Sixty-five percent of people in the white-collar world have workplace spouses. Jacqueline Olds, professor of psychiatry at Harvard, explains that because we spend so much time in the office, “these relationships can be critical to succeeding in today’s work environment.” CNN published a piece singing the praises of the workplace spouse, as “a wonderful support system among co-workers and makes a more productive worker.”

Like all other life-saving, confidence-bolstering types of relationships, workplace spouse relationships are more common among the more highly paid. This is why I should have a workplace spouse.

Plus, I'm lonely on the farm. The problem with being lonely on the farm is not that I can't find someone to cheat with. I'm a resourceful girl. The problem is that I wouldn't cheat because I'd end up trying to keep it a secret and then I'd tell the farmer and then he'd hate me even more than he probably hates me right now.

It's not that he hates me, actually. It's that he's sick of talking to me. He would like me to be more low maintenance. He does not want to talk and for sure is sick of me crying. So I am trying to stay away from him now. Read more

Throughout my career, men have helped me every step of the way. Sometimes it was when I asked for help. Sometimes they saw I needed help even before I did, and they were there.

So you might think this is December-is-full-of-good-cheer-post — you know, me thanking men for all they've done for me at work. But no. It's me asking for even more. It's my wish list for what else men could be doing.

This is not grand stuff. Okay. I mean, women are doing better in school than men, outearning men, and look, now even Time magazine says women don't need marriage as much as men do. So it's not like women are in trouble. But still, men could do some stuff to make life better for women at work.

Here are some suggestions: Read more

I’m always shocked to hear that people don't like brown-nosing. If I could do it, I definitely would. But as someone who has Asperger’s, brown-nosing always looks very difficult. So I have been looking for someone to teach me how to be better at brown-nosing, and finally, I found it.

First, here is research from James Westphal and Ithai Stern at Kellogg School of Management. They found that being adept at ingratiating behavior was the number-one factor for getting positions at the top of the corporate ladder.

This is not surprising to me. What is surprising is that the research comes with a how-to provided (perhaps inadvertently) by the American Bar Association Journal.

According to the study, here are the traits that are most likely to be rewarded.

1) Frame flattery as advice-seeking. For example, you can ask, “How were you able to close that deal so successfully?”

2) Argue before accepting a manager's opinion. Read more

You think it would be really fun to have sex with me. Because, I think you can tell from my posts, I’ll do anything. But maybe you can also tell from my posts that it’s a little bit weird. Because you know that I’ll say anything, too, but sometimes, I make you cringe.

I think I’m that way in bed, too.

This post is about work. And sex, which are two of the essential areas of life one needs to be able to function in before you can feel like a normal adult. And both sex and work are governed by a set of rules that many people are able to learn just by being in the world.

Asperger Syndrome compromises one’s ability to read nonverbal social cues. A simple example of this deficit is answering the question, “How are you?” It is loaded with so many nonverbal issues that I simply freeze. Even if you tell me, “Just say fine,” sometimes the situation looks special to me, and I can’t figure out why it’s special, so I can’t talk.

So I’ve spent my life teaching myself the rules for what to do in each social situation. I study people, make notes for myself, and then test the notes to see what other situations my notes apply to. To get a sense of how awkward this looks, here’s a video that is supposed to be a parody of people with Asperger’s interacting with each other. But my family has such a high proportion of people with Asperger’s that this video, honestly, is not far from what our life is like.

In my experience, the places with the most rules are work and sex. So, you can teach yourself the process of becoming better at work by applying the process of learning the rules about dating and sex. And vice versa. I, for example, am great at work rules and terrible at sex rules. So I teach myself using the reverse mechanism. Read more

Maybe the reason that young people are optimistic in the face of a poor job market is that young people can probably do your job better than older people can.

The truth is, non-gen-y-workers have a bunch of shortcomings when it comes to competing with today’s workforce. Management consultant Stephen Denning has a great little history of management in his new book, The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management. He points out that managers of the 20th century were trained to supervise people to get them to do stuff, to perform tasks. But now that most people are knowledge workers and not semi-skilled workers, we need managers who inspire, motivate, and encourage collaboration-managers, even, who care about the well-being of their employees and strive to make the workplace meaningful. And that’s not a corporate world where the older set is generally comfortable.

