Therapy That Works...

The Truth About Long Distance Relationships - By Chris Gearing

Monday, October 25, 2010

Are The Kids All Right? - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Are the Kids All Right?

Working Moms and Their Children’s Welfare

CBS 11 News

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

Women now comprise 51% of the workforce and the number of working moms who are the sole breadwinners has increased for the third year in a row. But does a working mom negatively impact her child’s development? New landmark research just released by the American Psychological Association says “no.”

Is the mother working outside the home bad for the child?

Absolutely not. In fact, most studies tell us that working women have higher self esteem, are stronger emotionally and financially, and are actually excellent mothers. The children benefit from having a mother who is confident, resourceful and in control of her life – traits they idolize and learn. This landmark study reviewed 69 studies over the last 50 years and found that children whose moms return to work before the child is three do just fine—they don’t show increased anxiety, behavioral problems, or low self esteem. In fact, they flourish emotionally and socially. A happy mother produces a happy child.

But how do mothers feel about these findings?

Ambivalent About Working: No, most working moms are very ambivalent about leaving their kids especially when they’re young. Women are experts at beating themselves up and being the perfect mother is something we expect of ourselves, no excuses. Although most working mothers are pleased to have a job in this economy, they wonder if they are doing the right thing when it comes to their kids. This attitude was confirmed by the Pew Research Center which reported that working women remain conflicted about the competing roles they play at home and at work. We still do twice as much housework and childcare as our husbands despite his increasing contributions around the house.

Lack of Community Support: But what is most interesting is the lack of support many young mothers feel from their communities and families. Young working moms often feel judged by others. Despite the fact that society overwhelming believes that both men and women should contribute financially, working mothers of young children suffer a special penalty. Only 12% of the public says that it’s best for a young child if his mother works full time. This new study now totally shatters this outdated sentiment which has defined generations of mothers.

Are children reaping the rewards of having a working mom throughout their development?

There are several advantages for children with working moms:

More Resources: Working moms provide more financial resources to their children. When you have to cut the pie into fewer pieces, there’s more for each child. These concentrated resources allow children to develop a wide array of skills and interests. Nothing is more important to the mother than the advantages she can provide her children.

More Education, Fewer Kids: As women become better educated, they have fewer kids. So not only do these kids reap the benefits of having more resources, but they have incredible mothers who manage offices, stock portfolios, and surgery rooms. These mothers can pass along their wealth of knowledge, self discipline and resilience to prepare their kids for life!

Confidence and Independence: Research shows that working mothers are generally more confident than moms who stay at home, and children benefit enormously from having an engaged, empowered mother. Children tend to adopt the attitudes and habits of their mothers and the child of a working mom has a decided advantage.

But of course, there are several lifelong benefits to having the mother at home

Without a doubt, remaining home with baby is a wonderful experience and is what most of us long to do if we can afford it. The child luxuriates in having a dedicated caretaker who patiently mentors him on a daily basis. Stay at home moms are talented at providing that stable, predictable and enriched environment that only a mother can really give. It is a wonderful gift to give your child if you can do it, but if there are financial realities that prevail, it is okay to work. There are many strategies in rearing outstanding children. The real secret is being an emotionally intelligent parent who is willing to help the child gather strength and confidence in himself.

Dr Sylvia on - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dr Sylvia Gearing was quoted in an article on MSN's!

Check it out here:

Does Persistence Really Pay?

By Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder Writer

While we can all recite quotes about how persistence is the key to success --"If at first you don't succeed ...", "Nothing good comes easy" -- they're easier said than acted upon when we feel instead like we're "banging our head against a wall" or "beating a dead horse."

The fact is many workers and job seekers struggle with persistence nowadays. It can be hard to keep going when your job search proves fruitless after months of hard work, you still haven't gotten that promotion you were hoping for or it seems like your "big break" is always just out of arms' reach. With so much time and energy put it our efforts to persist, doing so to no avail can cause us to wonder if our persistence will ever pay off.

According to Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart, persistence does pay off, so long as we remember one thing about our path to achieving our goals: There is a difference between smart persistence and blind persistence.

