The Best Christmas Ever: A Coach’s Story

The Worsening Situation

Sometimes circumstances can make the truly gifted feel incredibly small, even invisible. This is particularly true when a person is out of work, searching for a job that seems further and further away with each passing month. That, by itself, can be a crippling anxiety-generator, but the anxiety mounts when this talented individual is a single parent who looks at the uncertain future with fear and dread.

A coaching client, who I will call Karen, was a single mom who had been out of work for about eight or nine months when I finally met her in August, of this year. We conducted a rehearsal, and then in September we met again to do more work. I went over all of the techniques I wanted her to use to gain control of her emotional state and project a charisma that is magnetic and leads to job offers. She told me she was using several of them, but she was still failing in job interviews.

Our time together was over, but we kept in contact. One day she told me she was excited about an upcoming interview in late November, but I was not excited about her prospects. She sounded weak and uncertain, utterly lacking in confidence. She later told me that she was in a bad place at this stage of her job search. So I scheduled time to visit her on November 24th, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, to try and prepare her for at least two opportunities.

Charisma Must Be Balanced

Karen naturally radiated warmth-charisma, but not the charisma that says with a sonorous tone, “I am strong and confident and capable of overcoming every challenge.” So, my goal was to balance her warmth-charisma with authority-charisma. When these two are balanced they act  like a powerful pheromone that is irresistible to hiring authorities. We then went over a strategy to help make this so.

Her next interview came and it must have gone well because she made it to the next round.

Ah, the second round. She had reached it several times, but her competitors kept passing her by as they raced for the finish line. Making matters worse, this stage involved the CEO of the company. He was a tough interview, kind of like a poker player wearing sunglasses. He gave nothing away.

The End of Uncertainty

The interview ended and Karen had an uneasy feeling. She was uncertain about how she did. Her feeling of uncertainty ended today when she got her offer. The CEO told her new boss, the VP of Sales, that Karen impressed him. As the VP told Karen, “He almost never says anything like that.” But her offer was not a good offer; it was a great offer. It was twice what another company recently offered her, and it exceeded what she was making a year ago. And here is what makes it stronger: The hiring company knew she had now been out of work for a year, and they knew what she was making. They could easily have offered her a lot less.

Karen was stunned by the generosity of the offer, but as I told her over the phone, “Karen, you’ve developed charisma. You made them want you, yearn for you to be a part of their team, and we can see the appearance of charisma in the result you generated. The hiring company paid you more than they logically and rationally needed to. And that is because, as Blaise Pascal once wrote, “The heart has reasons that reason can’t understand.”

The Best Christmas Ever

Christmas is coming in 11 days, but I am celebrating it today. And it is the best Christmas ever. For I got a chance to help a kind and decent person, who was gifted but did not always feel that way, to climb from her deep, dark sinkhole and arrive at a place where she and her son will be able to chart a new course.

Merry Christmas Karen, and thank you for making my Christmas the best ever.

Charisma in One Week: A Free Seminar


Look up the definition of charisma and you will find that it is a divine gift, something that separates the extraordinary person from the ordinary Joe and Jill.

Does that sound right? Not to me. Charisma has to do with mastering a subconscious form of speech called non-verbal behavior, and I’ve taught people how to do this in one week.


Tom Payne
Tom Payne

What are non-verbal behaviors? They are facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and other elements of speech like pacing and pausing, etc. But what purpose do they serve?

They are subconscious expressions of our emotional state. When I am happy I do not have to consciously think: “I need to look happy. Smile, Tom, smile!” No, I automatically look happy, and so do you when this is your emotional state.

This causes an important effect: Those around us feel this happiness. That is what makes non-verbal behaviors so powerful. They make people feel what we feel. This is because of the mirror-neuron system. We are wired to respond in this way. And when a charismatic person is radiating confidence and positivity, then we are drawn to such a person.


I was working with a client who had a non-verbal intensity that came from repeated failures at job interviews. He was subconsciously expressing his desperation to get a job, but I was able to teach him how to master his non-verbal voice. Then, a week later, he was one of many interviewing for a few, coveted opportunities at a well-respected, internationally-known company. The interviewing process would end on Friday and my client interviewed on Wednesday. His newly-found charisma produced the following result that both delighted and puzzled him. He received an offer that Thursday night. This was before they had finished interviewing the rest of the candidates. 

He said to me, “This doesn’t make any sense. What if Friday’s candidates are better than me? Now they won’t be able to extend an offer to one of them. Why not make an offer to me Friday evening, or the following Monday? I’m out of work. I would have waited. Happily.” He was shocked by the influence he had now gained. He caused a powerful, emotional response in the hiring authority, not a rational one. His charismatic pull created a craving for him. For him! The same person who had failed repeatedly at job interviews in the weeks prior. No wonder he was surprised. He was beginning to experience the profound insight of Blaise Pascal, “The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.”


Another client, Tess, had failed in fifty-nine straight interviews. That is not a typo. Fifty-nine! Can you imagine how emotionally devastated she was? Then imagine the non-verbal behaviors these feelings produced. Not good, I can tell you. I worked with her for a little over a week and on her 60th job interview she got an offer for $20,000 more at the salary line than her previous job, the one she held 19 months ago.

Her charisma created a craving. But it could not overcome the bi-polar behavior that afflicts many corporations–they’re up and hiring one week, down and firing the next. A few months later this hiring company reorganized and she was one of the many let go.

Did she spiral back into the darkness? No. Within a matter of weeks she interviewed again and received another great job offer.

This charismatic communication style can be taught to jobseekers, salespeople, clinical researchers, and executives, and I have seen the outcomes that support this claim. So, how can you learn to control this non-verbal form of speech?


CTC ChicagoI am currently giving free seminars, open to the public, on mastering non-verbal communication. The next seminars will take place, in 2015, on October 6th, November 3rd, and December 1st at the Career Transitions Center of Chicago, 703 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL, from 10:30-noon. If you are in the Chicago area, and are interested in attending, then you will need to register. To do this please visit by clicking on this link that takes you to the Full Calendar of Events. 

Then, scroll down to the date (my seminars are usually posted 2-4 weeks in advance), and click on the “Details” link associated with the seminar entitled, The Interviewing Edge: Mastering Non-Verbal Communication. Click “Reserve Here” and then follow the registration information. It is free, and open to the public, but you must register.

I hope to see you there. But if you cannot attend, and are interested in learning the techniques that produce this charismatic presence, then read the blurb below that introduces a resource that contains this system.

A guide to developing this charismatic presence
A guide to developing this charismatic presence

Tom Payne is an international management consultant who developed a sales system based on the emotional causes of the buying decision, his coaching of others, and recent advances in psychology and neuroscience. His system for developing a charismatic presence is found in his new, award winning book, “The Path to Job Search Success: A Neuroscientific Approach to Interviewing, Negotiating and Networking.” To read the first chapter, click on the following link: 


Hired or Rejected Within Seconds

Could it be that interviewers make a hiring decision in less than a minute and are unaware that they’ve made this decision? I believe this happens in almost every case. To understand how this might be you need a brief and simple introduction to the two mental systems that everyone possesses.

We have a subconscious mental system called, by some researchers, the cognitive unconscious, and a system we are very familiar with, the conscious, rational mind. Unlike the rational mind the cognitive unconscious is effortless, automatic and very fast. It also influences the conscious decisions we make. The following study shows how this subconscious decision making takes place.


An experimental subject (called “the subject”) was faced with a red and a blue deck of cards. The blue deck gave the subject bigger wins, but even bigger losses. The red deck gave him smaller wins, but even smaller losses. Ultimately the blue deck produced a loser and the red deck produced a winner, but this was not immediately apparent.

By about card number 50 the subjects began to express doubts about the blue deck, but what was precisely wrong with it they could not say. They had a feeling, but not a rational, conscious conclusion. By card number 80 they knew what the problem with the blue deck was.

What about the cognitive unconscious? Is there a way to measure when it concluded the same thing? The cognitive unconscious communicates to us through the body. It has no voice. So to determine when it began to “speak” to the subjects they were hooked up to devices measuring heart rate and sweating. By card 10 their heart rate accelerated and their sweat glands activated. Without the subject realizing it, they began to make fewer blue card choices after card 10. The cognitive unconscious was already influencing conscious decisions. The cognitive unconscious detected the pattern much faster, because pattern detection is one of the many talents it possesses.

So a subconscious conclusion was drawn at card 10 that was communicated to consciousness by card 50–the uneasy feeling. We see similar things occurring to interviewers. They often have  difficulty articulating why a candidate is not right for the job. It is a feeling they have in their bones. They are like the subjects at card 50. Some pattern has been detected and it is influencing conscious thought. What could those patterns be?


We have an amazing ability to assess people on just a few seconds of non-verbal data. People who viewed three two-second video clips, minus the sound (a mere six seconds of non-verbal data) assessed a teacher on traits such as confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and likability. Their assessments were highly correlated with those of students who sat through the entire semester watching and listening to the same teacher.

Non-verbal behavior is the language of the cognitive unconscious. It is what enables us to immediately recognize an angry, sad, or happy face. We don’t have to rationally process this. And so, during an interview a subconscious assessment is automatically and effortlessly made on non-verbal behavior. It is a highly accurate assessment and it steers the conscious mind toward a decision. It is also an assessment that occurs quickly, resists change and assimilates all incoming information to fit the existing image. This assessment is called a mindset, but when people meet for the first time this mindset is called a first impression. And just like the blue and red decks, we are unaware of this assessment made by our subconscious system until “the 50th card,” or, depending on the individual, 5-15 minutes have passed. At that point we have an uneasy feeling about this candidate and a great feeling about that one.


One reason why non-verbals are so powerful is because so much of it is visual. The cognitive unconscious processes 11 million bits of data per second, and 10 millions of these bits are visual. The rational mind? It is slow. About 40 bits per second. Yet what do we tend to focus on in job search? Those rational 40 bits, ignoring the 10,999,960 bits that shape decisions in seconds.

Non-verbal behaviors express feelings like anxiety, nervousness or confidence. These feelings are felt and generate feelings that influence subconscious assessments that then influence conscious decisions.


The following link will take you to my eBook, The Path to Job Search Success: A Neuroscientific Approach to Interviewing, Negotiating and Networking. It details the system that will enable you to gain control of your non-verbal voice.

An Antidote to Negative Self-Talk

anxiety2A private client of mine, who I will call Tess, was like a soldier suffering from PTSD. She had been out of work for nineteen months and had failed in fifty-nine, straight job interviews at twenty-nine companies. She was very smart (MBA from the University of Chicago), accomplished, likable, and engaging, but she no longer believed in herself. A tape kept playing in her head that said, “Loser! What happened to you? Your career looked so promising. Why did you screw it up?”

Nineteen months of negative self-talk can make you a stranger to yourself. She no longer knew who she was, and she desperately needed to reconnect with her real self before she disappeared. So, we had a conversation:

Me: Are you smart?

Tess: Yes. I believe so.

Me: What makes you think that?

She looked at me a little surprised. My tone was challenging. I was saying, “Prove it.” She then said:

Tess: Well, I went to a distinguished undergrad program and did very well. I also did well in a post grad program at one the top universities in the country.

Me: Oh, so you have objective evidence that you are smart. This is a fact, not a fantasy, am I right?

Tess: Yes.

Me: Are you likable?

And so the conversation went. It became something of a game, and she would smile with each question. I finally ended it by saying, “When I tell you that you have every reason to be confident because you are smart, likable, and engaging, I am not saying things that aren’t true just to try and make you feel better. I’m sharing objectively verifiable facts. So will you please start believing me and believe in yourself.”

After our conversation she would wake up each morning and say, “I’m smart and I have objective evidence to prove it. I am likable and engaging for the following reasons….”

dreamstime_xl_19169606Her negative self-talk was now replaced by positive self-talk based on reality. A week later she interviewed with a company and was hired. Their salary offer was $20,000 more than her previous salary. This indicates she was able to transform their “need to fill a slot” into “an intense desire to have her fill this slot.”

The hiring authority can feel what we feel. Human nature was designed to have this capability through the mirror neuron system. When the hiring authority feels our anxiety, fear and a lack of confidence this can outweigh the objective reality that each one of us may actually be a great hire. So we need to regain our confidence and when we do, and the 60th opportunity comes around, this same person who failed the previous 59 times can hit the ball out of the park.

When I spoke to Tess after she received her job offer, I could feel what she felt: the pure joy that accompanies the end of a nineteen-month, brutal slog through a wilderness.


The following link will take you to my eBook, The Path to Job Search Success: A Neuroscientific Approach to Interviewing, Negotiating and Networking. It details the system used to help Tess and others.

Non-Verbal Behavior: Our Most Powerful Form of Communication


You are nervous before an interview. But you’ve rehearsed what you are going to say, and during the interview you say the words you planned on saying. However, your nervousness expressed a different message through your non-verbal behaviors—your facial expression, the tone of your voice and your body language. They said, “I lack confidence. I’m nervous. I’m anxious.” Unfortunately, the interviewers, like everyone else, have a Mirror Neuron System (MNS). It enables them to feel what you are feeling and expressing through your non-verbal behaviors.

You have experienced this yourself. When you are around a person who is depressed they don’t have to say a word and you will feel slightly depressed. We feel what others feel and their feelings are expressed non-verbally.

Now here comes the bad part. Studies show that when your non-verbal behaviors and the words you speak don’t match, people believe the non-verbal behaviors and not the words that were spoken. In other words, you can work on what you are going to say for months and have it come undone by what you are expressing non-verbally. Amy Cuddy’s TED talk (I highly recommend viewing this), the high-power posers and the low-power poses went through mock interviews and their videotapes were graded by coders. The two groups scored the same on the words they said. But the high-power posers scored higher on the non-verbal expressions that she defined as “presence.” They spoke with confidence, and the coders felt this confidence and wanted to hire them and pass over the low-power posers.


The non-verbal problem gets worse. A 1993 study by Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal illustrates how we can quickly and accurately evaluate people after seeing only a few seconds of non-verbal behavior. They took videotapes of entire class sessions from thirteen teachers and extracted three ten-second video clips from them, and then removed the sound track. Nine college students rated these instructors on attributes such as confidence, enthusiasm, optimism, likability and warmth on a scale from one to nine. There was a high degree of consistency between the student’s ratings, even though they only had thirty seconds of non-verbal behavior to go on.

At the end of the semester the instructor’s actual students rated them on these same attributes. The evaluations of the two groups were significantly correlated on nine of the fifteen measures.
Wow! Thirty seconds of non-verbal behavior produced assessments that were similar to a semester’s worth of in-class evaluation. This indicates we have a sophisticated evaluation capability based on the observation of a small amount of non-verbal behavior. And that amount of non-verbal behavior was about to shrink.

Next, they had a student, who was unfamiliar with the study, randomly pick five-second and two-second clips from the original ten-second clips. They picked a new group to rate the teachers based on these shorter clips. The correlation between the end-of-semester evaluations and the five-second and two-second clips was not as high as the ten-second clips, but there was still a high degree of correlation. [1]

People who observed just three, two-second video-clips of non-verbal behavior were able to accurately evaluate another person’s confidence, dominance, warmth and likability! This suggests our non-verbal map of the world—something that is stored in our cognitive unconscious—is vast and capable of immediately generating assessments of others. These assessments, or intuitions, are automatic, and they influence the decisions of the conscious mind.


We are often unaware of all of the fast assessments of non-verbal behavior that are made by the cognitive unconscious. But we don’t need to be aware of them for this to affect our conscious decisions, or those of hiring authorities, as you will see in my May 12th seminar on mastering non-verbal communication. It is free and open to the public.

The good news is this: Non-verbal behavior, even though it is a subconscious phenomenon, can be controlled.

You may have experienced this as well. At the end of an interview, hiring authorities sometimes struggle to provide reasons why they did not hire you, and you seemed to be such a good fit. You want to know why you weren’t chosen and the recruiter was given no clue. He presses the hiring authority to give you some helpful feedback and can only extract the following default response, “Oh, that candidate was a poor fit.”

One of the reasons why they struggle to provide feedback is because their decision was heavily influenced by suggestions from the cognitive unconscious, and they have no direct access to this powerful subconscious mind. No one does. In other words, this interviewer’s decision was partly the result of subconscious processes of which he was and is unaware.

We need to master non-verbal communication if we want to ensure stronger interviewing performances, and this is within everyone’s reach.


The following link will take you to my eBook, The Path to Job Search Success: A Neuroscientific Approach to Interviewing, Negotiating and Networking. It details the seven techniques that enable you to gain control of your non-verbal voice, among other things.

[1] The following nine traits were highly correlated: Optimistic .84, Confident .82, Dominant .79, Active .77, Enthusiastic .76, Likable .73, Warm .67, Competent .56, Supportive .55. The other six traits were less so: (Not) anxious .26, Honest .32, Empathetic .45, Attentive .48, Accepting .50, Professional .53. As can be easily seen, four of the six traits that failed to make the statistical cut were still within ten percentage points of the “Supportive” trait that did.

This research appeared in: Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1993). Half a minute: Predicting teacher evaluations from thin slices of nonverbal behavior and physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 431-441.

An Authentic, Interviewing Voice

Jobseekers face a difficult obstacle. The interviewing situation is pressure-packed and stress-filled, and feeling nervous before the interview starts is normal. After all, you want this job, but only one person is leaving this contest with  a job offer.

If feeling anxious and nervous before a job interview is normal, then we need a new normal, because our emotional state affects our communication in ways that can end the interview before we say a word. Here is how.

Our non-verbal behaviors (our facial expression, body, language and tone of voice) are subconscious expressions of our emotional state. If we feel nervous, then we will look nervous. We don’t have to think about it. Our expression follows automatically. When you are really happy you do not think about smiling, you just do. These non-verbal expressions communicate a great deal about who we are and weigh heavily in someone’s assessment of us.

We can consciously control our non-verbals for only a short period of time. For during the interview, our rational minds cannot stay focused on understanding the question being asked, formulating our answer, and monitoring and adjusting the subtle messages our facial expression, tone of voice and body language are communicating. Our conscious, rational mind’s processing speed is around 40 bits per second. It simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to control all of this. Then, absent conscious control, our non-verbals go back to expressing our emotional state.


Now what happens when we have confident answers (the verbal component of communication), but our non-verbals express an anxious lack of confidence? In emotional situations, when our words fail to match our non-verbal behaviors we tend to believe the non-verbals.

“Albert Mehrabian drew this conclusion from his research many years ago. In 1967 he wrote a paper entitled, ‘Decoding of Inconsistent Communications.’ His study found tone of voice and facial expressions were more influential than words when communicating one’s feelings or attitudes.

“Later, combining these results with another study, he produced the oft-quoted percentages, that weight the impact of the actual meaning of words as being only 7% of the message when communicating one’s feelings or attitudes, while tone and body language had a respective weighting of 38% and 55%.

“For our purposes, whether his ratios are accurate or not is unimportant. What is important is this: In high-risk, high-reward—emotional—situations, non-verbal behaviors are more influential than the words themselves, particularly when the two don’t match.” (from The Path to Job Search Success: Aligning Job Search With Human Nature, 2015, pp. 42-43)

When verbal and non-verbal communications don’t match we have an inauthentic voice. We are sending two conflicting messages, not a unified, consistent one. And what makes this so problematic is the way our minds have the ability to assess non-verbal behaviors in seconds.  If someone approaches with an angry face you are immediately wary. The rational mind was not needed to analyze this and sound alarm bells. That is because our other mental system, the cognitive unconscious, is much faster than the rational mind and it is continually assessing the world around it, including non-verbal behaviors.

So, what are we to do? We are to gain control of our emotional state, because that is what generates our non-verbal behaviors. How do we do that? By changing our brain chemistry. Here are two techniques that do that. Amy Cuddy’s power pose reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, which has an enormous impact on the brain (I recommend viewing her 2012 TED talk). And taking slow, deep breaths does the same thing. Practice the power pose in the hiring organization’s bathroom about ten minutes before the interview, and take a few deep breaths while waiting for them to fetch you for your first interview. Then speak with an authentic voice. It is a voice that inspires confidence, trust, and the belief that you are more than able to handle the job.




The 2014 Chicago Marathon

For the 2014 Chicago Marathon, the weather was perfect. Around 50 degrees at the start and not much warmer at the finish. No rain, not very windy, perfect.

Tom Payne finishing the 2007 marathon, the only one ever canceled because of the heat.
Tom Payne finishing the 2007 Chicago marathon, the only one in Chicago ever canceled because of the heat.

I did not run in the 2014 Chicago Marathon, but I participated by supporting another runner, Stacie, my niece. Its perfect weather reminded me of my past marathons. My first marathon, in 2007, was canceled due to heat. When the city of Chicago ran out of ambulances, and the surrounding suburbs ran out of ambulances, they finally decided to pull the plug. I was fortunate enough to be among the few who finished that race (few by Chicago Marathon standards), but I almost didn’t. I was at mile 22 when I saw a police cruiser starting to advance to block the running path. I picked up my pace and barely made it past him. Then, along the way, people with bullhorns were shouting, “Stop running!” to the hundreds still on the course. I walked for a piece and then became unaccountably deaf for the next hour or so and ran to finish the race.

I then ran in three more marathons and, unfortunately, all of them were also above 80 degrees fahrenheit. Grrrr. If you are a runner, then you know this means adding at least an extra minute per mile, and by some calculations, even more.

My last finish was the 2010 Marathon, but this weekend I was escorting Stacie through the marathon prep process. We went for a run on Friday for three miles at a slow 10-minute mile pace. You don’t want to have dead legs at the start of a marathon, and too much inactivity, along with a 2 1/2 hour flight, can make you feel sluggish unless you get a run in a day or two before.

Saturday I took her to the cavernous McCormick Center to pick up her race packet.  That place was buzzing, but we managed to beat the 10 AM rush. She got her bib number, some pretty lame swag–especially lame when you consider the cost of this marathon, about $180–and a gift from my wife, Joni, and me: A 2014 marathon running jacket.

Stacie was doing her best to keep her excitement under control, but it is kind of hard to do so when there is so much energy in the air that everyone can feel it.

That night I fixed her the meal she typically eats before a marathon (this was her fifth marathon, but first in Chicago). It was chicken basted with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted sweet potatoes basted with the same. A good mix of protein and carbs that do not upset her stomach.

Race day starts early. You want to eat your main meal early enough to give it a chance to digest. So we were up at 5 AM and she ate her Greek yogurt, banana, glass of OJ, coffee, and gatorade. I had coffee and spaghetti and meatballs. Hey, I wasn’t running.

Stacie getting ready to board the L.
Stacie getting ready to board the L.

I took her to the L station and took a photo of her. She is armed with a bottle of gatorade and a banana. It was a brisk 45 degrees this morning, low humidity, cloud cover, but no chance of rain… perfect weather for running a marathon. She forgot to bring a disposable sweater so I gave her one of mine. It is an old marathoner trick. Go to the Salvation Army and buy one for two bucks and once the race starts, throw it to the sideline.

Joni and I saw her at the ten-mile mark and she was sweaty, but looking strong. Joni’s not a runner so she wasn’t a part of the pre-race day prep, but now she was in full throat cheering Stacie on. We tried to see Stacie again along Michigan Ave, just before the turn up the Roosevelt bridge, but the marathon officials narrowed the road with barriers at the last minute and this moved the flow of people away from us. We saw her, but she did not see us.

She finished just under 4 hours and 30 minutes (4:29:55). It reminded me of my finish in 2007. After being told to walk for so long I suddenly realized, “If I pick up the pace I might still be able to finish under 5 hours.” So I hoofed it and thought I had just made it. Nope 5 hours, 0 minutes and 1 second (5:00:01). That was a powerful motivator for my future marathons which were all under 4 hours and 20 minutes.

Three years from now I will run this marathon again, God willing. Perhaps with Stacie, if she can make it to Chicago. If I do, then I want three conditions in place: weather like this, no joint problems, and about 15 fewer pounds. I still weigh what I did in 2007, but if I am going to get a personal best, then I will need all of the help I can get.

The Male and Female Brain

In order for us to align business practices with human nature–the way we process information, make decisions, etc.–we must first understand how humans are wired to operate. One area that people tend to shy away from are the differences between men and women. This is a touchy subject for any number of reasons, but we risk misaligning our business practices in ways that hurt men, or women, or both, when we fail to take into account that gender differences do exist.

Louann Brizendine, MD, in her books, The Female Brain, and The Male Brain, illustrates the neuroanatomical differences between men and women. In other words, there are male brains and female brains. The change occurs at the eight-week mark while male babies are in the womb. Notice, I did not include women in this statement because, as it turns out, the default position of the brain is female. Men and women begin life with “a female brain.” Yes, the cells of men have a Y-chromosome, so their brains are fundamentally different, but the structures of the brain are pretty much the same.  This changes at the eight-week mark when “the tiny male testicles begin to produce enough testosterone to marinate the brain and fundamentally alter its structure.”  Louann Brizendine, MD, The Male Brain (New York: Harmony Books,  2010), p. 2.

Among the structural changes: the Medial Preoptic Area (MPOA) of the male hypothalamus grows 2.5 times larger than the female’s MPOA. This area regulates sexual pursuit. That explains a lot, doesn’t it? Another area that is larger in males than in females, and also part of the hypothalamus, is the Dorsal Premamillary Nucleus that “contains the circuitry for a male’s instinctive one-upmanship, territorial defense, fear and aggression.” (Brizendine, p. xv).

This work correlates well with Susan Tannen’s work in sociolinguistics where she illustrates how men tend to have hierarchical relationships and their speech, or lack of it, reflects this. They always want to be “one-up,” in her wording, and not “one-down.” Women, on the other hand, operate in a more horizontal fashion, seeking to preserve the group harmony and consensus at the expense of staying at the top of a hierarchical ladder.

These finding correlate well with the Myers-Briggs world of Type. Around 3/4 of women tested are “Feeling” types that are more concerned with maintaining group harmony and dislike confrontation, unlike the other side of this dichotomy, the “Thinking” type.

All of this impacts communication, among other things. As Tannen famously noted, men don’t like to ask for directions because it places them in a “one-down” position. The person who may, or may not, possess the information being sought is now one-up.

Without an understanding of human nature we can make the most basic skills–e.g., communication–less functional than it should be. And this is just one small area, with a huge impact across all areas, where an understanding of how we tick can improve our performance.

Sales is an area that I am most familiar with and the way many salespeople, if not most, work against human nature instead of with it is astounding. I’ve consulted with European and American sales forces; some have had PhDs as salespeople, but education and intellect did not change the fact that their approach worked against human nature instead of with it. My volunteer work coaching the unemployed reveals the same issue. People, for example, interview in a way that is contrary to success. But once they align their interviewing, or selling, or communicating, with human nature, the results are much better and the chances of a successful outcome are greatly enhanced.

When Job Interviewing Becomes a Strength

I will be conducting a free, 2-hour seminar at the CTC this Thursday afternoon, May 22, from 1-3 PM on mastering the job interviewing process. I believe we can turn this sometimes painful, frustrating process into a strength and that should be welcome news, because strengths are those things we do exceptionally well AND enjoy doing, over and over.

Please raise your hand if you enjoy interviewing for a job? Most people dislike interviewing until they master the process, so I’m guessing not a lot of hands were raised. However, once mastery is achieved the following can take place. This is a true story.

A CTC client of mine was heading out of town to conduct an informational interview at a company where he had once worked. The day before his flight he was told that tomorrow he would have 9 job interviews, would be flown to another office that evening and have 9 more the following day. Three jet trips and 18 interviews in two days. You’ll hear the complete story at the seminar, but let me simply state that he enjoyed the interviews, was relaxed throughout and was rewarded for his efforts.

The seminar will cover the psychological processes in play during a job interview. Once we understand them it should radically change or modify our current interviewing style. You will even get a chance to experience these psychological processes first hand in unforgettable ways. We will develop our value statement and how to use it to answer the “tell me about yourself” question. We will learn why stories are so psychologically powerful and how to construct them. We’ll close with suicide questions, you know, the ones where the interviewer invites you to commit suicide (think: “What are your weaknesses?”).

Copies of my book No Medal for Second Place: How to Finish First in Job Interviews  will be available for $5 a piece, just above my cost to buy copies and have them shipped to me. Since it is clearly not the money, what’s in it for me? My hope is that several of you will master the interviewing process and share with me your success stories, because they are a source of great joy. I still smile when I think of the 18-interview ambush. I’ll see some of you there.