Now, as boomers enter into transition, new perspectives and different priorities emerge. Today, it’s more about you, your security, and your legacy.
Here are five things Michael and I noticed as we completed the exercise with our attorney. Perhaps some of them will fit for you.

1. Relationships change. Perhaps you left money to people or gave them responsibilities that no longer make sense. Say your connection with these people isn’t what it used to be. Or maybe they no longer need your help. That is an important reason to change your plans. Do you have the right people in place?

2. Kids grow up. You may find that your old documents are laced with protective measures for children who were still minors. Now that they are young adults, you know a lot about their character. With luck, they are fully launched in their own lives and careers, or close to it. Are those protective devices still required?

3. You know a lot more about your health. For better or worse, as we age our physical future becomes more apparent. In addition, medical science has greatly advanced in its predictive ability. You might have more information than you had 10 years ago to consider the future–and it’s not just death to be thinking about. Have you made provisions for a time when you may not be able to think for yourself?

4. You have more, less or different stuff. Personal property, as attorneys like to call it, tends to accumulate. You might be surprised at the sentimental value your family members place on some of your belongings. It is still true that families go to war just as often about Aunt Millie’s teapot as they do about money. You can avoid that by making some simple decisions and putting them in writing. Decide who gets what.

5. You are thinking about your legacy. The reality is that in order to leave a legacy you need to live it, and that could mean using some of your financial resources now. The older you are the more financially feasible it becomes to give things away during your lifetime, whether it’s to charity or to the people you care about. At 50 you were holding on for dear life to be sure you have plenty for retirement. At 70 those concerns change. Should you consider making some lifetime gifts, rather than waiting until the end?
Even if none of these issues fit your situation, you still may want to change something. Estate planning is a discipline where the state of the art changes constantly. There are new tools and techniques available; you may actually be able to simplify your plan. Our will was several pages shorter this time around–always a good thing in my book.
As stressful as this subject can be, Schervish leaves us with a comforting thought. What he calls the “post-boomers”–ages 28 to 45–are in better shape financially than we might think. Adjusted for inflation they have a greater level of wealth than boomers did at the same age. He also notes that they may be more financially careful since “they envision a longer lifespan and have faced the forces of financial insecurity since the 1999 recession, the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, and the attacks and aftermath of 2001.”
The bottom line for boomers? Take care of yourself. Think about your legacy. The kids will be all right.

10 Things To Do When You Win The Lottery

By:  Deborah L. Jacobs, Forbes Staff 2/11/2012

The Mega Millions jackpot has increased to $540 million. If you win the jackpot in tomorrow night’s drawing, you won’t ever have to worry about money again–right? Wrong. With good money management you–and your heirs–could live handsomely for many, many years. But from the moment that you claim that prize, you will be descended upon by vultures who want a hefty helping of those winnings. And if you didn’t have smart money habits up until now, you could easily turn out to be your own worst enemy by quickly squandering the fortune. The first precautionary step you should take between now and the drawing is to sign the back of the ticket, says Carolyn Hapeman, a spokeswoman for The New York Lottery. A lottery ticket is a bearer instrument, she explains, meaning that whoever signs the ticket and presents a photo ID can claim the prize. So if you haven’t signed the ticket and it blows out of your hand while you are waiting for a bus, or if you show it to a buddy in a bar and accidentally leave it on the counter, you’ve lost the loot. Here are some steps to help you steer clear of additional risks. Most of them work well for other windfalls too–for example with sudden wealth that comes from an inheritance or the sale of a business.

1. Remain anonymous if your state rules permit it. Once people know you’re suddenly wealthy, you’ll be badgered by requests for handouts from everyone from charities to long-lost friends and relatives–not to mention all the financial “experts” who will be vying for your business. So check state rules to see whether you can dodge them all by remaining anonymous. Although Mega Millions is a national lottery, rules on winner publicity vary by state. In New York, for example, winners’ names are a public record. Elsewhere it may be possible to maintain your anonymity by setting up a trust or limited liability company to receive the winnings, says Beth C. Gamel, a CPA with Pillar Financial Advisors in Waltham, MA. A client of Gamel’s who won a past lottery did that, and had a lawyer claim the prize on behalf of of the trust. Depending on where you bought the ticket, prize winners have between 180 days and one year from the date of the drawing to claim their prize. So find out what the state rules are and plot a course.

2. See a tax pro before you cash the ticket. You have the choice between taking the prize money all at once or having it paid out over 26 years in the form of an annuity. With a lump sum payment, you must immediately pay tax on the entire amount, says Michael A. Kirsh, a financial planner in New York. With an annuity, you are taxed only as you receive the payments. People who have trouble controlling their spending might prefer the discipline of receiving the money as an annuity. But this payout form has other drawbacks, Kirsh notes. You will want to compare the effective yield of the annuity with what you could earn by taking the money as a lump sum, paying the taxes and investing the proceeds. Another issue to consider is whether taking an annuity will leave your family without the cash they need to pay estate tax if you die before the 30-year period is up, Kirsh says. In such situations people typically buy life insurance policies to cover the estate tax bill. You have 60 days from the time you claim your lottery prize to weigh the pros and cons. During this time, ask advisors to crunch the numbers and help you decide which type of payment suits you best.

3. Avoid sudden lifestyle changes. For the first six months after you win the lottery, don’t do anything drastic, like quitting your job, buying a McMansion, or trading up for a luxury car. Meanwhile, set aside a fixed amount for splurges—it’s only natural to want to celebrate your windfall. Save the big purchases for later. For example, you could rent a house in the neighborhood where you were thinking of moving, before you make any commitments, says Guerdon Ely, a financial planner in Chico, Calif. If you need a new car, buy a budget model for now.

4. Pay off all your debts. As I wrote in my post, “The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received,” there is no better investment than paying off debts. Whether it is credit card debt or a mortgage, your rate of return equals the interest rate on the loan. With today’s abysmal yields on relatively secure investments like CDs and Treasurys, that’s especially true. When you’ve paid down a dollar of debt, that’s a dollar you no longer owe. When you invest a dollar, you can’t be sure whether it will grow or shrink.

5. Assemble a team of legal and financial advisers. In situations like this it’s very hard to know “who’s trying to help you and who’s trying to use you,” says Ely. Rather than signing on to a group of advisors that someone else has put together, he recommends handpicking your own lawyer, accountant and investment advisor, and requiring them to work together. Carefully vet each advisor before discussing your situation. Check broker records at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. For attorneys and insurance agents, see whether there have been any complaints filed with state disciplinary authorities. If you live in a small community and don’t want lawyers there to know your business, seek out a professional in the nearest large city. Names can be found on martindale.com, the nationwide lawyers’ directory that you can search by location and area of practice, and on the Web site of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a group of trust and estate lawyers. In effect, the team you put together will function as your board of directors, Ely says. You can start by having a fee-only advisor put together a long-term financial plan and running it by the group for comment. Once you’ve decided on a plan, they can provide checks and balances on each other. You can ask one of them to serve as quarterback, coordinating the group effort. That person can also play the “bad guy,” declining requests from people or organizations for gifts that you don’t want to make.

6. Invest prudently. Ely recommends putting the money in safe, short-term investments and not even touching it for the first six months. Then ask your advisors is to put together an investment portfolio divided half-and-half between equities (such as stocks) and fixed income (like bonds). Don’t fall for investments that you don’t understand or that sound too good to be true.

7. Live within a budget. Especially if you’re not accustomed to having a lot of money, it may take some discipline to preserve your winnings and not go on a wild spending spree. One way to restrain yourself is to only spend income–not principal. Especially in today’s investment world, “It takes a lot of principal to generate income and once you start spending principal, the principal quickly dissipates,” says Dennis I. Belcher, a lawyer with McGuireWoods in Richmond VA.

8. Take steps to protect assets. People who are worth a lot of money need to guard against losing assets to creditors. They include everyone from disgruntled spouses and ex-spouses to people who win lawsuits against you. If people think you have deep pockets they may look for reasons to sue. “If you win the Powerball, everyone’s going to be laying in front of your car so you can run over them so they can sue you,” says Ely. It’s prudent to ensure you are not an easy target. The best defense is to erect a variety of roadblocks that make it difficult, if not impossible, for creditors to reach your money and property. These asset protection strategies, as they are called, can range from relying on state-law exemptions to creating multiple barriers through the use of trusts and family limited partnerships or limited liability companies. It may be possible to rely on a variety of strategies, either separately or in combination with each other.

