Are You a Skilled Social Actor or a Social Chameleon?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, where do you fall on these two dimensions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

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References

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

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

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

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

Power Connects People

Side Effects of Holding Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by Ilan Shrira

 

How to Have an Awesome Work Career

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Published by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

Attitude is Everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

5 Most Common Ways People Ruin Their Work Careers

How to prevent failure at work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Follow Your Passion When You’re Just Trying To Pay The Bills

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During tough economic times, many people think they need to sacrifice passion and focus solely on earning money. From a spiritual perspective, this is the exact opposite approach to generating real abundance. Yes, paying your bills takes practical action. But it also requires an internal belief system powered by inspiration and passion. Without an emphasis on passion, it’s likely that no matter how many actions you take, you’ll still wind up feeling stuck.

Neglecting passion blocks creative flow. When you’re passionate, you’re energized. Likewise, when you lack passion, your energy is low and unproductive. Energy is everything when it comes to earning. Quantum physics teaches us that our bodies are made up of subatomic particles that are energy. Your thoughts, attention, and focus affect your energy and therefore everything around you—including your bank account. So when you’re thinking only about the mundane to-do lists and practical action steps, you’re lowering your energy and in effect lowering your earning power.

Your life becomes what you think about most. When you focus on following your passion and letting inspiration flow, your energy is raised and your earning capacity is strong. But when you’re uninspired and bogged down by low-level thoughts, your attracting power is weakened.

Now that you have a better understanding of the earning value of passionate, positive energy, it’s time to take it more seriously. Read on for three simple, effective ways you can bring more passion into your life—even if you’re crazy-busy.

Who said your job had to be your only source of passion?

Our culture places such a huge emphasis on our careers, that we lose track of our passion projects. But who said your job had to be your only source of passion? A dear friend of mine is a powerful example of balancing passion and career. He works in corporate America, but moonlights as a guitar player. Though he spends his weekdays at a desk, he spends his weekends indulging his passion projects such as gigging with his band, writing, drawing, and learning about art. Though he dedicates a lot of his time to his career, there is no lack of passion in his life.

The passion of being of service

When we’re of service to the world, we feel inspired and passionate about the work that we do. Perhaps the work you’re doing is service-related—getting clear about the ways in which it serves the world may make you more passionate about it. If that’s not the case with your job, maybe you volunteer for a local charity once a month, or find a way to participate in your community, or promote bigger causes. Awaken a service mentality. When you serve the world, you serve your soul.

Shift your perception about the way you make money

If you’re hung up about the fact that your primary source of revenue doesn’t come from your true passion, shift your perspective. Be grateful for the work that you have and focus on the good stuff. Find even the smallest part of your work that ignites your passion. Maybe you love interacting with clients, or the neighborhood where you work. Maybe you’re learning something new by being on that job. Focus on what you do have and you’ll create more of what you want.

Take these action steps seriously. We all have work to do to support our economy, and if we’re void of passion we won’t have the energy and inspiration to serve. The more passion we ignite in our lives, the higher our earning capacity will be and the more we’ll impact financial growth in our country. When we all raise our thoughts we’ll raise our bank accounts—and greatly serve the world.


Gabrielle Bernstein |

Featured in the New York Times Sunday Styles section as “a new role model,” motivational speaker, life coach, and author Gabrielle Bernstein is making her mark. Expanding the lexicon for the next generation of spiritual seekers, Gabrielle is the #1 bestselling author of the book, Add More ~ing to Your Life, A hip Guide to Happiness. In September 2011 Gabrielle launched her second book, Spirit Junkie, A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles. In 2008 she launched her social networking site HerFuture.com for young women to find mentors.

From Tunnel Vision To Your Ultimate Vision [BLOG]

 

 

 “We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
—Anaïs Nin

I’m a huge advocate for living a life beyond your wildest dreams, but I also know there are some potential pitfalls on the journey.

Having a vision is a powerful tool. It means that you are honoring your goals, aspiring toward them, and taking risks to expand your horizons. Sometimes our visions for ourselves subtly turn into tunnel vision. We can’t see anything that contradicts our intentions and desires. We get selective perception, which limits our ability to remain open and to see things clearly. Instead of being present to our reality while we pursue our heart’s desire, we put the blinders on and barrel ahead toward our hopes and dreams.

There is a shadow side to almost every positive thing we can do for ourselves, including having a vision. It’s important to be aware of this distinction. All spiritual and psychological tools can be used in a “willful” way. For example, sometimes self-care is actually about taking care of ourselves: unplugging from too much work and plugging into more balance and harmony. But sometimes, under the guise of self-care, we are really just checking out: denying what’s happening and how scary it feels to show up for it. So, how do we know the difference? How do we know when we are pursuing our vision in a manner that is actually in alignment with our intentions?

Tension in the Tunnel

Tension usually crops up when we are stuck in the tunnel—it takes a lot of effort to keep the blinders on. For me, the tension often shows up in the form of a headache. For others, there might be similar physical cues, such as stomach- or back-aches, getting sick, or feeling lethargic. Some people find themselves to be more irritable or short-tempered. When we aren’t looking at the big picture of our reality, our emotional bandwidth tends to shrink. This happens because everything becomes limited in the tunnel—not just our vision. I don’t know about you, but when I’m stuck in a tunnel, I can get a little cranky. What are your personal cues that suggest you might be denying aspects of your own reality?

Fear in the Tunnel

There are reasons that we aren’t looking at the big picture, many of which boil down to fear. “What if I leave this relationship and I’m alone forever?” “What if I open this piece of mail and find out that I owe more money than I have in the bank?” “What if I take this day-job and I never get the job of my dreams?” Our response to these fears can be “No thanks, I’ll stay here in the tunnel, where it feels safe.” The blinders go up and we clamp down, even harder.

Denial is not a Tunnel in Egypt

The problem is that denial may feel safe, but it’s an illusion. Whether or not you open that mail or take that job, you still have bills to pay—and we have to take responsibility for ourselves in the present, even as we are building the life we ultimately envision.

The Light at the End of Tunnel

If you are still with me on this tunnel metaphor, here is where it gets good. I grew up in Colorado where there are some amazing tunnels going straight through the mountains. Perhaps you have driven through one yourself, or you can imagine it right now. As you are driving, you move into a cold and dark, fear-filled tin can. The echo is staggering and yet everything seems so quiet. You can’t see two feet in front of yourself without your headlights. Then, suddenly, you find yourself entering into a picture postcard. The sunlight pierces through the windshield and warms your heart as you are greeted with breathtaking, majestic vistas. Let that experience be your teacher and your inspiration. When we move through small, contained ideas of what we think we want—what we think will make us happy and safe—we are brought to extraordinary and expansive beauty. Removing the blinders is like seeing in color for the first time. Tunnel vision is rigid and constraining, while remaining open is fluid and liberating.

Ultimately, moving out of the tunnel is about finding clarity, even if it feels terrifying—at least it is true. And reality begets more reality, and the opportunity to make it the best reality you can. I’ll never tell you to give up on the dream. I believe there is a reason that you have the dream to begin with. I will tell you that the best way to get there is to start from where you are, from the fullness of your situation. To look around and truly see, feel, and experience what is happening in your life. Accept your current circumstances and then take mindful action. If we are in the middle of the tunnel, we don’t get to the beauty on the other side by wishful thinking or burying our head in the sand—we get there by taking one deliberate step at a time.

I’d love to hear how have you have moved through your own tunnels. How did you get stuck, and what enabled you to move through? What did you discover when you surrendered your limited vision? I know that oftentimes people find a “picture postcard” that they never would have if they had held on to that tin can they used to believe was the shiniest and most precious thing they ever could have wished for.


   Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D.

Ingrid Mathieu, PhD is a psychotherapist and author of Recovering Spirituality. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Stick to the Plan

As a business man or woman, you may be familiar with the phrase, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry” from grade school when you read John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men. Did you know that Steinbeck borrowed this line from the penultimate stanza of a Scots poem entitled, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough” written in 1785 by Robert Burns? By exploring why this phrase has been used so often, it may help you gain clarity in how you can stick to your business plan when you find yourself slipping off course or forgetting the importance of a business plan in your daily activities.

Do you ever ask yourself after you’ve written up your business plan, how will you stick to the business plan? You may find yourself making excuses for all of the reasons why you find yourself doing anything but following your business plan.

With a plan all you need to make it work is daily action, motivation, and commitment. What often stands in the way is how easily we lose focus and allow ourselves to stray from the present moment.

Do you believe that, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley” when ascribing what happens after you’ve finished writing your business plan?

Did you analyze what went right and wrong from the previous year, and then find your head buried back in the sand of the drudgery of managing daily tasks?

Look at Robert Burns last two stanzas of his poem (translated into Standard English) below before you formulate your answer:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear! (37-48)

The poem describes a farmer finding mice and their nest in his field during the winter. His plough has just torn the nest apart. Now the mice which had the foresight (i.e., instinct) to gather warm bedding for the winter, have to start gathering and building afresh another nest or perish. The speaker of the poem is feeling many things. He’s distraught, because he is caught in feeling guilty for having just destroyed the nest. He’s also decided to borrow worries and project into the future that the mice will not be able to make a new one before they die.

What line of reasoning do you build your business upon? There are two choices:

(1)   Do you create a business plan, and then work the plan? –or—

(2)   Do you create a business plan for the books, and then focus your efforts on daily tasks?

One of our favorite quotes amongst many of the Mars Venus Coaches is, “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” by Robert H. Schuller. Al Pittampali adroitly summarizes why asking this one question to someone who is ready to change is so powerful in the short video “Putting Your Fears on Hold.” What we’re getting at is the way you stick with the plan is by choosing daily activities that carry-out what your goals are in your business plan.

So, which option do you choose to actively run your business day-to-day?

When you choose to run your business by working your business plan (OPTION 1), then what you are choosing to do is work smartly. Not only are you being more effective at time management, but you are also trouble-shooting and adapting your plan as you work with unknown contingencies. Unknown contingencies typically come into play with how well your interpersonal skills (i.e. ability to communicate assertively and how in-touch you are with your emotional and gender intelligence) are with matching your services and products to the needs of your customers. With this choice you are mindful and in the present moment. You are more like the mice who plan ahead, but then adapt moment by moment.

If you prefer to write a business plan, stick it in a notebook, and forget about it, because you have too many other pressing things to do (OPTION 2), then you are operating more from a place of fear. You are more like the farmer in Burn’s poem who looks forward and guesses and fears, and looks back at the dreary prospects. Three things happen: inaction, busywork, and frustration. Then when you pull out your business plan and dust it off, you wonder what went wrong, and why it was so hard to stick to your plan.

While we’re likening men to mice, another quick motivational read about individual choice and business planning is Spencer Johnson, M.D.’s Who Moved My Cheese? It’s another fun way to keep you on track with your business planning. It’s also a quick way you can check-in with your coach on who you most behaved like in the past week during your coaching sessions. Were you acting like Hem, Haw, Sniff, or Scurry? Sticking to the plan, means working your plan…every day. And if you get side-tracked, know why, how, and what you are going to do next to get back on track.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations