“Quit Slacking Off with Your Baby”
5 Fathers Discuss Paternity Leave

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I’m part of a group of women who come together to discuss current issues in feminism and gender equality. At a meeting a few years ago, we discussed paternity leave and discovered that many of the husbands of group members with adult children had taken little or no time off when their kids were born. When I got home that night, I asked my husband if he would take paternity leave if we had kids – and he immediately and reflexively answered “no.”

While his answer might be different if I asked him today, the swiftness and surety of his response startled me. Since then, many of our peers have started having kids of their own, so it’s a natural time to re-examine this issue and take a close look at how and why men make their decisions about parental leave. (read more…)

We Blog Because We Love It
Small Answers Turns 1!

Steph and Leda 1991

Those of you who have followed us from the beginning know that we have been friends for a long time. And for most of that time, we’ve been involved in joint projects of varying polish and success.

The above photo, for example, is from a bake sale that we held to raise money for homeless pets, something we did several times at Leda’s behest (some things don’t change). Judging by the marquee of the movie theater in the background, which is playing “A Rage in Harlem,” this was 1991 and we were nine years old. (read more…)

Two Minutes in the Closet
Power Poses Can Change Your Life

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Feel more powerful, assertive, and confident in just two minutes by striking a pose and making yourself big.  It sounds like a sleazy sales pitch, but it’s not. We learned about “power poses” from a TED talk (oh, maligned TED talks!) by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business School. Cuddy studies how people judge each other and themselves and her recent work is about linking nonverbal communication – body language – to hormones, feelings, and behavior.

Cuddy’s research shows that body language has a significant influence on judgement, affecting everything from who we ask on dates, to who we vote for, to how we think about others and how we think about ourselves. Maybe you’ve heard of studies that have shown that people who are forced to smile even when they are not happy actually report feeling better? Cuddy’s work builds on this idea by studying how nonverbal communication – in this case, poses that express physical dominance and assertiveness – influences how we feel about ourselves, and therefore changes how we behave.

Cuddy found that these poses powerfully influence feelings and behavior by literally changing our brain chemistry. By testing hormone levels after having study subjects hold a power pose for just two minutes, she discovered that people’s testosterone increases, increasing our risk tolerance significantly, and levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, decline. In other words, changing how we hold ourselves physically, even for a short time, can change our attitudes and beliefs about ourselves, making us feel more powerful, assertive, and confident.

Instructions for power posing based on Cuddy’s research are illustrated here. All you need is two minutes, privacy, and willingness to try something that, yeah, feels a little weird.

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Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes! See whether these affect your next date, work presentation, or interview and report back to us. We’ll be doing the same.

Small Answers in Other Places

Small Answers in Other Places

Happy Holidays! We’re taking a break this week, but here are a few things we’ve posted in other places recently:

The Group that You Should Start- Now

By Leda at the Daily Muse: “You’ve bought and read Lean In. You’ve internalized Sheryl Sandberg’s advice on not taking your foot off the career brake until you’re sure you want to, on the dos and don’ts of working with a mentor, and, of course, on taking a seat at the table. You’ve renewed your commitment to yourself and your career. But have you seriously given thought to creating a Lean In circle, as she suggests?”  Read more…

Why Do We Spend Money On Things That Don’t Make Us Happy?

By Steph at The Billfold: “My friend Kate used to annoy me in a very specific way. I’d invite her to do something fun—like a nice meal or a performance—and she’d say that she couldn’t afford it, and then spend money on something else equally expensive and unnecessary. It took me a while to understand that it wasn’t personal to me—Kate and I just had different ideas of how we wanted to spend our money. If how we spend our money is such a clear reflection of our priorities, shouldn’t we try to spend it in ways that make us truly happy?” Read more…

3 Counterinituitive Negotiation Tactics That Really Work

By Steph at the Daily Muse: “Negotiations come up frequently at work, from agreeing to a salary and job offer to everyday conversations about workload, responsibilities, and scheduling. Most of us think of “negotiation” as an uncomfortable process where we make demands, drive a hard bargain, and take as much as we can for ourselves. It’s us against them!” Read more…

An Interview With a Woman Who Started Her Career During the ‘Mad Men’ Era

By Leda at The Billfold: “B., a 67-year-old former marketing executive, worked at a women’s fashion company for 30 years before retiring two years ago. When I learned that B. wouldn’t watch Mad Men because it too perfectly captured the life of a woman working on Madison Avenue, I immediately wanted to hear more about her work history and background.” Read more…

Three Economic Terms to Help Explain My Coffee Addiction

By Steph at The Billfold: “Maybe you’re like me, and you have a coffee habit that involves paying someone way too much money to make you a cappuccino way too many times a week. Almost every day, you find yourself calculating how much money you would save each year if you just didn’t buy coffee, and then deciding over and over again that it’s worth it. (Not only did you just spent $4 on a coffee, but now you’ve wasted your mental energy too.)” Read more…

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Image: Jacob Lawrence, “Play” (1999); silk screen

“You Can Go Now”
Politeness vs. directness in close relationships

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A few weeks ago, we got the idea that it would be fun to explore some of themes of this blog in a more dynamic format by using interviews and conversation. So today we’re trying something new – a podcast! In this episode, we tackle direct and honest communication in close relationships.

This type of communication feels risky — it leaves us vulnerable to be open, to share our true selves. We risk offending and somehow being rendered less lovable. Yet, this is also where trust and intimacy are built. Why is it sometimes hard to be clear and straightforward about how we’re feeling with close friends, family, and partners? Is politeness a barrier to closeness? What are the risks of leaving politeness behind and instead opting for gentle candor? And, who is Invisible Script’s cousin? Click below to listen to the discussion.

Image:  Harold Edgerton photograph