Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

The Cure for an Uncaring Boss

Today I went to a webinar where Matt Kohut and John Neffinger gave a Q&A about their book Compelling People. Really interesting book. Kohut and Nefflinger define strength and warmth as the two attributes that define how people judge you.

During the webinar, they made reference to psychology studies that show that powerful people care less about the less powerful. The more powerful person laughs and nods less when the less powerful is speaking, and they are more likely to overtalk the less powerful. And in general, research shows that powerful people are less attentive to interpersonal relationships, because they don’t have to be. On the flip side, less powerful people are better at forming alliances, because they have to in order to survive.

Have you ever thought that your boss doesn’t care about you? Maybe they only seem to pay attention to the people above them in the hierarchy? This research suggests that your judgement is correct. It’s not that the boss is against you. They literally are not paying attention – they don’t notice you. What’s more, they also are less empathetic with the less powerful. In other words, they discount the suffering or negative consequences to people “below” them.

Don’t despair! Knowledge is power. By starting with the assumption that the boss doesn’t care, you no longer need to waste your breath complaining about how stressed you are. Have you ever gone home totally frustrated that complaining to the boss did no good? Those days are behind you.

Instead, you can focus on a different strategy – finding a different lever to pull to get what you want. The boss does care about what his or her boss thinks of them. Therefore, couch your requests in a way that will help them make good. For example “I’m going to focus on A&B, and make C&D a lower priority. By not doing C&D, I’ll do a better job on the first two, which will reflect better on our team.”

To be even more precise, classify your boss as a Scorpion, Fox, or a Wolf to dial in your business case to their particular priorities.

Don’t get me wrong, I do find the results of the studies chilling. However, I’d rather know and adjust my behavior than to sail along under an illusion. I’ll take the advantage in alliance making any day for long term success.

More info on Compelling People: http://compellingpeople.com

Special thank you to Matt Kohut for sending me the link to this article:

Daniel Goleman article in NY Times called Rich People Care Less http://nyti.ms/1pQgdHp

Ten Tips To Reduce Your Work-Related Stress

Ten Tips For Stress Reduction Featured Image

Cold Friendship by Hamed Saber via Flickr CC

 

Today I’m taking a break from Busting Your Corporate Idol to share some stress reduction tips that were inspired by stories I heard while researching the book.

 

Three ways to relieve stress at work by putting yourself first

  1. Put your health first.  Take time during the business day to exercise.  If you are suffering from chronic stress, you are probably working too many hours.  If you take time away from work to exercise, your stress will go down and you will become more productive, which will more than make up for the 90 minutes at the gym.
  2. Put your time first.  There are always people asking you for favors, and to do extra things.  If you are good at what you do, there are an infinite number of things you could be doing.  Make sure that you put your time first by learning to say no.  Having fewer commitments will reduce stress
  3. Become a winner at politics.  Are you the type of person who says “I don’t care about the politics, I just want to get it done.”  This is a recipe for being taken advantage of.  Politics is a fact of life, and no one is above it.  If you aren’t playing at least to defend yourself, you risk being played.

Three ways to relieve stress at home by putting people first

  1. Put your health first by stopping all work by 9 PM to give you an hour or two to decompress before bed time.  Sleep deprivation is a guaranteed way to increase stress.
  2. Put your health and family first by having a Sabbath, least one day a week with no work or email at all.  You will be amazed at how refreshed and more creative you feel.
  3. More sex at home.  The research is pretty consistent – people who have sex more often are happier.  And stress leads people to have sex less often.  Use those goal setting skills to have sex at least once during the workweek and once on the weekend.  This will lead you to stop working earlier, and will directly combat feelings of stress.

A key to preventing stress at work is to reduce your workload.  If your boss asks you to do more, here are four things to help you say no.

  1. Don’t feel guilty. There is only so much time in the day, and your health and family are more important than whatever the boss is asking you to do.
  2. Make the boss decide the business priorities.  Your time is a finite company resource.  Explain the trade off decision, and why you think another use of your time is more important.  If the boss insists, ask for his or her support in explaining the changed deadline to the stakeholder whose deliverable is being pushed back.
  3. Offer an alternative solution.  Sometimes the boss is asking for more than he or she needs.  Offer a quick and easy solution instead.
  4. Suggest someone else to do the job.  Your boss needs a solution, but it doesn’t necessarily need to come from you.

If you find at least one of these suggestions helpful, please share using the buttons below.

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