When In Doubt, Mars Venus says Write it down

This is not a Calendar

This is not a Calendar

It’s amazing what a little organization can do to alleviate stress. Mars Venus teaches this is so many facets of life no matter what the application.

Many decades ago when I was much much younger, I didn’t know anything about organization.  Franklin Covey wasn’t in my vocabulary just yet and neither was Mars Venus.  What I did have was a boyfriend, and still to this very day a good friend, named David that noticed that sometimes I was stressed about my daily schedule. Naturally between college, work and a relationship, I was pretty busy.   He would often ask me what I had to do that day.  My eyes would kind of glaze over and I would glance through my imaginary calendar (We all have one, it’s written in thin air) and pull everything out of sequence.  “TADA!  There is it!  My schedule” I would say with pride.  David would look at me and tell me three simple little words that would change my life.  “Write it Down.”  He’d continue, “When everything is rolling around in your head, you waste time going from one point to another and you will always forget something.”   God Bless David.  Many years later I still hear your voice telling me “Write It Down.”  Kind of annoying really but I understand it more now than ever before.

Mars Venus Stresses (pardon the pun) the importance of organization as a tool to avoid stress.  Use a calendar, any calendar whether it is Franklin Covey®, Day Runner® or the frivolous chachkie you got from your insurance agent.  Every hour of every day should be plotted out in advance.  This will not only avoid over booking but it will avoid hurt feelings as well.  Just think of it.  You have an appointment written in your head, not a good place, and then a niece wants to spend time with you. Of course you say “yes” not thinking about your “head” schedule.  Now what do you do?  You Stress!   You have just put yourself in the situation where someone is going to be hurt. And you only have yourself to blame.  Business is business. If you miss an appointment, you lose a potential client plus any referrals.  That translates to dollars and cents and ultimately loss of income.   Your calendar is should not be floating around in air.

Once you have established a schedule, you should then take 15 minutes at the beginning of the week to review the week and 15 minutes every morning to review and prioritize your day.  This will refresh your memory as to what you have planned for that week thus eliminating the stress factor.

We have enough stress in our lives without adding to it by relying on our memory.  If you deal with your appointments and the more important items on your calendar you can work in the less important items in as the day progresses.  Some items may have to be moved to the next day but at least you know where you stand at every turn.  Just remember not to take on more than you can handle.  No one has super powers.  Allow yourself ample time in between appointments and/or errands.

Keeping in mind, there are only so many hours in a day.  You have to schedule the most important time every day.  That’s “Me” time.  It’s been a long day and you deserve it.

Dolores Baltierra

Mars Venus Coaching

 

 

 

4 Networking Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Daily Muse, Contributor , Forbeswoman, 9/30/11

Whether you’re looking for a job or not, you’ve probably been encouraged to “network, network, network!” more times than you can count. Are all those conferences and

Photo courtesy of Jodi Womack.

events you’re attending leading to new connections or opportunities?

No? You’re not the only one. Many networking newbies have tendencies that actually inhibit building real relationships with their new contacts.

The good news: it’s not that hard to fix. Here’s what you might not even realize you’re doing wrong—and what to do about it.

Mistake #1: Talking about Yourself—All the Time

You’re talented! Eager! Ambitious! You have lots of ideas to share! And you want to make sure that every person you meet at the event knows who you are and what you do!

We get it. And yes, sharing your story with new contacts is important. But sharing your life story is overkill: Nothing can set a person off more than an aspiring professional who takes no interest in anything beside her own ambitions.

The Fix: Take Some Interest.

Stop highlighting your latest accomplishment and start listening instead. Find people with industries or careers of interest to you, and ask them questions: How did they get their start? What do they love about their jobs, and what do they wish they could change? By taking an interest in your contact, you will make her feel valued—and hopefully interested in continuing the relationship. And you’ll likely gain some new insights, too.

Mistake #2: Expecting a Job

You’re looking for a new job, so you hit the circuit of industry events every week, asking every person you meet to help you find your new gig—after all, it’s not what you know, it’s who.

Well, yes. But give people some credit: If you pursue networking opportunities purely for the job prospects, your contacts will figure you out. You will leave them feeling used, and they will be less likely to recommend you for an opportunity.

