Happily married for 20-something years, you’ve started to fixate on what it might be like to be married to someone you’ve been mentoring, instead. And even though you know this mentor-mentee fantasy could only end in misery, you’re having a hard time putting it to rest. What can you do? We’ll tackle 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- Happily married for 20-something years, you’ve started to fixate on what it might be like to be married to someone you’ve been mentoring, instead. And even though you know this mentor-mentee fantasy could only end in misery, you’re having a hard time putting it to rest. What can you do?
- Your 18-year-old stepson is ambitious, with a well-paying job he’s been using to save for university. But now his deadbeat mom is hitting him up for cash, which you know he’ll never see again. How can you gently encourage him to stand up to her before he’s as broke as she is?
- You recently discovered that a toxic higher-up in your company is returning to the office after leaving for some time. How can you set boundaries and signal that you won’t tolerate his toxic behavior this time around?
- You and your ex-wife divorced when your son was only 11, and you’ve each moved on to more positive relationships while remaining amicable in the aftermath. But now that your son is 19, you wonder if he’s owed a fuller explanation of the circumstances around the breakup lest he carries some of the burden himself?
- Your dad can’t seem to enjoy retirement because he’s the kind of person who fills every moment of his days with charities, soup kitchens, chores, video chats, bible study, visits to friends, and more. He’s tried counseling, medicine, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and books, but with no luck. How do you teach him to be retired and just relax?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
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Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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If you haven’t heard our interview with Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of the peer-to-peer lodging service Airbnb, make sure to catch up with episode 566: Brian Chesky | Lessons Airbnb Learned to Survive the Pandemic here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Robert Greene | The Daily Laws Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Robert Greene | The Daily Laws Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- Looking Back on the Worst Chapter of My Life, Four Years On | Jordan Harbinger
- PodcastOne, Jordan Harbinger Strike 7-Figure Renewal | Radio Online
- How to Get Over a Crush on a Friend, Co-Worker, or Someone Else Who’s Wrong for You | Vice
- 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
583: Mentor-Mentee Fantasy Can Only End In Misery | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to our sponsor Glenfiddich single malt scotch whisky. Lately you've heard me talk about Glenfiddich challenging the traditional notions, commonly portrayed in our culture, of what it means to be wealthy and live a life of riches. Glenfiddich believes that beyond the material, it's also about family, community, values, fulfilling work. These are the values that led Glenfiddich to become the world's leading single malt scotch whisky. On Feedback Friday, we're always trying to help solve the problems that get in the way of you living your richest life. More from our partners at Glenfiddich coming up later in the show.
[00:00:27] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, my hombre with the nombre, Gabriel Mizrahi. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn 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 amazing people think and behave. And our mission here on the show 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. Hence, the brain science stuff.
[00:01:06] Now, if you're new to the show on Fridays, we give advice to you and answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes to authors, thinkers, and performers.
[00:01:18] I also write every so often on the blog, my latest post, Looking Back on The Worst Chapter of My Life, Four Years On. And Gabriel, this is ironic that this is the featured blog post right here in this episode. I wrote this one about what I learned when I left my old company. I hit the reset button, rebuilt my show from scratch — the one you're listening to right now. It's all about how to use the assets at your disposal, capitalize on your unique skills, build the relationships you need, hang onto your purpose when things go sideways. This was a super personal piece. But it is a great read for anyone who's feeling lost, struggling, navigating a major change in their personal or professional life as many of you are here on Feedback Friday, or listening to Feedback Friday. And you can find that article and all of our articles at jordanharbinger.com/articles.
[00:02:01] So make sure you've had a look and listened to everything that we created for you here. So, yeah, Gabriel ironic timing, right?
[00:02:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, big couple of weeks for you, right? Well, there was like a big announcement recently with PodcastOne. What was that about?
[00:02:13] Jordan Harbinger: There was a big announcement. So I didn't know that this was going to get announced like this. I actually was not sure. So I signed a really good deal that had made industry news. I'll just leave it there. It's on my social media. If anyone even cares, I posted it on Instagram and Facebook. So it's no secret, but I feel a little bit — I'm not the guy who wants all this type of attention. I don't care. If I wanted to be famous, I'd be a YouTuber. That's what I always say but—
[00:02:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's not a flex. It's a share.
[00:02:35] Jordan Harbinger: It's a share, not a flex. That's right. But I'm trying really hard not to make it sound like a flex, even though it's also yes, just to share. But it made industry news because it was large. And a lot of people have said, "Oh, do we not have to support your sponsors anymore?" And no, you do because the reason the deal was good was because the sponsors are getting good results from the ad spots that they have on The Jordan Harbinger Show. And that is because of you listeners. So please, yes, continue to support the sponsors. That's why we were able to do what we're doing and I'm not just going to buy a fancy yacht or something. I'm going to put pretty much all of the money back into the show. What that will look like our ads on other shows to increase the audience, to create some slack for us here to create more and better things, but also to really grow and scale the show. So nothing is going to change from a quality standpoint, at least not in the negative direction. We're going to be able to do — who knows? Maybe we'll upgrade Gabriel's Internet. God knows you need it. We'll get you a light. We'll get you a lamp, you know, sitting there in the dark.
[00:03:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: It is such a good use of money. Yeah, that's the wisest investment you could make.
[00:03:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's going to be a six-figure investment, just getting you just some lamps over there, buddy, sitting in the dark.
[00:03:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Give me a little bump with a spectrum will you and maybe a halogen lamp for the corner.
[00:03:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, we'll upgrade you to the super fast Internet that everyone in Europe had in 1997. That's how we are in America here with our Internet.
[00:03:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Podcaster Jordan Harbinger signs a landmark deal, and producer Gabriel gets recessed lighting after 10 years of living in the dark.
[00:04:02] Jordan Harbinger: After a decade of sitting in the dark and listening to dogs bark outside. So yeah, it's been a big week. We've gotten a lot of media attention because of that. And we're just getting started as far as I'm concerned. So yes, please still support the sponsors. Thanks to everyone who sent us good wishes and no, we're not going to big time. But, you know, it would be kind of nice to build a floating studio and drive golf balls off the back of my boat, but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to throw it right back into the business and keep my head down.
[00:04:29] All right, Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:04:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, my wife and I have been married for 23 years. We've been business partners for 18 years and we have five children together. Five years ago, we hired a young woman, let's call her Chloe, with tremendous potential in our sales department. Chloe has become our top salesperson, as well as a close mentee and personal friend. She often joins our family at private social gatherings, and we consider her family. Over the past two years, I've become even closer to Chloe. I'm often her dating confidant, and I've shared with her the problems I'm having with my wife, both in our marriage and professionally. I've become sexually attracted to her to the point where I obsess about what life would look like if I were married to her instead. Needless to say, I have been a mess inside. I've not made any advances toward Chloe or said anything overtly, but I'm more and more tempted to, as time goes on. In my saner moments, I know that Chloe likes me, respects me, and even finds me attractive, but ultimately looks at me more as a mentor and a great unavailable guy than as a potential partner. She's 16 years my junior, and is only six years older than my oldest child. She also respects and adores my wife and loves my kids. My wife knows I like her, but only in a brotherly way and she doesn't feel threatened by her, but my wife does share my marital unhappiness and recently asked me if I want a divorce. I fully understand that if I were to tell Chloe how I feel, I may spoil our amazing relationship and she may leave our company. If by some slim chance she feels the same way and is willing to act on it, my life as I know it would implode. My family and company would not withstand this earth shattering revelation, and I would lose them both. That cannot happen. To make matters worse, my wife and I recently launched a second business partnering with Chloe on equal footing, giving us even more FaceTime with her than before. How do I stay silent and ignore my feelings, which is surely the right move, when every time I see Chloe, it makes it that much? Signed, Confining My Pining.
[00:06:25] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh boy. This is quite an intense situation. I admire your candor about all this though. I'm sure it's not easy to talk about. And there's something to be said for how cautious you're being and about how to proceed. I know you're asking about how to stuff those feelings down, but first let's imagine these two scenarios here.
[00:06:43] If you tell Chloe how you feel and she doesn't feel the same, which based on what you've shared, it sounds like there's a pretty good chance she does not share your feelings, then you're going to be risking your family, your business, and your relationship with Chloe. I'm going to go out on a limb and say, it'll probably be very upsetting for Chloe to hear this from you. She might feel betrayed and confused and start to wonder if her role in your company and in your life was predicated on some sort of secret interest she didn't even know about. Talk to any woman who's been in this situation and they'll tell you how unsettling it is to find out a man that they like and trust is secretly in love with them. It's not just a new piece of information that you'll have to work through. It's really shifting the entire basis of your relationship. And let's remember also that you're Chloe's boss/business partner and she's depending on you for her livelihood. So a revelation like this, it could make her working relationship with you untenable. It could upend her whole professional life. That's pretty serious, kind of a crappy thing to do to someone.
[00:07:43] Now, the other scenario is that Chloe does share your feelings. She wants you the way that you want her, which is what you're dreaming about, right? But she's too afraid to say something. She's waiting for you to make a move and this life that you're fantasizing about with her is totally available. That would still obviously be incredibly messy, but it is theoretically possible. Although again, I'm not really getting that vibe, especially when you said she adores and respects your wife. I mean, sure. Maybe she adores your wife and she's secretly in love with you. But I think in most cases, the young protege, who's in love with her older married boss, is generally not a huge fan of the wife. I'm just guessing here. I've seen enough telenovelas, when I lived in Mexico and Panama, to know that the mistress is not usually BFFs with wife. But I'll take your word for it, when you say that Chloe likes you respects, you maybe even finds you attractive, but ultimately views you more as a mentor and friend than a potential partner. And good on you for being so honest about that. I think a lot of guys just live in La La Land when it comes to these things.
[00:08:40] Now, the other huge variable we have to talk about is the state of your marriage and this is what is making an already messy situation, even messier. You and your wife, you sound like great business partners, but she's not happy either. She asked you if you want a divorce, there's a clue there. So you guys have openly acknowledged that your marriage is not working and that it might actually be over. That's got to be playing a huge role. Because A, staying in a dead marriage is probably making Chloe look a lot more enticing and B, crushing on Chloe is probably making you less eager to actually work on your marriage.
[00:09:15] And it sounds like Chloe's become a sort of surrogate partner for you. You confide in her if she listens, she tells you about her dating life, which by the way, that's another sign that Chloe's probably not on the same page. I just feel like you don't tell the man you're secretly in love with all about your Bumble dates, unless that's keeping up the charade and, or you and Chloe really do have a well-functioning friendship on top of all these feelings. And when things aren't going well in your marriage, it's probably really easy to imagine that Chloe is just this perfect partner. There's a ton of fantasy and projection taking place in situations like this. You don't know what being with her could actually be like or what actually be like, but it's easy to imagine an idealized relationship with her that just happens to go your way in every way.
[00:09:59] But anyway, my point is you falling for Chloe and you staying in this bad marriage are wrapped up into each other and whatever you end up doing, you will eventually have to decide what to do about your marriage to work on it, to get a divorce, or to stick around. But until you sort that out, this situation will continue to be very confusing and very messy. So I don't envy you right now, man. This is a sticky situation.
[00:10:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, a sticky situation, indeed. And on a related note, the other variable you have to consider is your children, because if you decide to tell Chloe how you feel, you're going to be putting your family at risk in some way. If she does feel the same way that you do, then you will be leaving your wife and possibly your kids to be with a woman. Candidly, you fell forward during your marriage. And if Chloe doesn't feel the same way, and then she pulls away, then your wife will almost certainly figure that out. Your marriage could end because of that. And then your kids will know that, you know, "Dad broke up their family because he fell in love with a sales rep."
[00:10:52] Now I understand that your kids are not the only factor here. I understand that you're thinking about your happiness and maybe possibly Chloe's happiness and what you wanted out of life. And there's a lot going on here. I'm not saying you can't build a different life from the one that you have now and still be close with your kids. That's not what I'm saying, but you do have to consider the impact that this would have on them.
[00:11:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. To be fair, Gabe. I think he already is, like he said, if he went ahead with this, his life, as he knows it will implode.
[00:11:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Would implode. Right. But at the same time to be fair, I'm not sure how healthy it is for your kids to be growing up in a home where mom and dad don't love each other anymore. That doesn't mean that you should automatically run to Chloe, but it's not like sticking around in this marriage when both you and your wife are unhappy that, that's necessarily the best outcome either.
[00:11:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, fair point. He has some big things to figure out here and what to do about Chloe in a way it's kind of the least of his worries right now.
[00:11:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes. Yes, exactly. Chloe's just the catalyst, that's forcing him to confront these aspects of his life. That I'm guessing he hasn't really been ready to confront. But it sounds to me like you're pretty dead set on not telling Chloe how you feel that you want to find a way to make these feelings go away. And the key to that—
[00:11:59] Well, first of all, I don't think the answer is to ignore your feelings. In fact, it's probably the opposite. I think you probably need to accept them fully and then gradually, deliberately put them away. There's a kind of, you know, healthy repression that has to happen when you have unrequited feelings for somebody. And that's really a process of saying, "Okay, I feel very strongly about this person based on what I know. She probably doesn't feel the same. Anyway, I'm not really in a place where I can responsibly act on those feelings. So I need to decide consciously to put them away."
[00:12:29] And that might mean that the feelings are still there. They might last for a long time. They might last forever. I don't know, but you can decide what to do with them, especially knowing that how you feel about Chloe. That doesn't automatically imply anything about how Chloe feels about you. And to be clear, that can be really hard. I know it's a tough pill to swallow. It's a difficult process to go through. It could take awhile, but it is essential. And if you need help with that, I would 100 percent recommend talking to a therapist right about now, because this is very complicated stuff, obviously, and you have a lot to sort through right now. It'd be good to talk to somebody.
[00:13:01] Jordan Harbinger: I agree. I think therapist is a good person to bounce this off of, with all the details, especially with all the emotional connotations involved. At a minimum, I would decide what to do about your marriage, regardless of what you do about Chloe. And I would definitely come to a decision with your wife before you tell Chloe how you feel, if you ever decide to do that. Because if you don't, then you're cheating and you're lying and you're breaking up the family and screwing with their business rather than just exploring something new once your personal life is squared away. Still so messy, but at least, it's just more fair to everyone involved. Chloe, I know she seems like the central issue here in a way, I suppose she is, but she's also just a symptom of it. So I'd work on the rest of your life. And then the Chloe of it all will become a lot clearer. So good luck.
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[00:14:21] You're listening to Feedback Friday here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
[00:14:25] This episode is sponsored in part by SimpliSafe. If you've ever wanted to make your home feel safer, there's no better time than now. This week, our friends at SimpliSafe are giving our listeners 40 percent off their award-winning home security system. We love SimpliSafe. It has everything you need to make your home safe. Indoor, outdoor cameras, comprehensive sensors, all monitored around the clock by trained professionals who send help the instant you need it. It was even named Best Home Security Systems of 2021 by US News and World Report. You can customize the system very easily for your home online in minutes, even get free custom recommendations from SimpliSafe. These are SimpliSafe's biggest discounts of the year. You can get a complete home security system starting at just over a hundred bucks. There's no long-term contracts or commitments. It's a really easy way to start feeling a little bit more peace of mind.
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[00:15:47] This episode is also sponsored by Klaviyo. If you're getting an online business off the ground, chances are you're probably short on time and long on really long to do lists. You already know that you need great email marketing to keep your best customers coming back. But where do you begin? Save yourself some time by getting started with Klaviyo, the email and SMS marketing platform built just for e-commerce brands. It's fast and easy to use, create a free account and you can start sending messages and driving sales in under an hour. You can't beat that. With over a hundred ready-to-go integrations you can pull in unlimited data like customer shopping behavior, product recommendations, just about anything else right away. It even features built-in guidance, which somebody like me would naturally need, to help you see bigger opportunities and keep improving your results. So it's really enterprise level advanced stuff that just about anybody can use.
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[00:16:55] And now back to Feedback Friday on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:17:01] All right, what's next?
[00:17:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hello, Jordan and Gabe. My almost 18-year-old step son is graduating high school this year and planning on heading to university after that. He has a well-paying part-time job and was saving money to pay for school until earlier this year, when his mom started hitting him up for cash. At first, it was a few dollars here and there, but a few months back, she told him he needed to cover the $1,300 rent on her place, or they would be kicked out. She paid them back, but now she's guilting him into paying for their regular food delivery after she's ordered it saying that she doesn't have the cash to cover the bill. The thing is his mom has a secure full-time job making more than a decent wage. She has a union job and the salary grid is publicly available. Now, my stepson is talking about postponing universities so that his younger brother has a roof over his head and food on the table when at their mom's. And I'm so worried that he's going to compromise his future. We started talking with him about boundaries and focusing on his own goals, but he seems unable to break free from this pattern. Due to the strange relationship my husband has with his ex, he doesn't want to call her out. And that would just make things worse for my stepson, because she'll be angry about the fact that my stepson told us what's going on. Should we show him in black and white what his mom actually makes? Do we just keep encouraging his university dream in the hopes that he'll eventually stand up to her? Do I let him make his own mistakes or do we do something else entirely? Signed, Pinching Pennies and His Future.
[00:18:23] Jordan Harbinger: Uh, this is a really sad story. Your stepson's mom, she's clearly standing in the way of his life here. The fact that she makes more than enough money and is still asking him to support her to the detriment of his future is absolutely not cool. The whole carry out thing like, "Oh, I ordered some DoorDash and I can't afford it," I don't know. There's a lot going on here.
[00:18:41] So here's what I do. I'd sit down with your stepson, probably with your husband. So he can hear this from two rational people. Unless you and your stepson have a special relationship, then maybe you have this chat alone, sit down with him and tell him what you are seeing, playing out with his mom, that he has a bright future ahead of him, that he's done an amazing job saving up, but that the way his mom is depending on him unfairly and unnecessarily, I might add, is compromising. I would also reassure him that you're not trying to turn him against his mom in any way. All you want is for him to know that it's okay to be independent, to chart his own path, to not feel unfairly, tethered to his mother. Then I would let him talk. You might be tempted to push him to your conclusion from the jump, but you'll have to put that on hold so he can process all of this for himself and catch up to where you are.
[00:19:28] My guess is he has some complicated feelings to air out about his mom. He's obviously torn between taking care of her and his brother and being his own man. So give him that chance, validate what he's feeling. Make him feel understood before you tell him what to do. And sure, if he's under the impression that his mom isn't making enough money, then I might tell him about his mom's salary, help him see the facts for what they are. I mean, why not? If he's pitching in, he should know the numbers and if her salary is publicly available, he could have found it on his own. So I don't think you're doing anything too terrible there at all.
[00:20:00] Now, if your stepson agrees with you, then I would work with them on how to talk to his mom. Maybe he goes to her and says, "Mom, listen, I want to make sure you and my brother are okay. I was happy to help you with a few dollars here and there, but me paying the rent, picking up the delivery tab on the regular basis, it's making it impossible for me to start my life and trust that you're going to take care of my brother while I'm away. So we need to figure this out together." And then ideally they come up with a plan for how to manage her money and make sure his brother is okay. So he can go to college and not be worrying about them the whole time.
[00:20:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Great script, Jordan. I hope she can hear that when he brings it up to her. But if your stepson doesn't think this is a problem, or I don't know, maybe he's too scared to stand up to his mom at all. Then you might want to consider talking to her yourself and the conversation with her will have to be very delicate. I wouldn't barge into her house one day and be like, "You're mooching off your 17-year-old son and killing his dreams, Marsha." You know, I would frame it more like, "Listen, Marsha, I know it might seem like I'm overstepping here a little bit, not my intention, but I know we both love your son very much. We both want what's best for him. I'm a little concerned about this money situation. I think it's really sweet that he wants to help you. He obviously cares about you a lot, but now he's postponing college because he feels responsible for you. And honestly, that makes me sad to know that he can't use the money he worked so hard to save for his college tuition. Now, his life is on hold. So I just want to talk that out with you. Does it have to be this way? Is there anything I can do to help you figure out the money piece of this? How can we make sure that your son gets to start his life."
[00:21:28] Hopefully, you can help her see what she's doing to her son. At a certain point, I think it will be hard for her to ignore. And if she needs to hear it from several people, maybe you have your husband talk to her as well, either with you or separately. She might have to be called out by a few people in the family, unfortunately, before she realizes just how messed up this is. But if neither your son, nor his mom will change the situation, then yes, sadly, I think you're going to have to let your stepson figure this one out on his own. It is so hard to watch, but he might have to realize what his mom is doing to him on his own timeline. Maybe he loses a year of his life, working at a bar in his hometown, paying for mom's DoorDash five nights a week, and then realizes, "Wait a second. What am I doing? Like, how long am I going to keep doing this? When does my life get to begin?" And that's when he'll realize that you guys were right, ideally it should not take that long, but it could.
[00:22:14] If his mom is relying on him in this way, then I can almost guarantee that she has been relying on him in other ways for his entire life. So when you ask him to stand up to mom on this money thing, you're really asking him to stand up to her about their entire relationship, you know, to rewrite the template of his entire childhood. And that's a very, very scary thing to do all the more reason that you'll have to be very patient with him when you talk it out.
[00:22:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'm with you, Gabe. This probably goes way back. What a weird sort of like deadbeat, sabotaging mom, the whole thing sounds like a control issue to me because she has enough money. She's just sort of making him pay for it. It's almost like a narcissistic thing. Like, "Pay attention to me right now. I need money and the deliveries on the way." It's just very strange. I think it's a good thing. He doesn't actually live with this woman. It would be much worse than my opinion. I wonder what the brother is going through, having to live there. He probably has his own list of like "weird stuff mom does to control my life." This kind of reminds me of the kid whose parents took out a student loan under his name and then bought a boat with it. Do you remember this one?
[00:23:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think that was before my time, but that—
[00:23:17] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah, it might be.