"Persistence to a goal pays off as long as you can be flexible on how you get there," Ceniza-Levine says. "If your job search isn't yielding offers, then whatever you are doing is not working. You may have the right role and companies in mind but your marketing, your interview technique, your networking approach, or something else about how you are presenting yourself to these prospects is off. Or the prospects themselves may be wrong for you."

With that in mind, here are a few strategies for successful, smart persistence.

Pursue your goal from all angles

According to Tyler Tervooren, author of the blog "Advanced Riskology," persistence works best when there's a method to your madness.

"Persistence does pay, but only if it's persistence with a real strategy" he says. "If, in the worst economy of our time, your strategy is to send out a résumé and say 'Here, hire me please,' you're never going to get anywhere no matter how many times you do that. On the other hand, if your goal is to make enough money to support yourself and you're willing to try a bunch of different things like submitting an online résumé or portfolio, going to networking events, meeting influential people in different industries or even starting your own business, then yes, persistence pays off," he says.

To elaborate on Tervooren's example: As a job seeker your overall goal may be to find a well-paying job in your industry. You decide that you will send out 10 résumés per week until you get a job -- but after months of searching, you have yet to land a position. While your ultimate goal may be a realistic one that's well within your reach, your way of going about getting the job is unrealistic.

Instead of just sending out résumés:

Seek out new networking opportunities by joining a professional organization or volunteering in your community AND

Engage the companies you'd like to work for on Twitter and LinkedIn AND

Take a class online or at a local community college to freshen up your skill set and enhance your résumé AND

Consult a professional résumé writer to make sure you résumé is fine-tuned and captivating

"You need be willing to try any crazy idea you get to make [your goal] happen; give up on the tactics that aren't working and pour more into the ones that look more promising. Do that over and over again and you'll get what you want," Tervooren says.

Take off your blinders

While it's important to have goals, it's also important to make sure you don't get so set on one particular path that you miss out on other opportunities that may prove equally rewarding.

"You cannot get so stuck or focused on that one goal that you forget to see other opportunities that might be even better than your original goal," says Jason O'Neill, teen entrepreneur and author of "Bitten By the Business Bug." "While goals are good in theory, if someone doesn't reach their goal, they often feel like they failed. However, if they take off their blinders, keep their eyes open, they just may see some other direction they never even thought of."

Accept that waiting is part of the process

It's important to remember that your goals won't happen overnight, and that you need to maintain a positive attitude in order to persist successfully. Believing that your goals will happen in your ideal time-frame will only lead to discouragement, so be willing to wait for your reward.

"The ability to delay gratification is vital," says Dr. Sylvia Gearing, a clinical psychologist in Dallas and owner of Gearing Up Counseling Centers. "Sacrificing short-term pleasure for a long-term goal is key here. Success has everything to do with tenacity. The world is full of intelligent, talented people who never achieved anything -- simply because they gave up."

Essentially, while persistence is necessary in achieving any goal, blind persistence isn't. Pouring your time and energy into a method of achieving you goal -- when that method isn't working -- is a waste of time. Trying every avenue you can think of in order to achieve a goal, on the other hand, is when persistence really does pay.

Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow @CBForJobSeekers on Twitter.

Copyright 2010 All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

Story Filed Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - 11:41 AM

Dr Sylvia On - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dr Sylvia Gearing was featured today in an article on!

The article is on how to stay sharp while unemployed. Make sure to check it out:

The Phenomenon of Mature Women - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It’s Complicated—The Phenomenon of Mature Women

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

TXA 21 News, January 12, 2010

“It’s Complicated,” the popular new Meryl Streep movie is once again illustrating how older women are taking the world by storm.

Here’s why so many women relate to Meryl Streep’s character:

Social Revolution: Meryl Streep’s character is a prime example of the social revolution that is sweeping the nation. Women have redefined aging. No longer are we held to antiquated definitions of attractiveness—youth, fertility, and tight skin. At midlife, we move into our most productive years, both personally and professionally.

New Power: Now, just like men, we acquire power and allure by achievement. Our accomplishments, complexity and history are now defined as assets rather than as liabilities. This movie showed that an older woman could trump a younger women on the social playing field. We can partner with men of assorted ages—young and old— or we can play the field solo if we prefer. Partnering is an option, not a mandate.

New Timeline, New Dreams: The MacArthur Foundation reports that by 2050, life expectancy for women will rise to up to 94 years. We now regard the 50s and 60s as “middle” age and a passage of life that is full of adventure, reinvention and excellence. Streep’s character reminded us of the empowerment that comes with this stage of life.

Meryl’s character entertains multiple suitors within the film, which begs the question: do women become more passionate as they age?

More Sensual with the Years: Women become more sensual as they mature and this is especially true of boomer women who led the sexual revolution. They are more at ease with their bodies, enjoy more self-acceptance and have less attachment to social definitions of beauty. They know their bodies better and they take their intimate needs more seriously.

Passion Begins in the Mind: Passion begins in a woman’s mind and it is a product of her self-confidence and experience. As her thinking become more sophisticated, her passion increases and she may enjoy sensuality more. If she is married, she invests more deeply in her partner and is often willing to be fully physically and emotionally vulnerable, often for the first time. If she is single, she chooses her partners more carefully and is a wiser evaluator of other’s intentions.

This trend of empowered older women was made possible by the economic opportunities.

Money Talks: The economic empowerment of women over the last fifty years was certainly a facilitator of these social trends. No longer dependent on the support of a man, millions of women crafted spectacular careers and took the reins of their fate into their own hands. Their social and psychological transformation accelerated as their incomes increased.

Global Economy Shifted Women: The shift in the global economy has had a lot to do with the increase in female power. Brains count more than brawn now. As manufacturing decreased, the service industries increased and women rose to the challenge. We have fared especially well in the recession and now comprise over 50%of the labor force.

Education and Innovation: Women are more educated and enjoy the modern innovations in communication and domestic technology that make it possible to work outside of the home. Washboards have been replaced by motherboards and women have derived untold freedoms from a world that increasingly rewards them for smarts, drive and persistence.

Ladies, here’s what you can do to be maximally empowered in midlife:

Social Ties are Cheap Medicine: Women have to remember how you age is often under their control. Stay connected with your friends since studies show that social ties are essential to longevity. In fact, a study by the MacArthur Foundation reported that “ the influence of genetics shrinks proportionately as you get older, while social and physical habits become increasingly integral to your state of health—both mental and physical.”

Attitude is Everything: Optimism pays off and a recently release study of 97,000 women older than 50 reported that optimists were 9% less likely to develop heart disease and 14% less likely to die from it.

Shifting to a Brighter Outlook: Take the following three steps:

1.) Commit to a Cause Greater than Yourself

2.) Control the factors you can influence and disregard the rest.

3.) Challenge yourself to view setbacks as surmountable and problems as solvable.

For more information about Dr. Sylvia, please go to


“Researchers ask why optimism is associated with health, pessimism with disease” The Washington Post, January 12, 2010, Carolyn Butler

“Women and Work: We Did It!” The Economist, January 2010

“Sex and the Seasoned Woman, Pursuing the Passionate Life” by Gail Sheehy, 2006

Liar, Liar: How People Lie - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Liar, Liar: How People Lie

November 4, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Unfortunately, the worlds of politics, media celebrities, and big business are rife with multiple instances of lying. But in your own life, a liar can threaten your career, your love life and even your safety.

Why are liars so difficult to detect?

We all want to believe the liar. Good people with integrity want to believe that the other person is motivated by good intentions. We often fill in the “blanks” of information a liar omits in an effort to see him in a positive light. Tragic outcomes occur as a result. There has been a cultural shift legitimizing lying that is increasingly common in a complex world where the truth is often hidden.

Here are some common types of lies:

Lies of Concealment: Lying by omitting facts is a common type of deceit that has a variety of different motivations. Examples include lying to protect someone’s feelings, to avoid an awkward moment, to manipulate someone to get your way and to intentionally deceive someone by omitting key facts. Unfortunately, these types of lies are easier to conceal if you don’t stretch the truth too much.

Lies of Falsification: This lie misrepresents false information as if it were true. These are used especially when emotions must be concealed.

