TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Questions You Have to Ask During a Job Interview

Job interview
Getty Images

Don't be afraid to grill hiring managers. Chances are, they're hoping you will

Inc. logo

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Earlier this month, I was interviewing a prospective designer for my company. The candidate asked, “Who does wireframing for your app, the product team or the design team?” A simple question. But it kicked off a great discussion about our processes and how he could contribute to the team.

I remember thinking, “Hey, we are already working together…” This candidate is now an employee and a good fit for our company. His simple question opened the doors for us to have a genuine conversation about each other’s motivations, needs, passions, and work philosophies. In my 20-plus years in the recruitment industry, I am still surprised by how rare this crucial conversation is in a job interview.

There’s no doubt candidates who ask questions have a better chance at landing their dream job. Here are eight of the best questions I’ve heard from candidates:

1. What role will I fill?

When it comes to an employee’s role in a business’s strategy, the job title explains only so much. You are filling a void on the living, breathing team. Is this company hoping for an ideas person, a mentor to other employees, a creative force, a rule follower, a rule breaker? Get to the specifics of “who” your position is supposed to be.

2. Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?

Use this question to explore the expected level of engagement. Are you more comfortable being in a low- or a high-impact role? Do you want to be in a role that is universally respected within the company or are you OK being the undercover hero?

3. Who would my colleagues be?

The best interviews include three to four team members. If that is not the case in your interview, use this question to gain insight into team dynamics and personalities. These are the people you will spend every day with, so they need to pass what Tom Gimbel calls “the airplane test“—someone you would enjoy sitting next to on a long flight.

4. What would I be doing that makes your job easier?

This question has two benefits—you will find out who is going to lean on you the heaviest and what you will need to do to keep the other teammates happy. The answers to this question will be the immediate problems each team member is hoping you will solve.

5. What are additional important skills I will need to do this job well?

What are the soft skills needed for this particular job? Find out if the company needs someone who is also a self-starter or works well in teams. This is also an excellent time to bring up any additional skills you have that are appropriate for position.

6. How does the company measure success?

Identifying how your progress in this position will be measured will give you a better idea of whether or not you will be successful. Get specifics on what your deliverables will be per project. Ask about common work habits of people who have had this position in the past whom the company considered successful.

7. What would you expect from me this month, in three months, and in a year?

Chances are that your employer has a trajectory for your role in mind. Find out what you will need to deliver in the next coming months. Ask yourself if this pace feels doable for the way you work.

8. What is your mission?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask. Research shows that employees are most happy when their goals align with those of their employers. Get philosophical here and find out why you are both here in this room and if you want the same things.

Repeat your questions for each hiring manager you meet, because you will get different responses from different people. As a CEO, I am often the last person in the round of interviews. It happens time and time again that I will say, “Do you have any questions for me?” and get a polite “No, I got a lot of my questions answered.”

I didn’t get my questions answered though. Keep the conversation going. If you want to work for my company, you have to ask for it.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Hate Mornings? 6 Small Changes That Will Fix Everything

Lemon water
Getty Images

Here are quick remedies to the biggest obstacle to having a perfect day

Inc. logo

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

The first few minutes of your morning are the most important of your day and can set the tone for positivity and productivity. Ideally, you have an app or clock that taps into your natural circadian rhythm and wakes you during your “best time” within a certain window. Getting jarred out of a deep REM slumber to the sound of a blaring alarm clock sets you up for a negative day brimming with fatigue and crankiness.

But getting the right alarm clock is only part of the battle.

Here are six ways to start your morning better while kicking bad habits that destroy good sleep hygiene.

1. Give yourself at least 15 minutes of no screen time

Besides turning off an alarm that might be on your phone, resist the urge to check your email or social media. It sets you up for a day of being enslaved to technology, and your morning time should be reserved just for you. This might mean disabling notifications on your home screen so you’re not tempted by that Facebook update or mounting emails.

2. Swap out the coffee for lemon water

Lukewarm water with a fresh lemon squeezed into it has numerous benefits–but you need to drink it first thing in the morning. It starts your metabolism, which burns fat while sustaining muscle, cleanses your mouth and throat, and gives you a boost of energy. Then wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, drinking, or eating. This might be a toughie for caffeine addicts, but you can manage 30 minutes and it’s a great way to reduce the need for a coffee fix.

3. Sit up correctly

There are many “bad ways” to get out of bed, but only one best way, if your body allows for it: Roll over onto your right side, then push yourself up into a sitting position before standing with a straight back (no hunching). It’s the gentlest way to get up, takes the pressure off your heart and back, and is a great, easy ritual to start your morning right.

4. Set and affirm your goals for the day

While stretching in bed or prepping your lemon water, set some feasible goals for the day, but limit them to three. This might include packing your lunch instead of eating out to save money, committing to that noon yoga class, or scheduling the doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off.

5. Stretch

It seems so obvious, and yet so many people ignore it. You can do this in bed, using a simple stretched-out-legs-and-arms-overhead movement. You can indulge in a supine twist on a padded floor, or you can practice whatever feels right for as little or as long as you like. Your body’s just been booted down for hours–you can’t expect it to be warmed up, energized, and raring to go right away.

6. Meditate

Don’t skip over this one just because it sounds boring or like you don’t have time for it. Meditation is only as strict, long, short, boring, or annoying as you make it. A “successful” meditation in an entire lifetime might be only a few seconds. However, sitting in a comfortable position and focusing on clearing your mind–even if it’s for less than a minute–can help your mental clarity and spiritual well-being and set the stage for the day.

You probably already know which morning habits aren’t serving you, so why keep doing them? Instead, focus on what really makes your mornings better and prioritize them.

TIME psychology

What Are the 3 Steps to Becoming Stress-Proof?

Pink balloon between two sets of nails
Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

1) Know What Really Works

Most of the things you instinctively do to relieve stress don’t work.

Via The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It:

The APA’s national survey on stress found that the most commonly used strategies were also rated as highly ineffective by the same people who reported using them. For example, only 16 percent of people who eat to reduce stress report that it actually helps them. Another study found that women are most likely to eat chocolate when they are feeling anxious or depressed, but the only reliable change in mood they experience from their drug of choice is an increase in guilt.

So what does work?

According to the American Psychological Association, the most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising or playing sports, praying or attending a religious service, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going outside for a walk, meditating or doing yoga, and spending time with a creative hobby. (The least effective strategies are gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, eating, playing video games, surfing the Internet, and watching TV or movies for more than two hours.)

2) It’s All About A Feeling Of Control

As is often said, stress isn’t about what happens to you, it’s how you react to it. This is true.

We’re not as stressed when we feel in control. Again, the emphasis is on feel. Even illusory feelings of control can eliminate stress. (This is the secret to why idiots and crazy people may feel far less stress than those who see a situation clearly.)

Anything that increases your perception of control over a situation — whether it actually increases your control or not — can substantially decrease your stress level.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

Steve Maier at the University of Boulder, in Colorado, says that the degree of control that organisms can exert over something that creates stress determines whether the stressor alters the organism’s functioning. His findings indicate that only uncontrollable stressors cause deleterious effects. Inescapable or uncontrollable stress can be destructive, whereas the same stress that feels escapable is less destructive, significantly so… Over and over, scientists see that the perception of control over a stressor alters the stressor’s impact.

Why do people choose to become entrepreneurs when working for yourself often means more hours for less money? Control:

A number of studies show “work-life balance” as the main reason people start their own small businesses. Yet small business owners often work more hours, for less money, than in corporate life. The difference? You are able to make more of your own choices.

Do things that increase your control of a situation ahead of time. According to one study, the stress management technique that worked best was deliberately planning your day so that stress is minimized.

The best way to reduce job stress is to get a clear idea of what is expected of you.

The trick to not worrying about work stuff while at home is to make specific plans to address concerns before you leave the office.

3) You Need Some Stress To Be Your Best.