Yup, I’m arguing that Gen Y – that age-group that gets dumped on for acting all entitled – can teach everyone something about making it in the modern workforce. A lot, actually, because Gen Y is more prepared and has an advantage over older folks with far more experience. Here are areas where Gen Y can run circles around everyone at work: Read more

This is a guest post from Ali Brown.

Two months ago, I wasn’t satisfied with my job. I was a communications/administrative assistant. I’d been with the company almost two years, and it was clear there were no opportunities for advancement.

So, just weeks after turning 26 years old, I went to a temp staffing agency and I took a temp job..

I’m not a risk taker, and I was hesitant because accepting the new job meant giving up paid sick time, vacation time, and health insurance, which my employer paid for, and I have no guarantee that I’ll be employed in January.

But the enjoyment I have after a 10-hour day confirms that I made the right choice. And I’m not alone. Nearly 28,000 people became temporary workers in September, and I don’t think it’s all due to people not being able to find full-time work. I think it’s because in many cases, a temp job is better than a full-time job.

I know no one dreams of being a temp worker, but it might be the best alternative in today’s economy. Here’s why you should do what I did: Read more

Both WWII veterans I've known personally have largely ignored Veteran's Day. But I never thought about it, really. I thought it was a holiday for them, not me. Lately, though, I think I do have an opinion. I think there is plenty wrong with Veteran's Day.

1. What about all the other casualties of war?
For example, my mom and dad had me immediately after college graduation as a way to avoid the draft. I ask my mom and dad now how they could have been so incompetent as parents, yet so interesting in the world (really, everyone loves being around my mom, except her kids. It's uncanny.) They each say that they had kids too young. They were totally unprepared.

So I see the war ruining many lives at home, but we only talk about people who fought at the front. It doesn't make any sense to me. War ripples throughout society.

And what about all the women who keep things going while men go off to fight? What about the army wives who move their families around endlessly as the government moves their husbands? What about the kids who lived in 20 cities and never learned how to make a friend? What about the high divorce rate for people in the armed forces? Why are we only thanking veterans for giving their time? What about all the people who gave up safe, secure lives because one family member was in the armed forces? Read more

The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that meditating is not a high priority.

First of all, if you don't realize how much science there is behind meditation, you must be living under a rock. And the book I’m currently kvelling over, The Happiness Advantage, says that meditation, just five minutes a day, is one of the most reliable ways to increase our natural tendency toward happiness.

But I don't want to sound too girly when I tell you to meditate. So I'm telling you instead that the Marine Corps is using meditation to help troops cope with the stress of warfare. Imagine fifty guys sitting cross-legged, eyes shut, with a rifle in every lap. The Marines were totally skeptical at first, of course, but in Men's Journal (one of my favorite magazines) there's a great article by Vanessa Gregory about how the Marines became believers. (This article is not online. Annoying. So here’s a link to a Science Daily article about Marines meditating.)

Also, I don't want to sound like an overly spiritualized hippie cliche, so I’m also telling you that I learned to meditate when I was playing professional beach volleyball. Many professional athletes meditate because at that level, everyone has the skills to be the best, but only a few have the mental strength to use those skills in the toughest moments. Read more

Brazen Careerist Party in Washington, DC. Thursday, Nov. 11, 7pm at Lounge 201. You’re invited.

I always had this huge fantasy about how Brazen Careerist would sell for ten million bazillion dollars, and I would use the money to fly everyone I know to a huge party at some fun destination.

This is not that party. But we will be celebrating the company’s recent move to DC, which is one step closer to the company ruling the world. I can say ruling the world now that I am officially not trying to do that myself. But I’m still excited for there just to be a Brazen Careerist party.

Wait, I just noticed that there are very few opportunities for links in this kind of invitation-to-a-party post.

I have this friend who is constantly bugging me to link to her. And I say, “Shut up. My readers are not stupid. They are going to see a random link to you and think, “Penelope’s blog is going to hell.” Also, people sometimes complain to me that I have too many links to random stuff, and mostly I think, “Just don’t click on the links if you don’t like it.” And then someone reminds me about all the research I write about from Barry Schwartz and Dan Ariely about how too many choices drive people crazy, incapacitating them. Read more

It’s easy to conclude that this job market is terrible for everyone, even young people. But I don’t buy it. I think it’s very bad if you are old, and not so bad if you are young. And that we get a skewed view of the stress level out there because older people tend to run big news operations — offline and on — and really have no sense of how younger people are handling the downturn. Read more