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Strangers know your social class in the first seven words you say, study finds

Career-Line - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 14:52

What we wear and buy are status symbols we can purchase to show off our economic success in the workplace. But a new study shows that there are others parts of us that give away our social backgrounds, no matter which purses, clothes, and cars we buy.

For Perspectives on Psychological Science, researchers from the University of California-San Francisco and Yale University conducted experiments on the verbal and nonverbal signs of social class we signal in interactions. They recruited participants to look at 20 Facebook photographs, watch a 60-second video of participants interacting with others, and listen to seven spoken words from participants to see how well strangers can accurately guess where you stand on the social ladder.

What they found was that more than pictures and videos of us, our speech is the most accurate indicator of our economic backgrounds.

The first seven words you say can reveal whether you have a college degree

It doesn’t even have to be speech that makes sense in context. The researchers split the speakers into different social classes based on their educational attainment and their occupation. The researchers then had observers listen to these speakers say seven words out of context  — “and,” “from,” “thought,” “beautiful,” “imagine,” “yellow,” and “the.”

From those seven isolated words alone, the observers could guess the participants’ social class at a rate that was higher than chance.

The seven-word study builds upon previous studies that found that social class signals are everywhere, even written upon our faces. One study found that people could accurately determine whether people were rich or poor based on their faces alone.

We’ve known for decades that our voices are linked to our social status. For the speech study, the researchers cited a famous 1972 study that found that New York City store clerks in big-name department stores will self-consciously pronounce the “r” in words more. These clerks subconsciously recognized how status would be signaled when they said “fawth flaw” over “fourth floor.”

The seven-word experiment has broader implications for economic mobility, which has become more constricted than ever in America. The researchers suggested that speech signaling will make it harder to cross social economic boundaries because “similarity enhances liking,” and we tend to interact and network more with people like us.

“When individuals accurately signal and perceive social class in interactions with others, signals that communicate differences in social class are likely to create barriers for relationship formation across class boundaries,” the study states.

If you can be judged rapidly, frequently, and accurately based on your words alone, that’s one more barrier that makes it harder to escape class boundaries.

This article Strangers know your social class in the first seven words you say, study finds appeared first on Ladders.

4 ways to stay afloat when you have more than one job

Career-Line - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 14:51

There are a handful of reasons why someone might have multiple jobs, with the need for extra cash or an outlet to express themselves through a side project high up on the list.

Either way, running back and forth between part-time positions and events can be a huge stressor. If this is your lifestyle, here’s what to do to stay on top all your commitments.

1. Know what’s on the books this week

It’s best to be crystal clear on what’s in store so you can plan accordingly.

In an article for The Muse, Avery Augustine writes that if you don’t pay attention to when you have to work, “as well as your social calendar,” things you didn’t see coming can sabotage “your productivity.”

She continues:

To help keep your priorities straight (and your sanity intact), take a few moments over the weekend to think through your schedule for the week. For example, maybe there’s a meeting or happy hour you want to attend on Wednesday night, so you’ll need to shift the majority of your evening work to Monday and Tuesday.

Augustine adds that planning things out will help you decide about last-minute obligations and say “no” if you have to, and that you will have the capacity to work “more efficiently” and squeeze in fun.

2. Get a handle on your money

Keeping up with what you’re making in more than one job takes attention to detail, but you can take specific measures to work toward fiscal stability.

A Monster article mentions how “financial discipline” is extremely important when you work for yourself. The article then continues, featuring advice from Sara Horowitz, founder and executive director of the Freelancers Union.

“A rule of thumb is for every dollar you take in, 60 cents goes into your checking and 40 cents goes into savings to pay your taxes,” she told Monster. “You should also look into low-cost group health insurance plans in your state.”

3. Remember, different jobs = different skills

Take comfort in the idea that having multiple jobs means more opportunities to hone your various crafts.

In a Huffington Post article, John Rampton writes that having positions of different natures “is great.” Since you aren’t repeating the same task at each one, you will “have more energy,” he writes.

He continues:

One job will use a certain skill set and another job will use another. Even if you work both jobs in the same day, you’ll likely have much more energy than if you only did one job. Sometimes a mix of a physical job and a desk job is just the mix people need in order to work many hours in the day.

4. Be clear on when you’re free and when you’re not

Only you know how much time you have, so if you don’t want to give it all away, be strategic about your availability. In other words, you work hard, and don’t let people gobble up all your time.

In a Lifehacker article, Eric Ravenscraft replies to a reader who says that he’s just graduated college and is working 60 to 70 hours weekly at various part-time positions. The reader asks how to avoid “getting burned out” and crushing his potential for “a steady job” in the future.

One of Ravenscraft’s tips is to “set boundaries and stick to them,” writing about how both supervisors could “want all of your time,” so he has to choose how much to dedicate to each.

He later continues:

Wherever possible, decide your availability for one job and adapt the other around that schedule. Work one during a normal 9-5 shift and fill in the gaps with the other, or only do one on weekdays and save the other for weekends. If you’re more of a freelancer, make sure each of your managers know your boundaries and stick to them. If you can, you should also set aside at least one day a week where you work neither job.

Ravenscraft adds that setting aside time is crucial because it creates a middle of the week and an opportunity to tend to what “you need to at home.”

Staying focused on your schedule, thinking about what you’re gaining from each job, and taking ownership of your time and money are key to thriving under the pressure of working multiple positions.

This article 4 ways to stay afloat when you have more than one job appeared first on Ladders.

4 rituals that will make you mentally strong

Career-Line - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 12:09

Grit. Resilience. Mental toughness. We hear a lot about them these days. But maybe we shouldn’t. Why?

Because there have been good solutions to the underlying problem for about, oh, 2000 years. The ancient Stoic philosophers really knew what they were doing when it came to building mental toughness. In fact…

What’s the most effective psychological tool we have today? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. What’s it based on? Stoicism.

From Stoicism and the Art of Happiness – Ancient Tips For Modern Challenges:

Stoicism provides a rich armamentarium of strategies and techniques for developing psychological resilience… In a sense, ancient Stoicism was the granddaddy of all ‘self-help’ and its ideas and techniques have inspired many modern approaches to both personal development and psychological therapy. It’s generally accepted that the modern psychotherapy that most resembles ancient Stoic ‘remedies’ for emotional problems is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and its precursor Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)… CBT also happens to have the strongest evidence base, the strongest scientific support, of any modern form of psychological therapy.

But a lot of people hear “Stoic” and think that means Spock on Star Trek. Wrong. It’s not going to turn you into a emotionless robot. Most of us get a lot of things wrong about Stoicism.

The Stoics had some great tools to help fight negative feelings. And when you’re good at dealing with the negative, you have more time for the positive. And that also helps you stay resilient when it feels like the world is out to get you.

So let’s learn the basics of what the guys-in-togas really had to say and how it can make you more mentally strong so you can get what you want out of life…

Your stoicism cheatsheet

“Stoicism.” The word even sounds serious. Don’t let it scare you.

Zeno, the guy who founded the philosophy, used to teach on what was basically a porch. The “Stoa” in “Stoicism” means porch. So if it’s less intimidating, think of this ancient wisdom as “Porchism” because that’s basically what it translates as.

Now “Porchism” encompasses a lot of different ideas but for our purposes we’ll focus on two principles that are fundamental:

First: “People are not disturbed by events, but rather by their judgments about events.” Get fired? Sounds bad. End up getting a much better job? So getting fired was good. Pain in your arm? Uh-oh. But were you just in a car accident and the doctor said you might never regain feeling in your limbs? So pain is good. Events are neither good nor bad; your interpretation of them of them is good or bad.

So when you blame events for your feelings, the toga-guys say you’re just plain wrong. The rain didn’t make you sad, your beliefs about the rain made you sad.

Second: It’s critical to know what you can control and what you can’t. And for the Stoics, the only thing you ever really have control over is your deliberate thoughts. You can’t control other people, you can’t control nature, and you can’t always control your own body. (Try wishing away your migraine and let me know how well that works.)

When you get frustrated over something you cannot control (which is most things) you’re pretending you’re God. You feel you should have power over something you don’t and that’s why you get angry, frustrated or sad. Yeah, maybe people “shouldn’t” do that, but they are. Maybe it “shouldn’t” be raining, but it is.

You have to accept you do not have control over a lot of stuff — but that doesn’t mean you give up. You can influence things and you can try to affect them, but when you delude yourself that you “should” have 100% control over an outcome, you’re almost always going to find yourself emotionally upset if things don’t go your way.

Now both of these ideas — that you’re disturbed by beliefs not events and that the issue of control is at the heart of negative emotions — are central to resilience and mental toughness. Let’s learn how to put them to work.

(To learn how to never be frustrated again, click here.)

So a big challenge is on the horizon. What’s the first step to getting mentally stronger?

Ask “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote:

Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness…

Why in the world would you want to start the day with that thought in your head? Because Marcus didn’t want to be surprised. He wanted to be prepared.

We all know people can be difficult. We all know you can’t control what they do. If I just said that and nothing else, you’d roll your eyes at me and wonder why you decided to read this. And yet when people are difficult, you often respond like this was totally unexpected, and then you get angry. Does that make any sense?

Reminding yourself of the worst isn’t pessimism. Buying life insurance doesn’t mean you want to die; it means you realistically recognize it can happen and you want to be prepared. So Marcus reminded himself every morning that people were going to be difficult. That way it wouldn’t surprise him, and he wouldn’t get frustrated and just tell them all to go to hell. He could move right on to negotiating.

When we’re unrealistically optimistic, when our expectations are totally out of whack, we get frustrated and give up. But by thinking about what could go wrong in any situation, you mentally prepare yourself for it and you keep on trucking.

From Stoicism and the Art of Happiness – Ancient Tips For Modern Challenges:

Seneca writes that we should contemplate events in advance so that nothing ever takes us by surprise in this way, as ‘What is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect, and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster’ by magnifying the distress experienced (Letters, 91). He goes on to say that we should therefore ‘project our thoughts ahead of us’ and imagine every conceivable setback so that we may ‘strengthen the mind’ to cope with them, or as we put it today, to develop psychological resilience in the face of adversity.

And if you spend some time thinking about the downside — experiencing those bad feelings in advance — something else happens. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy calls it “decatastrophizing.” That’s a fancy word for “realizing it’s not the end of the world.”

Your first day on the job, something went wrong and you freaked out. A few weeks later, the same thing happened and you didn’t even blink. You got used to it.

So taking the time to think through the worst that could happen, to feel the negatives before you really feel the negatives, turns down the volume on those emotions when it counts. And that allows you to weather the storm.

From Stoicism and the Art of Happiness – Ancient Tips For Modern Challenges:

As in Stoicism, a broad range of situations are rehearsed, so that general emotional resilience can be developed, through a process explained by analogy with viral immunization. By exposing yourself to small doses of stress in a controlled way, sometimes in imagination, you can build up stronger defences and become less vulnerable when confronted with a real-life problem. Psychological resilience tends to ‘generalize’, though, so that even situations that are neither anticipated nor directly rehearsed may be experienced as less overwhelming, as long as a wide variety of other adversities have been anticipated and coped with resiliently.

(To learn the morning ritual that will keep you happy all day, click here.)