Heavy time pressure stresses you out and kills creativity. On the other hand, having no deadlines is not optimal either. Low-to-moderate time pressure produces the best results.

Via The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work:

If managers regularly set impossibly short time-frames or impossibly high workloads, employees become stressed, unhappy, and unmotivated—burned out. Yet, people hate being bored. it was rare for any participant in our study to report a day with very low time pressure, such days—when they did occur—were also not conducive to positive inner work life. In general, then, low-to-moderate time pressure seems optimal for sustaining positive thoughts, feelings, and drives.

In his book The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin discusses one of the key elements that pro athletes like Jordan use to perform at their peak: spontaneous relaxation.

“…one of the most telling features of a dominant performer is the routine use of recovery periods.”

They’re not Zen masters who experience no stress. Far from it. But they’ve taught themselves to turn it on and off. The pros are able to fully relax during the briefest periods of rest. This prevents them from burning out during hours of play.

Via The Art of Learning:

The physiologists at LGE had discovered that in virtually every discipline, one of the most telling features of a dominant performer is the routine use of recovery periods. Players who are able to relax in brief moments of inactivity are almost always the ones who end up coming through when the game is on the line… Remember Michael Jordan sitting on the bench, a towel on his shoulders, letting it all go for a two-minute break before coming back in the game? Jordan was completely serene on the bench even though the Bulls desperately needed him on the court. He had the fastest recovery time of any athlete I’ve ever seen.

One Last Thing:

I’m stressed RIGHT NOW!!! What’s the quickest, easiest thing to do?!?!?!

Watching a video of a cute animal can reduce heart rate and blood pressure in under a minute.

Via Richard Wiseman’s excellent book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:

In an innovative study, Deborah Wells examined whether merely looking at a video of an animal can have the same type of calming and restorative effects as those created by being in its company… compared to the two control conditions, all three animal videos made the participants feel much more relaxed. To help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure in less than a minute, go online and watch a video of a cute animal.

Here you go:

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Join 25K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

Related posts:

During what average daily activity are you most likely to be full of potential creativity?

5 reasons why humor is more powerful than you would ever guess

Why do life-threatening situations make some people more calm?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

How to Turn Your Inbox Into a Work of Art

Computers email symbol
Getty Images

Labels, labels, labels

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

I don’t want to brag, but my email inbox is one of my most complimented possessions. It baffles me when people regularly say things like, “It got lost in my inbox,” or “I have 839 unread emails.” How do you survive? How can you be productive with that kind of virtual baggage hanging over your head all day? That said, I know things can get out of hand and there are people in the world who receive far more emails than me. But with a combination of time-saving and simple labeling tactics, you too can have an email inbox that’s the envy of all your frazzled friends.

1. Get Gmail.

It was Angela from the appropriately short-lived Bravo show Gallery Girls who once declared that she would only date someone who had an iPhone and a Gmail account. I’m not saying I agree with her because that girl was a lunatic, but Gmail is king for a reason. If you’re still slumming it on Optimum Online or Hotmail, I can’t help you. Get a gmail address, it’s well worth it.

2. Enjoy your new automatic filter.

Once you’ve just switched to a Gmail account per my advice, you’ll notice that Gmail automatically categorizes your email into three tabs: Primary, Social, and Promotions. This will instantaneously make your life better. (Unless you’re an email marketer, in which case it makes your life a little bit harder.)

Screen shot 2014-10-05 at 4.59.01 PM.png

This beautiful Gmail development automatically separates out any emails from Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, GoodReads, and the like into your Social tab, and anything related to your online shopping habit (speaking for myself now) into Promotions. Boom, automatic improvement.

3. Labels, labels, labels.

Here’s a little look into my soul, also known as my email labels. It turns out this list is a pretty accurate representation of my priorities, each job and project with a different label. This is actually a new account for me, but in college I had label groupings as well—so inside of “My Projects,” for example, there would be a whole list of specific projects.

labels.png

This way, my inbox is cleared of everything except items that are in process or still require an action or response. Anything I may need for reference later, but am currently done with goes straight into the archives, and anything else goes straight to Trash. At any given time I have less than 50 emails in my inbox, and it’s beautiful.

(MORE: How to Write a Cold Call Email)

4. Filter your incoming messages.

Open an email from someone who you communicate with often. Hit “More,” “Filter Messages Like These,” “Create Filter With This Search,” “Apply the label…” Don’t forget to “also apply filter to matching conversations.” Now whenever that particular person sends you an email, it will automatically be marked with your label of choice. You can create filters based on other characteristics as well, but sender tends to be the simplest. At this point I receive very few emails that aren’t automatically labeled.

5. Delete like you’re on hoarders.

I’m warning you because I definitely do this: Don’t get too archive-happy. I know it feels nice to use all these pretty labels you’ve set up for yourself, but most of the time when you’re finished with something, you can just trash it.

6. Designate specific time for email.

This is a time-saving tip I got from the amazing Kate White. Even though I know how difficult it can be, don’t try to respond to emails constantly. Instead of wasting time every five minutes reading emails when you don’t actually have time to respond, set aside time in 15 (or more) minute intervals to read, delete, label and archive, or respond and take action to your incoming emails. By doing this, you’ll ensure that you only handle each email you receive once. You see it, read it, take whatever action is necessary, and move on to the next. Otherwise, you end up wasting time re-reading emails and also run the risk of missing something when you look at it on the go and think, “Oh yeah, I’ll get to that later.”

7. Don’t respond to email on your phone.

This one is straight from another email pro, Carly Heitlinger, also known as the College Prepster. “99.9% of the time, a response can wait,” she writes. “Typos always happen from phone and it’s too easy to misread something, not check my calendar properly and send out wrong information, or forget to reply to the whole thread.” Yes, yes, a million times yes.

(MORE: A Clever Way to Cut Down on Email)

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Things You Should Be Doing to Have an Insanely Productive Week

To do list
Getty Images

A few pointers that could radically change your week

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

A productive week depends largely on what you focus on every working day and how much time you allocate to activities that take up your time (i.e. busy work). Working harder does not necessarily mean you are being productive. There will always be a better way to complete that task. Find it, work smarter and get more done in your working week.

These are a few things can do to have an insanely productive week this and every other week.

1. Stop planning, start doing.

It’s okay to make time to plan what needs to be done in the week or month but when you get back to the planning table often, you lose precious productive hours.

So instead of plan, just do it. The option to work on a task in the future instead of now seem comfortable but not prudent. While you keep telling yourself you don’t have to do it now, that task won’t go away. And somebody will have to eventually account for it. So instead of procrastinating, get on with it and check it off your to-do list.

Related: 8 Steps to Having Wildly Productive Mornings

Also, are your meetings really worthwhile? Most people spend too much time in meetings, when they should be working and getting things done. To ensure you are making the most of your time, create a time budget. This will help you realize how much time you are losing to meetings or planning when you should be doing actual work. You will be surprised at how much you can get done every week if you start tracking how much time you spend planning or meeting.

2. You don’t have to say “yes” to every request.

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.” — Warren Buffet.

Saying “yes” to a request seem easier than a simple “no”. Yet every time you agree to do something for somebody that brings low or no result, it makes it difficult to have a schedule you can really control. You don’t want that. You can achieve more if you know what you have to do, when you have to it and what you expect to accomplish. All that can be done in controlled schedule.

3. Don’t be a perfectionist.

If you keep chasing perfection, it could take you longer to get your tasks done – and you will most likely be less productive than you planned. The reason being is when you activity strive for perfection you spend more time on a single task than required, causing your other responsibilities to get pushed back. This will cause you to lose time and possibly annoy your immediate boss in the process. Perfectionism is even higher when you don’t account to anyone but yourself, as the fine tuning never ends.

Related: 10 Ways to Become the Most Productive Person Around

4. Get everything out of your head.

Don’t rely heavily on your memory. It will fail you when you need it most. Instead, write things down.

