How to negotiate a power struggle at work


April 27, 2017

Power struggles personify the worst kind of office politics. They sap energy. Distract from purpose. And hold the potential to derail success and happiness.

It’s the rare individual who actually enjoys a power struggle. Most of us want to do what we’re paid for, joke around with our colleagues, and feel like we’ve contributed.

That’s not so easy when emotions are running high. Empathy is replaced with an “us or them” mentality that can quickly escalate. Then we’re stuck either dodging bullets or picking sides. What other choice do we have?

The heart of the struggle

Power often evokes the image of a corner office where people in expensive suits lay down the law for the rest of us. But the reality is, power — and the fight for it — can come from anywhere.

To help us understand workplace struggles, and how to respond to them, we asked our colleague Sara Kalick
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Your enemy, yourself


April 13, 2017

You can’t stand her. His behavior is galling. Every conversation is a confrontation with that person.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all got along?

But we don’t. Most of us harbor negative emotions toward certain individuals that go beyond run-of-the-mill irritation. Because we’re human — meaning we have different hopes, approaches, and triggers in our lives.

That doesn’t mean, however, those differences are always insurmountable. To the contrary, they could be the foundation for some of our most fascinating relationships. If we temper our animosity enough to see the other person’s value.

If you’re game to make your world a friendlier place, here are four ways to coach yourself.

1. Why bother? Because cookie-cutter opinions only get us so far.

It’s true what C.S. Lewis said, that friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Common ground with another person lets us
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21 tiny ways to stop feeling hopeless


March 30, 2017

When hopelessness hits, we feel sunk. All our worst stories swirl in our head, punctuated by words like can’t, won’t, never, impossible. Life feels bleak.

If only there were a switch we could flip that would turn our thoughts and emotions around.

Until there is (we’re not holding our breath), we can take tiny steps that will gradually restore our faith in possibility. To start, summon your strength and any of the twenty-one ideas below that feels right for you. Consider the smallest sense of relief as great progress, because it is. Then engage your relief to try another.

One request: If you believe your depression is clinical, please reach out to a professional.

When you’re feeling hopeless, ask yourself:

1. “How important is this to my life overall? Does it really make everything else worthless?”

2. “What can I control?”

3. “What makes me feel worse? Should I do something other than play the same game on
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Say no in the best possible way


March 23, 2017

Do you say yes when you mean to say no?

Maybe you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. You’re afraid no one else will do it (or as well as you will). Or there are so many good options for someone else doing it that you can’t choose between them. That last one is especially true for us Wafflers.

Then the inevitable happens. Right after saying yes — or not saying no — you get overwhelmed, exhausted, stretched too thin. Even more requests pile up, and suddenly you just want to hide.

Though hiding works wonders at curing overwhelm, it shouldn’t be the only way to avoid saying yes to things you really don’t want to do.

Instead, there’s a way to say no without uttering the word, and that, with any luck, makes everyone happier in the process.  

Two things.

First, say thank you. When someone asks you to do something, what they
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Are you faking it?


March 16, 2017

We all do it. Something new comes along, and we don’t know exactly what the ins and outs are. So we fake it until we can figure it out. And until we figure it out, it’s pretty uncomfortable.

The potential disaster looming in our head is ridicule: we screw up or we’re found out or both. Depending on how vividly we imagine this scenario, we may abandon faking it altogether.

Try not to let that happen. Faking it is a form of learning (unless you’re performing something tricky like surgery or aerial skiing). It usually leads to newfound competence (and confidence).

But, sure, in the moment it feels kind of wrong. Here are a couple ways to ease the uneasiness.

Own your newness

Instead of thinking you have be perfect from the get-go, relax into the idea that you won’t be. Because you don’t have to be. And people will actually respect you for
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How to inject more joy into your day


March 9, 2017
What's your intention today?

Question: What’s your intention for today?

The quick answer might sound something like: Go to work, or keep the kids clean and fed, or just get through it.

Then there’s the answer beneath that answer: Be able to pay my bills. Maintain order in my day. Hold the dread at bay.

All understandable. Necessary, even. But, in addition, what if we intended to do something that touches our soul? To feel purposeful or loved or delighted. Now that’s something to get out of bed for!

For some of us, the day runs mostly on auto-pilot. For others, it can seem rudderless. Or bland. Or contentious. Those joy-filled days— isn’t that what vacation is for?

Sort of. Vacation is important because it helps us step back and experience life differently. But what about the 360 other days of the year? Don’t you want to inject some joy into those too?

Of course you do. So let’s do
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How to squeeze your favorite people back into your life


March 2, 2017

Why do we ignore people who matter the most to us? You know, the friend or cousin or former teammate who really gets us. Who we can say and do anything with. Who we haven’t connected with in a long time.

You might chalk it up to busyness, but it really comes down to bonds. We are comfortably certain that time out of touch will not fray our affection in the long run. And we’re usually right. Part of a superstrong relationship is that we don’t have to constantly nurture it. The love will always be there. And when we do connect, it is soulfully satisfying. And sustaining. Or is it?

For a minute, forget the people you need to please or impress. Forget your pile of responsibilities. Instead, remember those deep connections — both the memories and the vague plans for future connection.

Is it enough, these momentary touches? How much finer
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What to do — when you don’t know what to do


February 23, 2017
Lesley Ware

Lesley Ware moved to New York City for her dream job. As the new project manager at a national nonprofit serving girls, she envisioned working with a team of smart, liberal women to improve the world. What she experienced was slow-moving bureaucracy.

“Everything about our mission told girls to follow their dreams and learn and grow,” Ware says, “but that’s not how it felt for me in that job.” After five years of yearning to explore, innovate, and develop her skills, she knew she had to find a better fit. The trouble was, she didn’t know where to begin.

Reluctant to give up her steady paycheck without a plan, Ware decided to take baby steps while keeping her day job. It wasn’t a straight line to success, but her steady boldness paid off. Today, she is the author of two books and runs her own business. Here are the three big lessons
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What to do when you wake up in the middle of the night


February 17, 2017

Little kids aren’t the only ones suffering from nightmares. I wonder sometimes if it’s scarier as an adult, because the things keeping me awake at 3 a.m. are more possible than any of the stuff I used to imagine.

The real-life monsters that haunt me: losing my income, losing a loved one, making someone mad, making the wrong decision, and being alone — forever.

Sound familiar? When real-life monsters haunt you, here’s what to remember:

1. “Everything feels worse in the middle of the night.”

That’s what my mom would say when I would whimper beneath the covers in the middle of the night, too scared to move. Hoping she could save me. The moment I heard her rustling across the hall, I would start to feel better.

It’s surprisingly helpful to speak to myself in that same tender voice when my mind is spiraling into worst-case scenarios.

The phrase that works for me
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How any of us can find extraordinary motivation


February 9, 2017
Extraordinary motivation comes down to grit

Why do some of us give up on our goals while others have the grit to see them through? How do some people manage to persist in the face of repeated rejection and other setbacks?

To crack the nut of extraordinary motivation, I decided to study the example of Rebecca Skloot. Skloot is the author of the 2010 book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which spent seventy-five weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list, won a slew of awards, and has been turned into a film starring Oprah Winfrey, due for release in April on HBO.  

In hindsight, this success seems inevitable. (Success often does, and rarely is.) In reality, the first-time author spent ten years reporting and writing her book, during which time she encountered barrier after barrier: