Combatting #MeToo

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Just wanted to share that my book is now available on Kobo.com.

While many situations have unfortunately occurred which women couldn’t have avoided, I firmly believe that some personal responsibility is called for. In no way is this book intended to shame victims of crimes. But what about actions that fall short of criminal? We women can always choose how to behave, but it is also important to realize that certain choices may have unwelcome consequences.

Agree or disagree? Please comment.

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EI for #MeToo

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I have begun writing a book that I’d love some feedback on.

First, let me say that I in no way condone violence or criminal behavior and I am definitely not intending to blame the victims. That said, I think young women out in the workplace for the first time should learn to exercise some emotional intelligence to avoid becoming a #MeToo statistic. Or if not avoiding a bad situation, at least having some tools to deal with it.

 

Here’s an excerpt from my introduction:

But what about acts that are offensive, but not necessarily criminal. If you don’t want to rely on a human resources department that may or may not have your back, what alternative do you have?

Dr. Wayne Dyer defines a victim as someone who runs her life according to the dictates of others. He says you can rarely be victimized unless you allow it to happen. Ultimately, you are in charge of your own life.

I maintain that in order to be proactive, what you need is high EI or emotional intelligence. The good news is emotional intelligence can be learned.

Daniel Goleman popularized the term Emotional Intelligence in several books on this topic. Emotional intelligence can be divided into four basic categories: how well do you know yourself, how well can you manage your emotions, how well do you understand others, and how much influence can you exert over them.

Knowing yourself includes being able to understand your own personality and how you are perceived by others.

Controlling yourself involves problem solving and making decisions. It also means taking responsibility for your actions.

Understanding others means being able to interpret their words and actions and predict the outcome.

Influencing others involves getting them to do what you want. Or not do what you don’t want. Can you communicate so others will hear you? Can you resolve conflict?

 

Please email me and let me know what you think. 

 

Coaching with compassion

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Dr. Richard Boyatzis is a big deal in organizational behavior circles. His official titles on his web page at Case Western Reserve University take up a full paragraph. He has written seven books and a slew of articles outlining his Intentional Change Theory. I first learned of his work through a MOOC entitled Conversations That Inspire: Coaching, Learning, Leadership, and Change.

Boyatzis projects great warmth, and his theory reflects his own personality. He  advocates fostering of what he calls positive emotional attractors. Simply put, this entails coaching with compassion instead of coaching for compliance. The leader, boss, or coach should not focus on the problem or try to fix the employee. They should help the employee envision an ideal future. Only through a shared vision is organizational change possible.

Negative emotional attractors have a longer shelf life in our memory. Boyatzis estimates it takes three positives to counteract one negative interaction. Negative emotions, of course, mean stress. Chronic stress increases cortisol which turns off the immune system and inhibits growth of new tissue in the body. Chronic stress constricts peripheral vision literally and figuratively. We’re not interested in seeing new ideas or new people. That inhibits change from occurring.

My problem with Boyatzis and the authors of best-selling leadership books in general is that in my long and exceedingly checkered work life, I have encountered maybe one or two bosses who through education or instinct seemed to practice this approach.

Is it me? Am I just a malcontent, or have I had incredible bad luck in bosses? I would love to hear from anyone who has worked for one of these supportive leaders.

 

 

Function over form

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Instead of beating yourself up every year when you fail, yet again, to achieve your resolution to lose weight, why not learn to appreciate the body you have? What a concept.

Researchers at Florida State University have put together a program that helps participants feel better about themselves. Professor Pamela Keel has studied body image throughout her career. She notes that the ideal body type as portrayed in the media is unattainable for almost everybody. Although the resulting dissatisfaction with their bodies is particularly prevalent among young women, it affects an awful lot of people. After all, the majority of Americans are overweight.

So what do you do to counter the bad feelings? Take a deep breath and stand in front of a mirror with few or no clothes on. But instead of berating yourself, think about the function of your body parts. In other words, don’t focus on how fat you think your legs are. Instead, think about how they get you everywhere you want to go. Doing this draws on the idea of cognitive dissonance.  Positive statements that conflict with the negative thoughts you’ve had about your body eventually turn those thoughts around.

And once you start thinking more positively about yourself, you begin to take better care of yourself, and that may actually lead to the weight loss you wanted all along.

Win-win.

 

Do who you are

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Career counselors have long advised clients they will be happier if they can find a job that matches their personality. A new study suggests they will earn more money too.

Lead researcher Jaap J. A. Denissen of Tilburg University examined nearly 8500 Germans in terms of the “Big Five” personality traits: openness to new experience, conscientiousness, extroversion agreeableness, and neuroticism. Then two independent psychologists looked at each of the participant’s job with respect to those same characteristics to determine what level of each characteristic made for an ideal employee in that particular job. Not surprisingly, bookkeepers require the least amount of extroversion.

When it comes to extroversion, agreeableness, and openness to experience, a closer match between an employee’s own personality and a job’s demands was linked with higher income. But it is possible to have too much of a good thing. For example, an employee who is more agreeable than the job calls for will earn less than someone who is less agreeable.

Findings from previous research have indicated that some personality traits such as being conscientious are generally beneficial when it comes to any work environment. It appears that is not exactly true. They found that highly conscientious people whose jobs didn’t demand it earned less than their less fastidious peers.

The takeaway is that one size, one set of universal personality characteristics, doesn’t fit all. No two jobs are created equal.

I want to be alone

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What a relief! A new study indicates social withdrawal isn’t always a bad thing.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo looked at the motivation behind the desire to be alone. They cite three reasons why people avoid others. One is plain old shyness because of fear or anxiety. A second is avoidance, dislike of being with others or social interaction.

The third, however, is that some people just like spending time reading or working on their computers. They call this unsociability. Can I hear an amen from the introverts of the world?

That third category of people may not initiate social opportunities but will accept them if offered, so they are not totally missing out on peer interaction.

The first two categories result in negative outcomes like lack of social skills or support. The third is positively correlated with creativity. This gives me great comfort.

So, if you are like me and really would prefer to keep your distance most of the time, go ahead. Embrace your solitude. You know you want to.

 

 

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Go nuts

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While nuts have already been known to prevent or fight diseases below the neck such as  heart disease and cancer, new research shows they also help our brains. A study done at Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center examined the results of eating six different kinds of nuts.

Pistachios ranked highest in gamma wave response, which is critical for enhancing cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep.

In contrast, peanuts produced the highest delta response, which is associated with healthy immunity, natural healing, and deep sleep.

Walnuts had the highest concentration of antioxidants.

Almonds, cashews, and pecans presumably fell lower on the benefits scale.

So, I guess the takeaway here is pick your nuts carefully. For better memory, try pistachios. For better sleep, try peanuts.

 

 

Nip mental health problems in the bud

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A new assessment may help get mental health help to students. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia developed a student version of the Social, Academic and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener (SAEBRS). They had middle and high school students complete the instrument to self-identify their mental state.

The student version is available through Fastbridge Learning, a software company that works with schools to offer online academic and behavioral screening, as well as other assessment services.

In lower grades, students have only one teacher, so it is easier to see problems developing. In higher grades, students have different teachers for each different subject, so changes in behavior can’t be observed as readily. While families may not have the resources to access preventative services, schools usually do.

I can see a few problems with this approach. Will the students answer the questions honestly? And if they do, will this somehow stigmatize them in the eyes of teachers and administrators?

Still, if even one potential tragedy is avoided, this seems worthwhile to me.

Let’s get physical

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Given the mental health crisis in the US, it seems to me that any and all avenues that can alleviate people’s problems should be acted upon. Right now.

A study  done at Michigan State University asked patients with depression about physical exercise. A whopping 85% said they wanted to exercise more, and nearly that many said they believed exercise improved their moods much of the time. About half were at least interested in a one time discussion with many wanting ongoing advice about physical activity from their mental health provider.

The hitch is that most psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners don’t have expertise in exercise. They may mention it, but they don’t help the client set up a program or keep after them to be active. Marcia Valenstein, senior author and professor emeritus in psychiatry at U-M, suggests mental health clinics partner with personal trainers or community recreational facilities. She says once the effectiveness was established, maybe insurers would get on board.

But why wait? Surely even individual counselors and therapists can find a trainer or nearby YMCA to work with clients without charging prohibitive fees. How much is it costing society NOT to do this?