Posts Tagged ‘psychology’


Psychological Warfare – A Haiku

I tried to warn them

Psychological warfare

Is it to late now?

2014 Albert Moyer, Jr.

Work, family, relationships, and various other activities take our time daily. Often, if you are a person who can get things done, you are called on more often than you sometimes wish. One thing that took me years to master is the ability to say, “NO!” Often, if a person has a good heart, they want to help. The problem is there is only so much time in the time bank. As I was checking news this morning, I came across an article that I thought was worth sharing, because it has very good information regarding saying, “No.” to others.

Eight Ways To Say, “No!”

If you want something done, ask a busy person. The old saying rings true, but it also spells doom for that busy person. When you develop a reputation for being responsive and generous, an ever-expanding mountain of requests will come your way. This may be why Warren Buffett says: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
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For those of us who enjoy being helpful—or just plain polite—this is no easy task. Every “no” is a missed opportunity to make a difference and build a relationship. And if it comes across the wrong way to the wrong person, it’s also a surefire way to brand yourself as selfish and rude.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been terrible at saying no. If it benefited other people more than it cost me, I would try to help. With a growing family and increasing professional responsibilities, I knew I needed to say no more often, but I had a hard time actually doing it.

Last year, I got the push I needed when the New York Times magazine ran a cover story on my book, Give and Take. Since the book focuses on the surprising success of givers—people who consistently help others with no strings attached—it was only natural to analyze how I handle these dynamics myself. A much bigger audience became aware that “no” tended to be absent from my vocabulary, and I was flooded with thousands of emails from people seeking help.

I learned that there’s a big difference between pleasing people and helping them. Being a giver is not about saying yes to all of the people all of the time to all of the requests. It’s about saying yes to some of the people (generous givers and “matchers” who aim for quid pro quo, but not necessarily the selfish takers) some of the time (when it won’t compromise your own goals and ambitions) to some of the requests (when you have resources or skills that are uniquely relevant). Outside those specific conditions, successful givers follow Buffett’s edict and decline for one fundamental reason:
Saying no frees you up to say yes when it matters most.

But the rest of the time, how do you say no without burning bridges and jeopardizing your reputation? Since it wasn’t possible to say yes to everyone, I got a crash course in saying no. I ended up test-driving eight responses. Each had advantages and disadvantages, and proved appropriate with different people in different circumstances:

1. The Deferral: “I’m swamped right now, but feel free to follow-up”
My first response was to explain candidly that my availability was limited while traveling on book tour, but I hoped to have more flexibility a few months down the road. This initial filter provided clues about who cared the most about connecting with me. I liked prioritizing the people who were passionate and persistent. But I also unwittingly rewarded the stalkers and the takers—people so aggressive and single-minded that they would do whatever it took to get what they wanted. As Joel Stein laments, it’s all too common that we end up helping “the pushy ones” and miss the people who are too respectful of your time to bother you at all, let alone again.

2. The Referral: “I’m not qualified to do what you’re asking, but here’s something else”
Many requests were so far removed from my expertise that saying yes would have been a disservice. (A word to the wise: don’t ask an organizational psychologist for assistance with startup financing or a medical malpractice lawsuit.) When people reached out for career advice, although I empathized with them, I have no training as a career counselor. In the rare occasions when I offer career suggestions, it’s after observing a student in class and having multiple conversations during office hours.

Not wanting to leave anyone empty-handed, I replied that I’m generally reluctant to give prescriptive advice, especially to people I don’t know. In lieu of that, here are some resources that might be useful: books on career choices (The Startup of You, Finding Your Element, So Good They Can’t Ignore You) and assessments for clarifying your values (Decision Pulse), strengths (Reflected Best Self and Strengths Finder), and career interests (Self-Directed Search). These referrals allowed me to avoid saying no outright and to engage equally with everyone in a way that protected my time.

