Monthly Archives: May 2012

A New Survey Finds A Majority Of Workers Are Dissatisfied With Their Jobs

Periodically, another survey finds that many, if not the majority of people — at all levels of their work and career — are unhappy, dissatisfied or experience emotional conflicts and stress. The latest was conducted by Right Management.  In my view, what’s consistently overlooked is the role that a negative, unhealthy, non-transparent management culture and leadership has upon people. The best companies are aware of that; some are making efforts to build more positive, learning-oriented, open cultures.  These are of hope, especially among the younger leaders who are more in tune with these issues.

The survey was reported by Forbes, in an article by Susan Adams.  She writes:

Right Management, a subsidiary of the giant staffing firm ManpowerGroup, just released a new snapshot survey that underlines the dissatisfaction among American workers. At a time of high unemployment, lackluster job growth and major uncertainty in world financial markets, many employees feel stuck in their jobs, unable to consider a career move even if they’re unhappy.

Right Management ran the online survey between April 16 and May 15, and culled responses from 411 workers in the U.S. and Canada. Only 19% said they were satisfied with their jobs. Another 16% said they were “somewhat satisfied.” But the rest, nearly two-thirds of respondents, said they were not happy at work. Twenty-one percent said they were “somewhat satisfied” and 44% said they were “unsatisfied.”  Saffing firms and consultants release employee engagement and loyalty surveys periodically. The news on this front has not been good for some time. In November, I reported on a more in-depth study, a Mercer survey of 30,000 workers worldwide, which showed that between 28% and 56% of employees in 17 spots around the globe wanted to leave their jobs. In the U.S., 32% said they wanted to find new work. That’s about half of the 65% of respondents to the Right Management survey, who said they were either somewhat or totally unsatisfied.

What’s the message to employers? A lot of unhappy workers are staying put. But if  employers want an upbeat, engaged workforce, they need to find ways to help employees feel challenged and rewarded by work. A couple of suggestions: offer more training and education. Also it pays to try to find a path up the ladder for current employees, and to help them know it’s available to them.

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How to Alter Your Past — Or Your Future — and Change Your Present Life

Can you travel back into your past and alter something that will change yourself in the present? And could you travel into your future and also alter your present? It looks like it might be possible, and it’s not science fiction.

Both Einstein and the Eastern mystics have explained that what we call the past, present and future are an illusion: A fabric of space/time, in which all exist seamlessly together. In this view, “…the future and the past are not any different, so there’s no reason why you can’t have causes from the future just as you have causes from the past,” according to David Miller of the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney in Australia.

And now, some new thinking and research suggests that, in fact, the present can change the past, with implications for the present; and, that the future can also change the present. This is known as “retrocausality” and has interesting implications for your life — at least, metaphorically, aside from the quantum physics it’s based on. It’s that you might be able to change something about your present life that was originally set in motion in your past. Or, that you might be able to use the future — even though it hasn’t “happened” yet, from your time-frame, to also change something in the present.

In fact, I’ve found that this perspective is helpful with some psychotherapy patients and well as others who feel stuck and unable to change or grow. I provide some exercises below that might help apply retrocausalty to changing your life. But first, a brief explanation of retrocausality. Continue reading

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Skilled Liars Make Great Lie Detectors

This is sort of in the “takes one to know one” department:  A new study published in Frontiers of Neuroscience finds that people who are skilled at lying are also skilled at detecting lies of others.  The researchers found that “participants whose lies were harder to spot tended to do better at spotting whether other participants were lying….”  And, “this study is the first to provide evidence that the capacity to detect lies and the ability to deceive others are associated.”

The research was summarized in the British Psychological Society’s blog on brain and behavior:

Frank Abagnale Jr, the confidence trickster whose escapades inspired the hit film “Catch Me If You Can”, later became a security consultant for the FBI. There’s intuitive logic to the agency’s recruitment strategy – if you want to catch con artists, who better to spot them than a master con artist. But does this logic apply at a more basic level? Do skilled liars really make skilled lie detectors?

Surprisingly, psychologists haven’t investigated this idea before. Dozens of studies have shown that most people are very poor at detecting lies, and other research has shown that the propensity to lie is partly inherited, but no-one’s looked to see if good liars make good lie spotters.

Now Gordon Wright and his colleagues have done just that, recruiting 51 participants (27 women; mean age 25) to take part in a competitive group task. None of them had met before. Arranged in groups of 5 or 6, the participants took turns to spend about 20 seconds telling the group their position on a social issue, such as whether smoking should be allowed in public places or whether they were in favour of reality TV. Their true opinions had been reported in private to the researchers earlier. On each round, cards handed to the participants told them which opinion to share with the group and whether to tell the truth or lie. The task of the rest of the group was to judge whether the speaker was lying or not. Fifty pounds was up for grabs for the best liar and the best lie spotter.

The key finding was that participants whose lies were harder to spot tended to do better at spotting whether other participants were lying (the correlation was -0.35, with an effect size of 0.7, which is usually considered large). “As far as we are aware,” the researchers said, “this study is the first to provide evidence that the capacity to detect lies and the ability to deceive others are associated.”

This result begs the question – what underlying psychological processes grant a person skill at lying and lie spotting? It wasn’t IQ or emotional intelligence – the researchers tested for that, but they don’t yet know much more. “It is clear,” they said, “that identification of the precise nature of the proposed ‘deception-general’ ability is an important aim for deception research, and that further research should be devoted to this question.”

 

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Can You “Grow Up” At Midlife? Here’s Five Ways

Not long ago conventional thinking about midlife held that it’s a time for holding on as best you can in the face of steady decline and loss. But if you’re a baby boomer, you know that’s shifted as fellow boomers show more attention to health and want continued vitality — even new growth – emotionally, sexually and creatively.

Nevertheless, many remain fearful of “going forth” or finding their “true self,” partly because they know that illness, tragedy, unpredictable events and death can and do occur. I’ve written about these themes in some of my previous posts. For example, about depression during midlife. But overall, I find that learning to embrace both the “positive” and “negative” experiences of midlife is the path to growing up into full adulthood. That’s especially relevant to the “Post 50″ years. So — here are five suggested steps:

Elevate and Expand Yourself

Build the core emotional and mental strengths of empathy and compassion. Much  research shows that this realm of your inner life is the foundation for well-being as well as for positive engagement and harmony, with people and events. Meditation helps “grow” those capacities. Research also shows that meditation leads to greater creative thinking. Another part of this step is “elevating” your perspectives about people and life situations. A broadened, more tolerant vista is especially crucial at midlife because seeing things from a “1,000 foot view” is the foundation for wisdom.

Embrace Death And impermanence

True, our culture avoids acknowledging death and change. But embracing them can lead to more intense connection with what really matters to you — what to go after, while there’s still time; and what to let pass by. Research conducted by the University of Missouri and the University of Leipsig confirms this, finding that awareness of death spurs re-thinking about your goals and values. It can also lead to greater physical health, through increasing your focus on healthy practices.

I wrote about change and impermanence in a previous post, and now, during midlife, Continue reading

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Feeling Obligated To Stay In Your Job? You’ll Become Emotionally Troubled

A new study published in the journal Human Relations finds that people who stay in their jobs because they feel obligated towards their employers, or don’t perceive alternatives outside their organization, are more likely to experience emotional conflict.  And those who have higher self-esteem are especially affected when they perceive a lack of alternatives.  These findings highlight, in my view, the ongoing problem of unhealthy leadership and management culture.  A summary of the study was published in Medical News Today, and I’ve reposted it here:

Love it or leave it – if only it were that simple. According to new research from Concordia University, the Universite de Montreal and HEC Montreal, staying in an organization out of a sense of obligation or for lack of alternatives can lead to emotional exhaustion, a chronic state of physical and mental depletion resulting from continuous stress and excessive job demands.

Published in the journal Human Relations, the study found that people who stay in their organizations because they feel an obligation towards their employer are more likely to experience burnout. The same applies when employees stay because they don’t perceive employment alternatives outside their organization.

“Our study examined whether some forms of commitment to an organization could have detrimental effects, such as emotional exhaustion and, eventually, turnover,” says co-author Alexandra Panaccio, an assistant professor in the Department of Management at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business.

“When employees stay with their organization because they feel that they have no other options, explains Panaccio, “they are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion. This feeling, in turn, may lead them to leave the organization. The implication is that employers should Continue reading

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