I find the social science of the brain to be a very interesting topics, which means I read a lot of books about it. It is a fairly new science, and scientists admit that there is still a lot to learn, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take what is known and apply it to the way we work.
Work, by its definition, involves other people. So, the more you know about how other people think, the more you can tailor your work in a manner that will be more likely to be positively accepted by the people you work with.
Our social connections are necessary for our survival – not just at work, but in life. If you think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the lowest level is the physiological stuff, and then comes safety, and next is social. Without social connections, you can’t move up into the hierarch where you get into esteem and self-actualization.
Default Mode Network
And the science supports this idea. There is a region in our brain called the Default Mode Network. This are of the brain becomes active whenever you think about people and your relationship to them. Science shows that 2 day old babies have this Default Mode Network. They don’t have social networks yet, but their brain is already wired for them.
When everything is going well, there is nothing to worry about. But lets be honest – most of us don’t go for very long without running into some kind of social pain. A fight with a spouse. A misunderstanding with a co-worker. Feeling like someone else is getting credit for something we did. Somehow, we don’t always give this the same amount of weight we give physical pain. But, the science proves otherwise. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between physical pain and social pain.
When you have a stomach ache or a headache, you attribute them to a specific part of your body. But, we know from hundreds (or more) of examples that placebos can treat these physical ailments which means that the stomach ache was really in your brain, not your stomach. So, just because social pain doesn’t have a physical spot on your body that you can point to, doesn’t mean it isn’t as real to your brain.
So, keep this in mind the next time you get into a tussle with someone. For both of you, the pain felt is as real as if you had stubbed your toe. Give yourself the grace and space to deal with the pain. Give the other person the same.
Your Brain Determines Your Tolerance For Pain
Science also shows that there is a genetic reason that some people seem to be able to deal with pain better than others. We all have a mu-opioid receptor that determines how we feel and handle pain. Depending on which receptor you get, you will be more or less sensitive to pain. Its funny because I think humans have known this for a long time even though we’ve just recently gotten the science to prove it.
Have you ever heard someone say “I’ve got a high tolerance for pain?” While someone else may say “I’ve got a low tolerance for pain?”
I’d bet if we tested those two people, we’d find that they have different mu-opioid receptors. I think they key takeaway here is that if someone else has a lower or higher tolerance for pain – which includes social pain – you should remember that it is genetic. No different than the color of their eyes. Rather than spending time judging them, recognize the difference and understand that we are all genetically driven when it comes to tolerating pain.
Theory of the Mind
Another area that brain science has made strides in recently is the development of a concept called Theory of the Mind. Theory of the Mind is this thing that happens when we realize that other people have their own thoughts that drive their behavior. We can understand that what another person believes is driven by their own experiences and beliefs. So, for example, when you are in a small store and you walk up to the counter to pay, you understand in your mind that the store employee will interpret you standing there to mean you are ready to check out so they will stop stalking the shelf and come over to ring you up. Neither of you had to tell the other what you were thinking. Your Theory of Mind allowed you both to draw conclusion s about what each other would conclude.
The interesting thing is that we aren’t born with this ability. Scientists have conducted a study to prove this. Sally and Anne are in a room with a basket and a box. A 3 year old is observing. Sally puts a marble in the basket and walks out of the room. Anne moves the marble to the box, and then Sally returns to the room. Where will Sally look for the marble. You and I would say she will look in the basket since that is where she left it and wouldn’t know that Ann had moved it. That is Theory of Mind at work. You and I can separate what Sally is thinking and how she is likely to behave from what we know to be true. But, when scientists asked the 3 year old, they say she will look in the box. Since they know it is in the box, they can’t separate the action they would take from the action Sally will take based on her experience.
It is fascinating to think about how much of our social interaction each day is driven by Theory of Mind. Start observing when you are using Theory of Mind to recognize when another person’s behavior is being driven by beliefs that differ from your own or that don’t line up with your reality.
And, lastly, closely aligned with this is the idea of mirror neurons. This is some of the newest science and is still really being disputed in the scientific community. But, what current studies are showing is that we all have an area of the brain called the mirror neurons. When you pick p a peanut, this area lights up. The interesting part is tha t if you see someone else lean over and pick up a peanut, the same are of the brain lights up. Scientists think that this is why we might wince when we see someone else stub their toe.
Theory of the Mind allows us to imagine what the other person’s reaction will be and our mirror neurons mimic that reaction. This whole process allows us to better understand the experience – something like empathy – which results in a better social connection between us and the other person.
So, you might be saying – this is great scientific information about the brain, but this is a business skills podcast – what does brain science have to do with business skills?
Well, there is a lot of scientific evidence that our brains work to ensure our social interactions with others. And, of course, a large percentage of our social interactions with others occurs at work. Your success in your career is going to be somewhat dependent on how well you can execute these social interactions. If you are a developer, your career success will be heavily dependent on your ability to code software. If you are a marketer, your success is heavily dependent on your ability to get leads in the door. But, if you are good at those career-specific skills, but not good at getting along with your coworkers or clients, then you ultimately won’t be as successful as you could be. We need to be able to execute our unique job-related skills within the bigger context of social interactions. Business is wholly dependent on social interactions.
So, understanding how our brain works in these social interactions is important. How we use this knowledge at work can help us build deeper relationships with our coworkers. It can help us influence others and understand why a coworker might behave the way they do.
And, anytime you can improve your interactions with others, you will be more successful in your career.
If you want to learn more about these topics, I recommend the book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman.
There is one thing that will, without a doubt keep you from being successful in your career. If your coworkers and bosses don’t have trust in you, you will be like Sisyphus, pushing your career up the mountain only to see it slip back down.
Mahatma Gandhi said it very well, “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”
A lack of trust is something you can’t afford in your career. And, the thing is, trust is something other’s get to decide. Do they trust you or not? Of course, it is based on your actions, but the decision to place trust is still theirs.
So, how do you increase your chances of ending up in a place where your coworkers and bosses make a decision to place their trust in you? On this episode, we are going to talk through the different components of trust. By understanding the components, you can determine if there are any levers you can pull that may help you improve your trustworthiness in other’s eyes.
A lot of the basis for this is based on the book “The Speed of Trust – The One Thing that Change Everything” by Stephen MR Covey.
How Do You Define Trust?
First, think about what it is that you consider when you decide to place your trust in others. Think about someone you trust. What makes you trust them? Now, think about someone you don’t trust. What makes you lack trust in them? What would they need to do to build a reputation with you that would lead to you trusting them?
Even the most trustworthy person you can think of can lose your trust in a given situation. It is hard to make an argument that Mother Theresa was untrustworthy.
But, would you trust her to fix your car? No.
Would you trust her to treat your cancer? No.
Trustworthiness is relative because one component of trust is competence. In your career, your level of trustworthiness can not be separated from your competence.
Obviously, you are not going to ever gain competency in all areas. Nobody is. This is why trust is relative. Your goal is to build your competency in your particular area of focus. If you find yourself struggling to gain your bosses trust, you should consider whether or not the lack of trust is driven by a competency issue.
Competency is made up of: capability, results, and your track record. It takes all three to build trust.
Capability is your skill level for a given area. If you are in finance, it is your skill level understanding financial models, data modeling, your ability to manipulate a spreadsheet. If you are in customer service, it is your ability to solve problems, to stay calm under pressure, and to learn your company’s product or service well enough to answer questions from customers. If you are in sales, it is knowing how to read the room, how to build a business case, and how to listen for what your prospective client really needs.
Whatever role you are in – what you need to do is understand the skills that are core for your area and determine how you increase these so that you become known as competent.
By the way, if you are a Scale My Skills subscriber, you’ve got a guide in your inbox that will walk you through this process.
We don’t trust people who don’t give us results. You need to be seen as someone who gets things done.
Keep your promises.
Do what you say you will do.
Under promise and over deliver.
Are you someone who delivers results? More importantly, are you someone others see as delivering results?
We build trust by delivering results consistency over a long period of time. Trust deepens each time you deliver, and you build a track record that becomes a foundation of trust with someone. We will give someone who breaks our trust the benefit of the doubt if they have a track record with us. We see the episode as out of character for them and we think to ourselves “this isn’t like Jim – he usually delivers on his promises. Something must be going on.” Someone without a track record won’t get that same level of benefit.
So, one side of the trust equation is your competency – your skill level, the results you achieve, and your track record over time. If you feel like you aren’t getting the respect you deserve at work, take a good hard look at these areas and see if there is something you can work on.
The second side of the trust equation is character. Whereas competencies are situation, character is constant. Character is made up of integrity, motive, and intent.
Integrity is honestly, congruence, humility, and courage. Are you telling the truth and leaving the right impression. Are you acting in harmony with your values and beliefs? Are you concerned more about what is right than about being right? And, do you have the courage to do what is right even when it is hard?
Having integrity is foundational to building trust. Can you imagine trusting someone who has no integrity? It is table stakes. Without integrity, it’s a non-starter.
Intent is also important when it comes to trust. Intent is your reason for doing something. When your intent is in the right place, but you screw up anyway, people are likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. They won’t penalize you as much for the violation. Its like you just got off with a warning instead of a speeding ticket. Having a positive intent is character building.