9. Plan charitable gifts. You can offset the additional income from your lottery winnings with a charitable deduction. But you must make your donation by Dec. 31. For gifts to a public charity, donors are entitled to an income tax deduction for up to 50% of adjusted gross income (AGI) for cash contributions and up to 30% for donations of other appreciated assets held more than 12 months. If you are unable to decide between now and year-end which charities to support, it may be worth considering a donor-advised fund. With a donor-advised fund, you can make a charitable donation this year and claim a federal tax deduction for your irrevocable contribution but postpone recommendations about which charities should receive grants from the account until some time in the future.

10. Review your estate plan. If your winnings have made you suddenly wealthy, this may be the first time that you need to plan for estate tax. The sweeping tax overhaul of 2010 offers more flexibility than ever before. Each person has a $5 million limit on tax-free transfers, which can be applied during life, when you die or some combination of the two. If Congress doesn’t act by the end of this year, that exclusion amount will revert to $1 million and the tax rate will increase to 55%. So if you want to share some of your largess with family and friends, this is the ideal time to do that.

 

Hitting Rock Bottom at Work and Surviving

It’s rare today that your first job is also your last job. In the course of many people’s careers, as they gain time and experience, their positions change. Increased responsibility in most cases should mean increased pay. It can be tricky identifying a good time to move to a new position. If we’re fearful of the change, sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, sometimes repeatedly, before we wake up and choose to be survivors and not a victim. How do we go from hitting rock bottom to surviving?
A lot of it lies in our perspective, how we internalize change, and how we incorporate our growing pains into the fabric of our lives. We can always increase our resiliency, or our ability to bounce back despite setbacks.
Our lives are such a kaleidoscope of colorful events if we choose to see it this way. It’s easy to focus on the pain, on what’s not going right. The real test of our character is our ability to face setbacks, discomfort, and failure and see it for what it is—find the lesson learned in the experience, and move on to better things as a more humble and compassionate person.
When we are at the bottom looking up we often feel alone and unappreciated as we wonder if anyone cares about us or sees the pain through our tight smiles. Sometimes we ask ourselves what the point of going on is if we feel like our work isn’t valued. If we’ve royally screwed our personal relationships up (or lack thereof) by putting our job ahead of what’s really important to us, then it really can make us question the worth of our lives. Sometimes we hit rock bottom, because we no longer are interested in our job. We could be worn out or stressed to the max. What may really be going on is that we’re ready for a change. We’re having trouble finding purpose in what we do for our job. And we think that holding on to the way things are will keep things the same. However, when we resist change and hold on so tightly to the past or the future, we lose sight of what we’re doing in the here and now.
I have found throughout the years that a storm always precedes a fresh new beginning. Always.
When I find myself blocked or resisting a change with my job, it’s usually because I’ve outgrown the job. I’m ready for a new challenge—whether it’s more responsibility or a new career field. If I find myself anxious or dreading going in to work a storm is definitely brewing. Are you there right now?
Why not try identifying the why behind the pain, discomfort, boredom…the sooner we’re able to move past these negative feelings and beliefs, the sooner our next job will surface.
Hitting rock bottom means the only way to go is up. That we’ve outgrown the current experience and our soul is yearning for something more, something bigger, and something beyond our current situation. So ask yourself what you truly long for and how you can do something right now, today that will get you one step closer to that longing.
Step a little outside of your comfort zone.
Enlist the aid of someone with the experience and willingness to be a safe place that you can be vulnerable and explore what it is you really want.
You are definitely worth it—and the people whose lives you touch in your job will be profoundly affected by your interactions when your job is your passion. Who knows, your relationships may just fall into place as well. When you value your worth, and recognize the tenuous web that intricately spins us all together it will begin to make sense the sooner you work past the pain, longings, and yearnings, you will find happiness, compassion, and success in pursuing your passions.
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

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.

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References

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.

Power Connects People

Side Effects of Holding Power

When you think about people who are strongly driven to acquire power, what kinds of things do you imagine they are after? Is power about having: influence over others, money, status, glory, independence, self-confidence?

Popular stories in our culture like to distinguish power seekers from relationship seekers—people whose primary motivation is to foster connections and intimacy with others. The power and relationship motives are usually depicted as incompatible, where power is achieved at the expense of having relationships. As prime examples, think about the main characters in films like Citizen Kane, Scarface, and The Social Network. These stories tell us that power seeking is driven by self-centered ambitions, and as long as this motive is strong, the relationship seeking motive will be weak.

We forget that the rewards of power and the rewards of relationships overlap. We forget that power connects people to one another, and the more powerful person usually reaps the rewards of these relationships. Having power means having favorable connections to others.

Imagine a typical power imbalance in the workplace. A company hires two people to run a newly-created department at the company: Mr. Alpha is brought in to head the new department and Mr. Beta is hired as second in command. Mr. Alpha is given the power to fire and/or promote Mr. Beta, making Mr. Beta dependent on Mr. Alpha’s approval. Their jobs have established this connection between them, and we can be fairly certain that their interactions will be more pleasant for Mr. Alpha than Mr. Beta. Mr. Beta will be more accommodating, deferential, and experience more anxiety about saying or doing the wrong things.

As it happens, Mr. Alpha has relocated from across the country to take this job, and feels isolated in his new city. Mr. Alpha’s not a bad guy, but he insists that he and Mr. Beta take all their coffee breaks and go out on all sales calls together, just so Mr. Alpha can have the interpersonal contact. Mr. Beta goes along without complaining. After a few weeks Mr. Alpha begins to feel less isolated in his surroundings, having established some camaraderie.

In power imbalances, the more powerful person can usually set the terms of the relationship and build rapport without much resistance. This may not create close authentic bonds, but don’t underestimate the appeal of casual interactions with people who are courteous and attentive to you. These interactions should be especially appealing to men, who tend to be more satisfied with shallow relationships than women.

The point is that these relationships can be rewarding, and ultimately strengthen the allure of power. For some people, the promise of social connections may even be the hidden force behind their desire for power, especially for people who have trouble establishing connections under normal circumstances.

So even though the search for power and relationships are often portrayed as competing goals, it’s rarely that simple. Selfish goals may navigate the pursuit of power, but the motivation to connect with others is stronger than it seems, stronger than even the seeker realizes.

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Published by Ilan Shrira

 

How to Have an Awesome Work Career

I was reflecting on my work career (past, present, and future) this morning and came to the realization that my job is “awesome.” OK, that word is overused, but I have young adult and pre-teen daughters, so I think I understand the different meanings it has, but I’m talking about the old definition of “awesome.” In others words, I enjoy almost every part of what I do for a living, and there is research in work psychology that explains why that is the case. So, here are the elements that make up an “awesome work career,” and some tips on how to get more of those elements in your own work life.

Meaning. An awesome job is one that has meaning. There is a purpose to your work, and you have to find that higher purpose. There is a scene in the movie Cedar Rapids, where Ed Helms’ nerdy character makes insurance sales sound like an uplifting career (“we are the heroes on the disaster scene, working to rebuild lives…”). Even mundane jobs, like customer service can be viewed as having meaning (e.g., helping clients, giving customers a great experience). If you can’t find the meaning in your current job after looking hard, it may be time to look hard for a new career.

Accomplishment. Choose a career where you can accomplish things, take pride in those accomplishments, and celebrate them. I take pride when I publish a paper, give a great lecture, or finish a blog post. The pride comes from readers and students who comment favorably on my accomplishments, and I’ve been known to celebrate with a glass of wine.

My friend Carlos makes car-racing accessories. He takes pride in the fact that he can build better quality accessories, and do them quicker, than anyone else at his company. I tell our college students to accomplish something at their summer internships – a project, a report, or helping run a successful event. If their internship doesn’t require it, I suggest they talk to their supervisor about taking on some extra, challenging project, perhaps one that the supervisor hasn’t had time to complete. It makes for a better internship experience to accomplish something that makes a distinct contribution, and the same goes for every job.

Positive Relationships. Nothing can make a career more awesome than working with terrific people, and building strong and rewarding relationships with them. I’m fortunate to have amazing, talented, and (yes) awesome students. I get to meet and network with wonderful clients in my consulting work, and I have some of the best research collaborators anyone could hope for. And, I try to steer clear of the bad relationships – those that can make your job an ordeal, and make you question yourself and your career choice.

Research clearly shows that relationships at work can be the greatest source of pleasure or the most tormenting source of pain and stress. Cultivate positive relationships and work hard to avoid the bad relationships (previous posts offer help in dealing with bullies and bad colleagues and bosses).

Balance. Very few people can have awesome careers if their lives revolve entirely around their jobs. An awesome career is one that allows time for family, friends, and the ability to pursue non-work-related interests. I often talk to people who are unhappy because their jobs consume all of their time and energy. Some of them change to careers that allow greater balance and flexibility, and although there are tradeoffs (e.g., less money, prestige, or a slower ride up the ladder). I rarely hear any regrets from them.

Does good fortune play a part in someone having an awesome career? To some extent. But it is more likely that people have to plan, make tough strategic career decisions, and work hard to make their career awesome.

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Published by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

Attitude is Everything

In February 2012 Mars Venus Coaching is focusing its business articles on keeping the vision and passion alive at work. It’s no surprise that some of our motivation to show up for work is due to the paycheck we receive each month. However, I’d argue it is our ability to inspire ourselves to come to work ready to play with a fresh, fun attitude that determines how satisfied, successful, and productive we are day in and day out.

What sets a good company apart from a phenomenal one is the passion and joie de vivre it’s employees have towards their work and satisfying their customers.

Dan Schawbel on the Forbes blog at the end of January wrote Hire for Attitude, an insightful article about what Mark Murphy’s research and leadership training company Leadership IQ has found about the attitude of new hires predicting more of their success, rather than just skill set alone. The research found,

89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill. The attitudinal deficits that doomed these failed hires included a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament.

That’s right—having low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament greatly influence how successful you and your employees will be in job performance. The great news is that emotional intelligence and gender intelligence are learned skills that anyone can pick up to buff up the social-emotional skill sets they already have from growing up and life experience. The vision of a company can only go as far as how well the people within the company work the business plan to carry out the company’s vision.

The quick question you can ask either yourself or any of your employees to gauge how passionate and motivated you all are to carry out your company’s vision is this:

How excited are you about coming to work each day to do your part of the job?

In the process of answering, if you find you and your employees laughing and joking as you answer the question…, then I’d venture to say you’re at the level of a great company doing pretty good things. And, if you’re not quite there yet, you and your employees can always get the spark back by enhancing your soft skill sets. If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, then hire people to up your ante with emotional and gender intelligence training. Why not include gender sales and buying too? It will put you over the edge to being an innovative and exciting company that will stand the test of time.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

5 Most Common Ways People Ruin Their Work Careers

How to prevent failure at work.

Even the most successful executives and leaders can suddenly “go off the track” and ruin their careers. Research on executive derailment has clearly identified the factors that cause previously successful executives and professionals to fail. Watch out for these in your own work career.

1. Poor Interpersonal Style. Although technical competence and successes may initially pay off, as one moves up in an organization or profession, interpersonal skills become more important. In our study of firefighters, technical competence was the key to getting promoted to captain, but lack of social skills prevented captains from going higher in the chain of command.

Having an abrasive or arrogant style, being insensitive to those around you, or coming off cold and aloof can lead to derailment of managers and supervisors.

2. Over-Controlling and Inability to Delegate. In today’s team-centered work world, it is critical to be able to work successfully with others to get the job done. Managers who try to do it all themselves, who micromanage, or who are unable to build a team, are likely doomed to failure.

3. Inability to Adapt. Change is the only constant in organizations. Workers who fail to adapt will become obsolete and fail. In one engineering department, the manager was unable to master, or even understand, the new design technology. Due to his own insecurity, he refused to let the new technology be used in his department. The result: they fell further and further behind on projects and produced inferior results.

4. Lack of Transparency. Dealing openly and honestly with those you work with is the key to success. Even if you are justified and fair in the decisions that you make, you need to let people know why and how important decisions (such as promotions) are made.

It goes without saying that unethical behavior is a key derailer for anyone’s work career, so the best way to avoid temptation is to be transparent in the decisions you make and strive to be virtuous in your behavior.

5. Inability to Think Strategically. All too often, we get bogged down in the day-to-day work that is in front of us, and focus too much on short-term goals. However, career success requires constantly looking at the big picture, and thinking strategically about where we are headed. Strategic thinking helps us anticipate problems, recognize new opportunities, and build a track record of accomplishments.

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by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. in Cutting-Edge Leadership