Social FORCES and Career Success

Today’s career advice comes from Judith Glaser, a friend of mine.  More important, Judith is one of the most original thinkers I know.  She is the Founder of the Creating WE Institute of which I am a proud member.

The other day, I received an email from Judith in which she described social forces that impact our ability to build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.  Relationship building is one of my keys to life and career success.  If you want to succeed, you have to build and maintain strong relationships.

Here are the social FORCES Judith described in her email…

  • Fairness – how do we work out what is fair for ‘us’?
  • Ownership – what do we own, and what are our rules of engagement around ownership?
  • Rejection – in what way might we be unnecessarily rejecting that which is different than us?
  • Connection – in what ways can we foster connectivity and deeper understanding?
  • Expression – how can we give each other space to speak our thoughts and express our voice?
  • Status – how might status be getting in the way of creating ‘power-with’ others?

I really like the FORCES acronym.  It is great career advice for relationship building.  Let’s take a closer look.

Fairness – Good relationships are reciprocal.  All parties should get as much as they give.  This is where the idea of fairness comes in.  If you want to build and maintain strong relationships with the important people in your life, jointly figure out what is fair for each of you and, as Judith points out, us.

Ownership – All parties must own a relationship.  I find that the best career advice for demonstrating ownership is to act as if the entire relationship depends on you.  If all parties do this, there will be fewer gaps that can cause problems down the road.

Rejection – Often it is easy to reject the different, new and strange.  In the best relationships, people adopt a “that’s interesting, tell me more,” rather than a “that’s weird, I don’t want to hear about that” attitude.  Don’t reject people or ideas out of hand.  Pay close attention when presented with new and different ideas.

Connection – Get connected to other people.  The best way to connect with others is to pay it forward.  Do for others without expecting them to reciprocate.  When you demonstrate your willingness to connect by paying it forward, you will build strong relationships.

Expression – This is flip side of rejection.  When you allow others to freely express their thoughts and ideas without the fear of judgment, you open up communication channels that otherwise might not exist.

Status – Don’t let status get in the way of building strong relationships.  If you are in a high status position, listen to the ideas others bring you – regardless of where they stand in relation to you in the hierarchy.  On the other hand, don’t be afraid to approach people above you in the hierarchy.  You’ll build strong relationships by taking a chance and putting yourself out there.

Judith’s FORCES model reminds me of the career success advice in Tweet 123 in my career advice book Success Tweets.  “Use every interaction to build and strengthen relationships.  Strong relationships are your ticket to career success.”

I have found that little things make for strong relationships.  In other words, sweat the small stuff because it’s the small stuff that will help you build and maintain strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the people who can help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.

A couple of years ago, I had an opportunity to preview a great DVD on relationship building called, Little Things Mean a Lot.  The DVD is based on the work of Brigid Moynahan, founder of The Next level Inc.  She is a well-known and highly recognized speaker and trainer.

Ms. Moynahan says that when it comes to relationships, it’s important to sweat the small stuff.  She says that we send micro-messages in all of our interactions with other people.  Micro-messages are the signals we send to one another through our behavior.  While micro-messages are often small, their impact can be enormous.

Micro-messages can help or hinder your relationship-building efforts.  Micro-affirmations help you build and maintain strong relationships.  Micro-inequities hinder your ability to build and maintain strong relationships.

These are important concepts that deserve a closer look.

Not surprisingly, micro-affirmations are micro-messages that we send to other people that cause them to feel valued, included, or encouraged.

Micro-inequities are micro-messages that we send to other people that cause them to feel devalued, slighted, discouraged or excluded.

Here’s some great career advice.  Consciously avoid micro-inequities and consciously send micro-affirmations.
Ms. Moynahan puts a diversity spin on her work.  While I agree that moving from an organizational culture based on micro-inequities to one based on micro-affirmations will build a more inclusive – and thereby productive and profitable – organization, I also believe there are life and career success lessons to be learned here.

Ask yourself, “When do I feel excluded, disrespected and devalued?”  In most of these cases, you have been the recipient of a micro-inequity.  To use Judith’s FORCES model, micro inequities can result from improper application of any of the FORCES – Fairness, Ownership, Rejection, Connection, Expression, Status.

The way you feel when you experience a micro-inequity is the way others are likely to feel when you engage in micro-inequity behavior.  That means you should refrain from using these behaviors in your interactions with others.

Then do just the opposite.  Ask yourself, “When do I feel included, respected and valued?”  In most of these cases, you will have been the recipient of a micro-affirmation that is related to one of the FORCES — Fairness, Ownership, Rejection, Connection, Expression, Status.  Work hard to incorporate behaviors that are micro-affirmations into your daily interactions with others.In short, when you focus on sending micro-affirmations and avoiding micro-inequities, you will be better able to build solid, lasting relationships with the people in your life.  And strong relationships are an important key to your life and career success.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people are competent in four areas: 1) creating positive personal impact; 2) consistent high performance; 3) dynamic communication; and 4) relationship building.  They build strong relationships with the important people in their lives.  They follow the career advice in Tweet 123 in Success Tweets.  “Use every sinteraction to build and strengthen relationships.  Strong relationships are your ticket to career success.”  Build and strengthen relationships by sweating the small stuff.  Focus sending positive micro messages – the small things that show another person that you value him or her.  Avoid “micro-inequities” – behaviors that demean people in small ways.  Instead, focus on “micro-affirmations” – behaviors that encourage others and build their self-esteem.  Make positive use of the social FORCES – Fairness, Ownership, Rejection, Connection, Expression and Status as you go about building the relationships that will put you on the road to your life and career success.

That’s the career advice I take from Judith Glaser’s social FORCES model.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts on this subject with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.


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