So you’ve thought about the worst and you’re prepared. Great. But now that big challenge is looming. Should you optimistically say, “I’m gonna win!”? Absolutely not…

Use a “reserve clause”

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus called it “hupexhairesis.” Annnnnnd, let’s just stick with calling it a “reserve clause”, shall we?

When someone says, “God willing…” or, “Fate permitting…”, that’s a reserve clause. They’re acknowledging that at least part of the outcome is not under their control — and you know how the Stoics felt about control.

When you use a reserve clause, if things don’t work out, you don’t crater your self-esteem and give up on your goals. You know it’s not 100% in your control and therefore it can’t be 100% your fault.

This isn’t an excuse to be lazy. It’s recognizing that you have control over process, not outcome. Saying, “I am definitely going to get an A+ on that exam” is a lie. It’s outside your control. But saying, “I am going to study my ass off” is within your control.

And by focusing on what you can control, you also give yourself a plan of action. If you’re just pollyanna optimistic about getting that A+, you can be lazy. By recognizing all you have power over is studying, then boom: you know what you need to do next.

If you think you can control outcomes, reality is eventually going to punch you in the face and let you know who’s boss. And that will make you angry with yourself or angry with the world. And you’ll want to give up.

Instead, focus on what you can control: process. Plain and simple, do all that you can. Fate permitting, you’ll do well. And if you don’t, then that wasn’t under your control. So don’t sweat it. In the words of the great Stoic, Seneca:

In short, the wise man looks to the purpose of all actions, not their consequences; beginnings are in our power but Fortune judges the outcome, and I do not grant her a verdict upon me.

(To learn how 5 post-it notes can make you happy, confident and successful, click here.)

Okay, so you thought about the worst and you were emotionally prepared. You used a reserve clause and did your best. But you still failed. Time to quit and be sad? No. You’re mentally tougher than that…

Take the “view from above”

When things get you down and you want to give up, the Stoics knew that what you needed was perspective. The world is a big place. Your life is long. But when you feel like you screwed up, you forget this and your minor setback is all you can think about.

So take a step back. Look at the big picture. Here’s Marcus Aurelius:

Many of the anxieties that harass you are superfluous: being but creatures of your own fancy, you can rid yourself of them and expand into an ampler region, letting your thought sweep over the entire universe, contemplating the illimitable tracts of eternity.

Stoics like to take the “view from above.” Imagine viewing yourself from the sky. Now see how small you are compared to the city you’re in. And how small that city is compared to the country. How tiny the country is compared to the world. And the world is just a blue dot in the galaxy.

This doesn’t mean you’re insignificant. You’re getting caught in your interpretations of the events, and you’re probably mistaken about what was under your control. Your problems are small. And much like you are tiny compared to the galaxy, your current problem is likely minuscule in the grand scheme of your life.

Yes, you screwed up. But you’ve screwed up before — many times — and it felt like the end of the world then, too. It wasn’t. Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman called this common error a “focusing illusion”:

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.

When you put problems into a bigger perspective like “the view from above”, you can resist the focusing illusion, and you can stay mentally strong under the most intense pressure.

My friend Joe, an Army Ranger and Iraq war veteran, once took a job in a Hollywood agency mailroom. Those jobs are near-impossible to get because it’s pretty much the only path to becoming a big shot agent in Tinseltown. But it’s also known for being one of the toughest jobs in a very tough industry.

You work absurdly long hours for terrible pay and the level of abuse you deal with is the stuff of legend. I asked Joe how the heck he managed to put up with all the grief. He looked at me like I was crazy and said:

Eric, in my prior job people shot at me.

That’s perspective. That’s the view from above.

(To learn more secrets to grit — from a Navy SEAL, click here.)

So you don’t let failure break your spirit. But how do you stay inspired to keep after your goals once you’ve been knocked down?

Ask: “What would Batman do?”

Fine, fine, the Stoics never talked about Batman. But they might as well have. They did think a very important ritual was “Contemplation of the Sage.”

The Sage is to Stoicism what becoming a Buddha is to Buddhism. You’ve mastered the art. You’ve beaten the final level of the video game.

Plain and simple, when you find yourself lacking strength, the Stoics felt you needed a role model. Someone to look up to, and someone to be inspired by. Thinking about that person (even if they happen to be a fictional character who defends Gotham City) can give you guidance and fortitude. In the words of Seneca:

Choose someone whose way of life as well as words, and whose very face as mirroring the character that lies behind it, have won your approval. Be always pointing him out to yourself either as your guardian or as your model. There is a need, in my view, for someone as a standard against which our characters can measure themselves. Without a ruler to do it against you won’t make the crooked straight.

How do you choose your role model? Ask yourself who you admire. Who you want to be.

From Build Your Resilience: Teach Yourself How to Survive and Thrive in Any Situation:

Which qualities do you most admire in others? What sort of person, ultimately, do you want to be in life? If this is our standard then, in a sense, the concept of ‘resilience’ must be subordinate to it. ‘Resilience’ refers to your ability to remain committed to valued living, a life emulating your ideal, even in the face of adversity, and to re-commit to your values, getting back on course after a setback has led you temporarily astray.

And, for the record, this isn’t just a bunch of inspirational hooey from 2000 years ago. Research shows thinking about people you admire can help you make better decisions.

Brian Wansink teaches food psychology at Cornell University. Before kids ate a meal, he asked them to consider, “What would Batman eat?” That one question made them much more likely to pick apple slices over french fries for lunch. What about with adults? Same principle held true.

Your heroes are strong. And they can make you strong too if you think about them when times are tough.

(To learn more lifehacks from a variety of ancient thinkers, click here.)

Alright, we’ve learned a bunch from the Stoics. Let’s round it all up and find out the surprising way we can also get happier as we get mentally stronger…

Sum up

Here are the four Stoic rituals that can make you mentally stronger:

  • Ask, “What’s the worst that could happen?”: You won’t be surprised and you’ll be better prepared. And that’s a prescription for perseverance.
  • Use a “reserve clause”: Fate permitting, it will help you persist after disappointment. (If not, it’s out of my control.)
  • Take the “view from above”: Put things in perspective. Whatever occurred, it’s probably not the worst thing that has ever happened. (And if people shot at you at your last job, it definitely isn’t.)
  • Ask, “What would Batman do?”: Or Wonder Woman. Heroes really do guide our behavior and give us strength.

Some people might still be a little scared to seriously think about “What’s the worst that can happen?” To be fair, “the worst” can be pretty bad at times. And even the Stoics knew thinking about this was not fun.

But oddly enough, there’s a very nice side-effect to considering awfulness: it can actually make you happier. Yes, happier.

You may have heard of a principle called “the hedonic treadmill.” It’s one of the most depressing findings in happiness research. It says that we eventually adapt to whatever good things happen to us. You get a raise… and then you take it for granted. New car? You’ll take that for granted eventually, too.

But when we imagine losing the things we’ve taken for granted, studies show the effect temporarily reverses — we become grateful. And happier:

The authors hypothesized that thinking about the absence of a positive event from one’s life would improve affective states more than thinking about the presence of a positive event but that people would not predict this when making affective forecasts… As predicted, people in the former condition reported more positive affective states.

You don’t appreciate air conditioning until you step out into 100 degree weather. So don’t be afraid to think about the worst. Much like the “view from above” it helps you put things into perspective.

And try using the phrase “fate permitting” when you’re facing a challenge. Seriously, give it shot. It’s worked for 2000 years. After all…

What’s the worst that could happen?

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This article originally appeared at Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

This article 4 rituals that will make you mentally strong appeared first on Ladders.

7 working moms on what it’s like to pump breast milk at the office

Career-Line - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 11:00

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby, then comes . . . the breast pump. Even as families take on more shapes and forms, many employers still don’t offer comfortable, beneficial, and respectful solutions for working women to pump their breast milk at the office.

Depending on milk production, most new moms can expect to pump for 30 minutes to an hour at least twice a day during traditional office hours. While federal law currently does not require companies to provide breaks for nursing mothers, they may be required by state law, and the Department of Labor encourages employers to provide these breaks.

Between scheduling meetings, filing reports, completing projects, and filtering emails, those precious moments to escape can offer uninterrupted quiet to think clearly or relax from the rollercoaster of emotions and changes that are happening in your body, mind, and life. But when you’re shoved into a closet, asked to pump in your car, or stuck in a meeting until your breasts are painful, your stress level will reach an even higher high.

Here, moms who pumped on the job share their good and bad experiences, as well as offer their best advice to employers and working mothers.

“I used my boss’s office”

When Lisa Munjack, now the president of her new company, Munjack Marketing, was a new mom, she worked at a newspaper in New York. At the time, the company didn’t offer many places for her to pump. Her cubicle had no door and a window that faced the street.

Her solution? She asked her boss to use his private corner office. The move didn’t come without blunders, though.

“If you’ve ever breastfed, you know how urgent it can be to express milk,” she said. “If you don’t, then we’re talking leakage. So I’d run in with my breast pump and tell him he had to clear out quickly. He was an older man, so he’d always be embarrassed but would gather up whatever he was working on and go to my desk.”

A better option would be for employers to offer a small, private, dimly-lit room for this purpose, Munjack said. 

“I was upfront about the needs I would have”

Lisa Wright, now the executive director at Complex Care Texas, said she was pleasantly surprised by the offerings of her company when she had her first child. Not only did the company provide individual rooms for moms who valued privacy, but it also created a larger room where working moms could pump together and store their breast milk in lockers.

While the accommodations for new moms were impressive, scheduling proved to be a more difficult task, Wright said. She said she set an alarm clock and sometimes had to leave meetings to pump. 

Wright’s advice to working moms is to never make excuses for why you’re late or need to exit a meeting earlier, since your body — and your baby’s health — is your top priority in the newborn months.

“You have to ensure you communicate in advance to all meeting organizers if you are going to be late, need to leave early, or will have to step out of the meeting for a bit,” she said. “You have to be confident to speak up.”

“I struggled with getting comfortable without my baby”

When Carrie Aulenbacher, an executive administrator and author, had her first child, she said her company was gracious and patient with her experience.

“I was allowed to lock myself in the upstairs conference room for privacy and space to set up my pump,” she said. “This gave me more room than the bathroom and a desk to set up the pump, plug it in and more. No-one interrupted with calls or messages, and I was able to plan my break about halfway through my workday when I would normally have fed my baby. It was a bit awkward at first, but knowing I had privacy made it easy.”

However, getting the breast milk engines rolling was a taller order. Her body wasn’t responding on demand, and sometimes it took longer, she said.

Her advice? Keep pumping breaks fluid.

“New moms can’t always milk on command like a dairy cow, and it takes a bit of transitioning from work mode to mommy mode to get started,” she said. “Just know that the more leniency and privacy you can give a pumping mom, the more she appreciates it. We already feel guilty for being away from our baby and giving us the trust and space to pump helps lower that anxiety.”

“Sometimes I would have to drive home fast because I was in so much pain”

Sophia Eng, a growth advisor for large enterprise companies, pumped at work from the time her baby was three months until 19 months. During that period, she had to come up with many solutions to make her routine manageable. 