The Fix: Provide Some Value.

If you’re looking for a job, don’t ask for it—work for it. Do some research into what your contact does both in and out of work and find ways that you can contribute your time or support.

Perhaps you could volunteer your expertise in social media for the big convention she’s heading up, or offer your accounting knowledge for her non-profit. Provide some opportunity for contacts to see you in a working light, and you’ll be that much closer to a good referral.

Mistake #3: Not Saying Thanks

You attended a large event last week and grabbed coffee with one of your new professional contacts afterward. And then—the week got busy, and you didn’t get around to saying thank you. She’ll understand, right?
Maybe. But if you don’t show gratitude, even in the smallest (or largest) event, you risk leaving a negative impression—probably not the desired outcome of your meeting.

The Fix: Just Do It.

Whether you pack notecards in your purse for post-meeting scribbles, set yourself a reminder on Gmail to send off a quick note, or just insert a quick “thanks for taking time to meet with me!” at the final handshake, you must say thank you. Not only will you solidify your reputation as a courteous individual, but you won’t be leaving your contacts with a bad taste in their mouths. Always say thank you, and your good impression will last until your next meeting.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Follow Up

You meet someone over a networking happy hour and tell her you’ll send her your portfolio. But as the night goes on, she has a few drinks and meets a few dozen more people. You’re sure she’s forgotten all about you, so you decide it’s not even worth emailing her the next day.

Bad idea. Meeting someone is just the first step in networking. In order to forge a lasting relationship (and make sure people don’t forget you), you need to follow up, every single time.

The Fix: Stay Accountable.

If you told a networking contact that you would do something, do it. Even if you’re not sure she remembers you, you can bet that she will be grateful that you took the time out of your day to send her what you had discussed. If you’re worried about forgetting, keep a pen near your business card holder to quickly scribble out what follow-up actions you have for that contact, and review your cards after the event.

Above all, keep in mind that networking isn’t about short-term gain, but about learning, growing, and forming connections. Adopt good social habits, and you’ll see your skills and comfort improve, your opportunities increase, and your relationships grow—for the long haul.

4 To-Dos for the “Someday” Entrepreneur

By Adelaide Lancaster, Forbeswomen, 3/7/12

I talk with a lot of people who want to start a business “someday.” And as a result, I often think about the factors that determine which “someday” entrepreneurs will actually become business owners, and which will continue to say “I wish” for years to come.

Surprisingly, the ability to take the plunge has a lot less to do with people’s personalities, and a lot more to do with how accessible and familiar the experience of entrepreneurship is to them. Those who can picture themselves running a business often do. And those who continue to think of entrepreneurship as a big, scary thing that other people (perhaps more gregarious, sales-oriented, or risk-tolerant people) do tend to never move forward.

So, if you, too, dream of someday being your own boss, an important first step is just getting acquainted with the nature of the beast. Here are four things that will help you do just that.

1. Make New Friends
One of the best ways to learn what entrepreneurship is really like is by getting to know some entrepreneurs. Not necessarily the fancy, media darling types, but just normal, low-key people who work for themselves. To start, connect with entrepreneurs who match your own demographic—it helps you to start thinking “hey, if they can do it, so can I!” But be sure to branch out from there, and also to meet people in a wide variety of industries. There are lots of styles of entrepreneurship, so the more diversity you can experience, the better!

If you don’t know any entrepreneurs, just start asking people to make some introductions. Or, join groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, and start paying attention to the discussions that are happening. Ask someone you find interesting to have coffee and take it from there. Pick their brain about useful resources, groups, or meetings, and see if they can introduce you to even more entrepreneurs.

2. Pick Some New Role Models
In addition to making some new pals, it’s important to identify role models who are a little more established in the business world. You might not be able to take them to coffee, but you can learn a lot by observing them and their companies from afar.
Select three brands or companies that you like and admire. Find as many ways to follow their leaders as possible—be it their blogs, articles, or Facebook profiles. Read their books if they have them. Read their press and interviews that they’ve done. Think about how their personalities and leadership styles have shaped the brands and the companies they run. Stay abreast of their company news, and take note of what they share about their own experience.

3. Fall in Love with Small Business as a Customer
There’s a certain romance to small business. As a customer, there’s always something more special about the experience. Sometimes it’s witnessing changes over the years, other times it’s the connection to the owner, others it’s the attention to detail that’s given to the product or service.

And there’s a lot to learn from that! So, in addition to making friends with entrepreneurs themselves, it’s important to also make relationships with some actual businesses. Think about the small businesses that you currently patronize, or the new start-ups whose products you love. What do you know about their owners or story? What are their goals and where are they going? What do they do that’s memorable, distinct, or unique? What do they do particularly well? Thinking about your own experiences as a customer will give you tons of insight into running your own show.

4. Demystify “Business” Speak
Most would-be entrepreneurs get scared off by the “business” side of things. They overestimate the skills and knowledge that are needed to run a business and assume that there are huge mountains to be climbed and learning curves to overcome before even getting started.

But it’s important to confront the monster under the bed—it’s not as hard as you might think, and you certainly don’t have to have an MBA to do it. Pick a small business magazine like Inc. or Fast Company and invest $15 to get a subscription. Peruse it each month, but feel free to read only what’s interesting to you. You’ll soon see how un-mysterious business can be. From behind-the-scenes business profiles to questions about how to handle particular challenges, you’ll begin to learn a lot about the experience of entrepreneurship.

As you start talking to people, expanding your reading list, and thinking more and more about the what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, you’ll soon see that it’s not as big and scary as you might think. And that “someday” will inch a little bit closer to today.

How To Succeed In Business By Really Trying

Victor Lipman, Contributor , Forbes Magazine 5/13/12

No sugar coating here. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be born to take over a thriving family business or to get in on the ground floor of the next Facebook, the road to business success is seldom a simple one.

In my experience and observation, success is much less the product of one brilliant idea than of a great deal of hard work, well-executed and sustained over a long period of time.

Even in the best of times, no one will just hand you a position of great value for nothing. If your goal is vice presidency or partner or managing director or the c-suite, or whatever role has captured your imagination, no one can guarantee you’ll attain it. But if hard work is the currency of success, there are things you can do to make that effort work as hard as possible for your up-and-coming career. So with a tip of the cap to one the greatest musicals ever (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”), here are five activities that can be worth really trying to put extra time into.

Learn the business – If you work for a sizable organization, and perhaps if you don’t, chances are your business has considerable complexity. Take time to learn not just your particular role (that’s “table stakes”- you have to know it), but also to gain a broader understanding of the business: the competitive environment, the market forces at play, the company’s value proposition, sales model, pricing model, etc. No one’s expecting you to become expert in all these fields, but gaining at least a working understanding of the key macro-level issues is always helpful. Familiarity with these larger issues senior management is grappling with will only enhance your decision-making capabilities in your own role.

Make yourself indispensable – Take time to really understand what your manager needs. Not just what is needed from you in your current role, but what are the troubling problems that keep him or her up at night? Is it help with PowerPoints, an upcoming presentation to a hostile audience, delicate personnel problems, or dealing with regulators… to name just a few of a thousand possibilities. Try to see things through the eyes of others. The more substantive assistance you can provide, the more gaps you can fill, the more valuable you’ll be to an organization.

Provide solutions, not problems – The normal state of senior management is too much to do in too little time. When wrestling with difficult issues in your own area, naturally you can’t always solve all the problems yourself. But it definitely can be worth the extra time to not simply make your problems your manager’s. Instead, present your manager with a carefully thought out range of viable options – ideally including your recommended solution – rather than just posing a vexing, time-consuming problem. This approach demonstrates your critical thinking capabilities, and can be an appreciated time saver for a person with little time to spare.

Be a great collaborator – Good team players are valued. Large complex projects always require people with diverse skills. Attitude matters; effective collaborators often find themselves in demand. Consider taking the time to volunteer for a large project that may be understaffed, even in an area outside your core expertise. This can be a way of broadening your skill set and business knowledge, plus demonstrating your motivation. Management appreciates self starters who ‘play well with others.’

Come early, stay late – The best point I can offer here is a story of my own. While I’m an advocate in theory for as much work-life balance as possible, the fact is, if you want to get ahead, there will be periods in a career where there are no substitutes for grindingly long hours. There was a period in my own career where I was especially motivated by the prospect of advancement and all that went with it, and had great respect for the organization and the work we were doing. Accordingly, I resolved to myself that no one in the 20-person department I worked in (including the SVP who managed the operation) would come in earlier or work later than I would. Did I always achieve that? No. But did my diligence catch the attention of senior management and ultimately help my career? Yes. (The assumption here of course is that you’re not simply sitting around long hours playing video games or writing to your aunt… but doing real work and adding value!)
In the end of course, occupational success is preordained for no one. Many talented people compete for relatively few coveted positions. But you can take certain actions to improve your odds. And if you do, regardless of how things turn out in a particular instance, at the very least you’ll have the benefit of broadening your skills and the satisfaction of knowing you gave your very best effort.

Work Place Commincation Skills

By Arjun Kulkarni

It is well-known that before you come to work, you have to leave your informal self back home. In the office, you’re an employee, someone who’s supposed to go about his work in the most professional manner. There is a way to talk to your superiors, to your peers and your subordinates. This mode of communication is known as workplace communication and is typically formal and to the point. So how does one get the required workplace communication skills and what is the importance of communication skills in the workplace?

Communication Skills in the Workplace

What are the good workplace communications skills?
Courteousness: A person should always be courteous while speaking to anyone in the workplace, whether senior or junior. One should not speak disparagingly with juniors, while speaking in a laudatory way with seniors. Courteousness should be maintained in the workplace irrespective of rank.
Precision: You’re not supposed to sit and chat in the workplace. Workplace communication facilitates necessity and should be completed as quickly as possible. Workplace communication mostly consists of delegating tasks and reporting results. So keep it short.
Language: One should never use any slang terms while at work. Business communication should be crisp and clear so that everyone understands what you’re saying. Slang terms bring in the eventuality of misunderstanding and also look unprofessional. So one should avoid using slang in office.
Low Speaking Volume: One comes across so many loud-talkers. Perhaps they are naturally so or do so deliberately to drive some point across. But speaking loudly is disturbing to other people around you hence, a low speaking volume should be maintained.
Clarity: It is also essential to ensure that the person you are speaking with has completely understood what you have to say. Hence, one should speak very slowly and clearly. If you have a strong ethnic accent, you should make sure that you talk slowly so that the other person gets what you have to say. It is always good to ask, “have you understood?” just in case someone doesn’t get what you have to say.
Listen to Others: Most people think of effective communication as a one-way thing. But it is very important to also be a good listener and not just a good talker. Others too often have something to say or to contribute to a discussion hence, listening too, is one of the effective communication skills at work.
Posture and Body Language: They say actions speak louder than words and the same can be considered to be true at the workplace. The body has a language of its own too, and at the workplace, the body ought to be courteous. There are simple things to keep in mind, whether it is wishing everyone ‘good morning’ at work, or having a courteous smile on your face, being well-dressed in office or sitting erect when someone is talking to you. All these things too are included in the superset of workplace communication skills.
Written Communication

Modern methods allow the least use of the written mode of communication (less than before). Today, we use emails, service forms, report sheets and the occasional sticky note. Your skills should extend to this area as well. Do not drone on about things in your emails. In fact, an email is the perfect excuse to make it short, simple, quick and effective. While filling reports on any projects or for employee appraisals, keep the language clean and simple. It reflects on as you as someone who is hard working and prompt.

Importance of Communication Skills in the Workplace

If one understands the significance or importance of something, then I feel that they do that thing better. So instead of just dishing out all the important workplace communication skills, I feel it is equally important for people to understand, what is the big deal about it! It is important to be formal and cordial in the workplace for several reasons. Firstly, you are viewed by everyone in the office as someone who has a positive influence in the workplace. Such people are always desired by companies. Secondly, you learn to get your point across effectively and ensure that the work is done the way it should be. And thirdly, (I’m being a bit informal here) it makes you look like a team player and makes you more loved by the company overall!

So this was all about the workplace communication skills and their importance. Now you know how to communicate effectively in the workplace and why. So get on with the job!

Congruency with Your Work’s Vision Statement

Maybe it is just my personality talking here, but I truly believe the more congruent you are with your actions mirroring your optimistic feelings reflecting your thoughts…the more people want to be around and interact with you. Being congruent is something you learn when you become a counselor. However, I want to share how to test and be congruent with you, because I see it as the balm to help people receive and give unconditional love. It applies to you, because how you think, feel, and act in a job that takes from 25 to 80 hours of your week will be reflected not just in your attitude, but in your health, and how strong your relationships are as well. How being congruent with your work’s vision translates directly to your job is by whether or not you enjoy what you do at work. Do you love your job? Do you hate it? Or, do you just put up with it, but want to be somewhere else? So how do you make your actions speak just as loudly as your work? Read on to find out how to test your congruency level with your work’s vision.

Regardless if you are the business owner or an employee the one thing we all have in common is customer satisfaction. With that being said most company visions reflect serving their customers. And, within the vision, the values of the company are also generally stated. To become congruent with your work’s vision you as an employee should believe in it as well. The more you internalize the vision statement and make it your own, the more congruent you are in doing your job and in interacting with your customers. Even if you make widgets and never see the end product or the customer consuming your wares, it matters. When you take pride in your workmanship and you believe your product or service is fulfilling a need for the consumer, it shows. Just look at social media and how customers “like” the companies that make them feel good.

The way you test your congruency with your work’s vision is by testing and measuring. The length of time you are going to test and measure depends on why you want the result.

Do you want to know by the end of the week? If you want to know sooner rather than later, then test and measure every day for a week.

Or do you want more of a longitudinal glimpse? If so, then do a 1-day measure, either once per week or one time per month, for six months. This will allow for ups and downs in customer volume, moods, etc., to give you a snapshot at how you’re doing.

How? Deconstruct the Vision Statement.

Horizontally, across the top of the page break the vision statement into parts. If it lists different values, then separate these out.
Vertically in the first column list your products (if applicable).
Still in the first column list your services (if applicable).
In the empty boxes where the pieces of the vision statement match up with the products and services column rate yourself. On a scale from 1-10, 1 being awful, 10 being excellent mark how you did that day.
You can also add in employee names, as well as customers down the page to rate yourself in your interactions with them as is applicable to the pieces of the vision statement that you’re testing.

You can do this whenever you need a reality check. Schedule it into your business plan if it is that important to you. If you’re not satisfied with your results, then directly after looking over your scores create a solution. Sit down with pen and paper. Brainstorm and write out how you can go from a 6 to a 7, write what it will take for you to get there. Maybe it’s leaving home life at home when you go to work. Or, maybe it is getting up every hour to dance for 5 minutes, so you don’t feel or sound tired when interacting with customers. Write it down, and commit to this new change for 6 months. Then, test and measure your congruency level with your work’s vision again. Celebrate the wins!

Whenever someone meets you, subconsciously, they are always scanning for congruency in how your nonverbal body language matches your verbal cues. This is why it is so important to believe in and enjoy your work. People pick up on it automatically. If they feel at ease and see your enthusiasm and joy for what you do, then they will want to come back. We all want to feel good, don’t we?

Let’s hear it for testing and measuring!

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Intelligence Is Overrated: What You Really Need To Succeed

Keld Jensen, Contributor, Forbes Magazine

Albert Einstein’s was estimated at 160, Madonna’s is 140, and John F. Kennedy’s was only 119, but as it turns out, your IQ score pales in comparison with your EQ, MQ, and BQ scores when it comes to predicting your success and professional achievement.
IQ tests are used as an indicator of logical reasoning ability and technical intelligence. A high IQ is often a prerequisite for rising to the top ranks of business today. It is necessary, but it is not adequate to predict executive competence and corporate success. By itself, a high IQ does not guarantee that you will stand out and rise above everyone else.
Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge. Additionally, Nobel Prize winning Israeli-American psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.
With this in mind, instead of exclusively focusing on your conventional intelligence quotient, you should make an investment in strengthening your EQ (Emotional Intelligence), MQ (Moral Intelligence), and BQ (Body Intelligence). These concepts may be elusive and difficult to measure, but their significance is far greater than IQ.