There are hundreds of options for taking notes — everything from the good old sticky notes to applications like Evernote, Any.do, andWunderlist. By jotting down everything that needs to get done in the week, you will have a better picture of what needs to be accomplished – and set priorities accordingly.

5. Review and measure your accomplishments.

Just before you close the week and prepare for next week, review your achievements, along with everything else that needed to be done, to see if you really got work done. Get back to your to-do list and check them off and find out what you were not able to do and why. Celebrate your accomplishments, take note of everything you postponed and learn from your mistakes. You will be better prepared for the following week.

Related: 4 Ways to Max Out the 40-Hour Workweek

TIME leadership

The 10 Worst States for Women

Woman in glasses
Getty Images

The United States is one of just a handful of nations where maternal mortality actually rose over the last decade

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

Based on recently released Census Bureau data, women made up almost half of the workforce last year. Yet, even working full-time and year-round, they were paid only 79 cents for every dollar men made. The wage gap varies considerably between states. Women receive 86 cents for every dollar men make in New York, for example, while in Louisiana, women are paid just 66% of what men earn.

Income inequality is only one of the challenges women face. Across the nation, women are less likely to serve in leadership roles both in the private and public sectors. Health outcomes among female populations also vary considerably between states. Based on 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis, Mississippi is the worst state for women in the nation.

Click here to see the 10 worst states for women

In all of the worst rated states, women were less likely than their male peers to hold private sector management positions. In two of the worst states — South Dakota and Utah — women held fewer than one in three management jobs. According to Ariane Hegewisch, study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women are discriminated not just in base pay, but also lack career opportunities available to men. “A lot of [the wage gap] is also promotions, recruitments, and networking,” Hegewisch said. Perceptions of performance can also be affected by gender, meaning “the more the pay is related to performance and bonuses, the bigger the wage gap.”

Women in the worst rated states were also less likely to have leadership roles in government compared to women in the rest of the country. Only six of the 10 states had any female representation in Congress. Many of these states were among the nation’s worst for female representation in their own state legislatures as well. State Senates usually have between 30 and 50 Senators. Of the 10 states on this list, however, only Kansas had more than 10 female senators.

While the United States is among the most developed countries in the world, it was one of just a handful of nations where maternal mortality actually rose over the last decade, according to a recent study published in The Lancet, a respected medical journal. Pregnancy related mortality rates vary considerably between states.

To determine the worst states for women, 24/7 Wall St. developed on a methodology based on the Center for American Progress’ 2013 report, “The State of Women in America.”

We divided a range of variables into three major categories: economy, leadership, and health. Data in the economy category came from the U.S. Census Bureau and included male and female median earnings, the percent of children enrolled in state pre-kindergarten, state spending per child enrolled in pre-kindergarten, and education attainment rates. The leadership category included data on the percent of women in management occupations from the Census. It also includes the share of state and federal legislators who are women, and states that currently have female governors. The health section incorporated Census data on the percent of women who were uninsured as well as life expectancy. Infant and maternal mortality rates came from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Data on the expansion of Medicaid, as policies towards maternity leave, sick days, and time off from work came from the National Partnership for Women and Families.

State rankings on each of these measures were averaged to determine a score for each category. Possible scores ranged from 1 (best) to 50 (worst). The three category scores were averaged to create an indexed value that furnished our final ranking.

These are the 10 worst states for women.

10. Kansas
> Gender wage gap: 79 cents per dollar (25th best)
> Poverty rate, women: 15.2% (23rd lowest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 24.8% (25th highest)
> Infant mortality rate: 7.5 per 1,000 births (15th highest)

A typical man in Kansas earned $45,463 last year. The median earnings among women in the state, on the other hand, were just $35,869, or 79% of male earnings. The ratio was roughly in line with that of the nation. In addition to economic inequality, women in Kansas were far less likely than women in other states to hold leadership roles. Nearly 64% of management positions, for example, were held by men, one of the higher rates nationwide. Women, by contrast, held 36.2% of management occupations, one of the lower rates. Unlike the majority of the worst states for women, however, Kansas has a fair number of female state-level politicians. Of the 40 state senators, 12 are women, more than all but a handful of states.

