Is It Too Late For Change?

“People don’t change.” I remember hearing this from one of my professors in medical school. His comment went hand in hand with everything I thought I knew about human nature: personalities are set in stone and character doesn’t change. Numerous studies suggest otherwise. Of note, when psychologists talk about personality traits, they are referring to the Big Five which include the following:

1. Openness to Experience

2. Conscientiousness

3. Extroversion

4. Agreeableness

5. Neuroticism

The combination of these five are believed to be the core characteristics that capture an individual’s personality. While research suggests that these traits are largely inherited and tend to be stable over time, it certainly doesn’t mean they are unchangeable. Life experiences and situations have been shown to significantly impact specific traits:

Strong relationships increase conscientiousness, agreeableness and extroversion and decrease neuroticism.

Divorce increases extroversion and openness in women.

Greater job satisfaction decreases neuroticism and increases extroversion.

Remarriage decreases neuroticism in men.

Personality can be re-shaped in other ways too:

Scientists have successfully designed programs to increase openness, which tends to predict better health and a longer life….One experiment found that a training program increased openness among older adults. A different study found that openness grew with the enhanced bodily awareness that comes from dancing and possibly other forms of physical activity.

Above all, regardless of our basic personality traits, we can freely choose how we express them and how we behave. As described in the Science of Us:

You can indeed train yourself to become more conscientious, more agreeable, more (or less) of whatever it is that you currently are not…

It turns out that you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Genuine curiosity and an unwillingness to accept the status quo is a distinguishing characteristic of truly successful people. For them, information and simply knowing facts is not enough. They constantly ask questions to help them better understand the information they have and how they can act on it. They always want to know more—from their boss, from their spouse, from their teachers and they don’t stop learning when school ends. Asking the right questions is a key strategy that enables people to keep an open mind and to enhance their lives in meaningful ways at work and at home. Most importantly, questions enable us see connections and explore possibilities that may not be obvious. All too often, people avoid asking questions because they fear the unknown, they don’t want to be seen as troublemakers or they are afraid of disrupting their routines. Research shows the benefits of formulating the right questions:

When students know how to ask their own questions, they take greater ownership of their learning, deepen comprehension, and make new connections and discoveries on their own. However, this skill is rarely, if ever, deliberately taught to students from kindergarten through high school. Typically, questions are seen as the province of teachers, who spend years figuring out how to craft questions and fine-tune them to stimulate students’ curiosity or engage them more effectively. We have found that teaching students to ask their own questions can accomplish these same goals while teaching a critical lifelong skill.

Asking good questions is important in school and beyond. As Forbes contributor, Jason Selk writes, there are three questions CEOs should ask themselves every day:

1. What three things did I do well today?

2. What is my number one most needed improvement for tomorrow?

3. What is one thing I can do differently to help make the needed improvement?

The above questions apply to work, relationships, parenting, and beyond. Questions are a key component of self-evaluation and help keep a focus on the future—not on what has been or could have been. As Jim Collins, author of the best seller Good to Great, described Peter Drucker (aka “the man who invented management”) as someone “who had a remarkable ability to not just to give the right answers but more important, to ask the right questions—questions that would shift our entire frame of reference.” That’s what the best questions do.  They make us re-think what we think we know.

Does Showing Emotion At Work Undermine My Authority As A Boss?

Showing emotion need not undermine your authority. On the contrary, it can underscore your commitment to your work. It all depends on how you spin it. If you have a meltdown, instead of saying “I was too emotional” to account for your behavior, say, “I was very passionate.” According to a recent study, those who pulled the passion card were perceived to be more competent than the ones who said emotions got in the way. This makes sense, of course, considering how the two words have very different connotations in the professional world. “Being passionate is often stated as an important attribute for employees; passion is associated with determination, motivation and having a high degree of self-control. Being emotional, however, has almost a negative mirror effect and is associated with irrationality, instability, ineptitude and a low degree of self-control,” explained lead researcher Sunita Sah, Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at Cornell University. Showing emotion from time to time makes us human and not a NARP (Not A REAL PERSON), as my stepson calls people are incapable of expressing emotion. When I first became a doctor, I remember bursting into tears the first time I had to tell a family that their loved one had died. I did my best to keep it together but the willpower to look professional was no match for the tears streaming down my face. At the time, I was mortified.  A few weeks later I received a lovely note from the family. They said they were touched by my tears. It showed how much I cared for someone they loved dearly. This post originally appeared in Marie Claire Magazine

5 Ways to Improve Your Love Life

Happily Ever After isn’t just a fairy tale notion, as psychologist John Gottman has been working to prove. For the last 40 years, he and his team have been studying how couples interact and respond to each other, researching how to achieve endless love. From the data he has gathered over the years, he separates the couples into two main categories: Masters and Disasters. The Masters are couples who remain happily together while the Disasters are either chronically unhappy or eventually break up. Here are 5 things the Masters, well, mastered in their relationships:

1. Look Up

In the 1990s, Gottman studied newlywed couples in a lab designed to look like a bed and breakfast. His research uncovered some surprising findings, especially the fact that marital wellbeing isn’t simply based on strategic conflict resolution. In fact, a major predictor of marital wellbeing is how a partner responds to a request for connection: Throughout the day, partners asked for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” It’s not just about the bird — he’s looking for a response from his wife, a sign of interest or support. The couples whose partners were able to give attention when it was sought were more likely to stay together. Those who couldn’t be bothered to look up from the newspaper, who kept doing what they were doing, who responded with annoyance, “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something?” were more likely to separate.

2. The Benefit of the Doubt

Believing in your partner’s good intentions. In other words, don’t skew negative. Masters don’t translate finishing the last of the milk without buying more (or leaving a note to buy more) as a deliberate move to annoy them. They chalk it up to forgetfulness and move on.

3. Everyday Kindness

Yet by that same token, a Master who finishes the milk will either buy more or leave a note — a thoughtful gesture for his/her partner. Being kind, giving compliments, doing something nice — making a cup of coffee, sending a random love note or text, or giving a foot rub — telegraphs emotion powerfully.

4. Actively Appreciate

In an interview with The Atlantic, Dr. Gottman explains that Masters “are scanning the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.”

5. Work It

Masters know that a good relationship requires sustained hard work and a great deal of effort. They don’t “have” a good relationship, they work at having a good relationship. As the Masters illustrate, happily ever after can and does exist… It takes kindness, optimism, generosity and effort. And love.

FEATURED

SHOP

Tory Sport Chevron Hoodie- The cozy sweatshirt — made from pure cotton — has a flattering high-low hemline and an oversized fit, perfect for relaxing in or throwing on after the gym.
Hunter Rain Boots- This Rain Boot has been at the heart of the Hunter Original brand since 1956. Stay dry and in style with this classic boot.
HAPPYLIGHT Touch- Sunlight is an essential ingredient for a healthy lifestyle, but many of us don't get the amount of daylight we need to experience its benefits.


SIGN UP FOR THE WEEKLY DOSE


Marjorie ‘Mad Marj’ Gubelmann


Mother, DJ, New Yorker

LATEST

Is It Too Late For Change?

“People don’t change.” I remember hearing this from one of my professors in medical school. His comment went hand in hand with everything I...

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

Genuine curiosity and an unwillingness to accept the status quo is a distinguishing characteristic of truly successful people. For them, information and simply knowing...
Mending a Broken Heart

Mending a Broken Heart: A How-To

Remember that scene in Clueless, where Cher kind of makes fun of Tai for wanting to burn the few things she associates with her...

How Can I Make Myself Stand Out In A Job Interview?

Conventional wisdom holds that in order to stand out, it is important to highlight your achievements. Findings from a study conducted by researchers at...

Does Showing Emotion At Work Undermine My Authority As A Boss?

Showing emotion need not undermine your authority. On the contrary, it can underscore your commitment to your work. It all depends on how you...

TWEETS

Be nice! @TheCharacterLab just launched their #playbook on #kindness. Check it out https://t.co/cAWl4dyELX

“A bit artist, a bit athlete, a bit angel.” Silas Farley ⁦@metmuseum⁩ #songsfromthespirit. The performance is magical. Don’t miss it. This song is by the amazing Calvin Johnson.

I return to @ponlop’s words of wisdom and wildly funny jokes again and again.

"It amplifies negativity. The more you think or talk about an issue, the more salient it becomes - it's adding fuel to the fire." @sambmd on how venting can backfire & why a more positive spin is better in the long run. #WednesdayWisdom via @marieclaire
https://t.co/IzyVfiLAau

Green spaces promote mental health. “It’s dosage dependent— the more of one's childhood spent close to greenery, the lower the risk of mental health problems in adulthood” https://t.co/057V37emUw

Send this to a friend