The work dilemma of being good at something you just don’t like doing

Now I appreciate this is not as easy as it sounds, it can be hard to find a job or work as a consultant that is always ‘energising’ and if you are in a job and wish to keep this (i.e. you don’t want to jump from your place of safety or the nice space you work in) then how do you get closer to:

doing what energises you more often…

I have this thought (or thoughts)…..

1. Check out the diagram below – I drew this during the session and sums up the different places we may sit during different task/work things…

So – how do we make all of these spaces more pleasing for you…

High Skill – High Energy: This is the nirvana so don’t loose sight of it. If the tasks become less challenging it may loose its shine, so keep checking in to challenge yourself. Learn new ways to do things…

High Skill – Low Energy: This can take effort but, look for the fun in the task, see where you can get the glimmer of satisfaction and aim for that. Change where and who you work with if you can…

Low Skill – High Energy: Look for people who can help you, learning solo can be hard and finding a guide on the way to personal development can make the difference. I recommended checking out Leah K Stewart’s ‘Apprentice Yourself’ approach – see the link below (this is stand out advice)…

Low Skill – Low Energy: Maybe park this for now (if you can), until you have energy, or find people whom seem to bring energy with them. Alternatively…its effortful again but look for innovative ways to re-think the task/challenge. Use a different lens through which to see it…

2. To paraphrase Maria – find the sweet spot for work where challenge and the energy to take on challenge are balanced. But be brave and let the seesaw go both ways at times from exciting to fear (but not anxiety) – make experiences ‘pleasantly frustrating’ and ‘desirably difficult’ (google these terms there is some good reading out there about it).

A good team task to do on a regular basis maybe to share where you are on the graph above during a given project or task. This checking in process could be very helpful in building group think, group empathy, group understanding and true teamlyness…

3. Draw your sail boat – this was a great facilitated activity from Maria..

  • The sails represent your strengths and they help you head in the direction of your chosen destination…
  • The hull of the boat represents the weaknesses you hold..
  • Those above the water are the ones you don’t mind people seeing (allowable weakness). Perhaps as a defence mechanism. Because if people spend time helping you with these (or you help yourself) we wont delve into the ones below the water (where its more vulnerable).
  • The ones below the water line are split between those that you know of and don’t know of (blind spots). They are more likely to be the ones really holding you back. They also include those which represents your strengths in overdrive, which can overpower the situation.

For me the whole picture is important and must be labelled, shared with compassionate colleagues for reflection and then owned by you to do with it as you wish. Work on or ignore – you will have already done the biggest bit which is signalling their existence. The whole boat is important..

Big thank you to Maria for the session this morning and to Rebecca Fielding of Grad Consult for hosting (see link below).

Everything in life is not fun. Everything in life is not interesting. There are plenty of things that we have to do even though we don’t want to do them. Whether it’s going to work, cleaning the house or helping a friend move, there are things we would prefer not to do. The question is, do you take on these tasks with a good or a bad attitude?

I see and talk to people almost every day who are clearly doing things they don’t enjoy. It may be the teller at the bank, the checkout person at the store or the guy fixing our air conditioner. Unfortunately, they are distinctly telegraphing their displeasure.

Can you distinguish between the people who enjoy what they do from those who don’t? How can you tell? Is it communicated through their body language? Is it written all over their faces? Can you hear it in their voices?

The other day I was at a restaurant and the server was clearly having a bad day. Her unpleasant attitude was apparent in the way we were greeted, the snarl on her face when she took our order and the way she interacted with the other servers.

Let’s take a look at the two options that were available to the server to determine which one makes more sense.

Option #1- She could have a bad attitude, take our order, bring us our food, get a bad tip and feel worse.

Option #2- She could have a good attitude, take our order, bring us our food, get a good tip and feel better.

Regardless of the choice she made, she was going to have to take our order and bring us our food. Whatever was bothering her wasn’t going to go away with her downbeat disposition, nor were dollars going to start falling from the sky to brighten her day. There was no upside to be gained from having a bad attitude.

The fact is her attitude reflected poorly on her and the restaurant and made for an unpleasant work experience for her co-workers. But perhaps the saddest part of all is how her poor choice affected her personally.

Here is one of my life’s philosophies. If you are going to do something, do it with a great attitude and find a way to enjoy it. I mean, if there is no getting around having to do something, then why not do it with a great attitude? NOTHING is gained by doing things with a poor attitude.

Here are a few of tips to help you enjoy the things you don’t enjoy.

1. Think positively. If you consistently say to yourself that you don’t like to do something, you won’t. You must begin to guard your thoughts and make sure you don’t allow them to get negative. Remember, how you look at something impacts your attitude towards it. Be creative and challenge yourself to look for the good in the things you don’t enjoy.

2. Learn from the experience. If you think positively, there’s a good chance something can be learned from the very thing you thought you didn’t enjoy. Even if the only thing you learn is that you can do things you don’t like doing with a good attitude, you will have learned one of life’s most valuable lessons.

3. Focus on the benefits. When you make the decision to enjoy the things you don’t enjoy, you will be happier both in the short term and in the long run. You’ll feel better about yourself and people’s respect for you will grow. Always keep in mind there is NO benefit that comes from doing things with a bad attitude. Even if you are trying to make a point that you don’t want to do something, you will likely look like a big baby instead.

Take a few minutes today to identify the things you don’t enjoy doing. Being honest with yourself do you think others can sense you don’t enjoy doing them? How is your attitude affecting you and those around you?

Here is my challenge to you. If you are going to do something, find a way to enjoy doing it. Whether it’s your full time job or cleaning up after someone, don’t allow yourself to cop a bad attitude. If you sense one is starting to brew, remind yourself that you are in control and the choice you make affects you and everyone around you.

For every unpleasant situation you face, it’s your choice how to respond. You can choose to make the best of it or let it get the best of you.

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Emotions, In-person Communication, Relationships, Sales, Self-Talk

About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 34 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts.

15 Ways You Can Enjoy The Job You Hate

As someone who has been in recruiting for over 10 years I can tell you the interview is vitally important to getting that new job you really want. During the interview process, there will most likely be at least 2 interviews, a phone interview and an in person interview. Both are important.

Companies can of course have different interviewing processes but in general, there is at least one phone interview, also known as a phone screen, and a live, in-person interview. The in-person interview can be with one person or it might be with a variety of people. While they are both important, the live interview is typically the one that will make or break you as a candidate for the position you are interviewing for.

Many of the interview questions we will review here will more likely come up during the live interview. But it’s a good idea to be prepared for them on the phone interview as well.

To illustrate how important the live interview is, I’ll tell you about my search that happened a year ago. I’d decided it was time to move on from the role I’d been in for a little over 6 years. As I started researching and looking for a new opportunity, I began down the path with 2 companies. With the one I landed with, I’d had 3 separate phone screens, each one an hour long. They must have thought they went well because I was asked to fly to the city where the corporate office is at and do an in-person interview. — with 8 people.

Yeah, it was a long day. The good news is I rocked the interviews across the board. I flew home that evening and the following day, I received a call with the job offer. That was less than 24 hours after I’d had the in person interview. This is how important the live interview is.

So how to ace an interview? We can dive right in to helping you nail the 10 most tricky interview questions:

1. What’s Your Biggest Weakness?

This is a personal favorite of mine. The primary reason for this question is not to actually find out what your biggest weakness is. Unless of course, you say something like “showing up to work on a regular basis,” then it’s probably going to get you kicked out of consideration for the role.

The main reason for someone asking you this question is to see if you are self-aware. That is if you know your weaknesses and are smart enough to account for them.


The smart play here is to answer in a modest way. You want to be able to show that your biggest weakness actually has an upside. For instance, I usually say that mine is impatience. Which is true, I like to get things done. But what I ensure what I point out is that even though I am impatient, it’s because I like to crank and get a lot of work done.

2. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Interestingly enough, a lot of people don’t have an answer to this question. It’s designed to find out if you’ve actually done research on the company and if you are excited about this position.

When I ask this question, many people have told me something like “because it looks like a good opportunity”. I mean, can you be any more generic?

The key to answering this is to show you’ve done research on the company and that you are enthusiastic about the actual position. Companies want people that are excited to work there, not just someone that shows up for a paycheck.

3. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Employers are asking you this question to see if you have somewhat of a plan for your career. It doesn’t have to be completely mapped out in a step by step manner but, a general overall plan is good to see. It means you are goal oriented and are working towards something.

Don’t worry about answering in a way that states you are planning on sticking with the company until you retire. Rather, focus more on how it’s important to you to continue to learn and get better and better at what you do. Companies like to hire self-motivated people.

4. Tell Me About a Time You Messed Up

Or tell me about a time something didn’t work out the way you planned. Similar in concept. The key here is to show that you take accountability for your actions and how you react to things going wrong.

Companies like to see that you are willing to accept responsibility for the things you oversee and own up when you are wrong. People that always find a way to blame their missteps on other people or circumstances typically don’t make good team mates.


The other component here is things don’t always go as planned, how good are you at adapting and thinking on your feet.

5. Why Are You Looking to Leave Your Current Job?

This may seem like a place to launch into all the things you don’t like about your current job. Or to talk about what a terrible person your boss is. Don’t do it. That’s the path you do not want to go down. And that’s really what this question tends to prod out of many people.

If I am interviewing you and ask this question and you tell me all the ways your boss doesn’t appreciate you and your company has terrible leadership, I’m thinking what you’re going to be saying about me in a year when you are interviewing somewhere else.

Make sure you are framing your answer in a way that doesn’t shed bad light on your current or most recent employer. You want to focus on things like you’ve enjoyed working for the company but your growth options are limited there so you are exploring outside opportunities.

6. How Would Your Current Manager Describe You?

This question gives you the opportunity to show off your strengths and what your boss appreciates about what you bring to the table. You want to focus on the positive traits that your boss likes and how it helps you in your role.

What you do not want to do is sprinkle in the things your boss doesn’t think as highly of. Don’t say something like my boss would describe me as a focused worker, at least on the days I make it into the office.

7. Tell Me About a Time You Overcame an Obstacle

Another one of my favorite questions. Interviewers ask this question to see if you are able to deal with roadblocks.

Things don’t always go smoothly, so having people on the team who are able to solve problems has huge upside.


Being able to overcome obstacles is a great trait to have. Make sure you have a few stories about how something didn’t go as planned that caused a challenge and how you were involved in solving the problem. It’s a way of turning a bad situation into a good one.

8. Why Should We Hire You?

If you are at the point of a live interview, you should be highly interested in the position.

By this point, you should have a pretty clear picture of what the role is and how your skills and experience will help you succeed. The reason this question is being asked is to see if you are the right candidate for this role.

This gives you a great opportunity to tell your interviewer how your expertise will positively impact the role. Right now, you are in the spotlight to clearly show that your experience is the perfect fit for the position and why. Shine on!

9. What’s Your Greatest Achievement?

Employers tend to ask this question to gain an understanding of what your big wins were. What are the really impactful things that have happened during your career and how you were the reason why they happened.

This is another great opportunity for you to toot your own horn. What you want to be conscious of is how you tell the story about your biggest achievement. You want to make sure you say why it was such a big achievement.

If possible, it’s always good to include your team as part of the big win. Employers love to hire people who can make things happen but, it’s also important they understand the importance of team work.

10. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

You might be asking yourself why this is a tricky question. Honestly, it’s not a tricky question if you are prepared for it.


What the interviewer is looking for here is how interested and excited you are for the position. You’d be surprised at how many people answer this question with a blank stare or have no questions prepared.

Again, if you are at a live interview, you should be highly interested in a position and the company. You will convey how interested you are in the opportunity with some well thought out questions to ask.

You don’t want to just ask one question like “How often is payday”? Have at least 4 to 5 questions prepared but don’t overwhelm your interviewer with dozens and dozens of questions. Show that you’ve given some serious thought to this position by coming prepared with solid questions to ask.

The Bottom Line

There you go, insight to nailing the 10 most tricky questions during the interview process. There are, of course, many other questions you might get asked during the interview process but, these tend to be the ones that trip most people up.

Remember to take your time and thoroughly prepare for the interview. You don’t have to memorize your answers or anything but having a good idea of how you’d answer these questions will help you ace the next interview.

Here’s to being career advancement ready!

More Tips on Job Hunting

  • How to Write A Cover Letter That Stands out from 500 Applicants
  • 23 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for an Interview
  • 7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Featured photo credit: Romain V via


I try to stay away from negative stuff, but solely for the sake of balance I present 100 things I ain’t too keen on. You’ll be pleased to know this list took me way longer to come up with than my favorite things.

1. spiders and all bugs

2. peas, beans, eggs

3. sound of metal scraping on metal

4. hot beverages

5. warm squishy fruit

6. sticky hands

7. people who don’t clean their teeth properly

8. sandals on men

9. people who don’t smile back when i smile at them

10. inconsiderate people

11. crew cuts

12. relish

13. unmelted cheese

14. yappy dogs

15. tardiness

16. people who talk too loud

17. black licorice

18. overly gelled hair

19. unnecessary sequels and remakes

20. cargo shorts

21. cigarettes

22. people who ruin my movie going experience

23. misers

24. people who are constantly on their phones

25. people who complain all the time

26. half assed hugs

27. those who don’t see the importance in reading books

28. flaky folks

29. actors who believe their own hype

30. eating fish with bones

31. hunting for sport

32. thieves

33. people who don’t tell me when I have something in my teeth

34. liars

35. crocs

36. splinters and paper cuts

37. mindless conformity

38. dirty fingernails

39. people who are money obsessed

40. road rage

41. misspellings

42. washing dishes

43. doing laundry

44. camping

45. meter maids

46. sticking to vinyl seating when its hot

47. boys who try to walk “tuff”

48. people who have to look in a mirror if they pass by one

49. people who get a boyfriend/girlfriend and disappear

50. people who scrape their fork on their teeth

51. supercilious people

52. 90% of television programming

53. people who stick flyers on my car

54. long plane flights

55. waiting in airports

56. the fact that the “oldies” station in LA plays no 1950’s music but lots of 1980’s music

57. people who groan when they see a movie is subtitled or in black and white

58. fake meat

59. film festivals that only accept movies with celebrities attached

60. the dirty hands feeling i get after thrift shopping

61. the way otter pops make me choke

62. ultra competitive people who take board games way too seriously

63. feeling unbearably full

64. richies

65. feeling dread for no reason

66. waking up from a nap and feeling sweaty and disoriented

67. people who go to a mongolian BBQ restaurant and greedily heap food onto their bowl in an obscene mound

68. those who don’t see the importance of showers and clean clothes

69. skin on soup and pudding

70. over priced movie theaters

71. DVD/blu ray snobs

72. people who want you to fit into the box they have created for you

73. being cold

74. doctors who don’t listen

75. getting up in the middle of the night to pee

76. over produced modern pop music

77. movies where the lead actor is clearly doing it for a paycheck

78. stubbing my toe/hitting my knee on the side of my bed

79. crusty dreadlocks

80. tyrants

81. people who constantly fidget or jiggle their knee

82. people who don’t attend to their nose hair properly

83. women who shave off their eyebrows and then draw them back on

84. spineless people

85. goatees with no mustache

86. the bar big wangs

87. shorts so big and baggy they look like pants

88. the fact that living in LA has given me asthma

89. hiking – especially going downhill

90. mean spirited humor

91. employers who ask for a photo along with your resume

92. feeling incompetant

93. people who mindlessly drive/walk without paying any attention that I am behind them

94. having to wear a uniform

95. sneakers that make boys feet look fat

96. disorganized nitpickers

97. sports

98. peeling skin

99. not being able to fall asleep at night

100. people who don’t like me

Why Do We Do Things We Don’t Want to Do?

Source: Syda Productions/

Have you ever found yourself doing something you didn’t want to do? Maybe you’re working late (again) when you want to be at home having dinner with the family. Or perhaps you just snapped at your best friend and hurt their feelings when they were only trying to offer some friendly advice. You don’t want to be working late or snapping, but it’s happening anyway.

The funny thing is, as provocative and just plain nutty as this might seem, we don’t do anything unless we want to do it. Bear with me, and I’ll see if I can explain:

Fundamentally, it is our nature to want. We want our body to be the right temperature, we want the right amount of oxygen in our blood, we want the right number of friends and close relationships, we want the right level of achievement, and so on.

At the end of the day, we are “wanting” creatures. Everything we do is connected to our wants. Sometimes we want things even when we don’t want to want them.

What is happening all around us clearly also plays a role in what we do. If your boss hadn’t given you that job to do at 4.43 p.m., you wouldn’t still be in the office at 6.37 p.m. And if your friend hadn’t offered his opinion on what choice you should make, you wouldn’t have bitten his head off.

While the influence of what is going on around us is undeniable, the particular goings-on that affect us, out of all that is occurring all the time, are determined by the wants we harbor inside. I’m working on this post while sitting in an airport lounge, so there’s lots and lots of “stuff” happening in every direction. None of that, however, is affecting what I’m doing while I’m thinking about the best words to type to communicate the ideas I’m developing.

I’ll say it again: Everything we do is connected to our wants.

Understanding the centrality of wants — or goals, expectations, dreams, values, yearnings, ambitions, intentions, hankerings, objectives, targets, hopes, aims, longings, attitudes, proclivities, missions, standards, motives, purposes, plans, specifications, benchmarks, aspirations, desires, needs, passions, inclinations, wishes, and cravings — will help you get more of what you want, or strive for, more often. It will also help you understand those times you might be perplexed, because you did something you were sure you didn’t want to do.

Trying to understand behavior without appreciating the role of wants can be confusing. Take driving a car: If you want to keep your car where it’s supposed to be on the road, you’ll need to turn the steering wheel to the right on some occasions, and to the left on others. That is, depending on the situation, we can do opposite things to achieve the same want.

An important thing to appreciate about wants is that wants are all about results, not actions. So, if you want to understand (there’s another want) why you acted in a particular way, think about the result, not the behavior. While you don’t necessarily want to be working late, you do want your boss to think you’re conscientious and dependable, and you do want your boss to consider you for promotion in the next few months. While you don’t want to hurt your friend’s feelings, you do want to make your own decisions about how you live your life, and you also want some peace and quiet to think through a tricky situation.

You don’t want to want to buy another packet of cigarettes, but here you are again, walking into the store on your way home from work, handing over the money, and looking forward to putting the cigarette to your lips as you fumble with the packaging. You don’t want to want other people’s approval, yet, for the umpteenth time, you find yourself standing in a group saying things you don’t really mean and soaking up the nods and smiles that are coming your way.

We have lots of wants. We are all, essentially, kaleidoscopes of wants. No particular pattern of wants is exactly the same as another. We have things we want and things we don’t want, and even things we want that we don’t want to want.

But wants don’t care whether you like them or not. Once they’ve snuggled into your nest of dreams, desires, goals, and expectations, they’ll just get on with the business of barking orders about the results they expect (from their unique perspective).

Sometimes it’s even hard to describe what we want or why we acted in a particular way, but the existence of a want doesn’t depend on our ability to describe it or talk about it. People have wants before they learn to talk. Even if you can’t put into words why you did something, it is still the case that there’s a team of wants all busily going about the business of achieving the results they’re required to produce.

So if you ever have the experience of seemingly doing something you don’t want to do, think about what the result of your doing is. Sometimes it can take a bit of meandering through the back streets of your mind, but you’ll know it when you find it. The important want could even be an aspect of yourself that you don’t generally like admitting to. Maybe there are times when you do want to have things your way, regardless of the preferences of others. Or perhaps a little part of you does want to rebel, break rules, and defy the expectations of people who think they know you.

Whether you like them or not, and whether you’re aware of them or not, the wants that are part of you are always wanting. They can be ignored or restrained for a little while, but never indefinitely.

Spending time getting to know as many of your wants as you can and finding out the results they have in store for you can be intriguing and even fun. Most wants are insisting on their results, because they’re playing a part in the results of other wants that are higher in the chain of command. Or, a bit like the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, you need them all to see the big picture. You are the big picture.

The further up that chain of command you can scramble, or the more pieces of the puzzle you can find, the more you will learn about yourself and all that is important to you. It’s a journey only you can take.

Go on! You know you want to.

Some People Don’t Like You and That’s Okay

To lessen likability’s hold on you, it first helps to understand exactly why we find it so powerfully tantalizing in the first place. Part of the problem, says psychologist and executive coach Sharon Melnick, is that we factor it into our ever-evolving self-concept: How we’re liked is a reflection of who we are. “There’s an emotional factor to it,” she says. “It has something to do with your essence as a person.”

And having your essence as a person called into question is significantly more painful than isolated, situation-based critiques. “It’s much more digestible to think that you just talked too much in one situation than that you’re someone people don’t want to be around,” Melnick says. “It’s the difference between ‘that person didn’t prepare enough for this meeting’ and ‘that person isn’t smart.’”

Somewhat counterintuitively, likability and status are often conflicting concepts, says psychologist Mitch Prinstein, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of Popular.

When we think of someone as likable, it’s often because we like ourselves in their presence. “When people find someone to be likable, it’s because they make them feel validated, that they have the same ideals, that it’s reciprocal and that they make them feel happy,” he says. We like people who are interested in us. Unsurprisingly, research shows that we demonstrate increased fondness for people who ask us questions and engage with our answers.

But status is different. It’s not about making other people feel good. “It’s based on how much someone is visible, powerful, influential, and dominant,” Prinstein says.

For women, especially at work and especially in leadership positions, this dichotomy can be particularly fraught: Research has shown time and again that likability is both more highly prized in women and seen as being at odds with competence in women, creating a sort of double bind in which success both depends upon and is hindered by a woman’s ability to be liked.

Of course, there are times when being liked does pay off in a meaningful, uncomplicated way — with your in-laws, for example, or an acquaintance you’re trying to turn into a friend, or a new roommate. And striving to treat everyone you encounter with respect and kindness should be a baseline.

But the point is, no one is going to be liked by 100% of the people they meet. There are always going to be people who don’t get you, or simply dislike you. You have a finite amount of mental and emotional energy with which to try changing minds, so it’s worth thinking critically about which minds are worth that effort.

In cases where you really, genuinely believe that being liked would make your life easier or more pleasant, Prinstein says, ask yourself if their dislike stems from something you’re doing that might be off-putting, such as projecting hostility or violating a social norm. Often, the answer is surprisingly obvious and easy to fix: “It could be that you’re standing too close to people or oversharing your personal life in meetings,” he says.

Robert Cialdini, author of the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and president of the executive-training company Influence at Work, says that two other behaviors can make you more likable: pointing out commonalities, and offering compliments and praise.

Before you launch a charm offensive, ask yourself why you’re troubled by being disliked.

But there’s no hard science to it. Often, whether someone likes or dislikes you comes down to factors as nebulous as chemistry, as unfixable as a generational misunderstanding, or as fleeting as the mood they’re in that day. Or it could simply be prejudice.

Accepting that not everyone will like you every day can actually be a kind of relief. And discovering that someone dislikes you — if you let yourself sit with that information, rather than try to act on it — can be a useful prompt for introspection. Before you launch a charm offensive, ask yourself why you’re so troubled by being disliked.

Is it simply irritating because you know that your status has taken a hit, even if it’s just in the eyes of one person? If that’s the case, think about why that feeling is so crushing. Linking happiness and status isn’t exactly sustainable, but feelings of insecurity can be addressed through therapy and reflection.

Are you projecting your own unease and insecurity to exaggerate the intensity of the dislike? Perhaps there’s something about yourself you want to change, and another person’s opinion feels like it’s shining a spotlight on that particular trait. If that’s the case, your efforts might be better spent fixing the cause, not the symptom — turn your attention toward working on yourself, rather than pursuing this other person’s approval.

Are you wounded because they know and dislike the real you? While it might be hard to feel rejected based on who you really are, it also makes room for a moment of self-definition: Here’s an opportunity to draw a line between who you are for yourself and who you attempt to be for others. Take some time to identify or reevaluate your core values — the things you want to stick to regardless of how people perceive you — and assess how you’re living up to them.

Does this other person just misunderstand you? “It’s very possible to interact with someone who interprets your behavior as aggressive or demeaning, when really that wasn’t the intent,” Prinstein says. “It may also be that no one else would share that perception. Someone who’s really liked by other people might for some reason be really disliked by this one person.” You can certainly try to correct someone’s misinterpretation of who you are, but if they’re not open to changing their mind, you might have to just comfort yourself with the knowledge that their dislike is based on bad information, and then move on.

Or are you uncomfortable because you hold this person in high regard? If so, consider both what has shaped your view of this person and how you feel about your own behavior. If you stand by your actions or how you’ve presented yourself, then perhaps it’s worth rethinking how much sway you allow this person to hold over your own self-image.

If, on the other hand, you think they have a justifiable reason to be unhappy with you, address the problem head-on and ask yourself what can be done to make amends or be sure not to repeat the behavior.

Really, that goes for anyone. If you conclude that you’ve actually done something unlikable — that you’ve wronged someone in some way, behaved in a petty fashion, or temporarily lost your cool — you’re best off acknowledging your mistake, apologizing, and offering to make amends. The other person might not warm up immediately, or ever, but at least you’ve done what you can to communicate that you know the difference between right and wrong — and between likable and unlikable.

In all of these cases, straightforwardness is key. Don’t make assumptions, and if you’re not sure what’s going on, ask. After all, social behavior is all about the perception of intent, and, especially as more and more of our communication moves online, intent can be easy to misconstrue.

But an actual wooden fence? That seems pretty unambiguous.

It’s OK to Not Be OK

September 18, 2018 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We live in an age of image projection. Instagram gets over 95 million posts per day. You can find hundreds of thousands of pictures of engagement rings, new puppies, exotic dinners or washboard abs at any given moment. Even LinkedIn is probably sending you dozens of notifications each month reminding you to congratulate your high school acquaintances on their job-iversaries.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the general tendency of creating an illusion that we have our lives perfectly together. After all, people are watching. So, what happens when you are not OK? When depression sets in, when negative self-talk gets too loud or when you get let go, get dumped or lose a loved one. What do we do when we don’t have a solution?

During hard times, most people want to skip past the moment of acknowledging that they aren’t OK and go straight to working toward a resolution. Resolutions — even tough ones — make us feel in control. Admitting that you’re struggling doesn’t feel as manageable, or fit in with the sense of perfection that most people get blasted with on social media. But the ability to sit with a feeling of failure can be one of the most important skills you learn, both in life and in work.

The power of saying “I’m not OK”

Embracing tough moments, instead of swiftly moving past them, can be incredibly powerful when practiced correctly. Framing the situation correctly is validating; you acknowledge that your feelings are justified, and that even though your situation is not ideal, you accept there is nothing wrong with the fact that you’re struggling. This is not about accepting and ignoring, this is accepting and moving through.

A study from Montana State University found that people who are authentic and honest with themselves can overcome feelings of shame — which would otherwise cause them to devalue themselves.

Dwelling on a feeling of failure is paralyzing. It will keep you from asking for help when you need it or making good choices.

Understand that sometimes your emotions take precedence over finding a solution. We often discount the value of feelings — especially in the workplace — but you need to remember that in the end, emotions are simply information.They are facts of life like any other. Emotions exist, and when you’re making decisions, you’ll have to factor them in.

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Everyone has points in their career where they make a major mistake or feel overwhelmed by their workload. Women in particular are usually taught not to talk about it. But according to the sociologist Arlie Hochschild, suppressing negative feelings can cause an “emotional load” that causes you to burn out faster, give up more easily and ultimately be less successful.

As an entrepreneur, professional woman and recovering perfectionist, I’ve realized I need to give myself permission to be not OK sometimes. I accept that there isn’t a solution right now, and I tell myself that that’s OK. That attitude is what has given me the stamina to accomplish everything that I have, even when times felt dark.

Four ways to ground yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work

Enduring uncertainty isn’t easy. It’s a professional skill that needs to be fostered like any other. I have four main tactics I personally use in order to stay centered during challenging times.

1. Breathe.

You may have heard it a hundred times from your yoga teachers, but it bears repeating: Breathing is the single best way to get yourself centered.

There are many different therapeutic ways to breathe, but here’s a simple one I enjoy: If possible, lie on the floor, knees up but feet planted. Otherwise, find somewhere where you can be seated. Take one hand and put it on your belly and the other on your chest. Inhale for three seconds breathing through your belly, then an additional two seconds filling the chest with air. Hold the breath for a moment and exhale through the mouth completely.

Breathing effectively can literally cure the physical aspects of anxiety. It’s an underrated skill when we talk about what contributes to professional success, but it can make a huge difference.

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2. Find a mantra.

You might not consider yourself a “mantra” kind of person, but positive affirmations have been consistently shown to make a major positive impact on confidence and performance.

That said, there’s no need to start memorizing inspirational quotes or learning Buddhist scripture. Create your own mantras, ones that resonate for you. Figure out what it is that you need to hear in order to feel stronger. Some things I find comfort in saying are “I am whole. I am safe. I am here.” Or as Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” These are just simple sentences, but I find them to be powerful in their ability to bring me to my current state.

3. Move.

I am huge fan of going for walks when work gets hectic. It’s a valuable way to let your body influence what your brain is doing, instead of the other way around. Try using the power of your steps to help calm your mind and reconnect with the immediate present, so you can keep things in perspective.

The way you hold and move your body can also legitimately influence your sense of person ability. In social scientist Amy Cuddy’s famous TED Talk, she talks about how body language influences confidence. I teach the power of posture and a strong mind-body connection in the first part of my four-part workshop series, Developing Executive Presence. The goal is to help students develop their own authentic presence as a base necessity for the workshops that follow.

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4. Talk about it.

Sometimes, you just need a third-party opinion in order to keep things in perspective. Reach out to your loved ones, friends or even coworkers.

Holistic psychotherapist Kat Dahlen deVos has some great thoughts on the subject: “Sometimes, when we are experiencing fear, sadness or any other painful emotion, our tendency is to feel very alone — like no one understands or can relate to us. As a result, we isolate, which can actually increase the intensity of our suffering by activating our stress response (a.k.a ‘fight or flight’). When we’re talking to a loved one about what we’re going through, we’re doing two things that can actually help us to move through the difficulty: allowing our vulnerability to be witnessed, and building the capacity to tolerate painful experiences.”

Other people might be able to make a point that you hadn’t considered, or they might just listen and validate what you’re feeling. Either way, talking honestly about how you’re feeling will ground you, and it might even convince your listeners to be more genuine with themselves about their emotions, as well.

We’re conditioned to think that we always need to give a sense of perfection, but in my experience, that hurts more than it helps us. Humans are flawed, and they struggle in their work life just like in their regular lives. The people who end up being the most successful aren’t the ones who don’t struggle. They’re the ones who know it’s OK to not be OK.

Can You Make Yourself Like Something?

The mere exposure effect refers to the well-established finding that people evaluate a stimulus (a thing or event) more positively after repeated exposure to that stimulus than novel stimuli. In other words, familiarity leads to liking. Many of the sensory experiences (e.g., coffee or music) with repeated exposure can become increasingly pleasant. However, increased exposure to stimuli may result in habituation or less liking over time.

The work of researcher Robert Zajonk (1923-2008) has demonstrated that repeated exposure to an individual leads to a greater liking for that person without any cognitive awareness. We can love without being aware of it. For instance, if you adopt a baby, your attachment will be just as strong as for a non-adopted child.

What is the power of familiarity that makes people more attractive? One explanation is that increasing familiarity reduces uncertainty because familiar faces have a low-information content. Familiar faces allow us to lower our guard. This explains people’s negative reactions toward immigrants, who appear to be more difficult to process than natives (fear of the unknown).

Another explanation is that repeated exposures can be considered as a form of classical conditioning that can increase liking of stimuli through a process of conditioning. For example, the more often you see a co-worker, the more likable that person appears to be. You will hear people say, “he is growing on me.” We typically feel more warmly toward things we encounter again and again.

However, people misattribute this increased exposure to some positive quality about the stimulus itself. Repeated exposure generates a certain processing fluency (i.e., a measure of how easy it is to think about something) that can result in greater judgments of attraction. Processing of familiar stimuli is faster than processing of unfamiliar stimuli (Reber, et al., 2004). Processing fluency is experienced as pleasant. Albert Einstein is attributed to saying, “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” There is a beauty in simplifying.

The bias for what is familiar is the most important factor for explaining differences in liking for things. People tend to like best what is most familiar. For example, the more listeners hear a piece of music, the more they like it (Margulis, 2014). Major labels know that frequent airplay is the key to successful record sales.

The power of repeated exposure isn’t just limited to music. The mere exposure effect explains the acquisition of liking for spicy food by Mexican children. These children are exposed to spicy foods in the context of meals consumed by adults. The social environments in which chil­dren grow up enable them to develop a sense of how foods should taste. Children are more willing to taste and accept into their diets the foods they have seen others eating. Similarly, children are capable of appreciating new healthy foods if they are exposed often enough (De Cosmi et al., 2017).

In many cases, familiarity initially increases pleasure, but ultimately reduces it. In other words, the relationship between exposure and enjoyment is nonlinear. This relationship reflects the interaction of two opposing desires, the positive learned safety effect on the one hand, and an aversion to boredom on the other hand.

It is also possible that familiarity breeds contempt (Noton, et al., 2007). In the context of a relationship, more information about others leads, on average, to less liking. At first acquaintance, individuals read into others what they wish and find evidence of similarity, leading to liking. Over time, however, as evidence of dissimilarity is uncovered, the liking decreases. In short, ambiguity (lacking information about another) leads to liking, whereas familiarity can breed contempt.

Experts say that “playing hard to get” is a most effective strategy for attracting a partner, especially in the context of long-term love (or the marital) in which a person wishes to be sure of their partner’s commitment. A “hard to get” player likes to appear busy, create intrigue and keep the suitors guessing. As Proust noted, “The best way to make oneself sought after is to be hard to find.”

Cognitive dissonance occurs when the brain recognizes it’s holding two conflicting beliefs. For example, let’s say you have always detested olives, and then one day your spouse sneaks them into a pasta sauce and you find them delightful. Or let’s say you’ve always considered yourself a conservative, but an election rolls around and you’re drawn to a liberal candidate. Your brain experiences dissonance that it will want to dispel.

Festinger says that if you spend a ton of effort on a task you value, your brain considers that a worthwhile use of resources. But what if you spend a high effort on something you don’t consider valuable? Your brain hates cognitive dissonance so it justifies the effort, usually by deciding the task actually was valuable. Thus cognitive dissonance can trick your brain into perceiving you value a particularly difficult or unenjoyable task, which in turn can spur motivation and engagement.

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This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Doing Things You Hate At Work: 5 Ways To Get Inspired

How do you do things you don’t like? I think we have all been brainwashed to believe we need to be inspired to do things; otherwise, it feels forced. But if we continue along that path, we will end up being unhappy. So, can we force ourselves to be inspired? I believe we can. Here are my tips on how to keep doing things you hate; forcing inspiration to appear, so to speak.

1. By Getting Out From The Pillars Of Mediocrity

Doing your best in what you like is easy. But if you are someone who expects the best of yourself, then do not give any excuses as to why you cannot do something you do not like. Get out of the pillars of mediocrity. Find excellence in all you do, even if you do not like what you are doing. The effort to push for excellence sometimes takes the focus away from the fact that you are doing something you don’t enjoy.

2. By Giving Reasons To Do It

No excuses to escape. Let’s face it, when you do things you don’t like, chances are you will have a million excuses screaming out to you to delay it or drop it. You need that coffee. The cookie at the cafeteria is calling you. Start giving yourself the reasons why you should do it.

3. By Stealing Time From Hidden Minutes

Ok, I understand. You cannot possibly spend a good 30 minutes straight to do things you don’t like. But I am sure you can find minutes here and there where you can focus on it. Steal these minutes. The 15 minutes before you knock off work – use it to attack what you don’t like to do.

4. By Sacrificing Near Term Gratification

Everyone has their fair share of doing things they don’t like. It’s the same for you. Successful people do things they don’t like to do, too. So, learn to sacrifice the short term for long term gains. You can escape once or twice from doing things you don’t like to do, but not in the long run. Better to learn and create a system that makes you do things you don’t like than cook up a plan to escape from it.

5. By Focusing On The Next Step Regardless Of How Tedious

Every project, big or small, takes you to a next step in a bigger context. When you need to do things you don’t like, focus on the next step. How is this contributing to the bigger goal? Sometimes focusing on something bigger makes you do what you don’t like easier. When you do things that you don’t like, inspiration doesn’t appear. You find it in discipline. Photo Credit:

Good at something but don’t enjoy it

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