[00:23:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: —Sounds super dark. I hadn't thought of that, but she might be sabotaging him so that he doesn't leave the nest, yeah. Interesting.
[00:23:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And just forcing control, right? Like if you say, "Hey, I might need to borrow some money next week." It's like, "Oh, I'll call my mom this weekend." But if you're like, "I need $20 now because the Chinese delivery guy is on the way, and I don't have any money, you have to Venmo me right now or whatever it is, you have to come over now and give me the money." However, this is going down, it's sort of this weird tether that she's using to control his behavior. It's very strange. Consciously or unconsciously, I just think that's what she's doing. It's super dysfunctional, but it happens all the time. And hey, maybe that's part of what you talk to his mom about. Maybe you gently ask her if she has some feelings about her son leaving and starting college, if relying on him is maybe somehow connected to that. She'll probably deny it up and down, but who knows? You might actually strike a chord that makes her stop and go, "What am I doing? Why am I doing this?" You know, maybe she's not a bad person. She's not sure how to deal with her feelings and it comes out in weird, stupid ways.
[00:24:20] So I hope you can get through to your stepson. I really do. I think it's awesome that he has you looking out for him at all. And if it takes him some time to get there, stick with your stepson, stay close, hang onto his goals for the future when he struggles to hang on to his goals as well. I think that could make all the difference in the world.
[00:24:36] By the way, if you're joining us for the first time, or you want to tell your friends about this show, we have episode starter packs. These are collections of popular episodes, organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started.
[00:24:52] All right, next up.
[00:24:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi Jordan and Gabe. I recently discovered that a toxic higher up in my company is returning to the office after leaving for some time. Back when I worked with this person, I didn't quite grasp how unhealthy and abnormal his behavior was. It included random tantrums, withholding information, gaslighting, vague threats, belittling, and excluding people from meetings. As a result, I lost a ton of confidence and started second guessing what I was experiencing. Unfortunately, this person is also a very high performer and well-liked by upper management. I'm in a much better place now. And for complicated reasons, I need to stay at my employer for at least the next few months. How can I set boundaries and signal that I will not tolerate his toxic behavior? Do you have any other advice for dealing with a brilliant jerk in the workplace? Signed, Buffeted by the BS of a Brilliant Baby.
[00:25:42] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, yes, the office a-hole, who's amazing at their job and well-liked by management. So they're completely untouchable. That is always a tough one. And I'm sorry that you're going to have to deal with Daniel the douche over here again. But on the bright side, it sounds like you've come a very long way since you last worked together. And that will probably make your working relationship a lot more manageable this time around.
[00:26:03] So how do you handle a personality like this? Well, let me start by acknowledging that it is very intimidating. Not only is this guy super-intense, he's also more senior than you. He's brilliant, to use your words. So there's some tricky politics at play here. But the thing about people like this is that they rarely, if ever get called out. Their position, their reputation, it sort of insulates them from accountability, which is a shame. So even if they know that they are a-holes, they just feel they have tacit permission to act like a jerk, because nobody has the guts to say, "Hang on a minute. I don't like the way you're talking to me, this isn't cool. What are you doing?" So if you find yourself working with Dan and he screams at you for making a mistake on a spreadsheet or whatever he threatens you for not staying late or belittles your opinion in front of your colleagues, in a meeting, whatever the toxic behavior is, I would first consider speaking with him privately about it.
[00:26:55] And I'd frame this conversation like, "Listen, Dan, I have a lot of respect for you. You are brilliant. You are a hard worker. You obviously have a ton of talent. I'm so happy to work for a boss like that. But when you explode at me in front of my team, and then you exclude me from our next meeting, it's hurtful. It's demoralizing. Honestly, it's totally unnecessary. It doesn't make me want to do my best work for you. I know that's what you want. That's what I want. So next time you're unhappy about something I'd like to ask you to talk to me about it respectfully. I'll always listen to the feedback. I promise you that, but I'm not going to sit here while you yell at me for something that could easily be a conversation or even an email."
[00:27:31] That's how I'd put it. And I'd say it in the most neutral non-confrontational way that you can. So he doesn't feel like you're escalating the situation and he doesn't have any extra ammunition to fire back at you. And again, this is private, so there's no audience being like, "Oh, damn, he's standing up to him," right? You don't know. You do not want that. Right? You don't want to make it a battle of egos. And unless this guy's like a psychopath, sociopath type guy, or really, you know, sort of medically terrible, some of this is going to sink in most likely. And look, if you say all that and he goes, "What are you talking about? I didn't yell at you. I was giving you feedback. You're sensitive. You're hearing things I didn't say." That classic sort of gaslighting narcissistic thing, then I would say, Dan, I'm really asking you to hear what I'm saying here. This isn't the first time this has happened. I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'm not making this stuff up. Maybe it's hard to hear how you come across sometimes. But if I were in your position, I'd want to know. All I'm asking is that you consider it and find a better way to ask for what you want so we can have the best possible working relationship." Again, simple, non-confrontational entirely focused on moving forward.
[00:28:32] Hopefully, this conversation is going to check. Now, again, if he sort of got like a medical thing, some narcissists like true narcissists when they realize people don't like them, sometimes they suddenly back down and treat everyone super nicely because they actually can't stand the idea of people not being on their side. Other narcissists, they can't even entertain a piece of feedback because it's too threatening. So they just dismiss it. They double down and they might even get a little bit more aggressive, hard to say which way Dan's going to go. Just be prepared for either one and know what's going on when it happens.
[00:29:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Damn. That is great advice, Jordan, that was like a masterclass in standing up to an office bully right there. But look, if Dan absolutely refuses to listen to you or get better than you have a few options. Option one, you talk to management about this guy. Ideally you do this with a few of your other colleagues so that they know that this isn't just one disgruntled employee or an isolated incident. Tell them as calmly and as factually as you can, what you're experiencing, how you see Dan's behavior affecting your job performance, maybe affecting your overall satisfaction at work. If you guys are specific enough about what you're saying, management will probably take this pretty seriously and have a chat with them at the very least, especially given today's climate.
[00:29:40] Option two, you stick it out. You just learn to work with this guy. You let us toxic bullsh*t roll off your back. You keep your head down. You choose not to get activated by this guy. Not ideal, obviously, but sometimes that's the only move. And who knows, maybe Dan, as toxic as this guy is, maybe he actually has some helpful stuff to teach you. I'm not excusing the behavior, but you know, if you can find a silver lining here like this brilliant jerk is pushing you to higher standards or he's sharpening your skills, or maybe he's just testing your emotional intelligence in a new way, that might help you cope with this difficult period.
[00:30:12] Option three, I think it's the most obvious one, find a new job. If this is me, I'm interviewing around town, I'm getting a better offer. And then I'm just taking it when the time is right and telling HR what a nightmare Dan is in my exit interview. If you can't change a toxic environment and you're not willing to be miserable for the money for the rest of your life or for a long, long, your best bet is usually just to leave and that's totally fair. Or, you know, probably some combination of these three options.
[00:30:37] Jordan Harbinger: These are good ideas, Gabe. Look, I'll throw in one more option. And I would only do this as an absolute last resort, which is maybe you file a lawsuit. And now, again, last resort, last resort. If Dan's behavior is truly abusive, it sounds like it might be, you didn't really go into detail, but especially if you can prove that some of this abusive behavior is retaliation, then you might have a strong case. Talk to an employment attorney in your state and document everything that Dan does to you, with you, whatever. Everything you guys talk about, what changes if anything, so you have a reliable record, not just 20/20 hindsight. Y'all know my philosophy on lawsuits though. They really have to be worth the trouble. And you have to view them, not just as a way to squeeze some cash out of a crappy situation, but as a way to bring about some much needed change in an organization that refuses to do what is right.
[00:31:24] So just balance that against the time and money and energy that you're going to spend and whether the lawsuit will damage your reputation in any way, especially if you're planning to look for a new job. Maybe secure that first, if possible, before firing off a lawsuit. Again, a lawyer can advise you on that.
[00:31:40] We also did an episode about a-holes in the workplace. It's episode 357 with Bob Sutton. He wrote a book called The No Asshole Rule, and it's all about dealing with difficult people at work, really, really good. Speaking of masterclass, I know you're buttering me up there, Gabriel, but this guy, he actually has the ability to give you said masterclass on dealing with office a-hole.
[00:32:02] So good luck, my friend, I'm sorry. You're stuck with this guy. I really am. But crappy situations usually have something to teach us. Maybe this is the guy who forces you to learn how to stand up for yourself. Maybe he's the reason you find a job that you love more. There's always some silver lining or upside. So look for that, chase it, and trust that it's ultimately going to put you in an even better situation. Good luck.
[00:32:28] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show, and this is Feedback Friday. We'll be right back.
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[00:33:44] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Better Help online therapy. If anything is interfering with your happiness or preventing you from achieving your goals, get some therapy and nip it right in the bud. I often recommend therapy for issues, large and small. You've heard that on Feedback Friday. Better Help is not self-help. It's professional therapy done securely online. The services available to clients worldwide. That means you, Australia. That means you, person, who can't get any of my services. This is a great sponsor to support. It's global, baby. Better Help will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist. There's a broad range of expertise available, which may not be locally available in many areas. And you can start communicating in under 48 hours. Better Help is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches. So they make it easy and free to change therapists if needed. It's more affordable than traditional offline therapy and financial aid is available.
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[00:34:39] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored in part by Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich breaks from the single malt scotch whisky norm and helps redefine what it means to be rich. Got to get a whole new definition of it. You know, the new rich is like time and that's what I'm talking about. Enjoying those simple pleasures, like the ability to spend quality time with my son and family. That is a life well lived. Glenfiddich is something I've enjoyed for years and I'm enjoying it even more now that they're sponsoring the show. They do not outsource any part of the production process. Like the majority of whisky companies do. It would save them a lot if they did. But Glenfiddich believes that controlling the process from distillation and maturation to bottling is essential to maintaining the highest quality and integrity of our whisky. I don't have that. I outsource everything I can. It's no wonder that Glenfiddich is the number one selling single malt scotch whisky in the world.
[00:35:22] Jen Harbinger: Skillfully crafted, enjoy responsibly. Glenfiddich 2021 imported by William Grant and Sons Inc. New York, New York.
[00:35:29] Jordan Harbinger: And now for the conclusion of Feedback Friday.
[00:35:33] All right. What's next?
[00:35:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey guys, my ex wife and I separated when our son was 11. We've maintained a business-only relationship where the only communication between us relates to our son and both of us have moved on to more positive relationships. Due to the way the breakup occurred, she left me and immediately moved another man into our house. There's always a bit of tension between us. I've taken the high road and always put the needs of my son first. Fast-forward to today, our son is 19 and really starting to mature because we've never talked about it. I'm not sure what ideas he's formed about the divorce or whether the family breakup will leave any lasting scars. Now that the tumultuous teenage years are behind him, do I owe my son a more open conversation about what happened between his mom and me? Signed, Unsealing the Record.
[00:36:19] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I really like this question. I can promise you that your son does have some residual feelings and questions about the divorce. It's great that you want to give them a chance to talk them out. So sure, giving those some airtime, inviting him to ask you questions, giving both of you a chance to process this stuff, I'm all for it if you handle it the right way. So, how do you handle that conversation? How do you actually have it?
[00:36:41] Well, I'd make some time for him, one-on-one, I'd say something like, "Listen, man, you're 19 now. You've grown up a lot. We've never really talked openly about the divorce mostly because it was pretty painful and I didn't want to create any more tension between me and mom, but I wanted to ask if that's something you'd like to talk about now. If you have any questions or you just want to talk about what it's like for you, I'm here for that." And then just follow his lead. If he takes you up on the offer, great. You're off to the races. Answer his questions. Ask him open-ended follow-up questions. Share a little bit about your own experience along the way. But if he gets quiet or he just kind of shrugs and changes the topic, maybe you just say, "It's okay if you don't want to talk about it right now, but I just want you to know that we can do that whenever you are ready."
[00:37:26] And then you can ask them again in a few months, maybe draw them out with a couple of questions, you know, like, "Is it hard to talk about? Why is it hard? How are you feeling right now?" whatever it is. And hopefully over time, he'll open up. It sounds like it's a pivotal event in his life. So I'd imagine he'll be grateful for the opportunity to talk it out with you at some point, even if he's not ready right this second.
[00:37:45] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, my thoughts as well. My only other advice is to really stay focused on your son in this conversation. So keep coming back to his questions, his feelings, his experience. Of course, this is also a chance for you to help him understand what the divorce was like for you. But I would make yourself the center of this conversation. Certainly not at first. I also try to keep your perspective about the breakup as balanced as possible, which, look, I imagine that'll be hard to do when your wife left you and immediately moved another dude into your house. It sounds like there was some drama there. I don't know, but this is important. I wouldn't use this conversation as an opportunity to bash your ex-wife or talk sh*t about her new dude or tell a version of the story that generally paints you in a better light so that your son will take your side or anything like that.
[00:38:27] In fact, I would even say to your son, "Look, I can only speak from my experience here. I'm sure your mom has a different angle on things. You should talk to her about this as well. So you can form your own opinion." Again, this isn't about you getting to win, whatever that means. It's about giving your son the information he needs to come to his own conclusions.
[00:38:44] And on a related note, you might not have to tell your son everything that went down in the breakup. There will probably be some healthy boundaries about what's appropriate to share. What's not appropriate to share. For example, if let's just say one of you guys had an affair before you split up, just to be clear, not saying that that's what happened. It's just for the sake of example, if that had. You might not need to tell your son all the details of the affair or who it was with or why one of you did it, or how many times it happened or whatever, those boundaries obviously look very different from person to person, family, to family. It depends on your personality. It depends on what your son really needs to know. It also depends on what kind of relationship you have and want to have with your son. I'll let you decide where the line is. Just something to keep in mind.
[00:39:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean, no kid — like if you want your kid to open up about this, the last thing you want to do is be like, "So your mom was sledding it up at a truck stop. And that's where she met your stepdad who's a meth dealer." Like, no, you know, you want to keep it pretty vague and classy. Even if she was doing really gross stuff, you don't want to be the guy who frames that as his mom is doing bad things. And also, I don't know, it's just, you don't want to throw stones when you're in this situation.
[00:39:53] It's a good point, gabe. Also, now that his son is 19, they're talking to each other as two adults, as well as father and son. So there is a little bit more license to be open with them. It could be a whole new phase of their relationship, actually.
[00:40:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. I'm thinking the same as well. I mean, mom might not be thrilled about some of that stuff, but he does have a right to know.
[00:40:10] Right. He's 19. He grew up in the same family. I think he has a right to understand what happened.
[00:40:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'm with you, you know, facts are facts. Look, if you want to be super considerate, maybe you talked to your ex-wife about what you plan to share. So she's not like blindsided when he goes to talk to her armed with all this new information about the breakup. You might even agree on what details you share and what you don't. That might be a little bit nice too, if you're comfortable with that. But overall, I think this is a great idea. Just stay focused on helping your son make sense of what happened. Be candid and supportive and available to him in whatever way he needs. And you really can't go wrong with that. Good luck.
[00:40:46] All right, what's next?
[00:40:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe, my father retired a few years ago, but he hasn't taken to it very well. He was a career military officer on submarines and after retiring, he worked a 60-plus-hour-per-week, stressful job at a company that builds submarines. Since the second retirement, he's been dealing with acute and increasing anxiety. He fills every moment of his days with charities, soup kitchens, chores, video chats, Bible study, visits to friends, and more. He will agonize over the wording of a Monday and email or text for hours. He has detailed spreadsheets for every aspect of his life that he fills out daily. He does more in a day than I do in a month. He sees any downtime as wasted. He's tried counseling, medicine, meditation, yoga, breathing, exercises, and books, but with no luck. My mother tries to get them to slow down, but nothing he's tried seems to be working. In fact, the opposite seems to be true and he's not enjoying his retirement. It's painful to see my dad suffering. We all want to help him, but we know that saying, "Stop worrying about it," only makes them feel worse. How do I teach my dad to just be retired and relax? Signed, Telling My Dad Around Town to Slow Down Before He Gets a Breakdown.
[00:41:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, this is a good question. It is hard to watch your parents suffer when you know, they could be doing things differently and they just refuse to change their ways. It is interesting though, your dad, he sounds super driven. He's sharp. He's interesting. He's really involved with his friends and his community. I mean, those are all the qualities that keep you operating at a pretty high level well into old age. On the other hand, a lot of what you're describing obviously sounds like textbook anxiety and maybe a need for control, which is closely linked with the anxiety. And I know you wouldn't be writing in if you weren't concerned. The problem is you can't make someone do something they don't want to do. Surprise, surprise, especially somebody who's headstrong as your dad and especially at his age.
[00:42:35] To his credit. He did try counseling, medicine, meditation, yoga, breathing, exercises, books. I know I'm leaving a few things out, but it's not like he absolutely refused to work on this. Although who knows how much he really engaged with these things. Maybe he picked up one book on freaking Kundalini yoga for 10 minutes and then was like, "Aah, no, thanks. This stuff is bullsh*t." And he went to therapy and came back with the same results.
[00:42:55] You know, my dad would be like, "All right, now leave me alone. I want to rewrite this text in my golf caddy for the 18th time." It's hard to say. Also old guys are stubborn and we're not getting any better with age, but he's not really engaging with this stuff in a meaningful way from the sound of it. And I don't really know how much of those resources are going to help. Your best bet is to check in with him regularly. Keep an eye on him. When you see him getting worked up, you can say, "Hey dad, I see you driving yourself crazy with all this stuff you need to do. I just want to make sure you're okay. Do you want to take the afternoon to rest? Do you want to push your volunteer shift to next week? We can go get some ice cream. It's okay. Take a break. You're retired. I want you to enjoy your retirement. Don't you?" You know, that kind of thing. Just give them a little bit of a check-in and a breather to think about what he's doing and then just be there for him. Let him talk something out. If he's open to it, reassure him that if he doesn't do a thousand things every day, nothing bad is going to happen.
[00:43:47] But ultimately dad's in the driver's seat. You got to let him make his own calls. Definitely try to help him as much as you can, but recognize the boundary here. Workaholics going to work, man.
[00:43:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, exactly, because he can encourage his dad. He can support his dad. He could guide his dad and he should but he can't make his dad do anything at this point.
[00:44:05] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:44:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: You can't go to therapy with dad and force him to open up about why his parents made him so anxious as a kid. You can't do a breathing workshop with them three times a day. This is your dad. He's just who he is. And you have to accept it. And again, that can be really hard to do, but it's essential.
[00:44:21] We say it all the time on the show, you just can't live somebody else's life for them. And when it gets hard to remember that maybe you could remind yourself that on some weird, difficult to understand level, your dad might want to be this way. It's not always pleasant for him. It's definitely not healthy, but it sounds like his anxiety is fulfilling some kind of important function for him. And as much as he suffers from the anxiety, it's also driving him to have a very robust life in old age, which is also super important for him and for you.
[00:44:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's a good point. All else being equal, having a dad like this is probably better than having a dad who doesn't leave the house and has no interest in the world. So maybe you can hold all those great qualities in your dad alongside the more concerning ones. And that way, you'll have the full story about him and not just the one that's informed by how you wish he could be, which is what we all have to ultimately do with our parents, right? Help them if they want to be helped, respect it when they don't, and accept them for who they are as best we can. It's so frustrating sometimes, but it's kind of our only option and maybe it'll help you and your dad have an even better relationship. If you're not constantly butting heads over something that you have no reasonable hope of changing, that is. So try to accept him and enjoy his company as much as you can. And one day I know you'll be glad you did.
[00:45:36] I hope you all enjoyed this episode today. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week. And of course, everyone who listened. Thanks. for that.
[00:45:42] Want to know how I managed to book all these great people? It's all about my network. I've got software, systems, and tiny habits. Check out our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is 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. I've used this in my business and my personal life, and it has worked a treat. jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:46:05] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. Videos go up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or you can hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:46:23] 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, and I am a lawyer, but not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. If you found this episode useful, please do 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.
[00:46:59] You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Airbnb's co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky.
[00:47:05] Brian Chesky: One day, I had this moment in my life where the metaphor is as if the road I'm going to travel looks exactly like the road I have traveled. This is the rest of my life. And at this moment, like, I need to make a change. I don't want to work for a company. I want to be an entrepreneur. I packed everything in the back seat of an old Honda Civic. And I drove up to San Francisco. I get to San Francisco and Joe tells me the rent is $1,150, so I don't have enough money to pay the rent. It turns out that weekend though, an international design conference was coming to San Francisco. We said, "Well, what if we just turned our house into a bedroom breakfast for a design conference. Joe had three air beds. So we inflated the air beds and we call it the airbedand breakfast.com. People said this idea will never work. Strangers will never stay with other strangers, but three people did that one weekend.
[00:47:52] Jordan Harbinger: For more on the idea that took Airbnb to a billion dollar company, check out episode 566 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:47:59] This episode is sponsored in part by LifeLock. COVID-19 era scams, follow the news, phony promises of financial assistance, fake access to vaccines, but tech support scams have surged to number one on the list of scam threats. My dad got bit by one of these. Tech support scams are attacks that rely on fear, uncertainty, and doubt. They're designed to trick you into believing something is wrong and they seek to steal your personal information, tap your bank account, install dangerous software on your device. It's important to understand how cybercrime and identity theft are affecting our lives. Every day, we put our information at risk on the Internet. In an instant, a cybercriminal can harm what's yours, your finances and your credit. Good thing, there's LifeLock. LifeLock helps detect a wide range of identity threats, like your social security number for sale on the dark web. If they detect your information, they'll send you an alert.
[00:48:41] Jen Harbinger: No one can prevent all identity theft or monitor all transactions at all businesses, but you can keep what's yours with LifeLock by Norton. Join now and save up to 25 percent off your first year by going to lifelock.com/jordan. That's lifelock.com/jordan for 25 percent off.
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