One of my girlfriends is visiting NY for meetings and she asked me to help her to pick up her wedding gown from Vera Wang the day before. I am so happy for her. You know there are times when you say “good for you” you actually feel “gosh it’s so unfair I cannot believe she is getting this while I didn’t!” But that kind of feeling is not in my dictionary anymore. I am lucky to be surrounded by both guys and girls who are as ambitious, capable, observant, insightful and FUN as myself (sorry I’m complimenting myself again), if not more, and they complement me as a human being, and they inspire me every day to give back more with passion and love.
Ultimately it’s not about a competition after all. It’s about inviting someone to join the life journey with you, to learn, to share, to enjoy; or sometimes, just to sit quietly together while looking out of the window, and maybe laugh, and sing.
Treat people right, any people
When I was in Hong Kong I went to this Portuguese restaurant once and ordered some baked pork and rice dish. I asked the waiter some standard question on what kind of sauce he recommends, how long it will take, and how big the portion is etc. Apparently he was relatively new and he couldn’t answer half of the questions. I got very impatient. I unintentionally raised my voice and I was at the edge of asking to be served by another waiter. He was embarrassed obviously, and my friend who went with me gave me a very disturbed stare, which I couldn’t quite figure out why at the moment. Read more…
I watched a few episodes of the TV drama “Never say goodbye 说好不分手” these days in Hong Kong. It’s astonishingly touching. I remember one comparison pretty clearly when one of the lead guys commented on his relationship with two distinctive girls in a very interesting way:
- The relationship I had with A is like playing video games. There’s always another challenge waiting for me. It’s fun and engaging, it keeps me going. The best part is, you have multiple chances with one challenge, and you can even restart if it’s “game over”.
- The relationship I had with B is like doing a surgery. I have to be extra careful every second. The more I care about the patient the more nervous and intense it becomes. It gets tiring to be honest, because as a surgeon you have but one shot. If you screw this up you don’t have another chance.
This simple but very insightful comparison and analogy made me reflect deeply on how human beings interact and leave impressions on each other. Then I started thinking about relationships in general, and all the wonderful girlfriends of mine who are still single, and all the charming guy friends of mine who are still confused about what the hell all the girls are thinking. But the fact is: the girls are not less confused, and probably only more.
I am in no position to categorize myself as a relationship expert because I am simply not, but I know one thing that I am actually good at: to state the obvious but in a unique way that would make sense to all of you no matter where you are coming from. I used to tell myself: the first step to achieve anything in life is to decide what you want. So what I am trying to do here is really just to share some observations and understandings on how to make a smarter decision on what you should be looking for in a long term relationship.
I have read your blog about being attracted to someone else while in a relationship and it was really helpful. The thing is, I am in a multi-year relationship with someone 9 years older than me (I am in my early 20s). I can say we get along well because we share the same intellectual and maturity level despite the age gap. My boyfriend recently admitted that he is attracted to this girl who is one of his employees (he is a manager).
Well, this was not the first time it happened but this time seems to be more serious than before. Unlike the previous situation we had, he admitted to this girl that he likes her though the girl, being in a relationship herself, said that she only sees my boyfriend as a big brother. Despite this, I can still sense that there is something else going on. They would usually go out drinking with the rest of their team and the two of them would always sit beside each other even after I told my guy to at least try to fight the feeling if he still wants work things out between the two of them. Even if he told me that it wasn’t anything serious, I can’t help but get jealous and hurt with the thought of him spending more time with this girl than me. He works overtime everyday (which he always did even before we met) and after work, they would spend the rest of the day drinking. He would usually come home an hour before I am supposed to leave for work so we don’t get to spend much time with each other anymore.
I don’t know how to deal with it anymore. We have tried to talk about it but he kept on saying that he doesn’t understand himself either. He said that he still loves me but his answers to my questions show that he is not sure of his feelings anymore. I have been trying to think things over and decide whether to continue trying to work things out with him or just give up the relationship. He met this girl a little over a month ago. Please help.