Emotional Intelligence
EQ is the most well known of the three, and in brief it is about: being aware of your own feelings and those of others, regulating these feelings in yourself and others, using emotions that are appropriate to the situation, self-motivation, and building relationships.
Top Tip for Improvement: First, become aware of your inner dialogue. It helps to keep a journal of what thoughts fill your mind during the day. Stress can be a huge killer of emotional intelligence, so you also need to develop healthy coping techniques that can effectively and quickly reduce stress in a volatile situation.

Moral Intelligence
MQ directly follows EQ as it deals with your integrity, responsibility, sympathy, and forgiveness. The way you treat yourself is the way other people will treat you. Keeping commitments, maintaining your integrity, and being honest are crucial to moral intelligence.
Top Tip for Improvement: Make fewer excuses and take responsibility for your actions. Avoid little white lies. Show sympathy and communicate respect to others. Practice acceptance and show tolerance of other people’s shortcomings. Forgiveness is not just about how we relate to others; it’s also how you relate to and feel about yourself.

Body Intelligence
Lastly, there is your BQ, or body intelligence, which reflects what you know about your body, how you feel about it, and take care of it. Your body is constantly telling you things; are you listening to the signals or ignoring them? Are you eating energy-giving or energy-draining foods on a daily basis? Are you getting enough rest? Do you exercise and take care of your body? It may seem like these matters are unrelated to business performance, but your body intelligence absolutely affects your work because it largely determines your feelings, thoughts, self-confidence, state of mind, and energy level.

Top Tip For Improvement: At least once a day, listen to the messages your body is sending you about your health. Actively monitor these signals instead of going on autopilot. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest are all key aspects of having a high BQ. Monitoring your weight, practicing moderation with alcohol, and making sure you have down time can dramatically benefit the functioning of your brain and the way you perform at work.

What You Really Need To Succeed
It doesn’t matter if you did not receive the best academic training from a top university. A person with less education who has fully developed their EQ, MQ, and BQ can be far more successful than a person with an impressive education who falls short in these other categories.
Yes, it is certainly good to be an intelligent, rational thinker and have a high IQ; this is an important asset. But you must realize that it is not enough. Your IQ will help you personally, but EQ, MQ, and BQ will benefit everyone around you as well. If you can master the complexities of these unique and often under-rated forms of intelligence, research tells us you will achieve greater success and be regarded as more professionally competent and capable.

In Business, It’s Never About You

Recently, I had an interaction with another business person that left me deflated. I felt deflated, because the other person was acting irrationally based on fear, rather than seeing the opportunity for what it was—mutually beneficial. We could have helped one another out in promoting our businesses. When I network it is to get to know someone so I can link them with others. As I build the relationship based on genuine interactions of getting to know them, the majority of the time I find us wanting to help and recommend each other’s services, because we value and can speak for the other’s services. When you have a working knowledge of gender and emotional intelligence you quickly realize it’s not the exchange of products or services that really matters; it’s the experience and connection that makes buying and selling memorable. This is more of an organic way of doing business, but I have found it to create sustainability, and long-term results.
A lot of times what we do not realize is that even in buying and selling, our emotions are often the deciding factor in whether the experience is a positive or negative one. So here’s the secret—always choose for your interactions to be about the other person, never about you. So in this example, while his behavior was not desirable, I let him close the door on the business relationship. It initially made me feel deflated, because there were great opportunities and possibilities, but I respected his decision. When you are able to label and identify your emotions as they are happening, instead of reacting based on emotions, you can choose logic and the best course of action.
Putting the concept, it’s never about you; it’s always about the other person benefits your business in three ways. It works in networking, with colleagues, and with customers. When you remember that it’s about the other person, and not you, then you can quickly wade through whom to pursue relationships with as you network. When you use this concept with co-workers and employees you keep the lines of communication open and honest. And, when you use this concept with customers, you create an environment where they feel good about themselves, and will want to return or recommend your product or service to others. In each of Dr. John Gray’s, Mars Venus books, the Mars Venus Coaching eWorkshops, and working with Mars Venus Coaches these principles are espoused. It is always about learning how to communicate with others in their language so they can hear and understand you. When you shut the door, you limit yourself on future opportunities. So remember when you are interacting with others, ask yourself how you can help them get what they need, not what’s in it for you. And, in doing so, people will seek out your business. And, when the other person is not of like mind, be genuine when you wish them well. You never know, they may come back!
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

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.