Why parents struggle so much in the world’s richest country (The Atlantic)
Oh boy, this one hits home. Written by Stephanie H. Murray, an American journalist and mother living in the UK, this article delineates why it is uniquely challenging to be a parent living in the United States:
Pervasive fear for children’s physical safety. As Murray writes:
Nothing epitomizes U.S. individualism quite like widespread gun ownership—and nothing more clearly illustrates the impossible burdens that individualism inevitably places on parents. No amount of tragedy has yet convinced Americans to set aside their guns, so instead we saddle parents with the absurd task of protecting their children from other gun owners while also ensuring that the child never stumbles across a gun.
The time-intensive (and often emotionally draining) expectations of all-consuming parenting that is idealized in the US.
This line hits like a gut punch: “It’s ironic that in a country so committed to freedom, children have so little of it; that in a society so committed to personal responsibility and self-reliance, children can do so little for themselves.”
No, office mandates don’t help companies make more money, study finds (Washington Post, gift link)
A new study, which synthesizes longitudinal data from a sample of S&P 500 firms, confirms that return to office (RTO) mandates do not positively impact profitability or stock market valuation, as companies often argue. In fact, the only significant impact that RTO mandates have is a notable reduction in employee morale and workplace satisfaction. I’ll say it once again for the people in the back: Forcing all employees to return to the office full-time is bad policy!
Stop serving the compliment sandwich (Granted)
The compliment sandwich (also known to many as “the shit sandwich”) is the method of giving feedback in which the person providing the feedback sandwiches their critique between two compliments. In this article, Wharton professor Adam Grant argues that there’s a better way. Instead:
Grant cites research suggesting that people feel up to 40% more receptive to feedback when it’s proceeded by the following sentence: “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”
Next, acknowledge that you had to learn, too. Grant suggests saying something like, “I’ve benefited a lot from people giving me feedback, and I’m trying to pay that forward.”
Confirm that the other person actually wants to hear the feedback. This increases buy-in and their sense of control.
Have a transparent dialogue—don’t lecture them! Find out if the feedback resonates for them. If so, in what ways? If not, why not? Then, together, brainstorm potential solutions for moving forward.
An exhausting year in (and out of) the office (The New Yorker)
Why are so many knowledge workers burned out? One major driver is the constant barrage of online communication (email, Slack, etc.) and the increasing inability to get “real work” done. In the words of author Cal Newport:
The bottom line is that the abrupt rise in digital interaction following the arrival of the pandemic made knowledge work more tedious and exhausting, helping to fuel the waves of disruption that have followed. If we accept this interpretation of events, however, we must also accept the necessity of continuing to seek change. So long as these new and excessive levels of digital communication persist, more haphazard upheavals will inevitably follow. We need to get serious about reducing digital communication—not just small tweaks to corporate norms but significant reductions, driven by major policy changes. [emphasis added]
Smart, emotionally intelligent, and generative women are often tapped as mentors by junior employees. This can lead to truly rewarding relationships and work, but it can also lead us feeling burned out—especially when it feels like we’re constantly serving others. In this article, Kavitha Ranganathan and Michael Englesbe offer some concrete suggestions for successful mentoring:
Divide mentees into teams: This gives junior people the experience of peer coaching. They can turn to each other for help with more minor issues, thus saving your time to mentor them individually on bigger items.
Set expectations with mentees early on: The authors suggest creating mentee contracts (this might be overkill in some organizational settings), but clarifying mutual expectations up front is always a good idea.
Use technology to your advantage: Use web-based sign up platforms for mentee meetings and consider recording answers to commonly asked questions, to avoid having to answer them individually each time.
Brand your efforts: Use social media as a way to showcase your mentee’s accomplishments. Doing this 1. Elevates their work and reputation and 2. Highlights the time, effort, and skill you have put in to mentorship.
Hold organizations accountable: It is irresponsible and unfair for organizations to expect women and people of color to do the bulk of the mentoring. Organizations need to educate all employees in how to mentor well and provide recognition when it’s done well.
At least two or three times a week, my kids are ready early enough on weekdays for us to play a quick card game before they get on the bus. We usually play Go Fish, Uno or Taco vs. Burrito, but lately they’ve been loving a game called Sussed, a fun “What Would I Do” game that I love because it’s a fun way to connect and spark silly conversation.
There are a few ways to play it, but we play by having each person read a question from their card, followed by the other players guessing their answer (i.e., what the reader’s answer would be). Players get points if they answer correctly.
Questions are funny and lighthearted, with examples like:
Which would I rather have? A. Three arms; B. Four legs; C. Five eyes
I’m buying a new pair of sneakers. I want the ones that… A. Can give me directions; B. Come with a remote control for changing my speed; C. Can walk up walls
If I had to do one of these things for 30 seconds, I’d rather… A. Dunk myself into freezing cold water; B. Let a friendly tarantula crawl across my face; C. Drink a lumpy smoothie made from only brussel sprouts.
We’ll definitely be bringing a deck along on our next road trip!
“What would you do if you had total faith in yourself”
I asked this question to a coaching client earlier this week and it led to a powerful realization. She had greater clarity on what she really wanted and we discussed the self-defeating thoughts and beliefs that were standing in her way.
So, if you had total faith in yourself, what would you do?
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