July 19, 2011
6 Tips on Coping with "Horrible Bosses"
So when your boss is crazy, cruel, or just plain old incompetent, how do you cope?
Shawn Achor, the author of "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work" and a well-known expert on positive psychology, offers these six tips on staying positive in a stressful workplace:
1. Train your brain to scan for the good. Say three things you’re grateful for twenty-one days in a row and you can literally re-wire your brain to be more positive.
2. Smile while you work. Research shows that bursts of positivity cause people to think more intelligently and creatively, and work more productively. When we’re happy, our neurons fire faster and more efficiently.
3. Brighten your environment. Everything around you—from the color of your walls to the mood of your coworkers—affects the way you think and feel. Surround your desk with pictures and objects that prime you for positivity—your mood and your brain will thank you.
4. Use your words. Neuroscientists have discovered that verbalizing thoughts can act like a wet blanket on the fire of negative emotions—the simple act of putting emotions into words immediately decreases their magnitude. Keeping a weekly diary also enhances your decision-making skills and improves your progress towards goals.
5. Invest in people. Smart people do stupid things during times of stress, like shutting down their social networks to focus on work. The greatest predictor of success during stress and challenge is the quantity and quality of your relationships. Strong social bonds enrich our daily lives, give meaning to our work, and even improve our physical health. Take time to strengthen these connections in your life.
6. Think about work as a sprint not a marathon. After two hours of continuous work, your brain function actually slows and your body starts to rapidly accumulate stress and strain. The secret to beating this pattern is to take strategically placed energy breaks throughout the day. Split up your work day into short sprints of 90-120 minutes, then take time for 5 minutes of recovery. You’ll feel more positive and see a big jump in your concentration and productivity.
For more tips, see "Seven Ways to Handle Your Dysfunctional Office."
How have you coped with a horrible boss? Share your stories in the Comments section.
March 13, 2011
Pee-wee's Big Career
I'm at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference this week—Monster.com (my employer) has a big presence at the event; we're the official Hiring Hub, we're showcasing a lot of our digital and mobile products, we're getting in front of influential bloggers, and we're covering news of interest to job seekers.
It's going to be a busy few days, and my schedule is packed. But of course when I saw that Paul Reubens was speaking, I made time for that in my schedule.
Paul Reubens (also—if not better—known as Pee-wee Herman) presented a funny, enlightening, and encouraging discussion of his long career.
One of the more encouraging elements was his discussion of writing the screenplay for his film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Reubens says that he dislikes writing and felt, then, that he didn't know how. So when it came time to write the screenplay, he read—and then followed the instructions in—a how-to-write-a-screenplay book. The result is (I believe) a timeless and very entertaining movie, and, Reubens says, the screenplay is now taught in some film-theory classes as a perfect example of a well-paced and classic sort of hero's-journey plot, with all the right elements in the right places.
Reubens says, "The film is 90 minutes long, and 90 pages. On page 30, the bike gets stolen—a classic MacGuffin—and on page 60, Pee-wee finds it again."
Here are that story's encouraging takeaways, for me: First, not knowing how to do something doesn't mean you can't learn how to do it (and then do it well). Reubens followed the rules and learned as he went. Second, you don't need to start from scratch when you create something. Putting your own spin on, or bringing your own viewpoint to, a well-tested formula can be a great place to start and can perhaps even help you spur your creativity.
Reubens also touched on a notion that is appropriate to SXSWi, at which people are discussing all things related to social media—the difficulty of maintaining a work persona that is separate from your personal persona. For many years, Reubens was photographed and interviewed only as Pee-wee; it was an extended and complex piece of performance art (though Reubens is too modest to call it that).
That is, Reubens was photographed only as Pee-wee until, as he says, this one day. ... And because, perhaps, Reubens kept his true identity so private and appeared only to the world as Pee-wee, this photo seemed even more shocking, amplifying the resulting scandal (which was blown so out of proportion as to approach the level of farce). We live in a different era, and nowadays it's even harder to separate one's "work persona" from one's "private persona." It's a good caution: Your private life is likely to find its way into the public eye.
For the first movie role he took after this scandal (in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Reubens asked that his character look as much like his mugshot as possible. Now that's facing negative press head-on and turning it into a positive.
December 29, 2009
Ending 2009 'Up in the Air'
When I took some time off last week, I actually went to the movies. For full-time working parents, you know this is a luxury. And with all the critical acclaim, I felt I had to see Up in the Air.
Going in, I didn't really know what the film was about. Just that it came from the director of Juno, which I loved, and that it just might be the best movie of the year. I was surprised to find out that the story centers on people who travel the country laying people off -- for other companies.
Despite the focus on George Clooney's character, I couldn't let go of the vignettes of the people getting laid off. The dialogue around the "layoff as an opportunity" stuck with me too. In the real world, does that actually make people feel better? And I wondered: Any other year, any other time, would the movie hold the weight it does now? How much does the timeliness play into its acclaim? If it were to come out a year from now, would it just seem quirky?
And then I kept thinking about the film's title. It's a great way to sum up the end of 2009: We're not sure when the job market will get better or what is in store for 2010. Whether we've experienced layoffs ourselves or have someone close to us who has, we can only hope that the hardship of 2009 will make way for better things in the New Year. But until we see the concrete proof, we are up in the air.
April 03, 2009
4 Ways to Help the Unemployed
When times get difficult, I find the best way to cope is taking action. And times are certainly hard for many of us nowadays -- 13.2 million Americans are now unemployed as of March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So I compiled this list of ways those of us in a position to help the unemployed can do so. Read it and get going:
· Make a Donation: It doesn’t have to be money (but it never hurts). Organizations like Dress for Success help disadvantaged women get the proper clothes and skills for interviews. Got a suit you never wear or time to mentor someone? Here’s how to help.
· Reach Out to Alumni: People you graduated college with are great networking contacts, whether you’re employed or not. If you know of fellow alums in your industry who are out of work, keep your eyes and ears open for them, and stay in touch. You may even want to take them to an industry networking event they may not have been aware of.
· Listen: When any loss happens, from death to a layoff, platitudes don’t help -- being there does. Let your friend or relative know you’re available to talk about anything, not just their work situation. This is especially important when your partner or spouse has been laid off.
· Patronize New Businesses: Some people start their own companies when their corporate jobs don’t work out. You can help by giving your business to someone you know who’s just starting out. It’s a win-win for you and for them.
Here are some more ways you can help the unemployed. And if you have other ways to be of assistance, let us know in the comments below.
March 04, 2009
5 Acclaimed Job-Related Movies for Dark Times
Spring is coming, but the weather hasn’t quite caught up. And you’ve probably seen all of this year’s Oscar-nominated films by now. So what are the winter-and recession-weary to do? Check out these older, acclaimed movies that will give you some much-needed hope in these dark times:
· Rocky: You’ve probably seen it a million times, but the story of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, who starts out as a debt collector and works his way to contending for the heavyweight championship of the world, always gives me hope. This sleeper hit won the Oscar for best picture in 1976.
· All the President’s Men: You know the story by now: Two journalists, the legendary Woodward and Bernstein (played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman) unearth info that ultimately takes down the president. Well, it makes me feel good about my profession, anyway. This movie won several Academy Awards in 1976.
· The Shawshank Redemption: One of my favorite movies, and a completely hopeful experience despite being set almost completely in a prison. Tim Robbins plays a banker wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and builds a career of sorts in prison --which ultimately sets him free. Shawshank was nominated for best picture in 1994.
· Driving Miss Daisy: This story of an enduring friendship is based on Morgan Freeman’s Hoke becoming the chauffer to Miss Daisy, a Southern widow played by Jessica Tandy. The film tackles racism, class distinctions and stereotypes of the South and won best picture for 1989.
· Dead Poets Society: Robin Williams plays an unorthodox English teacher who helps his students at a boys’ prep school view life in a new way. This movie won the Oscar for best original screenplay in 1990.
Don’t see what you like here? Check out this list of seven movies to motivate you. And be sure to let us know some of your favorite work-related films in the comments.