Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Questioning for Happiness

We indulge in several activities during the day without a deliberate thought regarding the satisfaction we obtain from performing the particular task. Although Marshall Goldsmith recommends the use of Mojo Scorecard for rating important activities, he mentions two simple yet significant questions to be posed after the completion of any activity.

1. How much long-term benefit or meaning did I experience from this activity?
2. How much short-term satisfaction or happiness did I experience in this activity?

Once the practice of asking these two questions becomes a habit; as an obvious consequence you would start asking the questions, even before initiating an activity. You could imagine yourself in the future having completed the activity and addressing the two questions. You may thus find yourself avoiding a senseless TV program to perform an activity which brings you more satisfaction.

The knowledge that you will evaluate activities against these two simple questions will make you more mindful towards the activity and you will tend to build in and experience more happiness and meaning in each activity. There might be a meeting which is unavoidable but isn’t purposeful for you. Having asked the questions beforehand, you could prepare yourself to make the task more meaningful. You could read more beforehand and ask clarifying questions thus gaining more insight. You could even bring in tasks which could be completed during the duration. Of course, it would be prudent not to start typing in a mail, when the boss is speaking.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happily Interviewed

You got the qualification, you got the right experience and you are confident about flooring the interviewer. As you look into the mirror and set the tie right by a micro- millimeter (so meticulous!), allow asking yourself if you are going to make the interviewer happy and if your ingratiation skills are honed. I know they don’t have a class for that at college.

Every candidate knows that he has to convince the decision-maker (the interviewer) that he or she is the best candidate for the position. They carry the impression that the recruiter will base his decision on the knowledge, skills, abilities and experience of the candidate. That’s also what the recruiters will tell everyone. However studies have shown that interviewers are unconsciously influenced by the pleasantness and social skills of an applicant.

Ingratiation is a strategic attempt to get someone to like you. The major tactics for ingratiation are (1) other-enhancement, (2) opinion conformity, (3) rendering favours and (4) self-presentation.

1. Other-enhancement means flattery. A person attempts to praise the qualities/achievements of the other person. Flattery is effective (more so at a sub-conscious level) and even you are inclined to be influenced by it.

2. Opinion conformity is conforming to the opinions of the target person. An individual expresses values, beliefs, or opinions that are known to be held (or can reasonably be assumed to be held) by the target person. It is believed that people like those with apparently similar values.

3. Rendering favors. A person tries to ingratiate himself or herself to the decision-maker by rendering favors over and above the call of duty.

4. Self-presentation is to present one's own attributes or to behave in a manner that the other would approve and like.

Following are some ingratiation items used by applicants:

1. I praised the organization.
2. I complimented the interviewer or organization.
3. I discussed non-job-related topics about which the recruiter and I share similar opinions.
4. I discussed interests I shared in common with the recruiter.
5. I found out what kind of person the organization was seeking and explained how I fit in.
6. I indicated my interest in the position and the company.
7. I indicated my enthusiasm for working for this organization.
8. I smiled a lot or used other friendly non-verbal behaviors.
9. I maintained eye contact with the interviewer.

Sounds easy to comprehend? There is a catch. Under the circumstances, the motive for ingratiation is quite obvious and the other person may see through the act. The skill is that one should be able to ingratiate without being obvious about it. The art is to do it and yet not be apparent about it. For example, conformity with the other’s opinion can be preceded by sufficient resistance.

Of course, there should be some fit between the qualifications and what the recruiter is looking for. If you have an advanced diploma in belly dancing and were even voted the most popular senior at college, you probably wouldn’t be selected at Google for the post of chief technology officer.


Higgins CA, Judge TA. The effect of applicant influence tactics on recruiter perceptions of fit and hiring recommendations: a field study. J Appl Psychol. 2004;89:622-32. [PDF]