As a psychotherapist and performance coach to executives, I’m in a unique position to help clients develop smart strategies for winning job interviews and to understand what’s going on in their heads and what’s holding them back. The difference between being called back for a second interview or rejected is well within your control and lies in how you present yourself. So whether you’re a recent graduate, a high-level executive, or any other type of contender for a job, know that fear and uncertainty underlie most interview anxieties. It’s so important to approach every new interview with optimal confidence and smart strategies. Here’s how to do that.
1. Change the way you think about interviews.
Many people get worked up to the point that they feel like they’re prepping for major surgery or headed to court to learn their fate. Instead of seeing interviews in such a daunting and negative way, regard them as merely a Q&A opportunity: One where the prospective employer learns about you and you learn about them. By seeing it as a conversation where you get to know each other, you’ll eliminate the high stress that people often bring on themselves while prepping.
2. Keep your negative thinking in check.
Know that self-doubt and fear will render you helpless while a strong belief in who you are will lead to success. So, if you find yourself thinking negatively, reframe it. For example, “I’ll never get this job” serves no purpose whatsoever and should be replaced with “They called me for the interview so they’re impressed by my background. I’m going to do my best to bring this background to life for them and show them my A-game.”
3. Embrace your nerves.
That’s right, nerves can be good and at a physiological level there’s not a big difference between nerves and excitement. In both cases the heart rate and breathing increase in order to get blood and oxygen to different parts of the body so that it can perform either in the face of danger or excitement. In the case of the interview, it’s …
Imagine you walk into your office and see colleagues chatting but then when they see you, they hush. Or maybe you notice people glancing at each other when you walk in. Both these behaviors clearly suggest that you’re the subject of gossip and the information about you is false or negative while you are entirely innocent. Being in this situation doesn’t feel good and it might even make you feel highly anxious, insecure, and unsure about where to turn. Gossip can also have a negative impact on the morale of the office, people will be distracted, productivity may suffer, turnover rates might be high, and there may be some serious issues around harassment.
Believe it or not, there can be an upside to gossip. For example, people might be excited about a new product launch and there may be chatter about it. There may also be talk amongst colleagues about possible promotions, mergers, and raises. These are positive and can be a pleasant, even an exciting distraction from mundane daily work tasks.
It’s important to make a distinction between positive and negative gossip though. If it’s the latter, and you’re the subject of it, then here’s what you should do:
- Calm yourself down. Addressing gossip when you’re upset and emotions are running high will not yield the best results. Take some deep breaths, call a friend or significant other, gather facts, and try to relax.
- Confront the gossiper. Present the information you have and gently ask the person to explain it.
- Watch your language. Using the word “gossip” is negative and inflammatory and might fuel the situation. Instead suggest that there’s “misinformation” out there and ask for clarification.
- Invite the suspected gossiper or gossipers to go to you with any questions they may have or if you can help to clarify any information. This is a good way to both put people on notice and let them know you’re aware of their gossiping and also to address whatever the situation is — it shows you’re not shying away from
When you think about the things in life that stress you out — dealing with your pain-in-the butt boss, being able to pay your bills, having way too many things on your to-do list, and financial worries probably come to mind. You get the picture. Things like buying a house or a car, or planning for a big happy event are probably less likely to come to mind. However, these can be just as stressful.
One recent client told me about his high anxiety shopping for a new car and how just stepping foot into the car dealership led to a panic attack. This isn’t surprising. You see, when people make a big purchase such as a car, there’s uncertainty and questions will abound: “Am I getting the best price?” “Am I buying the right car for my needs?” “Can I afford this?” “Is the salesperson pulling a fast one on me?”
These types of questions introduce doubt into a person’s otherwise confident thinking. Theoretically, asking ourselves such questions ultimately leads to making a better, more informed decision. The problem is that people sometimes get stuck in this anxious mode of thinking and never act on the decision. This uncertainty leads them to feel fearful of outcomes that they think they can’t control.
After a few coaching sessions the client mentioned above was in good shape and able to walk into the dealerships with a sense of confidence and purpose and get the car for the lowest price he possibly wanted to pay–not a penny more. And he didn’t even read Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal.
Here’s how you can get the best price:
1. Forget about negotiating.
You’re not going to get into a back and forth with the dealership. Do your research and find out the True Market Value of the car, which reveals how much people in your area have paid for the vehicle. Edmunds.com is a good resource for this data. I recommend offering less than this value, by $500-$1000.
2. Look forward to buying your car.
If food were a drug, for sure we’d have rehabilitation centers devoted to treating it much like those for drugs and alcohol. No doubt, there’d be a stigma associated with it, funds would be set aside for food abuse education and treatment, and we’d see it portrayed more in our popular culture — perhaps we’d even see TV shows — Dr. Drew Style — Celebrity Food Rehab, for instance. But that isn’t the case.
More and more I’m seeing patients who use food to deal with their emotions. They come from all walks of life including C-level executives, entertainers, professionals, and others. I myself am guilty of reaching for way too many pints of Haagen Daz during a stressful period in my life a few years ago when I was writing my book. People reach for food in much the same way one might reach for the bottle to deal with stress and emotions. They crave it and feel a similar sense of relief and calm that one feels after using drugs or alcohol.
It’s not surprising that people use food to cope with emotions such as boredom, stress, anxiety, sadness, and anger. In many ways it’s a learned behavior: Think back to when you were a young child. Food may have been used in a celebratory manner such as eating cake at birthday parties. Food may have been used to make you feel better, e.g. ice cream to sooth a sore throat. And it may have become paired with certain events, buttered popcorn while watching a movie, for instance. All this is fine of course and part of normal growing up. By no means am I suggesting that people stop enjoying these indulgences. I mention this merely to illustrate the associations that are formed early on and how they can then be used in an unhealthy way later in life.
There’s also a biological component. Carbohydrate rich foods boost the production …
Wedding season is upon us and with that a host of issues is brought up that can wreak havoc on what is supposed to be a wonderful day. Throughout the year, many soon-to-be married couples consult me for avoiding pre-wedding stress and anxiety. Often this stress can come very close to breaking up the engagement and open up family issues to the point where people go radio silent on each other. I have yet to meet anyone who tells me that their wedding planning was easy and without incident. In fact, for most people it is quite the opposite. So accept the notion that stress and anxiety are normal and learn how to keep your cool without breaking up your relationship and family.
Here’s what to do:
1. Lower your standards.
Though society and culture dictate that this is supposed to be “the happiest day of your life,” that notion sets the bar way too high and in doing so creates pressure. By lowering your expectations and aiming for a happy day, you’ll help to avoid turning into the bride or groom from Hell.
2. Stick with your decisions and plans and don’t be swayed by the opinions of others.
Keep in mind that this is your special day, not theirs. Just because Mom wants you to have the grand wedding she never had is no reason to do so. Plan the wedding first and foremost to satisfy your needs.
3. Set goals and make definitive plans to reach them.
Ask for help from your friends and relatives and don’t be afraid to delegate.
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Do you find that your work day drags on and on and you just can’t seem to motivate yourself to focus and get work done? Maybe you dread going to the office and think you’d rather watch paint dry or even get poked and prodded by your doctor than to have to endure yet another day at your job. These, along with irritability, lack of patience with colleagues or clients, feeling entirely unfulfilled and simply disillusioned by your job, are tell-tale signs that you are burnt out.
Clients of mine who get to this point feel cynical about their work and this often spills into life outside of their job, affecting relationships. They might stay up at night worried about the day ahead, sleep poorly, and either skip meals because they’re upset, or do quite the opposite and reach for one too many pints of Haagen-Daz or other comfort food as a way to deal with their emotions and thus, pack on the pounds.
Here are the signs:
1. Poor work performance. To determine if your performance is suffering step back and look at the bigger picture. Compare your performance now to how it was when you first started. If there’s been a gradual decline over time, this could be work burnout while a more sudden decline might suggest of a rough patch.
2. No control. You feel that you have no say over your schedule, work assignments, or workload. You also feel that you lack adequate resources to get your job done.
3. Unclear expectations. Your job description and title might be confusing or ambiguous. Does the job description say one thing yet you’re taking on entirely different or additional duties? One recent client told me how as a nurse she is doing administrative tasks 60% of the time because of changes in management, and clinical work only 40% of her time. Given that her true passion is in treating patients, this ultimately led to burnout and dissatisfaction.
4. Poor work relationships. …
So many people worry about and forget that they have control over their outcome and their fate. “What if I can’t land a job?” or “What if I flub the interview?” are two of the most common anxiety-fueled statements I hear from recent graduates. This doubtful thinking will sap you of any energy required to be positive and productive and can set the pattern for how you think about many challenges that may lie ahead as you leave school and embark on the next part of your life. So if you find yourself thinking this way, turn it around and focus on what you can control. By taking action rather than being a victim of circumstance and your own negative thinking you’ll go on to achieve success and happiness.
Neither success nor happiness needs to be elusive nor does rejection need to hold you back. There are plenty of examples of people in our history who have failed or been rejected only to subsequently go on to reinvent themselves and achieve great success.
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Arianna Huffington and I have at least two things in common: We both wrote books about being fearless and we both care deeply about the importance of sleep. As a psychotherapist and lifestyle expert, I pay close attention to the sleep habits of my patients knowing sleep deprivation can have devastating effects on the mind and body.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Ms. Huffington about the sleep crisis and a world where you can sleep your way to the top and you won’t be looked at as an unsavory character, where you’re encouraged by management to snooze at work, and where sleeping longer will earn you a cash reward from your employer. Sound unreal? Well, it isn’t. Click here to read the entire column.
Cheating is pervasive. I’ve seen it with clients over the years and it is a steady presence in the news cycle. We see it with professional athletes who break rules and alter air pressure in footballs or use illegal performance enhancement drugs. We hear way too much about cheating actors, politicians, and the general public. And by now, you may be familiar with Beyonce’s latest album “Lemonade“ about her husband’s alleged infidelity. Click here to read the entire column.
When I was a kid, I was ice skating and remember going really fast. Next thing I recall I was being tended to in the changing room by my brother and sister and employees of the skating center. Apparently I had been going so fast that I lost control, hit my head, and knocked myself unconscious.
Fast forward to 2012 when I was discussing this incident with 1994 Olympic speed skating Gold medalist Dan Jansen. He told me, “throw a helmet on and to get back out on that ice.” His advice was spot on. In the face of fear one must face it rather than avoid it. To ignore that which we’re afraid of only gives that fear more power, while facing it will diminish it. This ice skating incident is perhaps a metaphor for other things in life. What do we do when we feel like we have no control over a situation? Click here to read the entire column.