3. The Introduction: “This isn’t in my wheelhouse, but I know someone who might be helpful”
When I wasn’t in a position to help, I sometimes knew people who could. Provided that I had a way to verify the requestor’s trustworthiness, I facilitated the connection. This was a huge time-saver and often proved far more helpful than the other approaches: some people landed jobs, and one of my introductions accidentally resulted in a marriage. As I wrote a few months ago, introductions are the gift we love to receive but forget to give.

Despite the appeal of introductions, there’s one major downside: they can be an imposition on the person who’s being enlisted to help. I didn’t mind asking givers who weren’t too busy and matchers who had benefited from my help in the past. But I worried about becoming what Ken Chester calls a Robin Hood giver, someone who “zealously gives to one group of people by taking from others.” I started checking with my colleagues first to see if they were comfortable with an introduction. That way, I didn’t punish the most generous givers by overloading them with requests—and it was less likely to damage our relationship or my reputation. This saved some embarrassment and some amusement (in at least three cases, I attempted to introduce people who already knew each other).

4. The Bridge: “You two are working toward common goals”
Inevitably, due diligence failed in some cases, and the introduction wasn’t productive. Instead of inconveniencing one person to help another, I started looking for ways to make mutually beneficial connections. When I heard from an aspiring screenwriter asking to get his screenplay read by a film industry insider, I remembered an earlier note from a depressed comedy writer searching for a way to help others. Rather than putting these two strangers in touch with people from my network, I connected them to each other. And when a series of entrepreneurs asked for feedback on apps designed to facilitate seeking and giving help, I put them in contact so they could support one another’s efforts.

5. The Triage: “Meet my colleague, who will set up a time to chat”
Unfortunately, these moments of serendipitous synergy don’t happen every day, and I was still taking a larger number of calls than I had time to handle. I hired Reb, an applied psychology expert, to collaborate on a variety of projects. When a request was related to his expertise, he fielded the initial conversation and reported back, and we evaluated whether there were unique ways we could help. His rare combination of competence and compassion has made this remarkably effective.

6. The Batch: “Others have posed the same question, so let’s chat together”
A dialogue with a former student opened my eyes to another response. Ryan is a military veteran who transitioned into business, and I was stunned to learn that he schedules upwards of 100 calls per month with fellow veterans pursuing that path. It seemed inefficient to take those calls individually when he was providing similar information to each person, so I suggested inviting them in small groups to weekly Google Hangouts. I ended up following my own advice, and found that it helped people create a community around common interests. It also served as a low-commitment first encounter for me to gauge how helpful I could be in subsequent interactions.

7. The Relational Account: “If I helped you, I’d be letting others down”
Even though I tried to help in other ways, each of these responses meant declining the original request, which was hard for me to do. Anne Lamott writes that “‘No is a complete sentence,” but it’s not a very nice sentence. Research shows that saying no can make us appear cold and selfish, and due to gender stereotypes, declining costs women more than men. As Sheryl Sandberg observes in Lean In, “when a woman declines to help a colleague, she often receives less favorable reviews and fewer rewards. But a man who declines to help? He pays no penalty.”

The good news is that there’s a friendly way to circumvent this risk. It’s called a relational account, and it involves referencing your commitment to other people when declining the focal person. Studies by Hannah Riley Bowles and Linda Babcock reveal that when we offer relational accounts for going against the norm, we’re viewed more favorably, as we preserve our image as giving and caring. Here are some of my relational accounts:

•Mentoring requests: “Students are my top priority professionally, and since I teach more than 300 students per year, I don’t have the bandwidth to take on additional mentoring.”
•Speaking requests: “With more than two dozen speaking invitations rolling in per week, my wife and I have set a limit for speaking engagements, and at this point, I’m maxed out.”
•Introduction requests: “I’d become a taker if I kept asking this person for favors” or “I don’t know this person well enough to impose.”

8. The Learning Opportunity
One guy wouldn’t take no for an answer. I tried the deferral, the referral, the batch, and the relational account, but he kept coming back.
I might have responded differently if he had followed some of the recommendations in Mattan Griffel’s insightful post on getting busy people to answer your email, or my list of six ways to get me to email you back. Instead, I decided to level with him:
“I’m sorry to disappoint. One of my goals for this year is to improve my ability to say no—you are a tough audience. I suppose it’s good practice…”

At that point, he moved on. Meanwhile, I’m still practicing.

Adam is a Wharton professor and the author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, a New York Times bestseller. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMGrantand sign up for his free newsletter at


Distressed – A Haiku

Their heart’s hurt and bleed

Their mind’s are tortured daily

They don’t give a shit

2013 Albert Moyer, Jr.

I  read in the news this morning that a family member stabbed five people to death, four being children, and in another news story a man shot a family to death, and killed their dogs. This poem was written and inspired based on the countless distressed people I meet daily, and what they feel inside. It is a sad fact, but our society in America is becoming more and more distressed everyday.  Unfortunately, it is all because of bad parenting, lack of values, and Romans 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” When you have nothing to fear, and care about nothing, it is very easy to act out, and this is what we see in America. Millions with no hope or fear acting out due to being distressed.


So what does it take to be a great dad? It takes heart. Everything we do comes from our heart. You either want to do it, or you do not. It’s as simple as that.

Dad’s are more important in the direction their children will take than media, society, or they themselves realize. Having talked with several kids over the years the number one thing I hear is,”I wish my dad were around.” There are literally thousands of adults walking around on any given day wondering,”Why did my dad leave?” There are thousands of children following negative paths because dad left. To be a great dad you must be in the game.

To be a great dad you must lead by example. Your kids are watching and so are their friends. If you are married or single, take time to cook meals, sit down and talk with your children at dinner, spend time with them doing an activity that they love, if you dislike something, do it anyways. Be open and talk them about the hot taboo topics. If you do not, their friends will. These things teach your child or children that you are interested in them, and that sometimes you have to do things that you dislike. To be a great dad you must show interest and lead by example.

Children will often test the waters and see how far they can swim. We know that our abilities only allow us to swim so far. To be a great dad you must discipline. Discipline can be accomplished a variety of ways and there are several books that discuss this. The key is that you let your child/children know in a loving way that you are the leader and that they must follow. I watch National Geographic shows with my kids and tell them,”Look at the animals. Who is leading and disciplining? The father and the mother. Even the animals understand.” To be a great dad you must discipline.

All over the World children starve or lack the material comforts that we are afforded in G8 countries. We buy our kids so much, that often we have sacks of items to give to thrift stores. Teach your children to appreciate and value what they have. Teach them not to waste food. Teach them to conserve. Teach them to care for everything they have. To be a great dad you must teach your child/children to appreciate.

When a child is born they know nothing. Children learn through experience and practice. You must teach your child the path you want them to take. When children fail, dads we have to self-reflect, and ask ourselves,”What are we teaching our kids?” From learning how to ride a bike, swimming, fishing, or the many other things children can do, fathers must teach. To be a great dad you must teach your child skills and challenge them.

At some point you will hear,”Dad I messed up.” During this time it is wise to stay calm, ask questions, and understand the situation. Show empathy and compassion no matter how much you want to explode in anger. Your child coming to you means they want help, dad’s advice, and possibly just an ear to share whats on their mind. To be a great dad show empathy and compassion.

Child: “Dad you forgot my newspaper for my homework.” Dad: “Sorry. I forgot to pick it up.”  Dad’s often make mistakes. To be a great dad admit your mistakes.

Father: “Hello, boss. I am sick and unable to come to work today.” If your child is nearby, and know you are not sick, you just taught them dishonesty. Often we rationalize dishonesty. We take a pencil home from work, yet we feel guilty with stealing a dime.  None of us are perfect, but as father’s we must do our best and make a conscious effort to be honest. To be a great dad be honest.

If your married, honor and value your wife. Husband: “Did you empty the trash?” Wife: “No, I forgot.” Husband: “Do you always forget?”  That word always is a killer. I must admit that I have been guilty of this word. The kids listen. Father’s must make effort to show appreciation for what the wife does, and value her work. When you kiss your wife in front of your children, you show them your love her. Show affection often. Tell her you love her. To be a great dad, value your wife.

In summary to be a great dad you need to be in the game, show interest, lead by example, discipline, teach them to appreciate, teach them skills,  challenge them, show empathy, compassion, admit mistakes, be honest, and value your wife. This will go along way in your quest to be a great dad.

One final thought, which is a preference of mine,  is to follow God’s teachings to the best of your ability, and be an active church member with your family. The reason I state this is we often fall short of the glory of God. I have on many occasions. I have prayed more than once saying,”Dear Lord I have messed up and I am not worthy to be in your presence.” The Bible has so many inspirational stories that give us insight on being a great dad and why we should follow them. It also gives a higher source to look towards than man. I have read many self-help books, psychology books, and I love the resource that all the professionals provide, but the Bible exceeds them all in my opinion. The church provides an outlet to socialize and share with other believers that are working towards, or already on a path of positive change. When my children ask,”Dad why do you love God?” I say,”I have been around the opposite of God. Drugs, alcohol, criminals, and people who practice the opposite of truth, and I cannot find peace, truth, love, or honesty among them. When I am in church, or in prayer, I feel a sense of love, peace, and happiness. God provides, Satan takes away.”

When I am spending time at the park with my kids as they play there are often large groups of mothers with their children, and periodically I get to hear their complaints, and struggles with being a stay-at-home mom. I would like to address a few of them. And let me state upfront this is not meant to slam anyone, but just observations I have made.

One of the biggest complaints I hear is,”I do not have enough time for myself.” What this complaint often boils down to is poor time management. When managing time one must set it up like a bank account and do debits, credits, and decide what is important.  Many mom’s look to load their children up with activities to get them out of the house so they have more time.  Of course there are mother’s who do this for their child’s social skills, and educational benefit, but I am just going by what I hear off the tongue. What the mom’s thought would be a break, ends up being a daily routine of running from one activity to another. And guess what? Yep! You guessed it. They have no time for the other household duties. The biggest one being a hot healthy meal for their kids. What happens then is the trip to the local fast food joint for some processed slop. Childhood Obesity is a problem in American? No! Really?

Another complaint that I often hear is,”My husband does not spend enough time with the kids.” I see that in many father’s, but often dad’s are locked into rigid employment schedules that do not allow them the time to get away, or the personal finances are so over-stretched he has no choice. By the time father’s have time, most want to just unwind on the golf course, fishing, etc. Unfortunately, many men do not enjoy unwinding with their children after a hard stressful day. And throughout history mom’s have had the child rearing responsibilities. It really wasn’t until the feminist movement came along that some mom’s said,”Hey, what am I doing at home with kids?” Personally, I find that totally weird, but that is my opinion.

The strangest complaint to me is,”My husband does not make time for me.” Men love woman! We are loaded with testosterone.  When a man is losing interest the number one area for a woman to look is within herself. What is the biggest turn off for a man? Nagging! Did you do this? Did you do that? Why are you never……? What’s wrong with you? You always do……” Etc, Etc! The Bible makes reference several times in Proverbs that it is better to live on top of the roof, in a desert, or to have a rainy day than listen to a nagging wife. It’s the worst thing ever for a man, and you can look like Ms. American ladies, but if you’re a nag,”Forget it!” Keep in mind the man you are nagging is busting his derriere for you at work to provide all the necessities and more often your wants. Woman I know to be nags often could not earn, or supply what the husband does financially. So in regards to that, I say stay-at-home moms should be thankful for their husbands hard work while they are at home. When thanklessness and nagging exceed acceptable levels, we often see breakdowns in the family unit and divorce. Sadly, these stay-at-home moms, and their children, end up worse off financially.

With these observations, I can conclude there is too much,”What about me?”, poor time management, and thanklessness for one of the greatest jobs on Earth. Stay-At-Home moms be thankful for your role because you are lucky beyond measure, have the most important job, and are truly blessed.