“There were many days that I would take meetings in the mother’s room with the pump in the background,” she said. “And there were days that the rooms were all booked during lunch, and that was the only free time I had. I would have to wait until my meetings were over for the day and would be in so much pain until I could drive quickly home to feed the baby instead of pumping at the office. There were days that I would have to take my hospital grade pump to conferences into San Francisco in heels and pump in the bathrooms.”

Though she made it work, she advised moms to be easier on themselves, especially during this huge lifestyle shift.

“I taped paper over windows for privacy”

When Wei-Shin Lai, now the CEO of SleepPhones, was a full-time doctor, she breastfed her son until he was 2-years-old, which required her to pump up to four times a day. Luckily, another new mom was in the same predicament. They figured out a way to time-manage their pumps — but not without chaos.

“Scheduling the alternating pumping while seeing patients on time was sometimes challenging since we couldn’t control how much time a patient needed,” she said. “We had a vertical window in the door, so we taped paper along the window for privacy. The blinds had to be pulled down when we pumped too, especially in the winter at 5 p.m. when it would be dark outside already. With a box of tissues and the pumping equipment, it was actually pretty smooth.”

She said she hopes other employers will be flexible with new moms and their needs, too, especially since it’s not just a physical approach that’s important, but also an emotional one.

“If we’re relaxed, it’s easier to pump than if we are upset about something,” she said. “So it’s really hard to schedule precisely to the minute. Having a private office with a desk and computer allows us to be productive while we are pumping. A bathroom is no place to make food for a baby — that’s just gross.”

“Management announced I was pumping to the whole team”

Eighteen years ago, Jennine Leale, now the CEO of HRPRO Consulting Series LLC, was working as a human resources manager at another company when she became a mom. She shared an office with an assistant, and her manager thought it would be “inappropriate” to ask the assistant to leave twice a day. Instead, Leale was permitted to use the computer room, a large space with the air conditioning on high to cool the large servers. 

“In amongst the servers, on a folding chair balancing an electric pump on my lap, I pumped and stored my baby’s milk in a portable cooler,” she said. “I was not only uncomfortable but very embarrassed. Then I would commute home, by subway and train with the pump and cooler.”

To make matters worse, her management team announced she would be pumping, calling unwanted attention to a very personal matter, she said.

“Aside from the cold and the embarrassment, my expressing milk lead to comments from others about how I should be home with my baby, that they better not see any issues with my work because of the time I am taking away from work and the resentment from coworkers for being allowed to take ‘breaks,’” she said.

Her advice to employers? Remember the age-old rule: happy employees are better employees.

“I pumped while on the pot”

When Dr. Shruti Tannan, a board-certified plastic surgeon, had her first baby, she went into labor while operating. She finished the case, scrubbed out, and delivered her baby. This multitasking attitude would extend far into her first year of motherhood, too. Worried that her career would suffer if she didn’t return back to work in a timely manner, she was back in action six weeks to the day of her delivery.

She recalled one time she was faced with a tough decision. She hadn’t had time to eat, drink, or pump, and was needed in an emergency surgery.

“I am about to scrub into a 12+ hour case to reconnect the blood vessels, bones, nerves and tendons in this patient’s hand,” she said. “I can pump now, in the bathroom, while I am eating a Cliff bar and well, using the facilities. Or I can wait 12 hours and then basically let my milk supply dwindle from 18 hours of disuse. I chose to pump while on the pot.”

Not all careers — especially those that deal with life-or-death situations — are always conducive to a pumping schedule, so goal-oriented mamas have to make their own time, Tannan said. Even so, she said she hopes conditions improve.

“My hope is that five years later things are different for women,” she said. “I hope women everywhere receive support in the workplace. No one should have to decide between job security or breast milk for their newborn.”

This article 7 working moms on what it’s like to pump breast milk at the office appeared first on Ladders.

3 tips to become well-spoken

Career-Line - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 10:25

Want to become well-spoken? Here are three tips.

1. Make others feel well-heard

We focus too much on what we should say next, formulating witty responses in our heads instead of giving full presence to the person talking. The art of listening is as important as the art of speaking.

When the other person feels truly “heard,” that person will perceive you are caring about what he or she is saying, and this may make you appear more likable and better spoken.

2. Ask questions you genuinely care about or are curious about

These questions are better than ones you think will make you sound smart or clever. People palpate authenticity from the way a question is used: whether it is a genuine question or just a way to make the asker show cleverness or superiority.

Of course, questions can be genuine AND clever, as long as your questions are truthful to your interest and engagement.

3. Practice the technical aspects of your communication

Slow down if you tend to speak very quickly. (Visual thinkers tend to do this.) Pay attention to the meter or pace of your speech. Match the pace of the conversation, unless you want to deliberately slow down or speed up the pace of conversation to improve the overall level of engagement.

Remember: If you slow down the speed of conversation, you will become the focal point in the conversation; thus slowing down is useful for changing the tone/depth or direction of a conversation.

Lower your voice to a calming pitch, but not to the point of becoming distracting and jarring, i.e. un-natural sounding (as an example, Elizabeth Holmes deliberately lowers her voice to the point of being unnatural for me personally, whatever her rationale may be to cultivate vocal authority).

If your voice tends to be low and you want to appear more approachable and friendly, slightly raise the pitch of your voice; imagine puppies or whatever adorable baby creatures that break your face into a big smile.

Reduce filler words: “um, uh, like, just”. Make friends with pauses in between sentences and learn to be comfortable in short moments of silence. I remember reading a research study that suggests filler words are a way for our brains to scan for the right words, thus I’m not arbitrarily saying that filler words are “bad.” However, using the same line of thinking, reducing filler words suggests you have a good command of the vocabulary you want to best communicate your ideas.

Have something to talk about: pay attention to timely topics and pay attention to what other people are paying attention to. It doesn’t all have to come from “you” — I have few original ideas and even fewer insightful ones — but I can share the insight I have observed or read about from others, and I can be a bridge or connector in a conversation. You may want to start by becoming a connector or bridge in a conversation, versus a “driver” of conversations.

This article originally appeared on Quora.

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How to answer the 5 most important interview questions

Career-Line - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 10:23

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, describes his hiring process this way: “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work directly for that person.”

Zuckerberg’s comment illustrates an overlooked, yet fundamental, truth about hiring — people are ultimately looking for someone they want to work with.

This is why companies of all types will ask you the same five questions.

Human nature ensures interviewers return to these questions time and again to find out if you’re someone they want to have down the hall.

Your ability to wow the interviewer and land the job hinges on how well you answer these questions.

Fear not! I’ve provided perfect answers to the five questions you will be asked every time you interview.

“Why are you leaving your current job?”

This question trips a lot of people up because it can get you into a negative mindset or a rant against your present (or previous) job. The interviewer only wants to know that you aren’t leaving purely for money and that you don’t have trouble getting along with people.

Even if you were fired, the key to answering this question is to maintain undying positivity. Put a positive twist on the negatives to show your interviewer that you’ve learned significant and valuable lessons.

If at all possible, show the interviewer that your moving jobs is all about passion and career growth.

“Tell me about yourself”

When interviewers ask this, they don’t want to hear about everything that has happened in your life; the interviewer’s objective is to see how you respond to this vague, yet personal, question.

Most people are quick to gush about their life story or their passions outside work. In the process, people have the tendency to slip up and to reveal things that cast them in a negative light. You don’t want to be too loose with your personal life with someone you just met.

The idea here is to give the most important points of your resume and how these experiences make you a great fit for the job. All you need to do is show the interviewer why you’re the best fit for the position and leave all the other extraneous details out.

“What are your weaknesses?”

It’s difficult to find a genuine weakness that makes you appear competent.

For instance, telling your interviewer that your weakness is working so hard that you have trouble prioritizing your family life is a little too cliché and comes across as disingenuous. But telling your interviewer that you lose interest in mundane tasks (though this may be genuine) makes you an unappealing candidate as well.

To answer this question perfectly, pick weaknesses that are minor and can be developed.

A great tactic is to choose a past weakness that you have an awesome story about fixing. For example, if your weakness is that you have difficulty confronting people with bad news, tell your interviewer that you’ve learned to begin with something positive before moving into the negative. This is a perfect example because the issue is minor (interviewers won’t consider it a deal-breaker), and you’ve shown that you’re someone who can learn and seeks improvement.

“What is your desired salary?”

The unwritten rule when it comes to salary is this: whoever proposes a number first, loses.

When you interview, you should never feel pressured to answer this question. Simply let your interviewer know that the most important thing to you is how well you fit the position.

Say something simple like, “Though I know salary is relevant, I don’t make decisions based solely on it, and I would prefer to discuss it later once you know more about me and I know more about the role.”

This shows the interviewer that you have put thought into the question and that you would prefer to focus on fit before pay. You’ll have far more leverage in a salary negotiation if you wait until they want to hire you before discussing it.

“Tell me about a time when you ­­­­­­_______”

This question sounds simple, but it’s difficult to clearly and concisely share a meaningful story.

Laszlo Bock, the head of HR at Google, says you should approach this question like this: “Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.”

Bock also says, “Most people in an interview don’t make explicit their thought process behind how or why they did something and, even if they are able to come up with a compelling story, they are unable to explain their thought processes.”

A perfect answer to this question shows what you did and why you did it (i.e., how you think).

Have stories prepared that demonstrate different desirable attributes of yourself. Just don’t forget to explain the thinking that went into your actions as you tell them.

Bringing it all together

Now that you know how to answer the five most important questions in any interview, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. Just don’t forget to prepare and practice your responses until you can share them without your answers sounding rehearsed.

Travis Bradberry is the coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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Here’s why you shouldn’t use smiley face emojis in work emails

Career-Line - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 15:41

The next time you want to drop a smiley face emoji into a work email, it might be wise to hold back — especially if the sender is someone you haven’t met yet.

A recent, three-experiment study by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of Negev, Amsterdam University and University of Haifa revealed that unlike smiles in real life, smiley emojis lessen “perceptions of competence” and don’t elevate “perceptions of warmth.” Overall, 549 people from 29 countries took part in the research, which was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

Citing research, the authors defined “warmth” as “traits that reflect a person’s perceived social intentions, such as trustworthiness, sincerity, kindness, and friendliness.” They defined “competence” as “traits that reflect a person’s capacity to pursue goals and intentions, such as efficacy, skill, confidence, and intelligence,” also citing research.

Sending a smiley emoji in an email might just make someone think you are less capable, which could affect the information they share with you and your working relationship, the study found.

Why you should keep your fingers off the smiley emojis

Of all the findings, here are some that stood out.

In the first study (which also featured an initial “pilot study” to gather data), participants assumed they were doing “a project” by creating a “presentation for students” looking to take class overseas, with three people from other nations.

They were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions: a picture with a smiling face, a picture with a neutral face, a message with smileys, and a message without them.

Faces with smiles made people more frequently judge them as more “warm” and able in comparison to neutral ones. But smiles in messages only made people think they were warmer by a small amount and made them think they were much less able, in comparison to a text-only message.

In the second study, people read an email message from someone they would hypothetically be working with and judged their competence and warmth. They had to write a response back and pick what they thought they thought the sender’s gender was.

Smiley emojis were found to have a bad impact on how the participants judged ability and none on warmth. In “the smiley condition,” participants thought the sender was a woman more often than a man, but it didn’t have an impact on what people thought of them.

Formality played a role in the third study. Participants read an email message hypothetically sent by a new hire to an administrative assistant who did not know the employee. The message was a query “about a staff meeting (formal condition) or a social gathering (informal condition).” The study adds that the email featured two smileys or none at all. Participants judged the person’s warmth and ability, and how fitting the message was.

The researchers found that smileys worked against the judgment of ability and didn’t influence how warm participants thought the sender was under the formal condition. But under informal terms, the sender was seen as more warm and what people thought about the person’s ability was not affected, although the research adds that “these effects were partially mediated by perceptions of (in)appropriateness.”

Why your relationship to the sender is important

No matter who you are, you might not want to include a smiley in a work email to someone you haven’t met — depending on the nature of the interaction.

Dr. Ella Glikson, a post-doctorate fellow at BGU’s Department of Management in the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management, commented on the findings in a statement:

People tend to assume that a smiley is a virtual smile, but the findings of this study show that in the case of the workplace, at least as far as initial “encounters” are concerned, this is incorrect…For now, at least, a smiley can only replace a smile when you already know the other person. In initial interactions, it is better to avoid using smileys, regardless of age or gender.

Keep this in mind for your next work email

It’s clear the rules of emoji etiquette are still being formed. In another study, smiley-face emojis were reportedly “found to be largely acceptable by respondents.” The same research says to steer clear of emojis with hearts, memes, and typos.

When in doubt about how to write an email message clearly and effectively, model it after Steve Jobs– he was known to use a simple layout, no “filler words,” and include one clear purpose.

Or take a page out of the smiley emoji study, which says: “a smiley is not a smile.”

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1 in 5 Americans work in hostile environments, survey finds

Career-Line - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 13:10

According to the new American Working Conditions Survey, many employees in the U.S. don’t feel safe or comfortable in their workplaces.

Created by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, Los Angeles, the report surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. workers to help policymakers understand what’s it like to be an American employee today. What they found is that many of us are stressed and under a variety of external pressures that take a toll.

1 in 5 employees have a hostile workplace

One in five employees surveyed said they were exposed to a “hostile or threatening social environment at work,” a number the researchers called “disturbingly high.” More than half of employees said they faced “unpleasant and potentially hazardous” conditions. But not all employees are being exposed to these conditions at the same rate.

Researchers found that your likeliness to get harassed split along age, gender, and education lines. Younger women were more likely to experience “unwanted sexual attention” at work, while younger men without a college degree were more likely to face “verbal abuse and humiliating behavior.”

Perhaps young women recognize these predatory dangers. A separate poll by Morning Consult in partnership with the New York Times found that younger women policed how they interacted with men more than older women did at work. For that poll, self-policing meant younger women would be more likely to turn down off-hours drinking with male co-workers.

Taxing demands at work

When your boss needs that report yesterday, deadlines can be emotionally exhausting to meet. Two-thirds of Americans said they worked tight deadlines, and one in four said that they had too little time to do their job.

When you lack the time to complete the job on the clock, it carries over into your personal life. Half of the employees surveyed said they do work in their free time to complete work demands.

Getting flexibility at work differed depending on gender, youth, and degrees. Women reported experiencing more difficulty than men in getting time off work to take care of family matters, younger employees had a harder time getting a flexible schedule than older ones, and workers with a college degree said they got more schedule flexibility than those without that degree.

There was one bright spot, however. Four out of five workers said they found their work meaningful in some way, whether that meant feeling satisfied or useful or experiencing some sense of personal accomplishment.

But overall, what this report shows is that when it comes to the American workplace, there’s still a ways to go before it’s a safe environment for all.

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How to control what you see in your Facebook feed

Career-Line - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 12:19

Step one: log into Facebook. Step two: get bombarded by posts from family, friends, news outlets, and everything in between.

It’s clear that what you see on your Facebook feed can influence the way you see the world — and even your happiness. Research by Pew Research Center in 2016 showed that 66% of Facebook users receive news on the platform.

While it’s important to understand what’s going on in the world and how others are affected, there are ways to take control of the constant stream of new information just waiting to be consumed by users like you.

What we know about the Facebook algorithm

No one outside the company is certain about how the Facebook algorithm works, Will Oremus writes in a Slate article. But we do know that it checks and compiles what our friends have posted over the last week, updates from all the pages we’ve liked, and more, he writes.

He continues:

For the average Facebook user, that’s more than 1,500 posts. If you have several hundred friends, it could be as many as 10,000. Then, according to a closely guarded and constantly shifting formula, Facebook’s news feed algorithm ranks them all, in what it believes to be the precise order of how likely you are to find each post worthwhile. Most users will only ever see the top few hundred.

Facebook’s website says users see posts based on their connections and what they do on the site so that they can see more posts that interest them by the friends they “interact with the most.” It adds that the post’s type and the number of comments can make it “more likely” for a post to be in your News Feed.

Facebook “frequently tweaks its computer code,”Fortune reported in a June story about more adjustments to its News Feed algorithm. Facebook has also reportedly tried to improve its feed by paying people to answer questions and write about their emotions toward stories, according to a Backchannel story in 2015.

So how do you get what you want out of your feed?

How to filter what you do and don’t see

Facebook says you have the option to adjust your settings to make changes.

To see your News Feed settings, go to Facebook and click on the down arrow symbol on the top right of the screen, then click on “News Feed Preferences.”

From there, you can unfollow a person, group, or page to “hide” its content — once at the page or profile, scroll over “Following,” and click “Unfollow” (for a profile) or “Unfollow this Page.” You won’t see any content in your feed from sources you “unfollow.”

You can also “hide” individual pieces of material to make them disappear from your News Feed by clicking the down arrow symbol and hitting “Hide.” You will see less from the source once you hit “See less from [name].”

Users can also report content by clicking “Report” by the material in various ways, depending on the type.

You can customize which posts appear at the top without the source knowing (30 people or pages at most, unranked). When on a profile of page, hit “follow” by the cover photo if you don’t do so currently, then scroll over “liked” or “following” near the same image, and hit “see first.” Users can also do this from their News Feed preferences.

The website further points out that this is not the same as “close friends” — you can choose to make people “close friends” and see every time they post something new.

If you’ve hidden or “unfollowed” someone or something on Facebook but now changed your mind about seeing fewer of their contributions or not wanting to see them at all, what can you do?

Just follow them again, and they won’t even know about it— this can be done on Pages, people’s profiles and from News Feed Preferences.

It’s up to you to take control

It’s clear that Facebook has the capacity to both educate and distract, but you can make an effort to see material from sources you’re interested in more often by taking these few easy steps.

This article How to control what you see in your Facebook feed appeared first on Ladders.

Why we should get rid of generational labels in the workplace

Career-Line - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:11

Many people seem determined to group all millennials into a single box, which seems a little unimaginative at best, considering demographers can’t even unilaterally agree on what exactly constitutes a millennial.

Whatever you call this group, there’s no denying the fact that millennials have a tremendous effect on the way we all work — but then again, so do the generations that came before and after. The real challenge is to find meaningful lessons beyond descriptors based on age.

Here’s why generational labels can cause problems in the workplace and how we should think about age at work instead.

Labels are open for misinterpretation

“People have long lumped members of generations together,” said Phyllis Weiss Haserot, president of Practice Development Counsel, who specializes in intergenerational work relationships. “It makes for good media stories with a lot of misinterpretations and misunderstanding.”

A fascinating article on NPR on the naming of generations credits historian William Strauss and his co-author the late Neil Howe for naming and referencing the group starting with those who graduated high school in 2000 in their books The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069 and Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation.

“One problem with this (in addition to the fact that everyone is an individual) is that the older and younger halves of each generation are different from each other because of different formative economic, political, social and cultural influences,” Haserot said.

This means you might have micro-groups within groups. Some younger Boomers even created their own name, “Generation Jones” (a reference to the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”), Haserot said.

They are self-fulfilling

“If you assume millennials have no work ethic, you won’t give them meaningful responsibilities and hence you’ll never be impressed by any one individual, thus confirming the label,” said Wes Higbee, President, Full City Tech Co.

How can we go beyond labels on a daily basis? Higbee said he evaluates his own biases.

“I might assume that millennials don’t take notes and don’t listen well in meetings, and so I spend half an hour typing up notes after every meeting,” he said. “Maybe the reality is I have a few lackadaisical employees, and I can work with them to be more responsible — or just get rid of them —instead of labeling all young people as lazy and wasting hours every week typing up notes.”  

They ignore individual differences 

Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit global leadership training and development organization, refers to those born since 1990 as “Generation iY” and describes them as having a plugged-in lifestyle and wanting immediate gratification. 

He said that the generations who came before can help teach them how to build “a healthy sense of interdependence—not a narcissistic independence or needy co-dependence.”

“Help them to develop personal values,” he said. “They must see themselves as individuals who possess a set of values, but who collaborate with other generations.”

That may include helping them to make and keep short-term commitments, working with them to simplify their lives beyond the pursuit of perfection, and enabling them to set realistic goals.

“You will find they often possess lofty dreams, and they need help turning them into bite-size objectives with deadlines,” he said. “Don’t rain on their parade—just help them take realistic steps, one at a time, toward their target. Encourage them to set short-term goals that are achievable and keep momentum toward the long-term goal.”

They isolate employees

Helene Cruz, Director of Career Counseling at Pace University Career Services, said she is proud that her team is multi-generational.

“We have established a culture that cultivates learning from one another across seven generations,” she said. “We appreciate our millennial colleagues and rely on the fact that they are technically-savvy and creative, ready to bring new ideas to the table and not afraid to embark on new initiatives.”

All employees, no matter their age, contribute to the organization, Cruz said. 

“We glean a tremendous amount of insight from our millennial teammates because they are closer in age to the students and can more fully express the student perspective/experience,” she said. “In turn, because employer representatives are also our clients, many Baby Boomers and Gen X staff have previously worked in various industries, have hired employees, and therefore can speak to the needs of the employers, which we share with our millennial teammates.”   

The focus should not be on how generations differ, but on how they can work together, Cruz said.

“Establish environments where they interact with multiple generations,” she said. “Highlight the strengths of people at different ages in life, and how each person adds value. Find or create situations where different generations can interact meaningfully.”

This article Why we should get rid of generational labels in the workplace appeared first on Ladders.

The worst career advice, according to 6 life coaches

Career-Line - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 08:00

Ask anyone about your haircut, and they might shrug and say it looks “fine.” But ask for career advice? You’re likely to get an earful of trite sayings, blanket, sweeping statements and outdated, traditional work tactics that won’t serve you well if you’re trying to advance.

While executive advisors can definitely cater to your specific industry and goals, life coaches offer a varied perspective. Because their purpose is to analyze your whole life — not just your 9-to-5 routine — they offer a more holistic viewpoint. They often motivate their clients to look past the stale beliefs they’ve maintained over decades, leftover from parents and early mentors, to accept what really speaks to their souls.

Here, they share the worst pieces of career advice they’ve heard and offer better suggestions.

Bad advice: “Stay at a job you hate”

While, sure, everyone needs a paycheck to maintain their lifestyle, when money is the only motivation behind your work, it might feel uninspiring.

Life coach John Moore explains that when employees look at their job as a means to an end, instead of a place where their creativity, talents, and happiness can flourish, the feeling of being “stuck” become inevitable. He said this mindset is “Puritan” and capitalizes on the idea that work isn’t supposed to be fun.

Good advice: “Seek a job that gives you more”

Would you settle for a partner who was there for you only 50% of the time? Or one that requires your attention constantly, without giving you anything in return? Probably not — so why accept the same treatment from your employer?

“Being in a job you hate, or that you’re disengaged with, is taxing on your mind and body,” Moore said. “There’s no way you can do your best work and you’re on a non-stop train to Burnout Town. Have a conversation with your employer and be honest, you’re unhappy and you feel like you’re not able to serve the company like you’d expect. You can end things on good terms, or maybe change them, and take away lessons learned.”

Bad advice: “You can only succeed if you’re perfect”

For life coach Elaine Cohen, the worst advice she’s ever received was directed toward her, from another coach. Instead of being encouraging of her budding career, this particular “mentor” was demeaning and preyed on an insecurity that nearly everyone shares: the quest to be perfect, but falling short.

“An experienced coach told that I wouldn’t be able to be one unless I resolved all of my small and large problems first,” she said. “This included marriage, parenting, time management, health, wealth, spirituality, parents, home organization and more. The point being, I could only do this job if I was perfect — or close to it.”

Good advice: “Accept your imperfections”

There’s a reason “strengths and weaknesses” are a point of discussion in nearly every single job interview you’ll ever have: knowing what you’re great at, and what you struggle with, represents a deep self-awareness.

“I know that accepting forms of imperfection is a huge part of life, and likewise the desire for perfection is not my goal or the goal,” Cohen said. “My job is to ignite curiosity and behavioral shifts that support a client’s personal discovery, new perspectives and learnings. The challenges we face and imperfections we have are our greatest lessons, offering us the opportunity to grow, gain wisdom and compassion.”

Bad advice: “Just pick a job that pays well”

Ever meet a new pal when you were in college who happily shared their passion for writing or music, only to reveal they were studying business because their parents wanted them to be set up for success? Unfortunately, many people never outgrow that way of thinking, according to women’s life and success coach, Alionka, Polanco.

She said many people still subscribe to the linear path of: “Just do something that pays a lot of money, you can have fun on the weekends and when you retire.” This is a self-limiting way of thinking because working and fulfillment aren’t mutually exclusive, she said.

Good advice: “Imagine yourself retiring”

This doesn’t mean you should race full-speed to the finish line, but rather, when developing your career path, challenge yourself to dream about your legacy, Polanco said.

“What are you known for? What was your career about? What does your income look like? What does your home life look like? What’s the impact you’ve had in the world?,” she said. “Once you’ve established your hopes, find an example of someone who has achieved what you want to do, and look at what they were doing when they were your age. Start there. Success leaves clues if we’re willing to look for them!”

Bad advice: “Just work hard, be patient, and it will all work itself out”

When you belt it out like Moana and think about how far you’ll go — to that corner office or the seaside co-working space that’s a dream come true — you might rely on the universe to guide you. Life coach Meiyoko Taylor said while it’s a nice idea, those who are truly successful put a tremendous amount of effort into every step to the top of the ladder and aren’t exactly patient about their ascent. That work isn’t just logging hours; it also involves networking, advancing education, and more.

“This approach never works because it creates the illusion that opportunity or good fortune is just going to fall right in your lap,” she said. “Working hard does not guarantee that you will advance in your career. In fact, I know many people that work incredibly hard and are unhappy because their careers have not progressed to the level of success they desire. They really get stuck with the idea that things are going to change on their own one day.”

Good advice: “You’re never too senior to network”

Even if you’ve reached the c-level, staying connected to your peers and potential employers should always fall high on your priorities.

“Your advancement in any profession is based on building a strong network of influencers in your industry, gaining the necessary skills needed to perform at the highest level, and then taking action which will then create opportunity,” Taylor said. “Become the expert in your field, build key relationships with centers of influence, and look for the opportunity that will take your career to the next level. This places you in a much better position to see consistent progress in your career and to ultimately become the leader in your industry.”

Bad advice: “Quit your job and follow your passion”

Globe-trotting in search of adventures and stories, all while earning an income, is a tempting fantasy. So is the thought of opening your own coffee shop by the ocean and writing the next best-seller.

But without the hard work to pull these dreams off, letting go of your stable 9-to-5 job is a poor choice, life coach Gabrielle Loehr said. Unfortunately, she said, “not everyone’s passion can turn into a paying job and your bills are not going to pay themselves.”

Good advice: “Get a side hustle”

Working long past your full-time gig might feel overwhelming, but to really test the waters of your passion, a side hustle will prepare you for the reality of letting go of your comfort zone.

“Side hustles genuinely give you an opportunity to follow your passion by figuring out what works in the market and what doesn’t, without risking your ability to pay your bills,” Loehr said. “Having a job while working on your passion on the side also gives you stability in other ways through job benefits, such as vacation time, 401K’s, and health insurance. Losing that safety net can be rough, and approaching your passion as a side hustle gives you the opportunity to work out the kinks and really focus your product or service without the desperation that comes with needing to make money ASAP.”

Bad advice: “Fake it until you make it”

Some anxiety-invoking moments in life require a little bit of fibbing before you get used to them. But when it comes to your career, faking anything is a no-no, life coach Tim Toterh said.

“It seems like an optimistic, forward-thinking personal branding strategy, but most people can see the see past the posturing,” he said. “It takes a lot of emotional energy to don a false persona day after day. Plus, you run the risk of being called out for your lack of skills.”

Good advice: “Learn it, earn it”

Instead of trying to raise through the roles you want to have as quickly as possible, Toterh encourages clients to strive for authenticity and congruency.

“Try to have little to no gap between who you are when ‘on stage’ at work and those moments when no one is watching,” he said. “People gravitate toward transparency and are inspired by truth so save the stress and let them see your actual skill set as it continuously develops and your style.”

This article The worst career advice, according to 6 life coaches appeared first on Ladders.

Worried about taking time off? Here’s what to do.

Career-Line - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 07:00

Paid vacations can be tricky. They give employees a much-needed respite from the grind, yet lately many are hesitant to utilize them to their full extent. According to a recent survey conducted by GfK in conjunction with Project Time Off, while there has been a slight uptick in recent years, 54% of full-time employees still ended 2016 with unused paid time off.

Millennials, who job hop more regularly and thus know how easy it can be to be replaced, are even less likely to take vacations. A whopping 43% of “work martyrs”, aka people who sacrifice time off to keep working, are millennials.

Imagine you started a job a couple months ago and are finally getting into the groove of things, but you have a vacation coming up that was planned a year ago. You might have told your boss about it when you first came on board, but the idea of abandoning your post so early in your stint there keeps you up at night.

What if your associate takes over your responsibilities and does a better job? Will they promote her and get rid of you? How can you prove to them that you’re indispensable?

Your worries may be somewhat irrational, but that likely won’t stop them from plaguing you even when you’re supposed to be relaxing and recharging. So what can you do to assuage your fears? 

Here are four steps to help you prepare for a vacation so you can actually enjoy it. 

1. Start a tally of your work contributions

If you think you might be replaceable, the best way to show your boss (and yourself) that you’re not is a list of all the things you’ve done for the company. Whether it’s projects you’ve completed, successes you’ve instigated, or simply great ideas you’ve put out there that made an impact, write them down and keep them handy.

You don’t need to send the list to your boss like a self-evaluation or progress report — they’re just a good reminder that your contributions are unique and worth remembering. 

2. Make sure your work is covered in your absence

This is a pretty simple consideration, but it often seems as if few employees think to do it. While you might not need to find a formal replacement to do your job in your absence, it’s always a good idea to make sure those who work in your department know you’ll be gone, and that they’re comfortable taking on some of your responsibilities in need be.

By taking that step, you’ll be helping out your manager and higher-ups who would have had to do that delegating. Not only does it show you’re thinking of other people’s time; it also highlights your care about the company as a whole. It shows you recognize that your role is part of a larger system that wouldn’t run as well without it.

3. Create an “in case of” manual for sudden situations

If something unplanned should occur in your absence that doesn’t fall into your normal, day-to-day tasks, it’s helpful to have a guide for someone who might have to step into your job to solve the problem. Things that could arise might be anything from a client needing specific information that only you know to finding figures on a past project that aren’t recorded in a commonly known place.

While you can’t plan for every out-of-the-blue need, you can try and put all that information together and make sure it’s accessible for when those situations arise.

4. Talk to your boss about your concerns

If you’re still feeling anxious even after you’ve done everything you can to prepare to take time off, it might be a good idea to have a matter-of-fact conversation with your manager.

Tell your boss what’s making you nervous about leaving, and together the two of you can make sure all your bases are covered. At the very least, if your boss has already approved your vacation, they will likely give you the encouragement you need to feel secure in stepping away.

Then, finally, you can take a deep, relaxing breath, put up your “out of office” automatic email reply, and let work go for a while.

This article Worried about taking time off? Here’s what to do. appeared first on Ladders.

4 things to do when you catch a liar

Career-Line - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 06:00

It’s a hard fact to accept, but your friends and coworkers lie to you regularly. The real challenge lies in how you respond once you catch someone in the act.

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Even though most people lie a lot—roughly two to three times during a ten-minute conversation, studies show—you don’t catch them nearly as often as you might think. Researchers from the University of California analyzed the results of 253 studies and found that we only spot about half the lies we’re told (53% to be exact). In other words, we’re about as likely to identify a lie as we are to win a coin toss.

The scary thing is that people who are trained in detecting deception — judges, customs agents, law enforcement officers, and even CIA agents — don’t fare much better. They can only spot a lie about 60% of the time.

When you do catch someone lying to you, it’s usually a real whopper. These are the kinds of lies that are so insulting to be the recipient that it’s hard to think straight. In these moments, you want to keep the conversation constructive, without letting the liar off the hook, which is a difficult thing to pull off.

And what about the times when you have a nagging sense that you’re being lied to but aren’t certain and don’t want to come across as paranoid or accusatory? While too much skepticism is never healthy, a small dose can be a very good thing, especially since we’re so poor at recognizing lies.

The question always becomes, what do you do with a lie? If you think someone is lying to you, do you call them on it? Do you tell someone else? Or do you just go along to get along?

There are actually several things you can do, and the right one, or the right combination, depends on the situation.

First, make certain you understand the rules

Before you decide what course of action to take, check the employee handbook and consider the recent history of similar situations. If you’re going to call someone out, you need to know what you’re getting yourself and the liar into.

Know the severity of the consequences for lying, and make certain you follow proper protocol for addressing it, or the entire thing could backfire on you.

Option #1: Do nothing

Nobody likes being lied to, and the natural reaction is to call the liar out, but that’s not always the smartest thing to do, especially at work. Before you do anything, ask yourself, ‘What’s at stake besides my ego?’ Carefully weigh the pros and cons before you take action.

Consider who, if anyone, should know about the lie and the implications it has for the company. Sometimes, the animosity you avoid by staying silent is worth more than the satisfaction you receive from speaking out. Other times, the lie is serious enough that people have to know.

Option #2: Deflect with humor

Some lies are too big to ignore completely, yet too small to make a big deal out of. When this happens, you can always make a joke of it. Playful comments that acknowledge the lie will usually do the trick. Whether it’s “Hey, I think I just saw your nose grow a little bit” or “I need to get my prescription checked.

When I looked at the scorecard, it said you shot 112,” this strategy gives the liar a chance to admit their slip-up without fear of reprisal. The key to making this tactic work is to give the impression that the other person was kidding around or intentionally exaggerating and never expected to be believed.

Option #3: Play dumb

Another way to let someone save face — and this is particularly appropriate for group settings — is to play dumb. Pretend you suddenly suffered a memory lapse or are confused about the facts. Ask lots of follow-up questions.

The more details you request, the more likely it is that the truth will come out. Drawing it out gives the liar a chance to admit that they “misspoke” and correct themselves without being called a liar.

Option #4: Call them on it

In situations where doing nothing isn’t a good option, you can always call the liar out. You just need to think carefully about the best way to do this, and impulsively bashing them is never a smart move. You may choose to have a conversation with the liar in private or with others whom the lie affects.

In either case, it’s important you have evidence that backs up your claim, or you very well may be called a liar yourself. Just make certain you are honest and direct with the person who lied. Don’t go to others with the lie when you know it’s better handled privately between you and the liar.

There are many times when reporting a lie is the right thing to do, both ethically and practically. Sometimes, not reporting a lie can cost you your job. However, there are a few things you need to think about before you take that step. First, question your motives.

Are you thinking of telling someone about the lie out of concern that either another employee or the company could be harmed, or are you just mad? If it’s the latter, you run the risk of making yourself look petty; if it’s the former, stick to the facts. Don’t offer any hypotheses about why the person may be lying because that’s just supposition on your part. Stick to what the person said, what the truth is, and any proof you have collected.

Not optional: Protect yourself

Whether you decide to call a lie or to let it go, once you know you’re dealing with a liar, it’s critical to take steps to protect yourself. One way to do that is to have a witness attest to what the liar said. Failing this, interact with the liar via email or text, both of which create a written record. Though if you’re dealing with a particularly savvy liar, they’re not going to commit to anything in writing.

In that case, document the conversation yourself: who, what, when, where, etc., and cap it off by sending your lying colleague an e-mail summarizing the conversation. That’s not as good as having proof in the other person’s words, but at least you’ll be able to make the argument that your colleague had the opportunity to correct you.

Bringing it all together

Some people tell infrequent lies to make themselves look good or to protect themselves. Others are pros. They’ve been doing it their whole careers, they’re good at it, and they’ve learned how to avoid getting caught. That’s why there’s no single solution that works in every situation. The best thing to do is to carefully consider your options, thinking through the pros and cons of each course of action.

Travis Bradberry is the coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

This article 4 things to do when you catch a liar appeared first on Ladders.

This is where robots will be most likely to take your job

Career-Line - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 16:27

The robot takeover is already here.

A 2017 paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research found that every industrial robot that gets introduced into the U.S. labor market takes away an estimated five human jobs. Wages can drop as much as 25 cents when a robot is introduced into the workforce, according to the report.

In other words, robots could disrupt entire industries. Now, it’s just a matter of where.

The most robots exist in Michigan

Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program mapped out where industrial robots live using sales data from the International Federation of Robots. Your anxiety about having your job taken by robots may depend on where you live, according to their findings.

Researchers found that robots will cluster in the Midwest and the upper South, regions that house the heart of the nation’s automobile industry and employ almost half of all industrial robots. Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana are the top three states with the highest concentration of industrial robots.

These aren’t the artificial intelligence robots that Elon Musk has warned are “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” This is a separate, but related, topic.

The researchers define the industrial robots as “automatically controlled, reprogrammable machines,” robots that can paint cars, package things, and burn welds as humans once exclusively did. But robots have an advantage over humans. Unlike a human worker at these factories, an industrial bot doesn’t complain or tire.

Republican states have more robots than Democratic states

The study links the places where you can find a robot to the places where you can find the highest concentrations of people anxious about automation.

“Anxiety about robots — like their physical distribution — will also likely have its own geography,” the study predicts.

Although the researchers explicitly state that robots did not determine the 2016 U.S. election, they found it “telling” that there were twice as many robots in states that voted for Donald Trump than for Hillary Clinton.

“The red-state robot concentration does suggest that to the extent industrial automation brings difficult labor market transitions and anxiety, it will visit those difficulties most heavily on a particular swath of red-leaning America—specifically, the most robot-exposed locations in the industrial Midwest,” the study states.

Automation is going to affect us all in different ways depending on a variety of factors. What this study shows is that we have one more variable to worry about: automation will impact us not only socially, economically, but geographically, too.

This article This is where robots will be most likely to take your job appeared first on Ladders.

These interview questions make it harder for certain job candidates to succeed

Career-Line - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 14:41

Certain interview questions don’t set up all job candidates for the same chances of success.

Here some of the things recruiters should stop asking applicants if they want to level the playing field.

“Tell me about a time when . . .”

Framing a question in this way may give certain interviewees a leg up — but others may slip through the cracks because they don’t have much to share.

Adam Grant points out why “behavioral questions” like “tell me about a time when . . .” are problematic in an August 2017 post on “Wondering,” a monthly feature in Granted. He argues that they’re biased toward people with “richer” work experience.

Grant writes about the pitfalls in a post:

(a) They’re unfair—they give an advantage to candidates with richer experience. Ask a bunch of applicants how they handled a serious conflict with a colleague, and odds are you’ll get a better answer from the one who happened to face the biggest conflict.

He also goes on to add that these questions don’t pertain to a candidate’s current position or company, are about what happened “in the past,” not what’s ahead, and that “they’re too easy to game.”

Instead, citing research, Grant recommends posing “situational questions,” such as “what would you do if…” because interviewers can predict the person’s “best performance” and evaluate their “leadership and interpersonal skills.”

“What is the most interesting technology product on the market today?”

Natalie Johnson features this question as an example of bias in a HuffPost article. She argues that assessing the answer “can be highly subjective,” even though it’s used to gauge if applicants know about their field.

Here’s one of the questions Johnson suggests asking instead in order to assess the responses objectively and to see how much the applicant understands and is involved in their line of work:

Tell me about a new innovation/new piece of research/new technology you’ve recently learned about and/or have started using. How did you hear about it? How has it affected your work?

“What is your biggest weakness?”

Asking a question about weakness isn’t always the strongest tactic when face-to-face with candidates.

Alison Green writes about this question in an article for U.S. News & World Report, mentioning that it is “a cliché at this point” since almost all applicants have a “canned” response.

She adds:

It rarely elicits useful information, and what’s more, a good interviewer will be able to make her own judgments about a candidate’s weakness. It’s hardly helpful to hear “I work too much,” “I’m a perfectionist,” or the other disingenuous responses candidates are taught to give.

Off-limits: illegal interview questions

Keep in mind that just because you can technically ask someone something, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

It’s worth pointing out that it’s reportedly illegal to ask applicants certain questions — including ones about religious holidays — during an interview.

Asking about salary history has also made headlines recently. Employers in New York are losing their ability to ask candidates about their salary history with a law that goes into effect this October, and more than 20 states are deliberating enacting similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Try these tips instead

Instead, here are some tips on asking effective questions during interviews, according to the Harvard Business Review.

The article suggests steering clear of questions that are “easy-to-practice,” citing the classic examples of “what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” and “what’s your dream job?” alongside other queries.

It also says to see how well candidates can “solve a problem,” and to “avoid duplication” by not picking questions about things that were detailed in a phone interview or their resume.

This article These interview questions make it harder for certain job candidates to succeed appeared first on Ladders.

One popular idea about how to fix Silicon Valley harassment

Career-Line - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 13:44

Another day in tech, another allegation of harassment. Social Finance became the latest startup accused of sexually harassing its female employees after a lawsuit was filed on Friday.

In the suit, former SoFi employee Brandon Charles said that he had witnessed managers using “lewd, sexualized gestures” and inserting “explicit sexual innuendo and statements into normal workplace communications.” After Charles brought his concerns to managers, the suit states that he was fired and that the company said his claims were “devoid of merit.”

Charles’ lawyer told The New York Times that this is only the first case being brought against SoFi; he expects to file a broader lawsuit with class-action status next week.

Gender discrimination allegations are a persistent problem for Silicon Valley companies. At Uber, Susan Fowler, a former engineer at the ride-share start-up, alleged sexual harassment and a human resources department that ignored these claims. Fowler’s allegations were used in an internal Uber investigation that led to dozens being fired. Since Fowler’s story gained national attention, many notable female engineers, entrepreneurs and coders have come forward with their own stories of workplace sexism in tech.

Most recently, Google fired engineer James Damore, the author of a controversial memo on the company’s diversity initiatives. Damore told news outlets he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.”

One potential solution? Class-action lawsuits.

If you’re the victim of workplace sexual harassment, and you’ve have exhausted your options with managers and human resources departments, some experts suggest that it’s time to go to a higher power: the law.

Class-action lawsuits are an idea that’s been gaining more traction with Silicon Valley cases of gender discrimination.

In a recent opinion editorial for the Times, Anita Hill said that class-action suits should be the top solution for women in tech facing discrimination. Citing successful precedents with Wall Street class-actions suits, Hill said that women don’t have the time to wait for negligent managers and CEOs to be held accountable for their actions. Instead, they should take power into their own hands and sue.

“Women in tech no doubt have hurdles to bringing class-action lawsuits, including the requisite preponderance of statistical evidence,” she wrote. “But this challenge doesn’t mean the suits cannot be brought, or won. This is a route that the women of Silicon Valley should consider, especially if regulation is not an immediate and viable solution.”

Hill would know. In 1991, Hill changed the national conversation around workplace harassment after she accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her. Thomas still got confirmed to the Supreme Court, but Hill’s public testimony before a congressional committee resonated with others, including Ellen Pao.

“I was at a law firm at the time, and we watched her [Hill’s] testimony, and it was just shocking for people who could see she was telling the truth,” Pao told USA Today.

More than two decades after Hill spoke to Congress about her allegations, Pao came forward with a gender discrimination suit against her former employer, venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. She eventually lost the case, but her month-long trial opened a conversation around discrimination in the industry — and even led to Pao headlining an event with Hill about the topic.

Unlike Hill, Pao said she does not encourage litigation as a solution to workplace harassment but maintains that for her, it was the right choice.

“I don’t encourage people to litigate: It is so hard—painful and difficult,” Pao told Marie Claire. “But when you see that you could be the person who impacts the conversation in a meaningful way—or that you could inspire a few people to feel better about themselves, to speak up, to inspire others, to create this broader wave of change— I don’t regret that at all.”

This article One popular idea about how to fix Silicon Valley harassment appeared first on Ladders.

6 tips for quitting your job on a high note

Career-Line - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 12:35

We’ve all had that wanderlust thought: “Man, I really wish I could just quit my job.”

Regardless of whether you were offered a position at another company, you’re leaving to start your own business, or you’re going on a much-needed sabbatical from everyday life, resigning can be tricky business. You might fantasize about a dramatic exit after a difficult conversation with your boss, but if you’re really about to make a move, it’s important to leave on the best note possible.

Take a note from these successful entrepreneurs who took that leap of faith, while still keeping their professional reputation healthy.

1. Make sure you’re ready to leave

No matter how long you mull over the decision or how confident you are with it, leaving a steady paycheck and working environment can give you anxiety.

When Regan Walsh left her job as the head of branding and culture development at a non-profit after four years, she said it was a stressful endeavor. To ease her worries as she transitioned into a full-time executive coach, she created a plan B to make that step off the ledge into the unknown easier to navigate.

“As the frustration and weariness of my job set in, I immediately began evaluating what it would look like for me to step away,” she said. “I had a safety net—savings, a supportive partner and a detailed business plan—while I transitioned to a new career. Feeling a sense of security during this ‘in-between’ period was important to me.” 

Especially if you don’t have another gig to hop to, make a list of everything you need — from the number of zeros in your banking account to how you’ll handle health care — to ensure you don’t spiral before you even get started.

2. Be professional with your exit

Though quitting might seem like the last part of a long process, Susan Bratton, the founder and CEO of Savor Health argues it’s the most important one.

She left a 20-year career on Wall Street to start Savor, which is a company dedicated to the nutritional needs of cancer patients. But when she decided it was time to head out, she knew how essential it was to be professional. Instead of two weeks’ notice, she gave a month.

“If you are leaving because you are unhappy or you don’t like the culture, be honest but also professional,” she said. “Say something to the effect of ‘While I love the X, Y, Z of this company, I have found that A, B, C are not suitable for my personality/desires/objectives etc.’ In other words, focus on how you are not a good fit rather than saying ‘I hate this place.’”

She added that it’s important to not throw anyone under the bus.

“I am a big believer that there is a place for everyone and sometimes when things don’t work in a job it is because of  ‘fit’ more than anything,” she said.

3. Don’t look behind you

A year ago, James Aschehoug left his job as a financial consultant to start the social media platform, Uriji Jami. While he was ready to plunge into the entrepreneur life, he knew that focusing on the past or worrying about the future wouldn’t serve him professionally — or emotionally.

When you’re putting in your notice, you don’t want to harp too much on what happened, he said. Focus instead on the reasons you’re moving forward.

“Rather than brood over the past and the reasons that might have led you to quit, try focusing on your next step and the exciting times ahead,” he said. “There is nothing worse than being bitter as you will be remembered as a loser. Instead, impersonate this inspiring, high-potential person leaving for something better. And then be that person.”

4. Do it on a Friday

After working in investment banking for several decades, Catherine Tan decided to leave to create a company,, that curates recommendations for travelers.

When she made her move, she put in her notice on a Friday. While the day of the week might not seem important, it sets the tone for your exit, she said.

“The worst thing is showing up to work the next day and your boss is still angry,” she said. “Give them a weekend to calm down so that Monday you can proactively start working on a transition plan.”

5. Tie up loose ends

Co-founder and CEO of Bombas, David Heath, left his job to work-full time for his company, just a few months before it officially launched. Making the move was an important one for Heath — not just because he was passionate about his company’s mission, but also because he knew it was essential to leave on a high note, instead of a messy one.

Make sure you tie up all loose ends, clean out your inbox, and leave your coworkers and employers in a secure place before leaving, he said.

“Arm your team and your managers with the tools to pick up where you leave off,” he said. “Be understanding, too. While you may be leaving, your colleagues and managers still have the work to do. So make sure you help make the transition as easy as possible on your way out.”

6. Be sure you want your passion to become your job

If your motivation to leave is centered around a thirst to become an entrepreneur, remember that when your passion becomes your job, that inspiration may change.

Cate Brinch, the owner of Recycle Studio in Boston, learned this first hand.

“I drew a line and realized early on that the best way for me to run this business was to be owner and operator, not instructor because I couldn’t wear all hats,” she said. “I think it is important to identify the best ways for you to work with your passion if you chose to do so.”

This article 6 tips for quitting your job on a high note appeared first on Ladders.

4 habits that make work feel like play, according to a cryptographer

Career-Line - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 11:51

Rob Goodman and I spent the last five years studying the life of one of the world’s great geniuses: Claude Shannon, who is known as “the father of information theory.”

Part of the reason we were drawn to him was that, of the geniuses we studied, he seemed to be the one we could learn the most from. Einstein and Turing seemed to us to be a bit distant and otherworldly; Shannon, on the other hand, always seemed like a guy who you could spend time with.

We did as close a look at his habits as two biographers could. While not all of us will do high-level mathematical research or build ground-breaking machines, many of us can benefit from the lessons and habits that stood behind Shannon’s work. Here are just a few:

1. If it feels like work, you may want to rethink what you’re doing

We called our book A Mind At Play because that’s what Shannon was: a mind playing. He saw everything he did — from theoretical mathematics to building robots, to playing chess, to writing about artificial intelligence — as a vast and interesting game.

He had tough moments, of course, but there are remarkably few of them for a life in which he achieved so much. Part of that is that he was rigorous about pursuing projects that he felt would bring him joy.

He saw his work as a series of games and puzzles; he wanted to figure out “what made things tick.” That spirit of curious play drove him to extraordinary achievement, an example that all of us could benefit from.

2. Know when to stop

Shannon had an attic stuffed with half-finished papers. There were contraptions all over his house that he never got around to completing. He was invited to give lectures that he never gave and he won awards he never formally accepted.

Shannon wasn’t a “finisher” of everything he touched — and while that might run counter to a lot of modern advice on productivity, we actually think there’s real wisdom in it. Not everything you make needs to ship. Some things you do for you.

Shannon would work until he felt satisfied — and then move on to other things. Where some people see a dilettante, we see a fertile mind that knew exactly how far to take a project before moving on.

3. Don’t worry about external recognition

For someone who won so many awards, Shannon seemed not to care about them at all. He collected so many honorary university degrees, for instance, that he hung them all from a sort of rotating tie rack he built himself. He never chased prizes, or tenure, or awards, at least not in the way that a lot of people of his caliber do.

When he won something, he was always surprised that he won — and in some cases, surprised that he was considered at all. Even in college, he won a big award for his Master’s thesis. It turned out that his mentor put him up for it.

As Shannon wrote to his mentor in a letter, “I have a sneaking suspicion that you have not only heard about it but had something to do with my getting it. If so, thanks a lot.”

Shannon’s indifference to external recognition ran bone deep: When he said “I don’t really care about prizes,” he meant every word.

Why does this matter? Because it gave him tremendous flexibility in what to work on and how to work on it. He didn’t walk around caring about what proper professors did or did not do. He just went about his work, pursued his passions, and managed to wring remarkable breakthroughs out of his research.

4. Work with your hands

From the time he was a boy, Shannon was building things. In his childhood, it was a barbed wire network that allowed him to talk to a neighbor a half mile away. He and a friend built a makeshift elevator in a barn. This hobby stuck. All his life, he was making real objects, often to answer questions that seemed to him to require a physical representation.

We think there’s something to that. How many of us would feel comfortable these days taking apart our cell phones or laptops, or fixing our cars, or getting into the guts of an appliance?

There’s been some decent writing on this topic (Matthew Crawford’s Shopclass as Soulcraft comes to mind), but the general idea is that we’re impoverishing ourselves by not understanding the objects all around us and trying to make sense of how they work.

Maybe it’s too much to ask that we crack open our iPhones (and of course, we’d violate Apple’s terms of service if we did), but we can’t help but think that Shannon’s hands-on tinkering helped to contribute to his genius. We could probably all benefit from something like that in our lives.

This article originally appeared on Quora.

This article 4 habits that make work feel like play, according to a cryptographer appeared first on Ladders.

Stop confusing job perks with company culture

Career-Line - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 11:47

Company culture is playing an increasingly larger role in the job selection process.

A few years ago, ping pong tables in an office started a trend of perks qualifying as “good company culture.” Now, the stakes have been raised: Google has in-office saunas, Basecamp allows remote work from anywhere in the world, and Yahoo has a company gym with sand volleyball and basketball courts.

The problem is, those perks are being confused with company culture.

At the core of any company, there are values, beliefs, standards, and goals that have to be communicated and well-received in order to guarantee success. Those are what make up company culture. As an entrepreneur, here are some tips from my experience that have helped my company succeed.

As an entrepreneur, here are some tips from my experience that have helped my company succeed.

1. Create a company vision that your employees should, and want to, embody

As a leader, it is up to you to institute a company vision that includes business goals, growth strategy, and values that act as governing rules for your organization. At Motivate Design, we have two rules that our employees follow and embody. Rule No.1? Use your best judgment. Rule No. 2? See Rule No.1. This vision is something that your team can constantly look to when things get crazy or feel misaligned. Write down your vision, print it out or put it up on the walls – whatever you do, making it easy to constantly reference will spur its fervor within your organization. When you see someone embodying this vision, give positive reinforcement.

At Motivate Design, we have two rules that our employees follow and embody. Rule No.1? Use your best judgment. Rule No. 2? See Rule No.1. This vision is something that your team can constantly look to when things get crazy or feel misaligned. Write down your vision, print it out or put it up on the walls – whatever you do, making it easy to constantly reference will spur its fervor within your organization. When you see someone embodying this vision, give positive reinforcement.

Write down your vision, print it out or put it up on the walls — whatever you do, making it easy to constantly reference will spur its fervor within your organization. When you see someone embodying this vision, give positive reinforcement.

2. Establish clear parameters for how and when employees receive company information

It’s up to you to decide how much to share with your staff regarding business decisions. To ensure a healthy company culture, clearly state how your employees receive that information and in what medium. No one likes to hear things through the grapevine, as it can often turn into a rumor mill. Whether it be a quarterly report, Slack channel or weekly meeting (like we have at Motivate Design), your employees will appreciate the opportunity to be filled in

Whether it be a quarterly report, Slack channel or weekly meeting, your employees will appreciate the opportunity to be filled in on the latest information. This also creates a safe place to ask questions or for clarification around lingering issues. Use this to address concerns like staffing decisions (who is joining/leaving and why), changes in positioning (new offerings or services), current market trends and upcoming events.

Use this to address concerns like staffing decisions (who is joining/leaving and why), changes in positioning (new offerings or services), current market trends and upcoming events.

3. Find employees who identify with where the company is and where it wants to go

This piece is especially important in start-up and growth-stage companies. Things can (and will) change. And that’s OK.

As a leader/entrepreneur, this is something that you may even find unsettling or scary. Make sure your team is there to support, rally and advocate for you and your company when those changes emerge.

Not everyone will be a fit for certain changes and staffing changes may need to be made. And that’s also okay. But it will be easier for your employees to ride the waves of change when they are clearly communicated from the get-go. Review these at quarterly meetings where employees can work through these changes in a collaborative, creative environment.

4. Feedback is your friend

You are the leader of your company, but you can’t do it all. A staff full of unhappy campers only makes for poor-quality work and a hostile environment. In a good company culture, it’s important to have an outlet for employees to provide feedback on what’s going on in the day-to-day office life.

For example, send monthly surveys with opportunities to collect specific and broad points of feedback, or create a company culture committee responsible for boosting morale and fixing issues before they become issues. Implement what you hear to maintain a happy and prosperous company culture.

These aren’t the only things that make for good company culture, and ping pong tables are a nice touch. But, it is evident that communication might just play the most important role in what ends up shaping the culture.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.

Mona Patel is Founder and CEO of Motivate Design.

This article Stop confusing job perks with company culture appeared first on Ladders.

7 ways to make difficult conversations easy

Career-Line - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 11:39

Someone is screaming in your face at the top of their lungs. Or ranting angrily and you can’t get a word in edgewise. Or maybe they’re sobbing so hard you can barely understand what they’re saying.

We’ve all been there. These situations don’t happen a lot (thank god) but we all feel helpless when they do. And because they’re rare we don’t ever seem to get better at handling them.

Problem is, these moments are often critical because they’re usually with people we care about.

What’s the best way to handle these difficult conversations? What works?

I called someone who knows: Dr. Albert J. Bernstein. He’s a clinical psychologist with over 40 years of experience and the author of a number of great books on dealing with people problems:

Dinosaur Brains: Dealing with All Those Impossible People at Work

Am I The Only Sane One Working Here?: 101 Solutions for Surviving Office Insanity

Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry

Here’s what you’ll learn in this post:

  1. The magic phrase that gets people to stop yelling.
  2. How to stop making the most common mistake in these kind of discussions.
  3. How to switch people from being emotional to being rational.
  4. The mindset that makes dealing with hysterical people easy.
  5. And a lot more.

Okay, time to wage war with the crazy. Here we go…

1. First, you need to keep calm

You already have one person overreacting. The worst thing would be to have two people overreacting. If you Hulk Out, it’s little more than a screaming match and nothing gets accomplished.

Al calls the emotional side of our mind the “dinosaur brain.” It’s millions of years old and only understands “fight” or “run away.”

If you stay calm, you can help someone escape its grip. But if you fall prey to it too, it results in what he likes to call the “Godzilla meets Rodan” effect: lots of yelling, buildings get knocked down but nothing constructive gets accomplished. Here’s Al:

…the basic idea is that in many situations, you’re reacting with instincts programmed into your dinosaur brain, rather than thinking through a situation. If you’re in your dinosaur brain, you’re going to play out a 6 million-year-old program, and nothing good is going to happen. In that case, the dinosaur brain of the other person is going to understand that they are being attacked, and then you’re responding with fighting back or running away, and either one is going to escalate the situation into what I like to call the “Godzilla meets Rodan” effect. There’s a lot of screaming and yelling, and buildings fall down, but not much is accomplished.

What to do here? Monitor your arousal levels and do your best to stay calm. He said the same thing about dealing with stress that Harvard researcher Shawn Achor did: see problems as challenges instead of crises.

(To learn how Samurai and Navy SEALs keep calm in difficult situations, click here.)

Okay, you’re cool as Fonzie. But they’re still acting crazy. What’s the best strategy here?

2. Treat them like a child

No, I don’t mean be condescending. But you wouldn’t try to rationalize with a screaming child. And you wouldn’t get angry with them for yelling. You’d just dismiss the hysterics and deal with the underlying problem.

Adults aren’t any different. (Yes, this is both very insightful and extraordinarily depressing. Welcome to Earth.)

Trying to logically explain why yelling isn’t helping doesn’t work with three-year-olds and it won’t work with grown-ups either. Ignore the drama.

If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Shift into dealing-with-your-kid mode and watch magic happen. Al literally says “If you feel like a preschool teacher, you’re probably doing it right.” Here’s Al:

People say to me all the time, “You mean I have to treat a grown-up like a three-year-old?” I say, “Yes, absolutely.” If you’re a parent, what do you do with a tantrum? You ignore it, or at least you try to ignore it. But with an adult you try and talk them out of it, and it never works.

(To learn the ten rules to communicating more effectively, click here.)

So you’re calm and you’re not letting them get to you because you see them like a big kid. But how do you stop the yelling, crying or screaming?

3. “Please speak more slowly. I’d like to help.”

Anything that slows the situation down is good for you.

One of Al’s first jobs was working with violently psychotic people in an institution. He quickly realized that slow means calm and calm means thinking vs reacting.

(What’s interesting is my friend Chris, who was the Lead International Hostage Negotiator for the FBI, often recommends the same thing: slow the conversation down.)

So how do you get someone to stop yelling? Your natural reaction is actually the worst thing to do. Saying, “Stop yelling” will be seen as telling them what to do. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially angry people.

Instead, Al says try a variation of: “Please speak more slowly. I’d like to help.”

Why does this work? It breaks the pattern in their head.

They’re expecting you to resist them but you’re not. You’re asking them to clarify. You’re interested. This makes them shift more out of “dinosaur brain” and into thinking. And that’s good.

(And have you ever tried yelling slowly? Good luck with that.)

The same principle works on the phone too: you want to snap them out of that pattern without being seen as fighting back. Al calls it the “uh-huh rule.”

When they pause to take a breath on the phone, don’t say anything. After enough silence, they’ll probably respond with, “Are you there?”

That speedbump pulls them out of the angry momentum for a second and makes them think practically. Here’s Al:

When somebody is talking to you on the phone and they stop to take a breath, your natural reaction is to say, “uh-huh.” It’s kind of a universal thing. We don’t realize that we’re doing it. But if you go three breaths without saying “uh-huh”, the other person will stop and say, “Are you there?” We tried that so many times, and it was just amazing how well it worked. What I’ve just given you there is a way to interrupt somebody who’s yelling at you on the phone without saying a word. Just don’t say “uh-huh.”

(For tips from an FBI behavioral expert on how to make people like you, click here.)

They’re not yelling anymore. But that doesn’t mean they’re not angry and it doesn’t mean you’re making any real progress. What turns raving crazy people into rational adults you can talk to?

4. Ask “What would you like me to do?”

Slowing it down is great. And so is seeing them as a child. What’s the next big strategy? You need to get them thinking.

Anything that moves them from emotionally reacting to consciously thinking is good. Here’s Al:

When people are angry at you or attacking you, it’s very easy to fight back or run away, but what you really need to do is something that engages their brain.

And that isn’t too hard, actually. Ask them, “What would you like me to do?”

They need to formulate an answer. That makes them think — even for a second — and you’re on your way to turning the Hulk back into Bruce Banner. Here’s Al:

Once you get the person to stop yelling, you say, “What would you like me to do?” The person has to stop and think at that point. What you want is to move an angry situation toward the possibility of negotiating. You can do that by simply asking, “What would you like me to do?” It moves them from their dinosaur brain to their cortex, and then negotiating is possible.

(For more on dealing with irrational, angry or just plain crazy people, click here.)

You’re calm. They’re not yelling and they’re starting to think instead of just acting like an emotional grenade. So how do you keep things moving in the right direction?

5. Don’t make statements. Ask questions.

Another huge, huge error we all make: we explain. Don’t explain. Why?

The other person will interpret it as a veiled form of fighting back. You know why? Because it is a veiled form of fighting back.

It’s the polite way of saying, “Here’s why I’m right and you’re wrong.” And everybody sees it for what it is. So cut it out. Here’s Al:

Explaining is almost always a disguised form of fighting back. Most explanations will be heard as, “See here, if you really understand the situation, you will see that I am right and you are wrong.” That is an attack, and it’s also one of the ways we achieve dominance over other people. We act as if we just explain our position really clearly, then the other person will understand and agree with us. I’ve never really seen that work.

So what do you do? Ask questions. Here’s Al:

One of the main rules that I say to people is if you want to get along with people, ask don’t tell.

He also recommends another technique that comes straight out of the hostage negotiator playbook: Active Listening. Here’s Al:

What I typically do with people is reflect back the emotion that they’re feeling. If they’re saying something like, “I’m Jesus Christ, and they’re trying to crucify me,” instead of saying, “No, you’re not Jesus Christ,” you say, “That must be pretty scary.” They’ll say, “Yeah!” The act of listening is reflecting back the person’s emotional state, not necessarily the content of what they’re saying.

(For more on how hostage negotiators use active listening and how you can get better at it, click here.)

They’re calm now. So how do you make sure you don’t blow it and end up back where you were?

6. Start sentences with “I’d like…” not “You are…”

Now that they’re being rational, the last thing you want to do is say anything that sounds like an accusation. And they’re going to be extra sensitive to this because they just came down from feeling attacked.

In his great book Dinosaur Brains, Al says:

Any sentence that begins with “you are” and does not end with “wonderful” will be experienced as name-calling.

What you’re doing now is basically negotiating so start your sentences with “I’d like…” Just stay away from the word “you” as much as possible. (Relationship expert Dr. John Gottmanrecommends the same thing when romantic couples argue.)

(For more on negotiation from FBI hostage negotiators, click here.)

You’re almost out of the woods. But there’s one last thing people often do that screws up everything and puts them back at square one…

7. Let them have the last word

Needing to have the last word is like quitting at mile 26 of the marathon. You’ve done everything right up until now. Do not let your ego screw up everything at the last minute.

Just like explaining is actually an attempt at dominance, so is needing to have the last word. You’re shifting your goal from “calming this situation” to “showing them who is right.” Here’s Al:

The last word is usually an attempt to be right. You can undo any positive thing you’ve done by saying one word that sends them back into attack mode.

Don’t take the bait. Let them have the last word. Let them feel “right” if it lets you accomplish your real goal.

(For more on how to win every argument, click here.)

This is a great system for dealing with difficult conversations. Let’s round it up and get Al’s thoughts on the single most important thing to do when having any type of discussion with people.

Sum up

Here are Al’s tips for turning difficult conversations into easy ones:

  1. Keep calm. Don’t turn it into Godzilla vs. Rodan. (Samurai secrets of staying calm are here.)
  2. Treat’em like a child. You can’t talk them out of emotional outbursts and getting angry over it does nothing good.
  3. Say “Please speak more slowly. I’d like to help.” Slow it down. Don’t come off like you’re fighting back.
  4. Ask “What would you like me to do?” You gotta make’em start thinking in order turn off the rage machine.
  5. Don’t make statements. Ask questions. Explaining is veiled dominance. Questions get them thinking.
  6. Start sentences with “I’d like…” not “You are…” If you start with “I” it’s hard to be seen as attacking.
  7. Let them have the last word. Don’t let your ego blow it at the last minute.

So what does Al say is the single most important thing to do when dealing with people?

When they speak, ask yourself why they’re saying what they’re saying. Think about what’s going on in their head, not yours. This leads away from judging and toward understanding and compassion.

Here’s Al:

If you want to get along well with people and understand what’s going on in situations, whenever somebody says something to you, ask yourself, “Why is he saying this to me? What’s going on with him?” That is a doorway to understanding, a doorway to getting what you want, and also a doorway to compassion. Rather than judging the person, try and understand them.

Leave “Godzilla Meets Rodan” for the movies. Our lives need more compassion and less of anything that levels Tokyo.

In my next weekly email I’ll have more tips from Al on dealing with difficult bosses, crazy co-workers and what decades as a clinical psychologist have taught him is the secret to happiness. To get that and more, sign up here.

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6 Hostage Negotiation Techniques That Will Get You What You Want

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How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips

This article originally appeared at Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

This article 7 ways to make difficult conversations easy appeared first on Ladders.