Category Archives: Relationships

How to Make a Stellar First Impression

2-½ minutes to read

You have seven seconds to make a good first impression. Of course this assumes the other person has never met you. But in these days of pervasive social media, it’s easy to know a lot about you. The people you’re meeting with about a job or business have checked you out on LinkedIn and Facebook. Before you cry Google-stalking, think about it. Prudent business dictates knowing about the people with whom you’ll work. In all likelihood you have given a first impression long before you meet someone in person.

How to Make a Stellar First Impression

A Less Than Stellar First Impression

Since your online persona will precede you, consider what shapes it. In a face-to-face meeting, most people want to appear humble. They don’t brag about themselves or their accomplishments. Often they take it too far. They avoid talking about their achievements. Instead they recite their skills. By what magic can the person intuit the great benefits such skills will deliver?

Yet these same people thing nothing of posting embarrassing pictures on Facebook. They use unprofessional headshots on LinkedIn. These pale compared to ranting on social media about things they dislike. They attack the beliefs and politics of anyone with whom they disagree.

Overly humble as they are in a meeting, modesty is thrown out the window online. Neither makes a good first impression.

Humility verses Modesty

The solution is simple. Ratchet up modesty, scale back false humility. Consider increasing your online decorum:

  • Images. Before posting that hilarious picture, how funny will it be if a potential employer or client cites it as the reason for not hiring you or giving you their business? Is he really an old fogey or is it valid to question your maturity? People want to know you’ll exercise sound judgment.
  • Complaints. Other than getting it off your chest, what good does complaining in public do? Are you going to start a mass movement? Will people spontaneously engage in a boycott? How do you like being publically humiliated? Leaders know to compliment in public and reprimand in private.
  • Politics. What you post online may outlive you. When I searched my name I found my address from college. The World Wide Web was not launched until 10 years after I got my degree. Do you know for a fact that everyone who disagrees with your views is stupid, evil, or traitorous? Reasoned debate is one thing. Insults under the guise of honesty may cause you lifelong harm.

At the same time, humility need not prevent you from highlighting your accomplishments. Be:

  • Truthful. Give the plain facts of what you’ve done. What does it mean that you’re effective or dynamic? Leave out the superlatives and adverbs.
  • Specific. Are you very experienced? According to whom? If you’ve been in a field for 23-½ years people will figure out you’re experienced. Quantify your achievements. Now you can test whether the person perceives your value. If he doesn’t will you be able to meet your objectives working with him?
  • Confident. Braggarts use lofty words and talk a lot. Speak succinctly. Know what you want to say. Look the other person in the eyes when you talk. Connect with him.

Be modest rather than humble. Make self-discipline and authenticity that builds relationships your goals. They will lead you to success.

Why do you have difficulty promoting yourself? Please comment below.

Being Brutally Honest Makes You a Liar

2-½ minutes to read

Authenticity is the rage in personal development. Everywhere you turn writers (me included) encourage you to be genuine. With so many exhortations you would think everybody goes around wearing masks and deceiving other people. The constraints have been lifted. Be brutally honest. Remember your authenticity is at stake. You don’t want to commit the sin of phoniness!

Being Brutally Honest Makes You a Liar

Act How You Feel

If you’re mad at a coworker, rip him with profanity. If your kid irritates you for the hundredth time, scream at her to stop. Spew invective on Facebook. Tweet 140 character assaults. Being authentic means you can say and do whatever you want without penalty.

Or does it?

What will happen to your job if you give a colleague a verbal dressing down? Gone, right?

How will you child respond to your bellowing? Alienation?

Why would someone hire you when your social media attacks people and ideas they may agree with?

Do you want to be an unemployed misanthrope?

Perhaps you’ll have to refrain from expressing brutally honest emotions. After all, we teach children to stop throwing temper tantrums. Oh well, it’s only a small compromise of your authenticity.

Who You Are Going to Be

You’re probably frustrated about not having something in your life. Maybe it’s more money or a solid marriage. It could be the time and resources to travel or pursue a hobby you love. Will being brutally honest do anything to get you what you lack?

Is your deepest need to express yourself uninhibitedly? You’ll never get to without suffering consequences.

Or is your frustration actually about something else? If this is the case, being brutally honest with people will make it even more difficult to get what you want since the only way to fill your needs is by helping others fill theirs.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can mistreat people under the guise of being authentic. Genuineness comes from behaving in a way that fulfills your deepest aspirations. Indulging the childish side of your nature bespeaks immaturity. Staying true to the best image you have for yourself is true authenticity.

Venting your frustration, verbally or through social media, may make you feel good. But it’s only authentic if your goal in life is to alienate as many people as possible. You know from your own experience, the success you’ve had thus far in life has come from cordial interactions with others.

So stop lying to yourself that being brutally honest expresses the true you. Let your actual authenticity shine through in being the person you wish to be.

How do you stay focused on being your ideal person? Please comment below.

How to Handle Relationship Problems Lovingly

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Terumah – Exodus 25:1-27:19

You can express unlimited passion when loving your spouse. The challenge comes when you need to deal with relationship problems. The temptation is to let the matter slide in order to avoid an argument. But allowing resentment to build up can cause you to fly off the handle. The passion that should be reserved for positive emotions spills out in a flood of negative energy. Permanent damage to your marriage can be the result. In the interaction between G-d and Moses in Parshas Terumah you’ll find a better way:

“…And I will speak with you from atop the ark cover from between the cherubim that are on the Ark of Testimony…” (Shemos/Exodus 25:22)

How to Handle Relationship Problems Lovingly

This Sabbath’s parsha details the plans for the Mishkan or portable Sanctuary in which G-d rested His Presence during the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness. Such ordinary materials as copper, linen, and goatskins are turned into a holy abode.

G-d Doesn’t Just Talk to Moses

G-d could have spoken to Moses anywhere and at anytime. But the Almighty knew this would overwhelm Moses. Instead He established a comfortable mode for communicating.

The ark was located in the Holy of Holies, a place of unsurpassed tranquility. The wings of the two cherubim provided a shield over the ark, in essence protecting it from harm. The distance between the cherubim was about a cubit, approximately 18 inches. G-d revealed Himself only in this safe environment and to this limited extent. By regulating His awesome presence, the Almighty created a pleasant connection with Moses. When G-d delivered difficult messages, Moses felt His love because the Almighty restrained Himself. Intimacy and endurance were the hallmarks of their relationship.

Intentionality Is Key in Relationship Problems

Rarely does trouble in a relationship get better with age. So ignoring problems is not a viable way to keep your marriage on track. If you follow the model G-d used with Moses, you can avoid a potentially explosive situation with your spouse.

  1. Chose a place of serenity. Send the kids to a friend’s house, turn off phones, and get rid of any other potential distractions.
  2. Surround you and your spouse with symbols and love and security. Light a fire in the fireplace or light some candles. Sit on the floor amidst pillows.
  3. Begin by affirming your desire for maintaining intimacy and a lifelong marriage.
  4. Talk about enough of the problem that the issues are clear, but don’t belabor your points. Limit expressions of hurt. Strive for understanding by your spouse. Don’t punish him.

Taking the time to create the proper setting and retaining self-control will show your good intentions. Such a demonstration of caring will turn a problem into a path for deeper respect and love.

How do you prepare your spouse to hear about problems? Please comment below.

 

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Have a Supportive Spouse When Stress Skyrockets

2 minutes to read

Transitions, hard times in general, really test a marriage. Changing jobs, moving, and dealing with health issues cause stress levels to skyrocket. Leaving military life means you’re dealing with at least one and perhaps all three of these. Even the most mundane interaction can lead to an argument. What could be an exciting time of growth morphs into an exercise in preventing a divorce.

If you do two things you’ll decrease tension, make a smoother transition, and improve your marriage.