Character is also influenced by your agenda. People will determine whether or not they can trust you by whether they feel your agenda is self serving or seeking mutual benefit. How often do you operate with an open agenda versus one where you maybe have an alternative motive? When you catch yourself in alternative motive mode, remind yourself that you are not acting in accordance with building trust.
And finally, character is built on your behavior. Behavior is simply the manifestation of your intent and agenda. People can see when your behavior is not trustworthy. Behaving out of alignment with intent is a sure fire indicator of a hidden agenda.
Every single one of us has a lot to learn. You may be an expert at something, but a complete novice in another area. Or, maybe you have only been out of school for a short time and you are pretty much a novice at everything. So, whatever your situation, you are going to be put into a scenario where you are not the most knowledgeable person on the topic, and you are going to need to rely on the advice or feedback of someone else. When this happens, one of the most important things you can do is accurately assess how much weight you should give to their advice.
Assess How Much Weight to Give Advice
How do you do that? By considering how much experience the person has and what their track record is on the subject. So, someone who has been working in sales for 20 years and has won top sales person over and over is very reliable when it comes to topics related to sales. But, you may not want to take tax advice from them. For tax advice, you will go to someone with a CPA who has 20 years of experience doing tax returns.
It seems pretty obvious when I use those examples, but in day-to-day situations, it isn’t always so clear cut.
If you want to improve your ability to make good decisions, you need to evaluate your decision making process. When you make a decision, who are you relying on? Are you taking into consideration the advice you are being given weighed against the person’s experience and expertise? Not every person is right for advice on every topic. Someone who is super smart in one area can still give you horrible advice in another area.
You must be able to distinguish the person’s believability when it comes to the topic. What most people do is they give equal weight to everyone in the room. Or, they may give weight based on likeability or how long they’ve known someone. But, even in those cases, they are usually doing it unconsciously.
Consider Experience and Track Record
When you are trying to make a decision about something and you are involving others, you must consider their experience and track record when weighing the impact their opinion will have on your decision.
When you are considering someone’s advice, ask yourself:
This 3rd point is really important. A lot of people have opinions they are willing to share, but when you dig into it, you find out it is not based on any personal experience. Many times, it is based on something they’ve heard someone else say. A person’s believability is tied to first-hand experience. If they don’t have 1st hand experience, then they aren’t the right person for you to be getting advice from.
Separating your respect for someone from the fact that they aren’t believable in certain areas is an important skill. In order to do that, you need to ask yourself if they have a good explanation for their advice. If not, you should consider how much weight you give it.
What Role Are You Playing?
The other thing to think about when making a decision based on other people’s advice is the role that you are playing in this specific instance. When considering your relative experience to the other person’s – are you a student, a teacher, or a peer?
If the other person is relatively more experienced than you on the topic, then you are in the role of student and you should be asking questions in order to gain understanding.
If the other person is relatively less experienced than you on the topic, then you are in the role of teaching. You should be explaining the process and experience that led you to your conclusion.
And, if you and the other person are relative peers – have a similar level of experience, then your role is to debate. To balance open-minded exploration of the experiences that led your colleague to his opinions while also being assertive in explaining your own experiences and opinions.
If you have signed up for Scale My Skills, our weekly newsletter, you received a matrix to help you assess your role and the actions you should take when you find yourself in each of the roles.
Willpower is a funny thing. We all have willpower – we just all have it in different areas. Improving your willpower obviously helps you in life, but it will help you in your career as well. Understanding willpower can help you influence others, which can also help you in your career. So, there is a lot to be gained by better understanding it. There are a lot of different topics we can cover related to willpower, but today, we are going to focus specifically on the concept of social proof.
Social proof is the phenomenon that when the people around us do something, we think it’s the smart thing to do.
Do you think that because you are an adult, you are past peer pressure? Well, you’d be wrong!
When everybody else is doing it, we want to do it.
In California, researchers put door hangers on 371 homes that encouraged people to conserve energy*. Some homes got a door hanger that focused on the impacts to the environment. Others got a door hanger that appealed to their impact on their grandchildren. Others got a message about how much money they could save. And the last group got a door hanger that said ‘99% of the people in your community reported turning off lights to save energy.”
Each house received the same door hanger for 4 weeks in a row. Energy usage was measured at the beginning and end. The only message that resulted in reduced energy usage – you guessed it – was the message that ‘everybody’s doing it.’
Logically, you know that using less energy is better for the environment, your grandkids, and your wallet. Just like logically, you know that eating more broccoli and less chocolate cake is better for your health. But, for some reason – and psychologists call it social proof – the biggest motivator is what those around us do.
Kelly McGonigal, in her book Willpower Instinct says it well, ‘Social proof can strengthen self-control when we believe that doing the right thing is the norm.’
So, if you want to improve your willpower, the best thing you can do is find a group of people for which the things you aspire to is the norm. If you go to the gym everyday, you are going to be around people who consider daily exercise to be the norm – no willpower needed. Pretty soon, you start to think that way too.
If you want to get your customers or coworkers to behave in a certain way, you need to look for opportunities to help them feel that your desired way is the norm. Similar to our California door hangers, I can picture a client newsletter that you send out that says ‘99% of our customers never need to call the help desk because they found their own answers in our online knowledge center.”
Ok – that might not be the best idea.
But, how could you encourage your customers to believe that the behavior you want to encourage is the norm? The same with employees. If you’ve had more than one job, you’ve probably noticed that different companies have different norms. At first, if the norm isn’t what you are used to, it is a struggle, but eventually, you fall in line so that you can fit in and before long, you forget that you ever used to do it a different way.
If we look at the other side of the coin – what happens when you feel rejected from a tribe? Well, it’s a fast way to lose your willpower. Once the tribe has rejected you, you think to yourself – “well, why should I even bother?” And, you’ll give into your willpower right away.
So, it turns out that the tribe that you surround yourself with is very important to your ability to stick with your willpower. And, you have an influence on those same people. Their willpower is influenced by you. What are the norms that you’re telling yourself are ok because everybody else is doing it? Are you late to meetings because everybody else is late so its no big deal? Do you not follow through on commitments because you see others around you do the same? Do you gossip about coworkers behind their back? If that is the norm for your tribe, then you better believe that they are talking behind your back too.
Recognizing that you are influenced by peer pressure and that you are the peer pressure that others are influenced by can be a life altering paradigm shift. Be diligent about recognizing what your tribe is telling you is normal when deep down you suspect its not. Recognize that you can find other people to surround yourself with who have a different definition of normal. Recognize that you can and do influence others with your definition of normal.
Want your coworkers to show up on time? Make it normal to do that. Want to get people to follow your process? Let them know that everybody else is doing it. There may be 100 logical reasons why doing your process is the best option. Just like turning off your lights is good for the environment and saves you money. But -logic doesn’t always get people to change their ways. You are more likely to win your bet when you bet on social proof.
Your homework for this week is to identify an area where you feel your self-control isn’t where it should be. Are you surrounded by people who are making this unwanted behavior the norm? Are you telling yourself that its no big deal because everybody’s doing it? If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, then you are probably not surrounding yourself with the right people. Or, think of a role model who you can call to mind if you can’t change your tribe.
*Energy Conservation Study – Nolan, JM “Normative Social Influence is Under detected” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2008
Do you have a 1:1 meeting with your manager? If not, why not? If you do, do you feel like you are getting value out of it?
Sadly, I think many 1:1 meetings are less effective than they could be. I think that many people – both managers and employees – don’t have a clear idea about the purpose of the meeting. And, because of this, its hard to make them effective. Let’s start with a discussion of what a 1:1 meeting is. It is a meeting where you and your manager met on a regular basis. The idea is that this is a recurring touchpoint between just the 2 of you. The reason 1:1s are important is because managers have multiple direct reports, so they need the opportunity to spend time with each one on a regular basis. If they don’t have something on their calendar, it would be easy for weeks, months, or even quarters to pass by without any meaningful conversation between the two of you. The demands of day-to-day work, special projects, fighting fires will all consume a work day about it can easily lead to a lack of time for something that is important, but not urgent.
1:1 meetings are important for a lot of reasons:
So, 1:1 meetings are really important. But, they are in no way urgent. As a result, they can easily be put on the back burner. Rescheduled or worse, cancelled altogether. It is something you need to be aware of. Where many employees go wrong is to assume it is the manager’s responsibility to manage the 1:1. It is just a much your responsibility. Your relationship with your manager is very important for your career. Whether they are a good manager or no is not something you are going to be able to control. But, what you can control is your ability to meet 1:1 with your manager. With a bad manager, it might take more persistence, but it is within your control.
If you don’t currently have a 1:1 with you manager, you are going to take the bull by the horns and schedule one.
Now, let’s turn to the topic of what makes an effective 1:1. A 1:1 is a time to step outside of the day-to-day hustle and bustle. It is a time to check in about the bigger picture. To align on priorities, direction, and vision. In some cases, it is a dedicated time for addressing questions that you’ve saved up during the week. Many people treat it as a status meeting. Of course, your particular situation is going to dictate the content or agenda for your 1:1. It is hard for me to give any specific agenda that would work for everybody.
There are some things you can think about that will help you ensure that your 1:1 is giving you the benefits you deserve.
In episode 9, we talked about preparing for your annual review. You should be preparing for it monthly by documenting each month what you accomplished. This process helps you with your 1:1 also. You can refer to this list when meeting with your manager to highlight what you’ve done since your last meeting.
4. Think about your career development. What coaching do you need? Do you know what skills your manager thinks you should develop? Does your manager know what your long term career objective is? Are you at the point in your job where it is time to be talking about what’s next for you? Some portion of your 1:1 agenda should focus on this longer-term career development topic in whatever form makes sense for you in your current situation.
5. You may want to build time into your agenda for addressing current issues you are having that you need your manager’s help solving. This could mean helping to remove a roadblock, giving you a steer in the right direction, being a sounding board to talk through the issues with, or giving you the answer you need. You may or may not have current issues that need to be addressed, but if your manager’s time is hard to come by, using your 1:1 to get what you need might be a good option. So, those are some of the things you should consider when you are planning your 1:1 agenda. If you get our newsletter, you’ll get a guide this week that will help you think through this process and come up with an agenda. If not, you can sign up for our newsletter here and you’ll get access to our full back catalog of guides.
One thing to note about the agenda. You may not cover all of these topics each time. For example, it may make sense to only talk about career development topics each third time. Or, you may not talk about status as a regular agenda item, but some specific situation causes you to add it to the agenda for your next 1:1.
What I’m hoping you take away from this episode is that it is important for you to establish a 1:1 with your manager. If your manager hasn’t taken responsibility for it, then you should do so yourself. There are 2 people in the 1:1, and you are one of them. So, the responsibility is yours to make sure that you have this important mechanism in place to keep an open dialogue with your manager.
The circle of influence is a concept popularized by Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Although Covey takes no credit for the idea, he was a master at explaining it in a way that is so clear and actionable that it has become part of our business lexicon.
Today, I’m going to do my level best to explain it to you in a manner that will allow a light bulb to go on and for you to be able to walk away from this episode and put a new habit into practice. Even if you think you’ve got the concept down, I encourage you to listen to this episode. It is always good to have a refresher.
I fall into this category myself. If you were to ask me if I live or embody the concept of circle of influence I would have said yes. I think of and employ the concept frequently. I’ve talked about a lot of the ideas in one way or another on previous episodes. I would describe this concept as a core of my philosophy and personality. And yet – I just re-read the chapter in 7 Habits and found myself learning more. Being reminded of little nuances I’ve forgotten. Being shown a different way to approach it. So, there is always something more you can learn.
Let’s start by defining the circle of influence. Think about your world in 3 buckets:
This you can’t control
Most people are pretty good about how they deal with the things they can’t control. There is a recognition that you can’t do anything about it, so you adjust your behavior in whatever way is relevant and you move on with your life. The majority of people recognize this situation the majority of the time.
The weather is a classic example. You can’t control the weather. You know it and, although you may be disappointed when an even gets cancelled due to the weather, you don’t let it eat away at you.
Another example I like to use is a sports example. When a referee makes what you think is a bad call, there is literally nothing you can do about it. You can yell and scream and post as many bad tweets as you want, it isn’t going to change the outcome. The reason I use this example is because I think it is an example of where people who otherwise generally recognize situations where they don’t have control temporarily lose sight of that fact.
When it comes to the things you can’t control, your best option is to recognize as quickly as possible that you have no control, which takes away their ability to control you. If you feel like this is an area where you need to so some additional development work, I suggest you listen to Episode 20 about Productive and Unproductive Worry.
Things you can control indirectly through influence
Within the circle is the circle of influence. These are the things you can control indirectly through influence. These are things that other people are responsible for, but for which you can impact their actions. Your circle of influence with your children, if they are still young, is pretty large. And, although it decreases as they get older, it is still a very large part of your circle. Your circle of influence at work is likely smaller than your circle of influence at home, but you still have influence. Your objective should be to increase your circle of influence to be as large as it can be.
I believe influence is a mindset issue. You need to 1. Believe you can influence the situation and 2. Take responsibility for your actions or response. The way you know if you are doing this is by looking at the language you are using:
Is the issue someone else’s fault?
Do you feel like you are the victim?
Are you talking in terms of ‘onlys’? If only I had a better boss. If only I had this certification. If only management understood that our customers are impossible to deal with.
You have influence over each of these if only’s. And you can take action to influence them. When you give up your right to take action, you’ve made the choice to dis-empower yourself.