Thank you – Lhen
Yes so I wrote about how to deal with a situation where you’re in a relationship but attracted to someone else, and also the situation where you are attracted to someone else who already has a boyfriend and girlfriend. I thought I was done with this, thanks God. Now I realized you are facing the challenge of exactly the third possibility: What if your boyfriend/girlfriend is attracted to someone else?
I really want to hear your insights on how to follow up with people I just met with such as alumni or high profile people. After the first acquaintance, I usually don’t know what to say to them through email or phone since we barely see each other. At the same time, I’m afraid that too many emails of questions or holiday wishes would annoy them. But I want to make a good impression because I may need their help at some point. Would you please elaborate how you maintain the relationship with your contacts?
Thank you – N
Another great question from Ask Danye, you guys are really awesome awesome inspirations! And I want to reassure you that the very fact you are writing this email to me means you take initiatives and that you are on the right track: yes, you do need to reach out to people BEFORE you actually need help from them. And here’s how to do it:
- Make it extremely easy for them
- Keep it very short (the 3 steps)
- Watch your tone (some do’s and don’ts)
- Write it already
Make it extremely easy for them
Senior people are busy people, so if you want them to do just about anything in the world, you need to make it super easy for them. I recently coordinated with HR, Yale Alums at my firm, and Women Initiatives for an informational/networking/recruiting event with Smart Woman Securities, a women organization from Yale. I pushed very hard for the event to happen obviously since we don’t really recruit on campus, and there’s tons of coordination work. But I got affirmative response from EVERY SINGLE person I reached out to and everyone is super excited to help me, even Harvard alums!
Let’s get started, and if you miss anything else on my blog, this is a MUST READ for 2011!
1. Success is a by-product.
Very few people start off their career knowing what they really want to do. But those who eventually become wildly successful are usually the ones who started off “having fun” with what they do. Having a genuine interest to “play with it” makes it so much easier for you to put passion and efforts into it, and gradually you build up your expertise along the way and naturally you become successful in due time.
2. It’s all about reactions.
Sometimes it may have to do with luck, but it’s very rare and almost impossible that luck is always on your side. I know it’s been several years, but Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Steve Jobs is a must read. You don’t need to get cancer yourself to realize what’s important in life.
Okay, hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! I had a great dinner at Koi with M the birthday girl and one of the guys was gentleman enough to bring a rose to each of the girls, very nice gesture I have to say! And then we went out to drinks at Stone Rose at the Time Warner Building. Again another cool spot in NY, you have to check it out next time you want a romantic yet low-key spot, with a lot of space, unique drinks and a great view!
Anyway, I have to admit that originally I plan to write on “What has Yale taught me about sex”! But I realized I am yet to be that aggressive and I don’t want to scare away some of my younger readers and I am pretty sure I’m not an expert on that subject anyway! But if that’s something you’re interested in reading please give me a shout in the comment or something.
So let me get back to what I actually want to talk about today: What I learned about relationships at Yale and in the US?
1. Be an independent person first
It took me a long time to realize how much truth lies in this simple idea: If you are not a happy person single, you will not be a happy person in a relationship. I’m not sure about you but I was raised up in an environment with this whole idea of “we are born to be incomplete and we spend our whole life trying to find someone to complete and to heal us”. After I came to Yale and the US, I realized it was a lie. Why? Because this idea leads us to the trap of being too demanding.
- I would love to go to your event, but I already made dinner plans.
- You did a great job with your interview, but we extended the offer to someone who did better.
- I think you are a great person, but I am not attracted to you in that way
- I really enjoyed the time being with you, but I made the decision to leave you.
These are the common situations we have to deal with day-to-day, and it can be awkward, difficult, nerve-racking, embarrassing, and you might feel guilty, uncomfortable, or even ashamed to have to put someone else in that situation. And you are also afraid of BEING PUT in such situations, and many times you wonder, “Is there a but, again?” even though the other person talks all positives.
But you have to deal with it, and the first thing you need to do is to be CERTAIN that this is something you want to do (rejecting). And then it’s about the techniques on how to be articulate about it, and here goes the formula:
Multiple “and” phrases
+ Addresses feelings
+ Suggest alternatives
= EASIER NO
Now let me give you a few examples: