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13 Useful Hacks to Bolster Your Personal Growth

13 Useful Hacks to Bolster Your Personal Growth

When you think of “hack” articles, you might think of articles that feature collections of household goods arranged in creative ways that you would not normally think of, that make life easier. This article, however, is to introduce you to 13 social and mental tricks and principles you can use to improve your life, overcome social shyness, and flex that social muscle.

1. Confidence Pose

If you ever need a boost to your confidence to help you power through your day, adopt a powerful pose, and feel your testosterone rise and your cortisol (stress hormone) fall. Check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk here for more.

2. Benjamin Franklin Effect

There’s a little trick called the Benjamin Franklin Effect that says if someone does you a favor, they will like you more as a result. Our brains like to justify our behaviors, so when someone does a favor for you, their subconscious will convince them that they did the favor for you because they liked you. Read more about it here.

3. Unattainability

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Things that are out of reach are always more desirable. Studies show that women find men more attractive if they are married than if they are single. Remember this next time you feel really needy towards someone. Do you want them because you would enjoy a sustainable relationship with them, or because you can’t have them?

4. Contrast Principle

Things always seem better when placed next to something worse. When a salesman tries to sell you a car for 50 thousand dollars, it probably sounds like an unfriendly deal. When they then offer you a 10 thousand dollar car, with a couple thousand dollars in add-ons (sunroof, satellite radio, rims, etc.) then it might sound like a steal. You might not normally get all the special add-ons, but after comparing it to the initial offer, it sounds like a great deal. The Contrast Principle can be tricky in this way. It is best to compare what you are being offered to your own initial expectation, instead of feeling like you have a steal after hearing a much-worse price.

5. Reciprocation

Whether we want to or not, we will feel obligated to reciprocate whatever people give to us. You don’t have to like the person at all in order to be subjected to this feeling. Ever wonder why poor homeless people will clean your windshield while you are on the road? They know you will feel obligated to reciprocate, and they take advantage of it. When you feel that urge to keep the conversation going after someone new has broken the ice with you, that is reciprocation at work.

6. Self-fulfilling prophecy

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Although ominous-sounding, the self-fulfilling prophecy is easy to take advantage of. The premise is simple: give someone a positive characteristic to live up to, and stand back and watch them try to live up to their new expectation. If you tell someone that they are funny, intelligent, or awesome to be around, they will do their best to live up to their standard. They will want to live up to their expectation, and they won’t want you to be wrong about how you think about them.

7. Foot-in-the-door

The foot in the door technique is another simple social hack. If you can get someone to do you a favor, they will be more likely to do more favors for you in the future. They will have convinced themselves that you are someone worth doing favors for, and they don’t want to be wrong about you.

8. Consistency principle

The consistency principle helps explain both the self-fulfilling prophecy, the foot-in-the-door technique, and the Benjamin Franklin Effect. Basically it means that humans are wired to be consistent- and that once we come up with a conclusion in our mind (oh, this person is funny), from then on we will try to convince ourselves that we are correct. Do you ever wonder why people who are thought of as “funny” can say stupid things that people laugh at, while when you say something you deem to be funny and nobody gets it? It’s because they don’t expect it out of you, and they don’t get the satisfaction of feeling like they are right about their initial thoughts of you. Knowing this can help you try to actively change what people think of you.

9. Never fear saying stupid things

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In a recent MIT study (found in this book), they found that what impacts you when people speak to you is not the content of what they said, but how you felt when speaking to them. Instead of worrying about trying to say the right thing all the time, think more about what kind of emotions you bring out in people. Are you associated with positive emotions? If you bring out the right emotions in people, the right things to say will flow freely.

10. Body language indicates success

Another recent study done by MIT found that the outcome of 87% of sales pitches can be correctly guessed by only observing body language. See #1 for more on the implications of having confident body language.

11. Remember people’s first names

Dale Carnegie, one of the world’s greatest pioneers of the self-development industry, offered this great tip for remembering people’s first names. Whenever you meet new people, how many times do you hear of someone that is good with names? The answer is likely slim – almost no-one actually succeeds at this. One of the best ways to show that you are truly interested in what other people have to offer is to remember their name. Everyone wants to feel important, and this is one great way to help them feel that way.

12. Anticipation

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People almost always find more enjoyment in that which they must wait for. According to PhD Larry David, co-author of The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction, drug users will like using drugs more if they anticipate using them. The same holds true for any other pleasure-inducing behavior, like sex. Our brain is wired to seek reward, and remembers what it’s like to flood itself with strong, positive neurochemicals. Do you remember how excited you got for your birthday as a kid? Maybe today, do you get excited about thinking about visiting one of your best friends across the country, going out to your favorite restaurant tonight, or going on vacation next week? This anticipation helps build up the event, and make it better than it really is.

13. Create a bond 

Sure, your dad has probably told you to look people in the eye when you talk to them. What he probably didn’t tell you was that eye contact facilitates the release of oxytocin, a “bonding” chemical. This chemical has also been linked to stress reduction, and biasing the brain by looking at the positives of a relationship. Besides releasing oxytocin, looking people in the eye when you speak to them demonstrates lots of confidence.

So there you have it:

13 hacks to help your personal growth take off.

Use these hacks every day and become the most high-powered version of yourself. Let us know what your hacks are in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: jessicahtam via flickr.com

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Nathan Adlam

Professional Boss

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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