Month: November 2014

What You Can Stop Doing Now to Build Stronger Relationships

Whenever I hear someone complain, I notice one consistent thing: They are arguing with “what is.” In other words, they are resisting reality, which if you think about this, doesn’t make much sense.

But we all do it. I do it.

Here are some complaints I’ve heard lately:

“My daughter’s room is a mess. She’s so lazy and inconsiderate.”

“My boss completely dismisses me at staff meetings. He’s such a jerk.”

And lately here in the Midwest I’ve been hearing, “It’s so flippin’ cold outside. It’s ridiculous!”connection1

One of the things complaints and complaining all have in common is the Second Arrow effect.  It’s a Buddhist concept where the first event—or first arrow–occurs i.e. the messy room, the dismissive boss. Then we inflict further pain on ourselves by adding a Second Arrow. Do you see the Second Arrows, in the examples above?

“She’s so lazy and inconsiderate . . . He’s such a jerk . . . It’s ridiculous.”

The Second Arrow is when we take something we already perceive as bad or wrong, something we think “shouldn’t be happening,” and then create an additional  judgment about it. In an instant, things go from bad to worse. The Second Arrow is the nail in the coffin of our misery, which we then share with anyone who will listen.

Maybe you’re wondering, But doesn’t complaining help you solve the problem? So what, you’re asking me to be superhuman and perfect?

I’m inviting you to notice. To whom are you complaining, and do you really want to move toward a solution? Most of the time, when we complain, we are calling to be heard. Tara Brach describes fear as “vulnerability that wants attention.” I believe complaining is simply vulnerability that wants attention. We all want to be seen in our social interactions. The problem is, complaining exacts a price from the listener.

I know the axis of social commerce revolves around complaints about weather, our President, gas prices, the Stock Market, but frankly, I’m interested in deeper, more interesting things about you. Elizabeth Gilbert said recently, “Your fear is the most boring thing about you.” I feel the same about complaints.

I wonder if complaining is a way to prevent a real conversation from happening. It’s easier to complain about the 9 degree weather than to express gratitude for down coats and warm gloves, to express joy at the sight of someone’s rosy cheeks, or glee over the fact that your car started without a hiccup. Complaining puts a wedge between  you and me.

There really are a million other ways to train your attention than to argue about what is true, which gets to the very soul of complaining.

I try not to complain. Debbie Ford used to say, When you complain, you are always the victim. That has stuck with me. I notice if I do cave into complaining, that I’ve lost my prowess, my ability to flirt and play, in that moment.  “Poor me, look at what I have to endure!” Most of the time, the complaint is over something small and temporary anyway.

Complaining casts a temporary spell on the listener that you are powerless. Is that really what you want to convey?

Oftentimes those who complain elicit sympathy from us. But when I respond to a complainer with sympathy, I’m giving more than I received. Complaining and sympathy are not equivalent social currency. Complaining comes off as low energy, even negative. Sympathy is higher along the continuum. If you’re like me, you notice people who complain more, and steer clear of them.  That’s reason enough for me to really think before I complain.

I want to be known for my vitality, my ability to contribute, and for my value. Complaining affects the way people perceive you, and whether, and how often they choose to engage with you.

My first rule of engagement when I’m really on my game—and believe me, I’m not always—is, Give more than I get. The minute I complain, I’ve lost the game.

4 Ignored Yet Essential Steps to Shortening Your Job Search

My friend “Dana” has worked in non-profits for years, and recently quit her job. She now wants to go in a whole new corporate direction. This week she emailed me saying she needs help organizing her job search: Help with cover letters, developing a generic and targeted resume, and a LinkedIn profile makeover too. She proudly announced she sent out dozens of resumes to job boards, and hasn’t heard a thing. “I’m stuck and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong,” she confessed.

Why is Dana frustrated? Because she takes the “FIRE, aim, ready” approach to job search—like many well-meaning souls before her (including myself).  Why do job seekers often take this reverse approach, which actually doesn’t work?  Because you want to feel you’re doing something to secure  food on the table. Taking the “fire, aim, ready” approach will waste your time and frustrate you. Instead, try these 4 things, for much better results.

Be kind and patient with yourself

People usually skip this step altogether. Instead, sit yourself down with a nice cup of tea before you start your job search. Have a chat with the Stagecoach Driver in your head who holds the reins and whips those horses into a mouth-frothing frenzy. You are about to embark on a journey full of surprises, unforeseen obstacles, discomfort, on uncharted ground to boot. Load up with plenty of self-compassion for your trek ahead. asphalt road under sunset with clouds

Think about it: This search for this particular job has never been done before by you; it’s virgin terrain. You allow ramping up time whenever you start a new job, right? Likewise, you need to be kind to yourself in your status as a job seeker. Chances are good you’re feeling vulnerable, even shaky. Now isn’t the time to crank up your mean “inner slavedriver.” Quite the opposite.


  • Every day, start with kind, supportive words of encouragement, words that build your strength and confidence.
  • Notice throughout the day when your Inner Doubter or Slave Driver kicks in. Noticing can help you switch gears into a more positive frame of mind.
  • Stay connected to friends. In fact, have a job search buddy, and join a local job club. Don’t isolate yourself. People find jobs 20% faster if they search with others, because each person boosts the other.


Keep a notebook nearby of your daily successes and positive phrases, including this one:  The most effective job search is a focused job search. Recently a friend admitted she’s looking to be either an Ultrasound Technician or an administrative assistant. She wonders why it’s taking her so long to find a job. As Confucious said, “If you chase 2 rabbits, you catch none.”

An unfocused  approach will slow you down. Your search will be more efficient if all of your efforts are trained on one job, or one industry. In addition, keep this in mind: Your LinkedIn profile is the linchpin of your job search. Remember that as you reach out to people, they will look at your profile, especially before deciding to interview you. When people Google you, your LinkedIn profile will appear first. If your profile isn’t well branded i.e. focused, it will raise a red flag. You want to avoid red flags.

Do the thoughtful work up front of pinpointing your favorite skills and best accomplishments in support of the direction you want to go next.  Hire a coach if you’re unclear. Get clarity before you embark on your search, and brand yourself with that vision. It will save you time.

Build Your LinkedIn presence

Have a look at William Arruda’s article, where he talks about how to leverage LinkedIn to your advantage.  Because 80% of jobs today are filled through referral rather than through the job boards, you must build quality professional relationships. That is the beauty of LinkedIn; it gives you dozens of ways to build and grow professional relationships, turn cold calls into warm ones, and get found. Here are some suggestions:

  • Grow your connections while you’re still employed. It is the kindest act of career self-advocacy. Why? Because when you do find yourself out of a job, you’re not scrambling to build your network. Never stop building and growing your connections, not only so others can support you when you need it, but so you can support others when they need it.
  • Read articles/posts by people in your field. Comment on them, share them, then request to connect with them, writing a personalized message.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups. Don’t just join Groups along with people looking for the same job as you, but join Groups where you will be the only Administrative Assistant participating, for example. Be a contributor, really listen to others’ concerns, offer your opinion, be a thought leader. You will find like-minded people through Groups with whom you can connect. Nine minutes a day on LinkedIn is all you need, to accomplish a lot.

Spot challenges and talk to people.

Congratulations. You are positioned well now. Since most jobs are filled by word of mouth, you must build relationships with people who trust you before a job comes available. The prevailing wisdom today is, ditch the job boards.  Instead, do research on companies who hire people with your skills. Uncover their problem that you can fix. Leverage your remarkableness and keen pain spotting skill in a letter, and send it to the manager. (“Pain Spotting” is Liz Ryan’s trademarked word for noticing an employer’s challenges. She’s great. Check her out at Human Workplace).

How would you respond to a letter from someone who understands your unique troubles? Favorably I bet. It’s so novel to take this approach, you will stand out. It will show your kindness, focus, skill and sensitivity.

Take this 4 step approach to your job search, embracing a “ready, aim, fire” approach. You will hit your target much more quickly.

image: © /mycola_adams

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a career coach, LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover Specialist, public speaker and blogger. She is the founder and principal at Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages, contact Julie at  If you enjoyed this post, or know someone who would, please share it!

Take this 4 step approach to your job search, encompassing a “ready, aim, fire” approach. You will hit your target much more quickly.