You were happy for your roommate’s sister when it seemed her new boyfriend was a keeper who made her happy. Unfortunately, it’s become obvious he’s a dangerous manipulator who has her under his spell as he drains her savings and threatens to propose to her while claiming to be the second coming of the region’s top La-Z-Boy salesman with a net worth of $16 million. How can you get her to see him for what he is before it’s too late? We’ll look for answers to this and more here on Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- Your roommate’s sister’s swain spouts delusional claims that mark him as either a master manipulator or clearly insane. Either way, how can you get her to see through the spell he’s cast over her before she falls further into his maniacal machinations?
- Your boss is an intimidating menace whose incompetence makes you work twice as hard, and HR doesn’t take your complaints about him seriously. Is it time to find a new job, or should you just deal with it? [Thanks to executive coach and From Start-Up to Grown-Up author Alisa Cohn for helping us field this one!]
- You’ve learned your wife cheated on you while you were away in the military, and you would leave her if you weren’t dependent on the contribution of her salary to buy a house in this inflated market. How do you do what’s best for your kids without trapping yourself in a loveless relationship?
- Some might see your tendency to prepare for every possible emergency as a sign of chronic anxiety, but you see it as being ready for anything. Are you simply thinking ahead, or are you living in dread? [Thanks once again to clinical psychologist Dr. Erin Margolis for helping us with this one!]
- Recent feedback from your boss has made you aware of your tendency to make impulsive decisions. What can you do to slow down and better weigh your options before committing to a subpar course of action?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider leaving your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss the conversation we had with behavioral economist Dan Ariely about the invisible (and often frustrating) clockwork that makes us tick? Catch up with episode 417: Dan Ariely | The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Amy Webb | Changing Lives with Synthetic Biology | Jordan Harbinger
- A-Rod | Still Having a Ball After All | Jordan Harbinger
- An Abuser’s Dead: Get Him Out of Your Head | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Stopping a Swami from Swindling Our Mommy | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- From Start-Up to Grown-Up: Grow Your Leadership to Grow Your Business by Alisa Cohn | Amazon
- From Start-up to Grown-Up Podcast with Alisa Cohn
- 5 Scripts for Delicate Conversations | Alisa Cohn
- Bob Sutton | The A-hole Survival Guide | Jordan Harbinger
- The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert I. Sutton | Amazon
- Erin Margolis | Thrive Psychology Group
- Anxiety Disorders | NIMH
- Be Prepared: The Origin Story behind the Scout Motto | Scouting Magazine
689: Her Beau is Faux, But She Doesn’t Know | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the gentle knife spreading cruelty-free butter across this whole-grain toast of life advice, Gabriel Mizrahi.
[00:00:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:00:16] Jordan Harbinger: I'm got to reach deep these days.
[00:00:18] On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turned their wisdom into practical advice. That you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. And our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. So you can get a much deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening even inside your own mind.
[00:00:43] Now, if you're new to the show, on Friday, as we give advice, we answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of incredible folks from spies to CEOs, athletes authors, thinkers, and performers. This week, we had Amy Webb discussing synthetic biology. This is an amazing set of science. We could bring extinct animals back to life. We can print organs out of cells that we create. We can have nanobots in our body that do things from curing cancer to reinforcing our bones. I mean, it's just really, really incredible stuff. That sounds like science fiction and is mostly right around the corner.
[00:01:17] We also had Alex Rodriguez aka A-Rod, one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game, but you all know me. There's nothing I'm less qualified to talk about more than sports. So we talked about his upbringing, his outlook on business, family, and fame. So make sure you've had a look and to listen to everything that we created for you here this week.
[00:01:35] Before we dive into the questions here, a listener named Don sent me a really nice message recently, and I wanted to share it with you guys. He wrote, "My wife was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer last year. And your show was definitely a nice escape from reality for me throughout that time. Her oncologist recently said she is now cancer-free. And the treatments and surgery did the job. We never expected to have to deal with cancer in her early 30s, but she kicked its ass."
[00:02:02] So look, folks, I can't legally say that The Jordan Harbinger Show cures cancer but correlation definitely equals causation. Am I right? I remember that from science class, so seriously, I'm very sorry. Your wife went through that. We are so glad to hear she's healthy and doing well. And that is a really intense thing to go through. I'm glad the show gave you a little escape or at least a glimpse into other people's nightmare scenarios. And remember you have to keep listening in order for the medicine to keep working. So just remember that. That's crucial.
[00:02:33] As always, we've got some fun ones and some doozies, and I can't wait to dive in. Gabe, what is the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:02:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hello, Jordan and Gabe. My roommate's sister is very outgoing and fun, and she's essentially my family as well. Within weeks of breaking off an engagement to her ex, however, she started dating a very manipulative and potentially dangerous 22-year-old man she met online. At first, we were happy that she was happy, but he instantly started to display red flags that she simply cannot see. It started with a claim that he has a net worth of $16 million. He then lied about having a dead mother to relate to my roommate and her sister, whose mother is actually gone. We figured that out after doing some digging online and finding his mother on Facebook very much alive and well. He also lied about being a Domino's franchisee claims. He's a retired cop and says he was a top salesman at Lazyboy. He even lies about how much time and effort he has put into gifts. Such as a model kit, he claimed was 700 pieces, but was actually less than 50.
[00:03:36] Jordan Harbinger: What?
[00:03:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Weird lie.
[00:03:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:03:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Needless to say, this has gone too far. And he has now found a way to isolate my roommate's sister from all of her friends, especially her male friends, and now her family as well. He has even drained her $7,000 in savings and convinced her to work fewer hours to spend more time with him. To top it off, he's claiming to propose to her soon and she's on board with it. My roommate, her family, and I are all against it and know that this man is incredibly dangerous if left unchecked. How can we help my roommate's sister see that the man she's with is a compulsive liar and a danger to her without causing her to completely cut off everyone and potentially ruin her life? Signed, Saving a Sister From the Shifty Mister.
[00:04:18] Jordan Harbinger: Oh boy, this guy sounds like a real piece of work, but also kind of a total clown. Gabe, I'm not going to lie. I was chuckling a little when our friend here laid out all of this dude's lives.
[00:04:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:04:29] Jordan Harbinger: A 22-year-old with $16 million, who's also a Domino's franchisee and a retired cop, the top salesman at Lazyboy with a fake dead mom.
[00:04:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:04:38] Jordan Harbinger: A dude who pretends his little model airplane kits are harder than they are. It's so ridiculous. Even if he started working as a cop at what? Age 14, after retiring from being Lazyboy's number one salesman, child labor law, something, something, it still doesn't add up. It's hard to believe somebody like this could con another person with more than two brain cells into marrying him. But I think that speaks to just how much certain people crave love, no matter what the source. It's really sad. It's got to be hard to watch.
[00:05:10] So, first of all, I think it's really important to recognize that your roommate's sister is a very particular personality. Like I said, she wouldn't be falling for this guy if she weren't vulnerable to a skeezy guy like this in the first place. It's also possible that she's not the sharpest tool in the shed and/or she's in an extremely vulnerable place in her life right now. You guys figured out the mom thing in like, what? 10 minutes on Facebook? It sounds like she's not doing any homework whatsoever. She's not thinking critically about his story at all. You have to have some massive blind spots to not notice that somebody's taking your money and limiting your freedom and driving you away from your friends. But people with those blind spots, they make the best victims.
[00:05:54] If she's going to get out of this situation, I think she's going to need some help. And if you guys can intervene before she gets engaged or married to this weirdo, you're going to be doing her a huge favor. So here's how I do that. First off, I would get together with your roommate and gather as much evidence about this guy as possible. Put on your journalist hat for a few hours, get scrappy, do some legwork. For example, you could look this guy up in the Domino's franchisee directory, you should be able to find that online. You could make a few calls. See if he actually owns one. I mean, I think we all know the answer, but go for it anyway. You could ask your roommate's sister, what agency her boyfriend worked in as a police officer and see if you can find his name in any old reports, department writeups, ceremonies, academy graduation announcements, stuff like that.
[00:06:41] Or even easier just casually ask him about it, you know, like, "Oh, hey, by the way, what year did you graduate from the academy? What department did you work for? What shift did you usually work? What kind of weapon do you carry as a policeman in that department?" And just watch him stutter and squirm as, of course, he tries to make it all sound real. If you can take notes afterwards. So when he changes his story, you can catch him in a lie. Or depending on the recording laws in your state, record the conversation and catch him in a lie, so you have proof. You could even call up Lazyboy Corporate and say, you're thinking of hiring him at your furniture store or whatever. And all you need to know is when he worked there and see if they can confirm it. I'm guessing they can't and won't be able to.
[00:07:22] I would also pull a background check on this guy from a background check website. There are tons of them out there. These reports, they usually include employment history, which could be the smoking gun here, but they also include a list of relatives, neighbors, associates. You could call a few of them and play dumb, ask a few innocent questions, see if they can confirm his story. Even better, these reports include owned assets and criminal records if there are any, which could contradict his story or bring up information your roommate's sister doesn't even know.
[00:07:53] Once you've gathered as much intel as possible, I would coordinate with your roommate to stage a kind of low-key intervention for her sister. Maybe even pull a few other people into it as well. Any of their close friends, her dad, other family members, people she trusts and whose opinions she can't ignore. Come up with a plan, who's going to speak, in what order, what you're going to say. And most important, what the desired outcome is? "Which is you need to take a much closer look at this guy and you need to leave him yesterday."
[00:08:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, absolutely. And a nice way to start that conversation would be to say something like, "Listen, we wanted to get together today because everybody here loves you a lot. And we're all very concerned about you. This conversation might be a little difficult. I know it's a lot to take in, but we want you to know that we're all here to support you and we only want what's best for you. All we ask is that for the next few minutes, you hear what we have to say. Try to keep an open mind, try to understand where we're coming from. And then afterwards, we can talk about all of this and we can see how it fits with how you see the situation and how you feel about this guy." And then I would gently lay out what you've learned about her boyfriend.
[00:09:02] You could take his claims one by one and present her with the evidence that contradicts them. If you can print out that evidence in some physical way and hand it to her, you know, show her employment dates, show her figures or whatever it is that you pull even better. So it's not just, you know, I made a call and I talked to some guy and he said he never worked there. You want this to be as real as possible. And for the stuff that you can't get evidence to support, like for example, him taking the seven grand from her, convincing her to work less and spend more time with him, I would ask her some basic questions about that. You know, I would say stuff, "Does it make sense for somebody this wealthy to take your money? Do you want to be with somebody who wants you to spend less time with your sister, less time with your friends? Does that sound like somebody who would make a good partner or a good husband?" That kind of thing.
[00:09:44] Then when you guys are done, ask her what she makes of what you just shared, how she explains it. You know, put her on the spot a little bit, make her confront just how bizarre this is. Maybe you say something like, "I know this is a lot to process, but we've all discussed it. And we really feel that all of this points to the fact that your boyfriend is a bit shady and possibly manipulative as a human being. It's clear that he's been lying about a lot of important things that he might actually be dangerous. I understand that it's hard for you to see that, but that's why we're here. We want to make sure you're happy. We want to make sure that you're safe. And so we had to help you see that continuing this relationship, that would be a huge mistake. And getting married to this guy that would be a disaster." Again, something like that. Kind respectful, but firm the kind of speech that won't drive her away or make her shut down, but also that she can't dismiss or wriggle out of too easily.
[00:10:36] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. They have to help her process all of this and help her see how gross and manipulative this whole scam is. If you can do that, I think you have a real shot at breaking through to her. Even people with huge blind spots, they have a hard time explaining away a mountain of evidence. Although it obviously does happen, just look at the sister from last week's Feedback Friday, the one who blew up her amazing life and started dating all these horrible guys or bury the Swamee.
[00:11:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh yeah.
[00:11:03] Jordan Harbinger: Remember, be swam?
[00:11:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Be swam.
[00:11:05] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, be swam. It can be very threatening for people to come to terms with the fact that they are being conned. Their need for love is too strong. And the shame of admitting they were conned can be too great. That was episodes 686 and 547, by the way, if you want to give those a listen. They'd actually be really helpful in preparing for this conversation.
[00:11:24] So your roommate, she might have to work on her sister over a period of time to sort of deprogram her from this guy. It might happen in stages. I just hope you get through to her before he puts a ring on it. Obviously, fake cubic zirconia ring that he passes off as an heirloom from his fake dead mom or whatever, but I'm wishing you the best. I really am. This creep has to go. Give him a certificate to freaking Hobby Lobby so he can buy a 50-piece model train kit. That'll take him six years to finish and get the hell out of this poor girl's life. You know, people like this, they get worse over time, they don't get better. So I think the sooner you intervene here, the better.
[00:12:03] Gabe, you know, who loves you for your money, but is at least willing to be straightforward about it? The sponsors that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:12:12] This episode is sponsored in part by BiOptimizers. If you suffer from digestive issues like gas, bloating, cramping, you could probably benefit from a high-quality digestive. If you've never tried enzymes before, BiOptimizers is giving you a chance to try it for a song. Right now, you can get a bottle of MassZymes for free. All you need to do is pay a small shipping fee. There's no catch. There's no tricks. There's no forced continuity, so to speak. There's nothing to cancel. They're so confident in their products that they offer a 365-day money-back guarantee. MassZymes is a 17-enzyme full-spectrum formula that helps break protein down into absorbable amino acids. Head over to their site to grab your bottle before they run out. The offer is only valid while supplies last.
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[00:13:05] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is sponsored in part by Squarespace. People spend most of their time. These days on the Internet buying products and using services. If you don't own a website, you might be losing a lot of potential customers online and, of course, missing the key to growing your business manyfold. So what is stopping you from building yours? I get it. It can be complicated. Looks like a lot of work, probably really expensive. You don't have any idea where to start. Don't be a disgrace, try a Squarespace. You don't have to know the first thing about tech or the intricacies of web design, because Squarespace covers all that. You can focus on the things that are important to you, like selling. Squarespace has all the tools you need to get your online business off the ground. You can even generate revenue through gated members-only content, manage your members, send email communication, leverage audience insights, all-in-one, easy-to-use platform. Add online booking and scheduling, connect your social media accounts to your website, create email campaigns, all with Squarespace tools and these examples don't even scratch the surface of what you can do on Squarespace. Give it a try for free at squarespace.com/jordan. That's squarespace.com/jordan. Use code JORDAN to save 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain.
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[00:14:33] All right. Back to Feedback Friday.
[00:14:37] All right, what's next?
[00:14:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. I've been with my company for two and a half years and a little over a year ago, they hired my new boss. At first, we got along great, but then he started belittling me and telling me that I was a pushover and that I wasn't a good supervisor. He also started telling me personal stories about how drunk he gets and about his hangover the next day among other things. He's also a pathological liar and comes and goes as he pleases. He doesn't support me at all. And I feel like I'm doing both of our jobs. Then a few months ago, he cornered me and started yelling at me about another co-worker. I'm 5'6" and he towers over me at 6'6". It was a little scary and I didn't know what would come next. This was not the first time this has happened, but this was the worst. I reported it to HR. They had a talk with him and told me I needed to be patient and things would change. He was good for a couple of weeks and then started coming up with excuses for why he couldn't come to work. Now, he is getting comfortable again and coming to my office to complain about one of my employees. His way of complaining is very intense and he makes it feel like it's somehow my fault. I've tried really hard to be the bigger person, but it's taken a huge toll on me. I love my job and the people I work with but I don't know how much longer I can take this abuse. Should I report him again? Suck it up and deal with it, or just find another job? Signed, Cower and Glower or Scour and Flower.
[00:16:03] Jordan Harbinger: Uh, this guy sounds like a total nightmare.
[00:16:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:16:06] Jordan Harbinger: I can almost deal with a boss who's nuts but super talented. At least then, you're learning. You're working for somebody who delivers, but when your boss is shady and intimidating and manipulative, and he's just getting drunk on a Tuesday and faffing off, yeah, this is a problem. I'm sorry that this guy is poisoning this job that you love so much. That is a real bummer. And I agree something needs to change.
[00:16:28] So, first of all, I would start by taking a page from the Alisa Cohn playbook — Alisa Cohn, one of our favorite career experts and gather some more Intel on this guy. Book a few coffees or lunches with your colleagues, not with this guy, your colleagues, especially people who report though to this guy and ask them what their experience has been like. Resist the urge to just complain about this guy. Try to focus instead on understanding, by asking open-ended questions such as — does he yell at them too? Does he intimidate them? Does he complain to them? Do they notice him coming and going as he pleases? Do they also feel like they're doing his job as well as theirs? How are they dealing with that? Or are they struggling because of that? How do they feel about working under this guy in general? This is crucial data. You have to know. You got to find out whether you are the only one having this experience or whether this is an issue across the whole team.
[00:17:24] You might find that this is a universal issue. And then you guys need to address this as a group. Or you might realize that this guy, he's only targeting you, and this is something that you need to sort out on your own. Either way, my first move is always to try to address this with the person directly because everyone deserves one real shot to correct their behavior and also to avoid being labeled a tattletale or whatever, but there's already a pattern of inappropriate behavior here. You've already gone to HR about this before, so that ship has probably already sailed.
[00:17:56] So maybe the answer is to go back to HR and fill them in on what you are experiencing. If your colleagues are going through it too, I would definitely go in there as a group or write a detailed email, laying out all the latest evidence of this guy's dysfunction and sign it as a group. The more people your company hears this from the more they'll have to take it seriously. And the more ammunition they'll have to actually do something. Also, your boss won't feel as invincible if more than one person is on record as having a problem with.
[00:18:27] Just be prepared for this guy to respond in some way. It might get a little bumpy for a little while and you have to be ready to deal with that and to keep doing your job well, despite whatever temper tantrum that this guy throws.
[00:18:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Great point, Jordan. My only other advice is to get clear on what outcome you would be happy with here. And I don't just mean from like a justice perspective but from a personal career perspective. Like for example, if they have a serious chat with this guy again, and they put him in some kind, I don't know, management program or performance improvement, whatever companies do to deal with a nightmare and he does get better, could you give him another shot? And in what ways would he have to get better for you to be satisfied? Is it just, you know, "No more yelling at me and no more intimidating me," or is it also the whole skipping work thing and the making you pick up the slack thing? Like what specifically would have to change for you to be okay working under this guy? And if he is on his best behavior for a couple months, and then the pattern repeats and he goes back to getting hammered during the week and yelling at you about Frank in finance again, what will you do? You know, what's your bottom line? What's your game plan?
[00:19:31] Those are a few questions I would think through just so you're prepared, but no matter how this shakes out, I do think that the best thing you could do right now is build up some savings, develop your relationships at other companies, and secure another job offer, or at least some serious interest from another company or two. Because the best insurance policy is freedom. And that's another Alisa Cohn principle I really love, by the way, if your company won't seriously take action on this guy, then the answer might in fact be to leave. But that's a lot riskier when you haven't laid the groundwork first. Plus having a job offer in your back pocket, or, you know, at least a real in with a couple of other places, that'll give you some much-needed psychic freedom right now. You won't feel as stuck. You won't feel as helpless if you know that there's an escape hatch.
[00:20:15] And look who knows maybe this nightmare of a boss forces you to start talking to other people and you find a job that you love even more. Or you get another offer and you go back to your company and you say, "Listen, this place is offering me this title and this salary. And you know how I feel about my boss? You know how he's been behaving. I got to say, I'm really tempted to take it. I'm willing to stay, but you would have to match this offer and you got to move me to another team, or you have to do something about this guy." And either they meet you or they don't meet you, but either way, you're good.
[00:20:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I love that approach. This is 100 percent what I would do. There's just nothing like another offer to give you leverage. So, that's my advice. Hold this guy accountable, push for change, but also look at the bigger picture, if you're investing in yourself, then almost any outcome will ultimately be a good outcome because then your happiness doesn't depend on this one a-hole who may or may not change. It'll only depend on the options that you've created for yourself. And that's how you can take a crappy situation and use it to fuel you rather than paralyze you and make you miserable.
[00:21:18] Also, I recommend checking out episode 375 with Bob Sutton. He's a business school professor and he has written a very well-written book as well called The No Asshole Rule, if memory serves. And one of the things we talked about in that episode is what to do if you're forced to work with an a-hole. So that's going to be very relevant and helpful to you as well.
[00:21:38] Look, I know there are good things ahead. Just start making some moves now and we're rooting for you.
[00:21:43] You can reach us email@example.com. Please keep your emails concise. Try to use a descriptive subject line that makes things easier for us. And if there's something you're going through, any big decision you're wrestling with, or you want a new perspective on life, love, work. What to do if your family is pushing you to attend your assailant's funeral? Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:22:09] All right, what's next?
[00:22:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I've been working for the military for about seven years, and I'm about to transition back into civilian life. But what complicates this moment further is the fact that I just learned that my wife cheated on me. She says that she's committed to making things work, but I haven't seen any real change in her behavior. She just moves on like, nothing happened. To be fair, she just got a fairly demanding new job. And we have two kids who take up most of our time, but I feel betrayed and I feel sad and angry and I'm certain that we cannot be together anymore. The thing is, since I'm leaving the military, I'll have to buy a house very soon. The housing market is so inflated that it's basically impossible to buy a house without two incomes. And if we split, I'm faced with the prospect of throwing most of my income away on rent, making it even harder to put food on the table for my daughters. Hopefully, my new career path will make me more money after a while. But in the short term, I'll be making even less than what the army pays me now. I feel trapped in this relationship and I don't know how I can move on in a way that preserves my kids' quality of life. Of course, they want both parents around all the time and the thought of hurting them breaks my heart. How do I do what's best for my kids without trapping myself in a loveless relationship? Signed, Stuck Between My Flock and a Scarred Place.
[00:23:28] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, man, I'm really sorry you're going through this. Dealing with infidelity is incredibly painful, but it's obviously even more intense as you make this huge life transition. And I really feel for you. And I know this must be a confusing time, but I got to tell you right off the bat, I would be very thoughtful about continuing this marriage if you and your wife aren't having some real conversations, very real conversations about your relationship. I know she's busy. I know you got a lot going on with the kids, but you're right if she's not working through this with you, if she's not displaying any real change in her behavior, then she's not genuinely addressing this huge issue. She's just sweeping it under the rug. You both are actually, even if you're just playing along by not speaking up. You guys have to carve out time to deal with this head-on.
[00:24:18] You have to have some difficult, but important conversations about what happened. What led her to cheat? Whether the cheating is still going on, whether you guys still love each other if this is still a real marriage you want to fight for? The longer you kick that can down the road, the more your anger and sadness are going to grow, and the more toxic your marriage will become. If you guys commit to buying a house in the middle of all that, uh, I don't know. That sounds like a disaster, to be honest. I know there are practical reasons for getting a house together. I'm sympathetic to that. But what you're saying here is that you're turning your broken marriage into a financial arrangement, and then hoping that goes better. You're putting money and logistics above, you know, love and connection. And I just don't see how that's going to make things easier in the long run, even if it means you get to have an extra bedroom in a backyard. If you feel trapped now, wait till you get a mortgage buddy. Trust me. I've seen this happen a bunch of times. This does not get any better.
[00:25:20] And that actually brings me to my next point, which is about your girls. I know you want to give them a good life. I know they want both their parents around. Of course, they do. I know you don't want to hurt them. I totally get it. It's incredibly sad to think about splitting up, but I'm also not convinced that you maintaining this marriage as it stands now is actually going to accomplish that. You want your kids to have a good life. But how good is that life if they know that mom and dad don't really love each other, they don't really talk? You want them to have you both around, but are you going to be the best dad you can be if you're walking around the house, loaded up to the brim with resentment all the time. Come on, man.
[00:25:59] You don't really want to hurt them, but what is it like growing up in a house where they internalize all the tension, all the grief, all of this unspoken stuff between you and your wife. That hurts too. Believe me. Probably even more than growing up with divorced parents who have successfully moved on with their lives in a healthy way. Yeah, two Christmases, two separate houses. How traumatic? Living in a mess like this, where everybody's unhappy. You don't think that's going to rub off on these kids. Now, you might be thinking, okay, but they're young. They don't know. We can keep all of it from them. That's pure fantasy. Kids are extremely perceptive.
[00:26:38] My two-year-old knows when I'm angry and not saying anything. He'll say, "Daddy's mad." And I'm like, how do you know, how do you know? Even I barely realize it, okay.
[00:26:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:26:45] Jordan Harbinger: They can't always vocalize what they're feeling, but they sure as heck feel it. And if you and your wife sit at the dinner table every night in silence, if you're not affectionate and kind with each other, if you guys are basically living separate lives under the same roof, I promise you, your kids are going to pick up on that. And then when they get a little older, they're definitely going to pick up on it and it'll inform their personalities and their choices and their choice of partners for the rest of their lives. Imagine your kids thinking that your dysfunctional relationship is a normal, healthy, happy relationship. Do you want that for them? Do you want your daughters thinking, "It's normal when a guy just never says anything to me and, you know, is totally emotionally dead, that's what I should be looking for because I love my dad, and that's what great guys are like"? I mean, that's a horrible nightmare scenario.
[00:27:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. Yeah, that was very vivid, Jordan. I think you're a hundred percent right. And I agree with you. I don't really understand the whole stay-together-for-the-kids thing. I mean, look, if your kids give you a good reason to work on your marriage and you do actually work on your marriage successfully, great. That's obviously a wonderful outcome. It happens. But a lot of times when people stay together for the kids, what they're really doing is just gritting their teeth and muddling through under the guise of protecting their children, because they would rather keep up the facade of the marriage than admit that it's over.
[00:28:06] I mean, this guy literally said in his letter, I'm certain that we cannot be together anymore. That sounds pretty definitive to me. So how does staying together and buying a house help things in the long term? I'm pretty sure that that's just going to make things more confusing and more dysfunctional for the whole family.