Mis-Identifying the Cause of an Emotion: This lie acknowledges a feeling or gesture, but it lies about what brought it on. It’s a half-truth in that the felt emotion is accurate, but the person lies about the cause.

Admitting the Truth with Misleading Exaggeration or Humor: This lie greatly exaggerates reality to make the other person think that it is obviously a lie. For instance, your child buys something for a few hundred dollars, but when you ask he mockingly replies, “Oh yeah, I spent a million dollars!” This hyperbole leads you to doubt the reality of your initial question.

You may not realize that lying is a two part process: both the words and the body language. You may be wondering what the most common type of facial cues liars use:

Smiling is the most common facial expression used to conceal deceit. It is the easiest of all of the facial expressions to create without effort.

Is the Smile Sincere?:

Study the Timing: If you think a smile is insincere, study the timing of the smile—it may be too sudden or too slow.

Note the Length of the Smile and If It is Appropriate: The smile may also last too long and may not correlate with the content of the conversation.

Note When He Smiles in the Conversation: Make sure that you study the location of the smile in the conversation. If it occurs too soon or too long after the verbiage, it may be contrived to mislead you.

Here’s why lies fail:

Some people lie flawlessly and are difficult to catch due to their skill. They are able to control both their emotions and thoughts simultaneously.

However, there are several reasons why lies fail.

Focus on Words and Face: Liars conceal and falsify what they think others are going to focus upon most closely. Most liars focus on their words first and their facial expressions second. Despite their best efforts, few liars are very good at monitoring their facial expressions effectively. The face is directly connected to the area of the brain involved in emotion. Muscles in the face begin to fire involuntarily.

Ignores His Voice: Pauses that are too long and frequent speech errors are clues to lying. Liars are often unprepared to lie and their hesitation and stuttering attempts to falsify information are clues. Their voice pitch can be higher.

Ignores the Difference Between Verbal and Non-Verbal: You can often catch a liar if you look for discrepancies between what he is saying (his words) and how he is saying the message with his non-verbal behavior, voice and facial expressions.

Here are tips to tell is someone is lying “in the moment” (drawn from the work of Gavin De Becker and Paul Eckman):

Notice Breathing, Sweating and Swallowing: Changes in breathing or sweating (especially on the hands and upper lip), increased swallowing, and a very dry mouth are signs of strong emotions that can indicate lying.

The Leaning Liar: Liars tend to lean to the side while standing or sitting and often have both of their arms or legs crossed.

Shifty Eyes: Eye gaze that shifts rapidly side-to-side and downward.

Too Many or Too Few Details: When someone is lying, they either provide too many details or they provide too few details. Either an excess or a lack of information is intended to deceive the listener and avoid questions.

Technology Fuels Lies: Liars love to use the phone or email to lie. Directly confronting face to face is more complicated since they have to control both their words and actions to successfully deceive. In one study, 72% of lies were delivered electronically while only 27% were delivered in face-to-face encounters.

Too Many Questions and Reassurances: Liars often ask for questions to be repeated to buy more time and they use phrases like, “you can trust me,” or “to be perfectly honest.” Liars intend to lull their targets into believing the illusion by appearing overly honest and transparent.

The bottom line is that you have to approach other people with an appropriate level of critical thinking. Lying is all too common. Taking someone else’s word without studying their behavior critically and without gaining more information about their history of honesty can be detrimental in the long run.

For information on this and Dr. Sylvia Gearing, please visit!


“Telling Lies” by Paul Ekman

“The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker

“How To Sniff Out A Liar” by Melanie Lindner, on

What's Love Got To Do With It? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

October 28, 2009 

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

With a fifty percent divorce rate, millions of Americans experience the agony of divorce each year. Dr. Sylvia Gearing discusses the top risk factors of breaking up, the secrets to staying together and what you can do tonight to make your relationship better.

Here are the latest findings on factors that lead to divorce:

A new study reveals the following risk factors:

Difference in Age: Age differences between the partners are linked to marital instability. Couples in which the husband is two or more years younger than the wife are 53% more likely to break up. Husbands nine or more years older are twice as likely to separate.

Disagreement About Having Children: When the wife has a much stronger preference for having a child than the husband, there is twice the risk of separation.

Women Tolerate Misery: There are distinct gender differences in tolerating misery. Women who are in difficult marriages tend to adapt to their husband’s negativity. In happy marriages, women initiate conversation to solve the problem. In contrast, men compartmentalize their angst until they are overwhelmed with it. Once they are aware of their unhappiness, they often leave the relationship.

Here’s how this new research compares to findings you already know about:

These findings are purely correlations and don’t explain the basic relationship patterns of breaking up. There are two major keys to staying together happily in a relationship.

Repairing the Argument: If you cannot make up, agree to disagree, or change direction in real time, your relationship will eventually fold. If you get overwhelmed and fall into the Distance Isolation Cascade, your marriage is seriously threatened and your affection, no matter how great, will begin to erode.

Avoiding Distance- Isolation Cascade: Pulling out of a fight through repairing the conflict and avoiding the Distance-Isolation Cascade are pivotal skills.

Here are the progressive steps partners experience as the conflict progresses:

Flooding: When an emotion becomes so overwhelming it takes over the emotional world of the person and the individual floods with anxiety and anger. If you cannot calm and soothe yourself and your partner, you cannot solve the problem at hand.

Viewing Problems as Severe and Permanent: Viewing the problems in the marriage as unsolvable and never ending is a hallmark of impending breaking up.

Decision to Work Problems Out Alone: Detachment is the final step in leaving a relationship. Eighty percent of divorced partners attribute the divorce to growing apart.

Parallel Lives: Building a social infrastructure outside the marriage gives the person a place to land after breaking up.

Loneliness: There is nothing lonelier in the world than remaining in a relationship when it is over. This outcome is especially difficult for women who are more willing to tolerate misery for a longer period of time.

Everybody wants to know the secrets of staying happily married. Although there’s no magic wand, here are my best tips for keeping your marriage magical:

Accepting Influence: Although this marital skill is difficult to master, it is a key to making love last and building confidence in the relationship. Allowing your spouse to influence your opinion by finding the common ground, the common strategy and the compromise that always exists are important in de-escalating conflict.

Gridlock: Sixty nine percent of issues are perpetual and are never solved. Masterful couples pull together to converse capably and respectfully around issues they disagree upon. Common ground and a shared solution are then possible.

Overlooking the Negative: When marriages are new, we are all accepting and reinforcing of our partners. After 15 years, rates of satisfaction, adoration, shared activities decline precipitously in couples that divorce. In happy marriages that last, the couples show the reverse patterns. Increasing companionship, higher rates of satisfaction and adoration are all typical.

But if you want immediate results, try these strategies tonight:

There are two powerful antidotes to negativity that work every time:

The Magic of Positive Emotions: Use positive emotions, words and behaviors to love your partner through conflict. Great couples use positive emotion judiciously in de-escalating disagreements. Kind words, a smile and humor all soothe the accelerating heart and calm the angry and resentful mind.

Thirty Seconds a Day: According to marital research, just thirty seconds of positive emotion a day can change the direction of a love affair. “Thirty seconds of positivity a day amounts to 100 positive words a day: multiplied by 365 days a year, this comes to 36, 500 words –enough to fill a book of poetry.” John Gottman, Ph.D.

For more information about Dr. Sylvia, please visit!


The Marriage Clinic, John Gottman, Ph.D.

What’s Love Got to Do With It? Dr. Rebecca Kippen, Professor Bruce Chapman, Dr. Peng Yu

How Women Should Talk So Men Will Listen - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How Women Should Talk So Men Will Listen

October 21, 2009 

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News 

How can a woman talk so a man will listen? With unprecedented numbers of women now working, our communication skills with men have never been more important. Let me shed some light on how to crack the communication code with men.

My female clients ask me all the time, “Why is it so hard to communicate effectively with the men at work?”

Men and Women Use Language Differently: Men seem to be as confused as we are about how to communicate with us. There are fundamental gender differences in how men and women use language. Men use it to impart information (report talking) and we use it to establish and maintain relationships (rapport). Both language styles are effective but inevitably conflict in a high stakes workplace.

Gender Context, Impact and Intention: The bottom line is that both genders use their own gender specific rules to interpret verbal interactions. We disregard the fact that the verbiage of the opposite sex has it’s own gender specific context, impact and intention. Men understand other men very well but become frustrated with the unwritten rules of female conversation. Women think they say one thing and men hear something entirely different. As a result, both genders lose the opportunity to influence a business outcome optimally.

Disciplined Communication: According to Catalyst, women hold only 3% of the CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies so women have a long way to go in sharing equal power. As a result, it has never been more important for us to position our language correctly. Female empowerment in the workplace requires disciplined communication that can be easily understood by men.

Really, the disconnect stems from the fact that both genders have primary language characteristics (i.e., they each have their own way of communication).

Here are just a few of the hundreds that exist:

Blunt Speak: Men are more direct, bottom line and less emotional than women in language usage. They listen intently until they think they get the facts. Then they make a decision to fix the problem and then they move on. They don’t talk things to death!

Women’s Intuitive Strategy: Women are brilliant in discerning social nuances. For example, men notice subtle signs of emotion (like sadness) in a face only 40% of the time. Women will pick up the signs 90% of the time even in the faces of complete strangers. So as the female leader heads into the business meeting, she is taking a depth reading of the every player in the room to optimize a business outcome. She is not being nice. She is being strategic.

Men Will Take Charge: Men tend to speak with authority and conviction even if they are unsure of the facts. They take the floor more often and hold the floor longer than women in a business setting. In fact, they interrupt more than women and control the business conversation, much to the frustration of many women.

Women Use More Disclaimers: Women often sabotage their message before they begin. They disclaim what they are saying before they say it. Comments such as “this may not make sense” are confusing to men. They are thinking that if it doesn’t make sense, why would you say it in the first place? Many men believe that women have to say something before they say it.

Ladies, here’s how to improve your verbal communication with the opposite gender at work:

Think Before You Speak: Develop a self-awareness of how you phrase your requests. Use direct, action-oriented verbs. Choose when you tilt your head according to the situation and message you want to portray. Keep your head on straight. Make eye contact with the group and always finish your statements or thoughts.

Silence is Golden: Stay quiet for a brief period before responding to a question. Sit quietly for a few seconds before you respond to a question. You may be viewed as more intelligent and thoughtful as you deliberate calmly before replying.

Stay Consistent: Make sure your nonverbal actions match your verbal messages. Watch what you wear, how you walk and what you say to everyone. Don’t be the driven employee one day and then make a scene at the Christmas party after a few too many eggnogs.

And since 70% of communication is non-verbal, here are the strategies and tips for when you aren’t speaking.

Take Dominion: Please do not take it personally when he interrupts. It’s part of the way he talks with other men. Be ready to direct the discussion back to your topic. Establish control by making brief eye contact with the interrupter. Don’t look too long, because it seems like you’re asking permission. Use the interrupter’s name, and say directly, “Steve, I wasn’t quite finished.”

Take Up Space! Make a play for more power by taking up extra physical space at the meeting table. Sit regally without crossing your arms and legs. Do not curl up in a ball but stretch out! Use gestures such as pointing (not at people) to emphasize a few key issues.

Smile Selectively: You don’t have to be smiling all the time – you’ll only diminish the meaning of your smile. Never smile when you are delivering a serious message. People will read your expression as insincere.

Mirror, Mirror: When you’re talking to your boss, particularly if you have a disagreement, do not sit with your arms and legs crossed. Instead, mirror their movements slowly. If he touches his chin, you touch your chin. When he changes position in his chair, slowly change your position to match his. Mimicking can move you closer to a sense of agreement without his ever realizing it.

Dream Big and Aim High: Always ask for what you want. When you do ask, aim high. It is much easier to come down from a position than to go up.

Poker Face: Don’t leave your poker face at home. In business dealings, use less emotion and direct your female brain to discerning the mood of everyone in the room. View every business situation as a negotiation that requires a steady hand and a clear, unemotional mind.

For More Information about Dr. Gearing, please go to

Source: “Code Switching: How to Talk So Men Will Listen,” Claire Damken Brown, Ph.D. and Audrey Nelson, Ph.D.

The New Sexual Harassment - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The New Sexual Harassment

October 14, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Sexual harassment has been a longstanding issue in a workplace that is now comprised of fifty percent women. However, there appears to be a new, much more subtle form of sexual harassment.

So you may be wondering, how real is this new form of sexual harassment?

It is quite real and it is proliferating due to our electronic networks and conversations. There is just so much room for misinterpreting a simple comment as sinister. On the other hand, there is also a lot of misbehavior and sexual harassment that can be hidden in such conversations.

According to research, we still view men and women differently in the workplace, especially in male dominated professions. Women must over-perform and female managers and supervisors are still expected to be more nurturing and supportive than their male counterparts (Rudman & Glick, 2008). Such expectations can be very awkward when your colleague or boss invites you to a private dinner or sends an inappropriate text.

Here’s how this new form of harassment is different from the old forms:

Not So Direct, Coarse or Directly Threatening: The new sexual harassment is not so direct, not so coarse and certainly not so directly threatening. The millions of dollars spent on educating corporate America has helped. However, subtle forms can be just as insidious.

Inappropriateness and Imbalance of Power: This new form of harassment emphasizes the imbalance of power by the inappropriateness of the request or comment. For example, your boss repeatedly comments on how fantastic you look while his eyes linger much too long or he may suggest you catch drinks alone late at night.

Setting a Boundary is Hard: Different from a direct threat, there is social capital lost if you retort with a boundary, however justified you may feel. Such pressure is often systematic and undermining and contributes to a hostile work environment.

Here are my tips and suggestions for avoiding these kinds of misunderstandings:

Watch Your Timing - Please do not email late at night from your personal email if you are saying anything about the other person, professional or not. Emailing at 4 A.M. might look a little weird if you are working that late. However, the email or text becomes a potential problem if it is too flattering, too personal or too self-disclosing. If this is a problem, invest in applications such as Gmail’s “Mail Goggles.” After a certain time of night, you have to solve three simple math problems within a time limit to send your e-mail. It’ll keep you safe and make you think twice.

Watch Your Facebook Posts - Social networking sites are great but do not post anything (pictures or text) that you don’t want an employer, your entire family, your first grade teacher and the local news to see. If you want a promotion, don’t put your latest bikini pictures online! Even if you dismantle a Facebook or other profile, don’t forget that images and information are still retrievable.

Find Romance Elsewhere - Please find your soul mate in the next building. When there is an imbalance in status and authority, there are unnecessary complications. Even when such relationships exist between colleagues, the legal challenges can be daunting for a company if someone is terminated. Such romances are great when you are dating and everything is rosy. However, such alliances can become a nightmare when you break up. Be smart.

Compliment in Person - It is much better to give a complement in person when the other person can read the non-verbal cues, tone and inflection and when there are witnesses. Compliments can be badly misinterpreted, especially when they are personal and about appearance or appeal. There is much less chance for miscommunications when accolades are given in person. However, the safest strategy is to restrict your praise to their work, their initiative and team contribution. If you must comment on their appearance, keep it simple and don’t stare.

Watch What You Write Down - Be very self protective about what you text or email in a business setting. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to anticipate who might misinterpret your words and bring an action. Don’t write anything down that you cannot defend easily.

Diffusing the Bomb - Every woman in the workplace has experienced unwanted attention from co-workers or superiors. Women must be adept at diffusing the political bomb that comes when a flirty comment is made in a business setting, especially when there is an imbalance of power. If someone crosses the line with a statement like “you looked hot today” you can reply with a cordial but clear message that you are remaining professional. Acknowledge the text or email but step past the comment and focus on the business issue. The absence of an inviting verbal volley will be noticed. Reply, but do not get entangled in the harassment.

Sources Include:

Forbes, com

The Social Psychology of Gender by Laurie A. Rudman and Peter Glick, The Guildford Press, 2008

Letterman's Infidelity - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Letterman’s Infidelity

October 7, 2009 

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News 

David Letterman’s startling admission of infidelity with co-workers once again raises the difficult question of why so many powerful men cheat. Former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, former presidential candidate John Edwards and South Carolina governor Mark Sanford are just a few public figures who have been in the news for marital infidelity.

Why do so many powerful men have affairs?

Huge Egos: Unfortunately, huge power is often accompanied by a huge ego. Powerful men are often experts at manipulating others into admiring and catering to them. Female subordinates find power intoxicating in men and are often willing participants. They disregard the fact that this is an affair and they are being used.

Thrill of the Forbidden Enticing: Affairs are a grand source of narcissism and flattery for both parties. Many powerful men become addicted to the thrill of the forbidden and become serial cheaters. They enjoy exercising their ability to acquire the sexual favors of others “just because they can.” They consider themselves entitled to extramarital activities.

Collateral Damage: They often fail to think of the emotional consequences to their own partner or to the affair partner since the affair is “all about them.” Anyone else’s feelings are simply collateral damage. Impulsivity, self indulgence, egotism mixed with a penchant for rationalizing can push many men into crossing the line.

Most of the marital couples in my office want to understand how these kinds of affairs begin and under what circumstances:

“I Met Her at Work:” Today's workplace is the most fertile breeding ground for affairs. Forty six percent of unfaithful wives and sixty two percent of unfaithful husbands have an affair with someone they met through their work.

Men Like to Look: Men are more turned on than women by visual stimuli. Affairs begin in the mind and the office setting now offers an abundance of beautiful, young, and attentive people with whom we spend the bulk of our waking hours.

Attraction Versus Adrenaline: Very few activities are more captivating than working hard together to achieve common goals. The pressures of teamwork and shared deadlines lead to that adrenaline rush. Sexual chemistry flourishes in high-pressure situations. Many of us misinterpret that sexual “rush” as attraction.

Most couples don’t understand how affairs can happen if they are “happily married.”

You can regard yourself as “happily married” but you may be misleading yourself. A lot of men and women who stray consider themselves victims of their insensitive spouse or imprisoned in a marriage that has grown more companionable than romantic. Such excuses are rationalizations for cheating. Remember that having an affair means that you are choosing to lie deliberately and systematically. No amount of marital neglect or incompatibility is a sufficient justification for this kind of betrayal. Leave your marriage before you cheat.

You may be wondering how affairs have changed over the years:

Infidelity has changed over the last ten years with more good people in marriages straying. They unwittingly form deep, passionate connections with people at work or in the neighborhood before realizing that they've crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love. In one study, 82% of 200 unfaithful partners were described as "just a friend” in the beginning. But let’s be honest, at some point you said “yes” when you should have said “no.”

A common belief is that infidelity automatically leads to divorce.

However, cheating is not an automatic death knell for your marriage. However, according to this latest poll, cheating is responsible for around 54% of divorces. In the end, most unfaithful people want to stay in their marriages and work hard to revive them. Almost seventy percent of Americans don’t want to lose their partner with men being a little more worried than women.

If you or your partner have strayed, here are some of the steps you should take:

Stop All Contact with the Affair Partner: Remember, history creates interest which creates opportunity. Stop all contact with the affair partner. Avoid at all costs any risky situations that could compromise your judgment. Remind yourself that just because there has been an attraction to this person, it does not mean that you are married to the wrong person.

Emotional Accountability: The number one predictor of marital survival following infidelity is the ability of the betrayer to be emotionally accountable.

Here are the steps of Emotional Accountability:

Remorse, Reparations and Restitution: He must be able to take responsibility for what he did and how he hurt his partner and his commitment to the marriage. Remorse now becomes a verb.

Acknowledging the Affair: They must be willing to repeatedly acknowledge their actions and to provide all details to help their partner’s healing.

Pledging to a New Transparent Marriage: He must pledge unyielding commitment to a new, transparent marriage. Reinvented marriages are often among the most successful since each partner has worked hard to rebuild the alliance.

For more information on Dr. Gearing, please go to


The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell

Ellis, B.J. and D. Symons. 1990. “Sex differences in sexual fantasy: An evolutionary psychological approach.” The Journal of Sex Research 27: 527-555.

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