How to Have a Supportive Spouse When Stress Skyrockets

Give Up the Mind Reading Act

While you may have loved guessing games as a kid, they have no place in a marriage. Especially during transitions and other times of high stress they only make matters worse.

There is no amount of love that enables your spouse to read your mind. So she does really love you despite being clueless about how you need to be supported. Perhaps at some point during your relationships your wife told you, “If you really cared you’d know what was wrong!” Well she was wrong about that. And the midst of a high stress transition is no time for payback.

Tell your spouse how she can support you.

If you’re not sure, talk to her about what’s bothering you. Be open about your anxiety and fears. Acknowledge you don’t know what you need. Decide together how she’ll be supportive. Plan another time when the two of you will sit down and assess how it going.

Accept Your Spouse’s Support

If you want a supportive spouse be open to the help your partner offers you. Remember, it’s what you asked for or agreed to try. Still, it may not feel right at first. Give it time. Don’t let the desire for immediate release from stress ruin what may work.

Trust your spouse’s intentions, insight, and love. Your acceptance of support is a key component in its effectiveness. If after trying it for a few days you don’t feel supported, thank your partner for the good intentions behind the attempt. Then figure out a new plan together.

John Florio said, “A good husband makes a good wife.” It’s equally true that an open and trusting spouse makes a supportive spouse.

How do you get the support you want from your spouse? Please comment below.

Preventing Others’ Failure Doesn’t Make You a Success

2-½ minutes to read

Last month I finished a master of library and information science degree. One of the notable aspects of the program is the grading scale:

  • 97-100      A
  • 94-96       A-
  • 91-93       B+
  • 88-90       B
  • 85-87       B-
  • 82-84       C+
  • 79-81       C
  • 76-78       C-
  • 73-75       D+
  • 70-72       D
  • 67-69       D-
  • Below 67 F

When I was a high school student and an undergraduate in college, you only had to get a 90 for an A- and a 70 would get you a C-. At first I thought the grading scale indicated a more rigorous evaluation of a student’s work. Later I found it was a response to professors grading too leniently. Whether because they were buying good student ratings or were overwhelmed by compassion, the result was students who didn’t write well and often lacked the resilience to deal with the workload.

Preventing Others’ Failure Doesn’t Make You a Success

Lower Expectations Leads to Less Quality

Academia isn’t the only place where failure essentially has been eradicated. Command Master Chiefs and Career Counselors, among others in the navy, ensure sailors succeed. This policy is justified by the cost to train a sailor, as high as $1 million for one who will work on a nuclear reactor. From leading petty officers (foremen in civilian life) to the officers in command, sailor retention and advancement is a key indicator of performance.

But there’s no free lunch. The price has to be paid somewhere.

Stress on chief petty officers (supervisors in civilian life) burns them out more quickly and reduces their quality of life. Job satisfaction at all levels is lower. Instead of failing and self-selecting to follow another path, sailors advance despite not liking their work. But the real cost is borne when they finally leave the navy.

Preventing Failure as an Indicator of Success

Chief petty officers and commanding officer take pride in saying none of their sailors failed. But like college professors, their success comes at a price someone else pays. Once out in the civilian job market, where being told no, you don’t qualify, and receiving rejection can be a daily experience, sailors are baffled by their lack of success. Studies show that a veteran who does not build up resilience to such treatment in the first six months after leaving the military is far less likely to ever transition successfully.

Reintegration is made more difficult by having spent longer in the military. They are more set in the military mindset. Making the changes necessary to succeed in civilian life can be hopeless.

People have to be allowed to fail. Denying them this opportunity means taking from them the chance to grow. Rather than basing success on preventing failure, you’re better off showing people, whether your children or employees, how to bounce back from defeat.

While the short-term benefits may be high, in the long term preventing others from failing will lead to their downfall. In the end, if your children and colleagues don’t succeed have you?

Where do you see preventing failure is necessary? Please comment below.

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