[00:28:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it will, for sure. But look, we're not saying that staying together is absolutely out of the question. What I am saying is talk to your wife because that's the only way you're going to work through this and arrive at the right decision together. And if you need help doing that, then I highly recommend going to couples therapy. That would be hugely helpful for you guys right now. But whether you do this alone or with a professional, please, please, please do it before you buy this house. Trust me on this one. If you got to pay rent for another year or two, while you figure out if there's even a future here, I think that's money well spent or money well wasted as the case may be.
[00:29:00] I'm sorry, you're going through this. I really am. I know it's really sad and there's a lot at stake, but you should know that if you do get divorced, you can still be a great father. You can still be a respectful ex-husband. It might be rocky. It might be costly in a different way, but you guys can still have a great family dynamic, possibly even a better one than if you stayed together.
[00:29:23] Also, the more you can invest in your career, your skills, your relationships, the faster you're going to be able to get on your feet again. And who knows, you might be able to afford a house faster than you think. Military guys like you are always super valuable to the corporate world. A lot of companies are going to, frankly, are going to be lucky to have a hard-working veteran in their ranks. So don't discount yourself there either. And good luck, man. I'm really hoping you and your wife find the right answer together and we're sending you good thoughts here from California.
[00:29:53] Gabe, you know, what else is money well wasted? The products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:30:01] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. Are you burned out? You're dealing with some kind of stressor. Take this as a reminder to take care of your mental health. With Better Help online therapy, you don't have to worry about finding the right therapist, get matched with a licensed professional therapist in under 48 hours. And if you don't click, with therapist that is, find somebody else. No additional charge. You can chat with your therapist from the comfort of your own home, easily schedule a weekly video chat, text, phone calls. You don't have to get up and drive and park and all that. Some of you have written in. You told me how Better Help has changed your life and helped you stick with therapy the longest. I am a huge fan of that. At the very least, you might feel better just having expressed yourself, vented a little bit to somebody who you don't have to see the next day at work and make it awkward. Plus it's much more affordable than in-person therapy. Check it out, they've got thousands of positive reviews online and for the Better Help app as well.
[00:30:52] Jen Harbinger: Our listeners get 10 percent off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:31:00] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Progressive insurance. Let's face it. Sometimes multitasking can be overwhelming, like when your favorite podcast is playing, the person next to you is talking, the car fan is blasting, all while you're trying to find that perfect parking spot. But then again, sometimes multitasking is easy, like quoting with Progressive insurance. They do the hard work of comparing rates. So you can find a great rate that works for you, even if it's not with them. Give their comparison tool a try, and you might find that getting the rate and coverage you deserve is easy. All you need to do is visit Progressive's website to get a quote with all the coverage you want, like comprehensive and collision coverage or personal injury protection. Then, you'll see Progressive's direct rate and their tool provide options from other companies all lined up and ready to compare. So it's simple to choose the rate and coverage you like. Press play on comparing auto rates, quote at progressive.com to join the over 27 million drivers who trust Progressive.
[00:31:49] Jen Harbinger: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. Comparison rates not available in all states or situations. Prices vary based on how you buy.
[00:31:56] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you for listening to and supporting the show. To find links to all of the discount codes and deals you heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. They're all right there in one place for you, right there on the website. Please consider supporting those who support us.
[00:32:10] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:32:13] All right, what's next?
[00:32:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe. By nature, I'm a glass-half-empty kind of person I say by nature because I don't think I have past trauma that made me this way. My parents are loving and supportive. I had a wonderful childhood. I have one brother I've always been close with and I have an amazing husband of eight years. Aside from my tendency to look at situations from the negative, I'm also a person who likes to be prepared. For example, wherever I go, I bring a water bottle because I don't want to find myself thirsty and unable to find a drink. To take another example, I follow a travel account on Instagram, and they recently posted a picture of a beautiful town in Switzerland at the foot of some snow-capped mountain. The caption read, "What's your first thought when you see this picture?" My first thought was avalanche. I love being outside and going for walks, but I will not do so by myself. What if I run into a dog or a predator or I fall and injure myself? My husband and I are now planning a family vacation to a national park. And I mentioned getting a few things for our trip, bear spray, a first aid kit, flares, radio, stuff like that. He thinks those things are unnecessary. And if I weren't going on this trip, he wouldn't be taking any of it. He thinks I have chronic anxiety. Do you think I'm struggling with anxiety or am I just well prepared? What's the right balance between being smart and cautious and taking it too far? Signed, Thinking Ahead or Living in Dread.
[00:33:39] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, good question. Anxiety is so complex and it can take a lot of different forms. We wanted to run this by an actual expert. So we reached out to Dr. Erin Margolis, the shrink with the missing link, clinical psychologist and friend of the show.
[00:33:53] And Dr. Margolis' take was when it comes to diagnosing anxiety, it's not just symptoms you want to look at. It's also two key metrics — the degree of distress and the amount of interference that those symptoms have in your life. And to be clear, Dr. Margolis isn't diagnosing you at all. She obviously can't do that. These are just general principles that the mental health community uses to understand anxiety.
[00:34:18] So first let's talk about distress. Distress means — is the worry making things harder for you in life? Is it consuming a lot of your time and? Is the worry difficult to manage? And second, does the worrying interfere with your role functioning? Doing your job, having a relationship with your husband, showing up for your family, participating in activities related to your various roles in life, stuff like that.
[00:34:41] So let's look at some of these anxious thoughts that you shared. You tend to imagine the worst-case scenario, you come across a bear, you get lost, you fall and break an arm, whatever it is. And then you're changing your behavior in order to accommodate those thoughts. For example, by not going for a walk. To me, and this is just Jordan speaking here, that does sound like the thoughts are interfering with your life, at least to some degree. Because your interpretations and decisions are going through this lens of what's the worst thing that could happen, which is fairly typical of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is often known as a what-if disorder, right? And then you're potentially cutting yourself off from a nice experience as a result, whether it's a walk around the block or a trip to the Swiss Alps.
[00:35:26] That said, if you guys are going to be going on six-hour hikes off-trail, while you're at that national park, and you're going to be in freaking mountain lion territory, where there are no park rangers, then this planning ahead thing, it doesn't sound abnormal to me at all. It sounds responsible. But then that goes back to distress and interference, you know, are you saying, "Hey, let's get this stuff so we can be prepared like responsible adults," or are you so anxious about all of these? That you can't concentrate at work. You can't sleep for two weeks before the trip, or you're refusing to even participate if your husband doesn't buy, I don't know, a GPS tracking walkie-talkie system or whatever.
[00:36:02] Bottom line, if these thoughts are causing distress and interference in your life, in addition to just baseline worry, then it is possible that you have something closer to clinical anxiety, but Dr. Margolis said something interesting, which was, if these thoughts are causing interference in your life, there might not be a point to differentiating between being cautious and being clinically anxious because either way, it's causing issues, no matter how you label it, which means, well, it's worth addressing no matter what.
[00:36:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, right. So the question then becomes, what can you do about it? And one thing you should probably do is talk to your husband about this a little bit more openly. Maybe together, you guys can unpack some of these worried thoughts, hopefully, find a friendlier relationship with them. And your husband might be able to work on being a little more understanding or a little more sensitive if you're ever nervous or thrown off by something, he proposes. So maybe you can help him understand what makes you anxious or what a more helpful response from him would be. For example, maybe it's not super helpful to like spring something on you without a plan or to change a plan once you guys have already made it. And at the same time, it would be great for you to talk about how this anxious response is impacting him and how it's showing up in your relationship.
[00:37:13] Dr. Margolis also said that some therapy could be really helpful here in terms of just immediate relief, but that it would also be worthwhile to explore where all of this worry came from, to begin with. As she explained it to us, anxiety doesn't have to be caused by trauma as a child. There can be many, many other causes, whether it's, you know, the way your parents plan for things, or maybe didn't plan for them. Or a part of your life that feels a little maybe outta control right now, or an aspect of your career or your marriage or your personality, whatever it is. And that's, what's fueling all of this worrying and planning. Because as Dr. Margolis has put it, at the end of the day, anxiety is really about safety and control. It creates the illusion of control. Like, if I could just control this one thing, then I can be safe. So if there's something creating a sense of danger or instability or a lack of control, that's what I would dig into. I think that's where you're going to find the most relief.
[00:38:07] Jordan Harbinger: It's a great point. Those root causes, that's usually where the insight and relief always are. So I hope that helps you appreciate what might be going on here. And I think the more important question to ask yourself is — how are these thoughts and feelings impacting my life? Are they creating a life that's happy, productive, pleasurable? Or are they making my life more narrow, more stressful, less enjoyable? And then work through that with your husband and ideally with a professional as well. You got this. Good luck.
[00:38:36] And Gabe, I know this is tough for her, but this is definitely somebody that I would love to travel with because I'd never be thirsty or get attacked by bears.
[00:38:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: True.
[00:38:45] Jordan Harbinger: Then, again—
[00:38:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:38:46] Jordan Harbinger: —if she were my travel partner, I might also never be able to leave the house.
[00:38:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Also, true.
[00:38:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:38:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's also true. That's what she's got to figure out.
[00:38:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yep.
[00:38:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:38:53] Jordan Harbinger: All right. What's next?
[00:38:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey guys, I manage a customer service department for a good-sized company. This is my first supervisor position, and I've been in the role for a year and a half. The feedback I get from my boss is all supportive and positive, and I know I'm doing good to great work. We've done much to improve the efficiency and direction of the department. And I'm really proud of that. We're now approaching review season. And my boss gave me a heads up before my formal review that he'd like me to slow down way decisions that don't require an immediate call and give them some more thought in the moment. My instinct is to just act immediately. I told him, I recognize that this was a weakness of mine, and I would pay more attention to that. Not five minutes after that conversation, I made a decision that could have waited for me to gather more input. As soon as it was made, I knew it, what an awful feeling. So my question is how can I train my dumb lizard brain to realize I'm making that mistake in the moment. Signed, Easing Off the Trigger Without Losing My Vigor.
[00:39:52] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting question. First of all, congrats on your job as the supervisor. It sounds like you're really whipping this department into shape, which must feel pretty amazing. I also love that your boss gave you this feedback before your review. That was pretty cool of him. It's actually a really good sign. You don't give employees feedback in advance of a formal review if they don't care about your development and they want you to succeed long term. So just take a moment and appreciate the headline here, but I hear you that taking a beat to think about a decision is hard for you.
[00:40:20] So let's figure this out. Basically, in the short term, I think you need a simple system to put some checks on this impulsivity thing. One idea is to write down a short process for making decisions. And you turn that into a daily exercise for yourself. Like, did I sit with this decision for 24 or 48 hours? Did I discuss it with two or three other colleagues? Have I gathered as much input from other people as I could? Who would be impacted by this decision other than me? Have I talked to those people? Maybe most importantly, has my boss signed off? And I'm guessing that you've already tried this to some degree, but maybe when it lives in your head, it's harder to make it real. I'd write this down or make it a template on your computer and literally fill it out whenever a decision comes your way. The only thing you need to remember is, take a moment, work the system. Then all you have to do is answer those questions and you know, you'll be good. And after a couple of months, you'll probably internalize that way of thinking and working, and maybe you'll be able to do it automatically.
[00:41:19] The other thing I would consider doing is talk to a couple of your teammates, make them a part of your process. You can literally say, "So as you might have noticed, I tend to pull the trigger really quickly. And I'm trying to slow that down a little bit. So if you ever notice me, make a decision really quickly, do me a favor. Point it out, let me know. That would be a huge help to me. And it would probably create better outcomes for both of us," something like that.
[00:41:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ooh, I like that a lot, Jordan. Just some checks and balances, a few systems, that could be all he needs, but you know, it's funny, I hear this letter and I also think that this instinct of his to act immediately, it's also kind of a superpower because there are people who have the opposite problem, right? They can't make a decision to save their lives. They analyze it to death. They gather input from all these different people and then they never do anything or they do it, but they do it way too late. I kind of love that this guy is just like, "Yeah, I got it. This is what we have to do. Let's do it." And sure, maybe he's a little too quick sometimes. He should obviously be thoughtful about how he makes decisions, but in another company and in another role, especially in a more entrepreneurial situation, that ability is a huge asset. And this same tendency that his boss now wants him to keep in check that could be the same quality that's whipped this department into shape. That's delivering all these great results. So as you work on this, I would just try not to lose that conviction completely. Maybe your goal should be to become a little less impulsive, but not less decisive.
[00:42:47] Jordan Harbinger: Man, that's a good point and a good distinction, Gabe. This could totally be some big company BS where they just want everybody to consider all the stakeholders and gather a consensus—
[00:42:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:42:58] Jordan Harbinger: —for a decision that one smart employee can make in a few minutes—
[00:43:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:01] Jordan Harbinger: —but you know, fair enough. Every place has its own culture. And if his boss wants him to slow down a bit and they're going to reward him for that, then fine. But I'm with you, he shouldn't lose this gift. It's a terrific quality if you can balance it out with some healthy self-awareness and planning, which might in fact be exactly what his boss is saying. So that's our take be more deliberate about working on this, but don't kill that leadership instinct that you have. It'll just take some minor rewiring of your brain, coming up with some systems and tiny habits that'll check the box and over time you're going to find the right balance. Just don't lose the talents that got you to this point and will serve you really well in the future.
[00:43:41] Hope you all enjoyed that. Thanks to everybody who wrote in and everybody who listened. Don't forget to check out the episodes we did with Amy Webb on synthetic biology and Alex Rodriguez aka A-Rod, both good episodes to check out this week.
[00:43:53] Want to know how I managed to book all these great folks for the show? It's always about my network and my software, systems, and tiny habits that I use every single day. I'm teaching you how to do this in our Six-Minute Networking course, which is always free. It's over on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty. Once again, jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:44:13] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:44:28] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, MIllie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own. I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer and I'm not a good lawyer, so do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show.
[00:44:45] Dr. Margolis' input is general psychological information based on research and clinical experience. It's intended to be general and informational in nature. It does not represent or indicate an established clinical or professional relationship with those inquiring for guidance.
[00:45:00] Remember, we rise by lifting others, share the show with those you love. And if you found this episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice that we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:45:16] If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into here's a trailer for a behavioral economist, Dan Ariely shares the hidden logic that shapes our motivations and helps us understand what makes us tick. Here's a preview.
[00:45:29] Dan Ariely: I think that we used to think that the big mysteries of life is the, you know, what's in the stars and maybe microbiology. And of course, these are big mysteries, but the human mystery is wonderful. And even though it's just in front of, there's so much we don't know. We operate as if we know how the world works, but because our model is wrong. We inflict more pain and increase suffering.
[00:45:55] I think it's true for lots of things. What is our understanding? Think about how we waste our time. Think about how we waste our money, how we waste our health. My mission is to do kind of good social engineering, and I think there's just a ton of progress to make. And sadly, we're not doing it in the right way. I think we're actually going backwards. And the process of social science in which we try different things and try to measure objectively what's going on and attributing and trying to improve things over time, I think it's a wonderful process.
[00:46:28] So when people read or listen or think about those topics, I think that the real benefit is to say, what can I take for my life? What are the things about my life that I'm not observing? Can I be a bit better in observing my own life? Can I try to implement something? And then hopefully also, can I try to experiment with something? Is this something I would like to try out in a few different ways and see what leads to a better outcome?
[00:46:54] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Dan Ariely on one of the best productivity tools around, what will help you utilize the most productive hours of the day, and why even the best of us lie and cheat sometimes, check out episode 417 on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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