Guerretto, CC 2.0
Source: Guerretto, CC 2.0

This is the 2nd installment in a series. The others are:

10 Expressions Everyone Should Stop Saying Now

13 Things Many People Don’t Do but Should

11 Questions Everyone Should Ask Themselves.

12 Questions We Should Ask Others.

Think of how you feel when you see someone with bizarre hair, clothes, tattoos and piercings. Many people think less of such a person. If only unconsciously, they might think, “S/he’s so eager for attention and can’t get it on the merits, s/he looks weird to stand out.”

Here are nine other things you should think twice before doing:

Telling lies of omission. Imagine a salesperson fails to tell you that that product really wouldn’t meet your needs. If you’re like most people, you wouldn’t consider that person more honest than someone who lied overtly about the product.  At or outside of work, don’t think a lie of omission as much better than a lie of commission.

Taking lots of Fridays and Mondays off.  It’s tempting to extract a long weekend but you fool few people with frequent claims of illness or need for personal time that usually just happen to occur on Mondays and Fridays. You put not only your reputation at risk but perhaps your job.

Making idle threats to your child, for example, “I’m going to leave you here.” Saying that makes your child unnecessarily feel insecure: “Would mommy really do that to me?” That risks creating fear of abandonment. Also, you usually can’t ethically leave your young child there, so when you don’t, your child will see that you lied and made an idle threat. That makes the child less likely to take you seriously when you threaten again.

Hitting your child. Corporal punishment teaches your child that violence is an appropriate response. It instills fear rather than intrinsic motivation to behave well. And it tends to generate short-term compliance but long-term rebellion. You cannot beat your child into long-term good behavior. Your best chance is to set reasonable limits, explain the reasons for them, and when misbehavior occurs, to express disappointment in your child. If your child is very slow to respond to such parenting, you might occasionally use rewards and withholding of privileges.

Having a second drink at a business meal. The days of the three-martini business lunch are long gone. In some circles, it may still be okay to have one drink at a business meal but a second one risks your being less than your best and perceived as having a drinking problem. Plus, if the other person is paying, you can be seen as taking advantage in the same way as you would if you ordered one of the menu’s expensive dishes. Safer to follow a one-drink-max rule.

Stock trading. Even highly trained fund managers rarely beat the market, and they work at it full-time, are highly disciplined, and usually have mathematics-centric degrees from prestigious universities plus have passed the rigorous Chartered Financial Analyst exams. The vast majority of amateurs who try to make a living trading stocks not only make little additional income compared with no-brainer long-term dollar-cost-average investing in a Vanguard All-in-One Fund, they usually lose money and incur great stress. Stock trading is usually an awfully expensive way to get an adrenaline rush.

Smoking cigarettes or marijuana. The devastating dangers of cigarette smoking are well documented so they needn't be recounted here. Less well known are the dangers of marijuana. Those are buried under the Big Tobacco-encouraged blitz to brainwash us into thinking it’s wise to legalize weed. Fact is, the neutral scientific bodies are warning against it, armed with mountains of new studies conducted since legalization became a real possibility. This year, the National Academy of Sciences issued a metaevaluation of over 200 of the best studies and concluded that marijuana increases the risk of impaired learning ability, memory and motivation, and of mental illness such as social anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and suicidal thoughts. That comports with the Obama Administration’s 2016 National Institute on Drug Abuse summary.

Waiting for God to provide. The New Testament is filled with exhortations to wait for God to provide, for example, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20, NIV) Even if an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent supernatural deity exists, it's wise to act as if such a God didn't, both because your success is more likely and because people tend to respect those who act rather than merely wait for God to provide.

Going to bed without agreeing on at least a next step toward solving the problem with your partner. It may be too much to ask couples to follow the old saw, “Never go to bed angry.” It may be more realistic to aim for agreement on at least a possible step forward in the morning.

Dr. Nemko's nine books are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at mnemko@comcast.net.

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