Tag Archives: Employment

13 Things to Discuss Before You Marry

We all get nervous before big moments in our lives.  When you start school, graduate, or arrive for the first day of a new job, your stomach is sure to be doing flips.  So when you get married, it’s only natural and normal to feel some anticipatory anxiety.  However, there’s a huge difference between a few pre-wedding jitters and getting cold feet.

Getting cold feet is a message from the inside that you may be making a mistake.  Unfortunately, a lot of folks ignore this feeling because they think:

1. “It’s too late. We’ve dated for so long, and I have too much invested.”

2. “I don’t want to be alone.”

3. “It’s too embarrassing and/or expensive to call off the wedding.”

4. “He/she is really nice, and I don’t want to hurt his/her feelings.”

5. “He/she will change after we get married.”

How can you avoid getting cold feet at the altar?  Go through at least six months of premarital counseling.  Oftentimes people ignore doubts, red flags, and gut feelings because they don’t discuss their issues and concerns BEFORE they get married.  By seeing an expert who specializes in premarital counseling, you’ll go over things like:

1. Money. How do we spend it?  What about savings? What about budgets? Who takes care of the money?  When it comes to money, there are two types of people to varying extremes: those who like to spend and those who like to save.  It’s extremely important to discuss finances and prenups (which I think are absolutely necessary in second marriages involving children so that the kids are protected).

2. How alike are you?  People say “opposites attract,” but that only works for magnets, not for people.  The more you have in common with your partner, the better. You need to discuss your backgrounds, religious beliefs, values, and dreams for the future.  What are your views on loyalty, honesty, and dealing with anger?  What behaviors are off-limits?  You should talk about all these things and never assume they will change after you are married.  If you want something about them to change and it doesn’t, don’t get married!

3. Communication skills.  Many people come from families where they really don’t communicate.  They don’t sit down calmly and honestly speak the truth.   You and your partner need to be able to say to each other, “These are my expectations, hopes, dreams, desires, etc.,” and then ask if they are reasonable.  If your partner says, “I would like to have more freedom, come and go as I please, and not have to call when I’m going to be late for dinner,” then you know it’s a good idea to call it quits.
It’s vital to assess how someone communicates before you get married.  Some people use communication as a destructive tool to get what they want, and others use it to hurt their partner or justify themselves when they’ve lied or misbehaved.

4. Life outside of marriage.  Which hobbies and activities are you going to do together and which are you going to do separately with friends?  Am I not going to be able to ride my motorcycle because you don’t ride?  Some people are so insecure, possessive, or demanding that they won’t let the other person have a life.  Many women, in particular, don’t want their men to have guy time (which can be very disastrous).

5. Do you want to have kids?  How many? What does discipline look like? Who’s going to take care of them? What happens if one of you has fertility issues?  Are you open to adoption? Having two people cooperate to raise a child is a huge deal.  Compatibility issues in how you parent can lead to big problems down the road.  This is why it’s important to look at each other’s family dynamics.  People develop a lot of neurotic tendencies from their childhoods that may never change, such as how loving or attentive they are. Observe how your fiancé/fiancée is with other people’s kids.

6. Employment.  Do you travel a lot for your job? Do you plan to relocate often? Do you stay at the office late? Do you have any time for family?  Certain jobs (trucking, medicine, law, military, etc.) require a lot of commitment.  You have to analyze yourself and ask, “Do I want to marry somebody who isn’t going to be home at seven every night?  Do I want my spouse to be just visiting when he/she walks in to the house?”

7. Sex! Find out what each other’s fantasies are.  If their fantasies include small farm animals, you know to hit the eject button.

8. Daily life: Who’s going to be responsible for which household chores and bills?  Are you actually going to raise your kids, or are you going to farm them out (so that when you’re old and decrepit, they farm you out)?

9. How committed are you to the relationship? With looks, health, abilities, kids, finances, and family, there are many changes, phases, and challenges in life.  Are you committed in the relationship, or are you just a fair weather spouse?  I would say that about 70 percent of divorces result because people are not committed to a relationship – when it’s not going good, they find another place to go.

10. Personal space.  Everybody needs time to be alone with their hobbies and thoughts.  A lot of women have trouble giving their husbands personal space.  Guys are generally relieved when their wives want to go spend the day with their girlfriends: “That’s wonderful honey, are you sure you don’t want to go for the weekend?” = “Yes! No nagging for six hours!”

11. How are you going to keep the marriage exciting?  What’s your idea of a good time together? Is it hanging out with a lot of people? Watching sports? A candlelight dinner? A walk in the park? Soaking in the tub together?  After they get married, many people say, “My husband/wife doesn’t do anything.”  Well, perhaps that’s because you guys never talked about what would be fun.

12. Family.  My advice: If you really, really, really can’t get along with his or her family, move 3,000 miles away.

13. Know your odds.  Statistics show that couples who live together before they’re married are more likely to get divorced. Couples who have been previously married and divorced are also more likely to get divorced.  Don’t learn the hard way by thinking “Well, we’re different.”

U.S. Youth: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

As graduation season kicks off and summer approaches, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about kids being too busy for summer jobs. 

A recent Time magazine article reports,

“It was once common to see teenagers mowing lawns, waiting tables, digging ditches and bagging groceries for modest wages in the long summer months.  Summer employment was a social equalizer, allowing both affluent and financially strapped teenagers to gain a foothold on adulthood, learning the virtues of hard work, respect and teamwork in a relatively low-stakes atmosphere.  But youth employment has declined precipitously over the years, and young people are losing a chance to develop these important life skills in the process.”

The article goes on to say “more than 50 percent of the nation’s young workforce has never held a basic, paying job.  We may be postponing their entry into adulthood.”

As the article makes clear, our kids are not prepared for the real world.  They lack the necessary skills to move up the professional ladder: perseverance, flexibility, humility, and commitment. 

One reason they don’t know about commitment is that “shack-ups” have increased.  Our kids haven’t learned about humility because we live in an environment where parents sue their school if their kid doesn’t get an “A,” or wasn’t chosen to be on the football or basketball team.  How can children learn humility when their failures are elevated to jurisprudence concepts?          

It’s basically the elders who are responsible for our kids’ incompetence.  It’s grownups who don’t make their kids learn values or appropriate expectations.  They don’t teach them how to take advantage of opportunities.  We do a lousy job of getting our kids ready for the real world because we’re teaching them their esteem is more important than their effort.

In addition, a survey conducted by the Corporate Voices for Working Families found that

“nearly three-quarters of survey participants (70 percent) cite deficiencies among incoming high school graduates in ‘applied’ skills, such as professionalism and work ethic, defined as ‘demonstrating personal accountability, effective work habits, e.g. punctuality, working productively with others, time and workload management.’  More than 40 percent of surveyed employers say incoming high school graduates hired are deficiently prepared for the entry-level jobs they fill. The report finds that recent high school graduates lack the basic skills in reading comprehension, writing and math, which many respondents say were needed for successful job performance.”

I guess if you’ve spent your time sexting and playing video games, you’re not going to be good in reading comprehension, writing, and math.            

The study also found that nearly three-quarters of incoming high school graduates are viewed as not being able to use reasonable grammar and spelling.  Their written communication is horrible, and they can’t write memos, letters, or complex technical reports. 

Critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to express oneself are no longer being taught in school.  Do you know why?  Because we have women’s studies, Black studies, Hispanic studies, purple studies, green studies, etc.  We have all kinds of studies for advocacy groups which have no place in our basic education system.  These studies should all be extracurricular subjects and should have no relevance to graduating with a degree. If you haven’t read the classics and you haven’t thought through profound concepts and essays, then you’re not educated.  All these studies simply involve being angry about something and putting your fist in the air.  This is why our ranking in science and math is below a lot of third world countries.  We should be number one. 

These are just some of the many things bothering employers these days, but it mainly comes down to this: they’re dealing with snot-nosed upstarts with a sense of entitlement.    

For more on this topic, here is a link to some skills most sought after by employers.

Excluded at the Office

In this week’s YouTube video, Jessica is feeling shunned and excluded by her supervisor from activities outside the office.  It seems like the only time she’s spoken to is when her boss wants something from her.  I think Jessica needs a different perspective regarding office relationships…

Watch: Excluded at the Office
Read the transcript

Or watch other videos at youtube.com/DrLaura

Work Habits That Work

A lot of you are struggling with making sure you keep your jobs in this economic climate.  I think the qualities for making sure you keep your job are closely related to the ones you need even if you want to get a promotion, much less keep your job.  So I did a little research on the types of behaviors that keep you employed and possibly even get promoted. 

First of all, constantly look around and see what else you can do.  A lot of people have a sense of entitlement:  “Well my job description is ‘blankety-blank’ so, you know, I’m not going to put more paper in the copier.”  When I first went through all of the qualities I’ll mention here, I thought about all my peeps.  Each of my peeps has a job description, but when push comes to shove, they each act like the company is theirs.  So if there’s no paper in the copier, well their company doesn’t have paper in the copier so they put paper in.  No one (including me) thinks they’re above doing anything.  I am notorious for cleaning up…they’re always going “here she goes again”.  That’s not in my job description; I am the host.  Heck, we’re all in this together and whatever needs to be done, we do it.  That’s a team effort.  And people who have the team effort mentality do better with their bosses and do better with their co-workers.

Now everything I’m going to say presumes you’re not working for a nutcase.  We leave out the nutcases.  If you’re working for a nutcase, get another job.  Nonetheless, 99.9% are working for reasonable people.  If you behave as though you’re part of the team, everybody will appreciate you, including the boss who will find you indispensable.  “This is a person who will put the coffee on, as well as make the PowerPoint presentation for the CEO of this Fortune 500″…whatever.  So that’s really important. 

Next?  Be observant.  Pay attention to the people who seem to be doing well with the company.  I ask that question a lot when people have concerns about what’s going on at work.  “Well, who are the people who are doing very well?   Who are the people who are liked?  Who are the people seemingly getting ahead?  Who are the people who have the eye of the boss? What is it they do?  How do they behave?  What do they contribute?  What are their people skills?  Communication skills?  How do they get along with people?”   So observe.  Drop the competitiveness, drop the cattiness and just observe.  What skills, what attitudes do the people doing well have that you could take? 

In addition to being a team player (this may sound counterintuitive, but it’s not) you have to find a way to stand out.  Make yourself indispensable; be proactive.  On my racing sailboat (and sometimes I’ve got 10 to 12 people aboard), we sort of noticed over the years the people who were proactive – who would  look around and see if anything bad was going to happen.   Look at all the lines, is anything crossed?  How do all the shackles look?  How does this look?  How does that look? Where’s the wind coming from?  While being a member of a team, they’re looking at everything.  And, over the years, I’ve become adept at figuring out early on the people who are sort of lazy and just want to be on a boat as opposed to the people who really commit to the team by being aware and supporting each other, which is an important thing: Looking for problems before they happen.  It’s easier to avoid than to repair. 

You make yourself indispensable by the positive attitude, by being a flexible team player but also looking around, coming up with ideas, and trying to make things better for everybody.  You need to know how and when to have the right conversations.  So, for example, you go to your boss, your manager, your supervisor and you say, “In 3 to 6 to 9 months what would you like to see me doing?” or “What do you imagine for me?” or “What could I work toward?” or you have a friendly conversation (not a threatening, demanding one) where you say, “What do you see?  What could I do for you that would be better?”  So that you’re open to what a lot of people take as criticism without being sensitive.  Use it as information to run with. 

Bottom line, if you seem hell-bent on just getting a promotion, getting power, you’re missing the bigger picture.  You’ve got to focus in on every aspect of your being at work and relationships, because basically going to work is a relationship experience.  You need to know how to get along with people.  And the best way to get along with people is to be solicitous, non-competitive and supportive.  Ask them for advice and their opinions so they feel important to you.  It’s a give-and-take on a very positive level — it is not a family.  It is NOT a family.  Family has certain expectations and people get awfully emotional about that.  But be very aware of showing respect, asking for their input, and offering them help instead of being competitive.

There are lots of practical things to consider. If you come up with something brilliant for the company they can use, that’s great.  But for the most part it’s attitude, positive people skills, and support. A lot of people get into trouble at work when it all starts to get competitive.  To the contrary, the best thing to do with someone who seems already to be in that mode, is from time to time, say to them, “You know, I was thinking about ‘such and such’.  What’s your opinion on that?”  They stop being competitive when they feel somewhat valued because being competitive is insecurity.  So if you feed the insecurity by fighting, it’ll go south.  If you feed their insecurity by instead bolstering their sense  they are important to somebody, that’s going to work really well.

Work Habits That Work

A lot of you are struggling with making sure you keep your jobs in this economic climate.  I think the qualities for making sure you keep your job are closely related to the ones you need even if you want to get a promotion, much less keep your job.  So I did a little research on the types of behaviors that keep you employed and possibly even get promoted.
 
First of all, constantly look around and see what else you can do.  A lot of people have a sense of entitlement:  “Well my job description is ‘blankety-blank’ so, you know, I’m not going to put more paper in the copier.”  When I first went through all of the qualities I’ll mention here, I thought about all my peeps.  Each of my peeps has a job description, but when push comes to shove, they each act like the company is theirs.  So if there’s no paper in the copier, well their company doesn’t have paper in the copier so they put paper in.  No one (including me) thinks they’re above doing anything.  I am notorious for cleaning up…they’re always going “here she goes again”.  That’s not in my job description; I am the host.  Heck, we’re all in this together and whatever needs to be done, we do it.  That’s a team effort.  And people who have the team effort mentality do better with their bosses and do better with their co-workers.

Now everything I’m going to say presumes you’re not working for a nutcase.  We leave out the nutcases.  If you’re working for a nutcase, get another job.  Nonetheless, 99.9% are working for reasonable people.  If you behave as though you’re part of the team, everybody will appreciate you, including the boss who will find you indispensable.  “This is a person who will put the coffee on, as well as made the PowerPoint presentation for the CEO of this Fortune 500″…whatever.  So that’s really important.
 
Next?  Be observant.  Pay attention to the people who seem to be doing well with the company.  I ask that question a lot when people have concerns about what’s going on at work.  “Well, who are the people that are doing very well?   Who are the people who are liked?  Who are the people seemingly getting ahead?  Who are the people who have the eye of the boss? What is it they do?  How do they behave?  What do they contribute?  What are their people skills?  Communication skills?  How do they get along with people?”   So observe.  Drop the competitiveness, drop the cattiness and just observe.  What skills, what attitudes do the people doing well have you could take?
 
In addition to being a team player (this may sound counterintuitive, but it’s not) you have to find a way to stand out.  Make yourself indispensable; be proactive.  On my racing sailboat (and sometimes I’ve got 10 to 12 people aboard), we sort of noticed over the years the people who were proactive – who would  look around and see if anything bad was going to happen.   Look at all the lines, is anything crossed?  How do all the shackles look?  How does this look?  How does that look? Where’s the wind coming from?  While being a member of a team, they’re looking at everything.  And, over the years, I’ve become adept at figuring out early on the people who are sort of lazy and just want to be on a boat as opposed to the people who really commit to the team by being aware and supporting each other, which is an important thing: Looking for problems before they happen.  It’s easier to avoid than to repair.
 
You make yourself indispensable by the positive attitude, by being a flexible team player but also looking around, coming up with ideas, and trying to make things better for everybody.  You need to know how and when to have the right conversations.  So, for example, you go to your boss, your manager, your supervisor and you say, “In 3 to 6 to 9 months what would you like to see me doing?” or “What do you imagine for me?” or “What could I work toward?” or you have a friendly conversation (not a threatening, demanding one) where you say, “What do you see?  What could I do for you that would be better?”  So you’re open to what a lot of people take as criticism without being sensitive.  Use it as information to run with.
 
Bottom line, if you seem hell-bent on just getting a promotion, getting power, you’re missing the bigger picture.  You’ve got to focus in on every aspect of your being at work and relationships, because basically going to work is a relationship experience.  You need to know how to get along with people.  And the best way to get along with people is to be solicitous, non-competitive and supportive.  Ask them for advice and their opinions so they feel important to you.  It’s a give-and-take on a very positive level — it is not a family.  It is NOT a family.  Family has certain expectations and people get awfully emotional about that.  But be very aware of showing respect, asking for their input, and offering them help instead of being competitive.

There are lots of practical things to consider. If you come up with something brilliant for the company that they can use, that’s great.  But for the most part it’s attitude, positive people skills, and support. A lot of people get into trouble at work when it all starts to get competitive.  To the contrary, the best thing to do with someone who seems already to be in that mode, is from time to time, say to them, “You know, I was thinking about ‘such and such’.  What’s your opinion on that?”  They stop being competitive when they feel somewhat valued because being competitive is insecurity.  So if you feed the insecurity by fighting, it’ll go south.  If you feed their insecurity by instead bolstering their sense they are important to somebody, that’s going to work really well.

Law School Student Wants His Tuition Back

A third-year Boston College Law School student facing dismal job prospects and a mountain of student loan debt has offered the prestigious law school a unique deal:  keep the degree, and give him back his tuition!

Good gracious, here’s another example of the generation of young people who:

1.  Buy something they can’t afford (in this case, tuition), and then complain about the debt.

2. Expect that since they showed up, there should be a party (or at least the job of their dreams).

With the housing situation as it is (people buying homes they couldn’t afford), you’d think their kids would “get” it:  if you can’t pay, don’t dance.  Investing in your own future does not mean that the dividends will be easily gotten.

It’s not that there isn’t a need for legal experts, it’s just these young adults have the notion they should start at the top, instead of putting out a shingle and helping people as best they can while working up and perhaps looking toward being in a larger firm.  No, instead of that kind of thinking, the mentality today is:  “I put in three years of my life and took on huge loans….Now I AM ENTITLED to the brass ring.”

We’re not adequately teaching our children humility, patience and a work ethic.  Getting an education is a stepping stone, but it does not come with a GPS – we all have to meander a bit.  Pay dues. Get real life experience, struggle and sacrifice, and then – maybe – we’ll get exactly what we want.

Here’s another take:  a man goes up a mountain in Tibet to talk to the wisest man on the earth.  He reaches the summit, finds the old guy, and asks “Which way is success?”
The guru points in a direction.  The man, all excited, climbs down the mountain and rushes in that direction.  SPLAT!  He comes up against a wall.
 
He’s upset, but figures he made a mistake somehow and then goes back up the mountain to the guru and asks again:  “Which way is success?”
 
Again, the guru points off into the distance.  The man comes down the mountain and again attempts the journey.  SPLAT!  He is exhausted, starving, frustrated, and getting angry.

He goes back up the mountain and yells at the guru:  “I asked which way is success twice.  I followed your directions…twice!  I’m tired, hungry, frustrated, and very, very angry.  Now, old man, “WHICH WAY IS SUCCESS?”

This time, the guru spoke:  “It is that way – a little past SPLAT.”