“If only I had a better boss.” What about your boss do you have a problem with? What can you do to build a relationship with your boss to gain influence that will change the impact? If they are a micro-manger, it means that they need a high level of detail to be comfortable. Increase the level of detail you provide when you communicate with them. By proactively doing this, they will become comfortable with you – they will trust in the work you are doing and will no longer feel the need to micro-mange.
“If only I had this certification.” If you think you aren’t getting considered for a role because you are lacking a skill, what are you doing to go get the skill?
“If only management understood that our customers are impossible to deal with.” How can you help them understand? Are you documenting the scenarios that come up? Have you investigated the steps necessary to address the scenarios? Have you asked management for what you need to address the scenarios?
And, taking responsibility for your actions means that if you feel you’ve tried to influence and the outcome is still not acceptable, then you take action to move on.
Things you can directly influence
Which takes us to the final part of the circle of influence – things you can directly control. These are your habits, your mindset. Taking responsibility for your actions proactively is one of the key things that sets highly productive, highly effective, people apart. Taking action on your own behalf is a fundamental skill. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you believe that you are the architect of your career.
As human beings, one of the things that sets us apart from other animals is our ability to be self aware. Our freedom to choose how we respond to a situation. When there is some sort of situation thrust upon us, we are the architects of our response. I’m not trying to imply that by having a positive attitude, you can turn a bad situation into a positive situation. Bad things happen. Sucky things will always suck. But, you have 100% control over how you choose to respond. You can let bad things eat away at you, impacting the rest of your life, or you can let bad things be one part of your story rather than the whole story.
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LinkedIn is the social platform for business networking, and if you are part of the business world, you really must have a LinkedIn profile. Many companies are even asking for your LinkedIn URL as part of the application process. So, on today’s episode, we are going to cover my top tips about using LinkedIn.
If you think you don’t need LinkedIn since you aren’t currently looking for a job, you are wrong. LinkedIn is not just for finding a job. It is a business networking platform. You should constantly be networking. You never know when you are going to need something from your network, and so it is very important that you maintain a constant presence on LinkedIn.
I covered this point in more detail in Episode 21 when I talked about my philosophy that every day is an interview. Keeping your network warm at all times will help you solve lots of different business problems – not just your employment status.
So, my first tip for LinkedIn is to stop thinking of it as a site for job searching and start thinking of it as a network platform.
Closely related to that – your LinkedIn profile should not be an exact copy of your resume or CV. Your resume or CV is a chronological list of the positions you’ve held and the accomplishments in each of those roles. There is an aspect of this in your profile, but your profile is much wider than that.
People will be looking at your LinkedIn profile for many reasons other than because they want to interview you for a job. Your LinkedIn profile is an overview of your business experience as well as a peek inside where you aspire to take your career. It should help someone understand what makes you unique. Many people have been project managers at IBM, but each one of them has a unique strength and approach to how they did the job. Your resume or CV isn’t going to communicate that. Your LinkedIn profile can.
Now let’s get into some of the tactics about LinkedIn:
This is the one sentence description that shows up below your name.
This should not be your job title at your company name.
It should not be Project Manager at IBM.
That is a description from your resume that describes your current role. It isn’t who you are. It isn’t the skill that makes you marketable. It is a current title for a current role. Your headline should describe your skillset and, although it should not be a lie, it should also be somewhat aspirational.
Our IBM project manager could say “I help large companies manage large projects effectively.’
Or, “I manage multi-million dollar technology projects.’
This section should sound like you are talking to someone at a bar about your skills. Many people confuse this with the ‘objective’ section of a resume. This section should be in 1st person and should expand on your headline.
Our IBM project manager might have the following in his About section:
I’m a project manager in my bones. Everything I get involved with is a project in my eyes. I look at complex objectives and immediately think about the timeline, the budget, and the best way to organize the project plan. Although I can turn a trip to the grocery store into a project, my sweet spot is multi-million dollar technology projects that typically have a 12 to 18 month timeline and impact companies at the enterprise level. My secondary skillset of change management is a strength as well because every successful project can point to a successful change management plan.
The About Section gives the reader some insight into the person that reading bullet points on a resume doesn’t.
Some other things good About sections do:
This is the closest thing to your resume, although it still shouldn’t be an exact copy. This is where you will list your positions. The difference from your resume is that you still want to summarize this more than you would a resume. Talk about your accomplishments more than your specific job responsibilities.
Our PM would say:
“Successfully managed the implementation of Salesforce.com for a 2000 person organization where the previous solution was multiple spreadsheets. In my role as the lead project manager, I ensured the project was delivered within the time and budget expectations of the project sponsor while also achieving a 75% adoption rate within 3 months of go-live.”
If you go to Edit profile, you will see in the top right corner a button to edit your profile URL. You should edit this so that it is your name. If your name has already been taken then work on it until you come up with something that is easy to communicate to others.
Update your Profile Regularly
There are lots of ways you can update it without having changed jobs. Put a reminder on your calendar for every four months to review and update it with anything new. For example, I recently took a process that had been monthly looking backward and made it weekly. This means we are able to more quickly react to the information and be proactive when we use to be reactive to information that came too late. I didn’t change jobs, but I updated my profile to reflect this accomplishment because it has made a significant impact for my company.
Finally, I will just point out that your LinkedIn profile is a marketing tool for your career. You never want to lie about your accomplishments, but you do want to market them so that your strengths and accomplishments are at the forefront and in the spotlight. Take some time to really ensure that your profile pops. If you feel like you could use some help with yours, I’m happy to coach you through the process and help you create a profile that will set you apart. Learn more at www.pmocoaching.com/LinkedInProfile.
I was recently talking with a friend about the process for dealing with customer service calls at a food service delivery app company. When you get on one of these apps to order food from a local company, what are your expectations? What would lead you to call the customer service department of the app?
Let me tell you something about myself before we go any further into this discussion. I personally have never used one of these apps. Now, you’ve probably formed all kinds of ideas about me in your head because of this admission. I’m ok with that. Before these apps came into the mainstream, I rarely ever ordered carry out. It just isn’t a habit I have. I either cook at home or go out to a restaurant to eat. I don’t and never have, ordered carry out. It just doesn’t fit my lifestyle. So, when the apps came along, I just never had a reason to use them.
So, back to my conversation with my friend. She works for one of these app companies and had called me because they were having some growing pains in their customer service department. I had asked her to give me some examples of reasons people call them for support. She said, “well maybe they get their order and the drink is missing.”
Ok – now hold on a second.
I was totally confused. Why would you call a software company about a missing drink in your order rather than calling the restaurant?
This is a concept that makes absolutely no sense to me. The software company has developed an app that facilitates a connection between you and a local restaurant. That software company, and its customer service people could literally be located anywhere in the country – in the world. You’ve ordered from a local restaurant. Presumably within around 10 miles of your house assuming you want your food to still be warm when it gets to you. They forget to send your drink. They are local, and responsible for messing up your order. But, instead of calling them, you call the app. I really can’t get my mind wrapped around that logic.
I wonder how many people called the phone company back in the day before the internet when the only way to get food delivered to your home was by telephone. Hello? AT&T? Yes, I’ve just called and ordered a pizza and now that its been delivered, I see that it is missing black olives.
Today’s episode is about the false conclusion effect. You see, the fact that this makes no sense to me is irrelevant. Obviously, a lot of people think about this differently than I do, or else my friend wouldn’t be getting these calls. A lot of people obviously think that it is the software company’s job to fix the missing drink problem. They’ve reached a different conclusion than I have. The false conclusion effect says that we tend to believe the world at large shares our beliefs and point of view more than they actually do. We tend to use our own perspective as a proxy for the likely perspective of others.
The false conclusion effect is pervasive in companies. Not because of any bad management or nefarious intentions, but because of good old fashion human nature. We are just naturally included to think that other think the way we do and if we don’t exercise some self-control, we can really miss important inputs into our process. Why is self control important here? Because it takes self control to set aside our perceptions in order to look at things from other perspectives.
Once I became aware of this idea that other people come to the conclusion that the correct course of action when a drink is missing from your order is to call the software company, I needed to shift my perspective. This was an eye opener for me. I was immediately faced with the fact that I don’t have the only world view on how these things work. There are two primary reactions that we have when we are faced with the false conclusion effect. We can either reappraise or we can suppress.
Reappraisal means that we reconsider our approach given the new perspective we have. If you get fired from your job, reappraisal is at work if you tell yourself it was a horrible job anyway and you are now free to go do what you want to do with your life. We know from scientific brain studies that reappraisal engages the region of the brain responsible for self control. But, more importantly, it is engaged early in the episode.
The other possible reaction to being faced with a new perspective is suppression. Suppression is when you control your facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language so that others can’t tell what you are thinking inside. Suppression will make it look to others like you aren’t distressed, but your mind is substantially more distracted because of the energy you are putting into maintaining your calm exterior. People are not going to enjoy being with you while you are in this state, and it is more likely that you will forget portions of the event. The self-control region of the brain is engaged later in the event when you are in suppression mode.
Why is reappraisal & suppression important to understand? Because we trust people with self control more than we trust people without it. Trust is the foundation of social interactions. And, without it, you can not be successful in your career – or life. In the book Social, Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect by Matthew Lieberman, he says “self control is the price of admission to society.”
We’ve talked a lot about how self control is an important part of self awareness on this podcast. Emotional Intelligence requires us to understand how we interact with society. Understanding this concept of the false consensus effect – and more importantly, recognizing when we are in its grasp - is important in allowing us to recognize our biases with society.
Having a bias doesn’t make you a a bad person. My bias toward thinking that it is logical to call the restaurant rather than the software company when my drink is missing doesn’t make me a bad person. We all have biases. Recognizing that this is true and then managing your response to it is what leads to improvement.
Once I was able to recognize this other point of view, I was able to incorporate it into my understanding of the issue being faced and provide a better suggestion for solving the problem. Any solution I gave without this expanded world view would have been inadequate.
This is why it is important to get a lot of varying inputs into your process. Talk to others about their experiences. Dig deeper into their thoughts. Ask a lot of questions. But always with the understanding that you are a victim of the false conclusion effect – we all are. Becoming aware of this alone is making you better at your job.
Episode 39: Self Control
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There are a lot of different ways that we look at personality types. The reason we have all of these different categories is because it helps us to understand ourselves and others. Why we behave the way we do. Why others behave in ways we can’t understand.
I’m an introvert, which means that I get my energy from being alone. I can’t imagine what it would be like to get energy from others, but because I understand the idea that there are other personality types, I can recognize an extrovert as an extrovert even though we have a fundamental difference in personality.
Different personality type indicators have different focus. Today, I’m going to introduce the Enneagram Types. I’ve also covered Myers Briggs if you want to listen to that episode as well. Its episode 17.
In this episode, we are only going to be able to cover the Enneagram at the highest level because there are 9 personality types and you can’t cover them all in a 10 minute podcast. Enneagram is primarily concerned with your instinctual motivators. Another way to say it is to talk about it in terms of habits. We all have an instinctual way we interact with the world based on our underlying motivators. Someone who is motivated by fear is going to react differently than someone who is motivated by shame.
Enneagram starts by lumping the 9 types into 3 triads, each of which is defined by its underlying motivator:
The Instinctive Triad. The 3 types in this category are driven by anger. They respond to life at the gut level and are typically very honest and direct. What sets the 3 types apart within the triad is how they manifest the anger.
The Feeling Triad. This group of people are driven by feelings and instinctively motivated by shame. They develop habits that help them cope with their feelings of shame in different ways.
The Thinking Triad. This group of people are driven by fear or anxiety. They relate to the world through their mind and plan carefully before acting.
The reason you should become familiar with Enneagram types is because it helps you understand your overall patters and behaviors. If you understand that you are fundamentally driven by shame, it helps you understand why you make some of the decisions or take some of the actions, or react to others in the way you do.
It also helps you understand that not everyone has the same motivation as you. We all have a tendency to assume others react the same way we do. Logically, we know this isn’t true, but in the moment, as we work ourselves through the day and week, we fall into the more comfortable, or maybe more expedient mental approach that our way is the only way.
But, if you can recognize that your coworker, who has a talent for seeing potential problems and dealing with them before they get out of hand is a Type 6 – and is driven by their fear and anxiety, you can better understand that you and he have a different filter on life.
I’m a big believer that anything you can do to better understand yourself and others is worthwhile. You will be more successful at work the more self-aware you are. Getting to know the Enneagram types will help you identify your coworker’s motivations and filters. It helps you understand the unique way they relate to others, what their perceptions and preoccupations are, and what their values are and how they impact the way they relate to life.
As I said at the start, there is no way for me to cover each of the types in detail, but there are extensive resources that you can use to learn more. Here are the ones I covered in the episode:
Episode 17: Understanding Myers Briggs
The Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile
Discovering Your Personality Type Don Riso & Russ Hudson
You don’t have to be in a position of authority to have an authoritative personality type.
People with Authoritative personalities are generally:
However, authoritative personalities come in different flavors. Understanding these variations can help you better understand how to work with someone more effectively.
Authoritative & Creative – they come up with a million great ideas and will inspire others. They have an aversion to routine. You will not be very successful trying to get them to follow a process.
Authoritative & Relationship oriented – they are highly attuned to their relationships. They are able to lead teams through change because they know how to collaborate, getting others onboard with the change.
Authoritative and Standards oriented – they set high objectives for themselves and expect every step to be met with high quality. They are going to give you the specific details of how they want things done.
Authoritative and Quiet - have ambitious goals, but work more independently. They will let their teams work more independently. They are more methodical, and will not spend a lot of energy rallying others to get on board with their ideas.
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