ALSO READ: The 10 States With the Worst Quality of Life

9. Alabama
> Gender wage gap: 79 cents per dollar (12th worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 20.5% (5th highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 14.3% (4th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 9.2 per 1,000 births (2nd highest)

With just five women out of 35 in the Alabama State Senate, and just 15 women out of 105 members in Alabama’s House of Representatives, few states have less of a female presence in their legislature. Alabama also ranks poorly in several measures of health that impact women. The state had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, with 9.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Alabama also had one of the lowest female life expectancies in the country, at 78.2 years as of 2010. The state also lacks any of the family-friendly workplace health policies identified by the National Partnership for Women and Families.

8. Indiana
> Gender wage gap: 74 cents per dollar (7th worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 17.5% (20th highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 20.0% (16th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 7.4 per 1,000 births (16th highest)

While nationwide women earned roughly 80% of a man’s salary last year, women in Indiana earned less than three-quarters of a man’s wages, one of the worst pay gaps nationwide. Child rearing may be occupying what might otherwise be paid labor for women in Indiana, as the state offers little support for new mothers. State-funded preschool is not available for children under five years old. Also, less than 25% of women had completed at least a bachelor’s degree as of last year, one of the worst rates in the country and much lower than the nearly 30% of women nationwide.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME psychology

How to Get Respect: 5 Points Backed by Science

Hand shake
Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

We all want to know how to get respect.

Research shows respect is key to both your love life and your career.

But it’s difficult. Others size you up very quickly. For instance, people evaluate how attractive you are in 13 milliseconds. Yes, milliseconds.

And first impressions matter more than you think. They’re the most important part of any job interview. And once set, they’re hard to change.

So how do you get respect? Let’s look at the research and see what works — and what doesn’t.

1) Power Is Respected… But There’s A Catch.

What makes us happier: money or power? Power. Do we prefer money or status? Status.

What do children say they want more than anything when they grow up? Fame.

Paraphrasing Machiavelli: if you have to choose between being loved or feared, pick feared.

Yeah, power gets you respect. So if you can make a billion dollars or become an international sensation by Thursday I highly recommend it.

But powerful people often behave badly. Power reduces empathy and often causes us to dehumanize others.

In fact, one of the most recognizable signs that someone is powerful is that they break rules. Why? They can get away with it.

And often this works in reverse — when we see someone who has the gall to break rules we assume they must be powerful.

Anger conveys competence. Narcissists are more likely to get promotions. Jerks earn more money:

…men who measured below average on agreeableness earned about 18% more—or $9,772 more annually in their sample—than nicer guys. Ruder women, meanwhile, earned about 5% or $1,828 more than their agreeable counterparts… “Nice guys are getting the shaft,” says study co-author Beth A. Livingston, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

And these negative characteristics are valuable in some roles:

Several of the 12 “dark side” traits – such as those associated with narcissism, being overly dramatic, being critical of others and being extremely focused on complying with rules – actually had a positive effect on a number of facets of the cadets’ leadership development over time… “it appears that even negative characteristics can be adaptive in particular settings or job roles.”

In fact, research shows feeling powerless makes you dumber.

But respect gained through power and bad behavior comes at a cost.

Not laughing at other people’s jokes does make you seem more powerful. It also reduces social bonding.

Refuse to be impressed by others’ achievements? Definitely powerful. And in relationship research it’s classified as “destructive” behavior.

Congratulations, you’re killing your relationships and alienating the people closest to you.

What about the workplace? Do you need to strut around the office to show people who’s boss?

Research from Harvard shows people would rather work with a lovable fool than a competent jerk — even if they won’t admit it:

How-To-Get-Respect

Powerful people don’t listen. And doctors who don’t listen get sued more often. Intimidating leaders actually reduce team performance.

(To learn what the most successful people have in common, click here.)

Appearing powerful definitely gets you respect — but potentially at a very high cost. Is it better to just be nice?

2) We Love Mr. Nice Guy… Sometimes.

Can you be nice and get respect? Many people immediately think “nice guys finish last.” You’ll get walked on.

But research from Wharton professor Adam Grant shows “givers” are disproportionately represented at the top of success metrics.

But in some professions, like the military, you have to be tough… right?

Shawn Achor, author of the excellent book The Happiness Advantage, points out that top leaders in the Navy are supportive:

In the U.S. Navy, researchers found, annual prizes for efficiency and preparedness are far more frequently awarded to squadrons whose commanding officers are openly encouraging. On the other hand, the squadrons receiving the lowest marks in performance are generally led by commanders with a negative, controlling, and aloof demeanor.

Stanford’s Bob Sutton shows that when bosses say “thank you,” employees work 50% harder.

Powerful people won’t admit they don’t know something and don’t ask for help. They might look weak. But they also don’t learn anything.

The best way to learn also turns out to be a powerful influence tactic: just ask for advice.

How do expert FBI hostage negotiators get what they want? Listening and empathy.

Studies show nice guys have higher quality friendships, are better parents, have better academic and career performance, as well as better health:

…agreeableness, one of the Big Five personality dimensions, is linked with higher-quality friendships, successful parenting, better academic and career performance, and health… Based on the review of the literature, it is postulated that being agreeable may be the path to enduring interpersonal relationships, happiness, success, and well-being.

So is it just that simple? Be nice all the time? Sadly, no.

While givers do make the top of success metrics, they are also disproportionately found at the bottom:

What I find across various industries, and various studies is the Givers are most likely to end up at the bottom. That’s primarily because they end up putting other people first in ways that either burn them out, or will allow them to get taken advantage of and exploited by Takers.

While we have a great deal to learn from total altruists, it’s a dangerous path. In some cases, yes, “Nice guys do finish last.”

(For Adam Grant’s tips on how you can be nice while protecting yourself from being taken advantage of, click here.)

Research shows not being aggressive limits goal achievement but being very aggressive hurts relationships. So what should we do?

3) It’s A Balance

We don’t merely respect people because of power… or just because of kindness.

Research shows we judge people on the qualities of competence and warmth:

Social psychologist Cuddy, an assistant professor of business administration, investigates how people perceive and categorize others. Warmth and competence, she finds, are the two critical variables. They account for about 80 percent of our overall evaluations of people…

But the tricky part is we always assume a trade-off between the two: more competent means less warm, more warm means less competent.

This idea of balance is pervasive. What happens when you see that uber-perfect person screw up a bit?

You actually like them more because it makes them human.

The best leaders are a balance. Not too assertive, but not too passive. They must juggle kindness and toughness:

“If you’re too soft—no matter how competent and able you are—people may not respect your authority. But if you only have dominance and you don’t have great ideas, and you use force to stay in power, then people will resent you,” he concludes. “Being successful as a leader requires one to have both dominance and prestige.”

Harvard leadership professor Gautam Mukunda explains great leaders have supreme confidence — and humility. (Skip to 4:15.)

Of course, riding that line is extremely difficult. And there are biases that make it even harder.

When men show anger they’re seen as competent. But women displaying the exact same behavior are perceived negatively.

And on the flip side, society tells men it’s okay to be vulnerable and open up — but then punishes them for it. (Skip to 16:15.)

(For more on what the best leaders have in common, click here.)

Becoming someone who truly embodies all these qualities sounds impossible, right? Can’t we just fake it?

You can… but that’s tricky too.

4) Don’t Be A Method Actor

“Fake it until you make it.” A little of that is only natural. But I’m seeing it reach a whole new level: out-and-out acting and utter manipulation.

And it’s a mistake. People think they’re going to act powerful and tough get a reaction like this:

What they end up doing is losing friends and gaining allies who will only be allies as long as there’s something to be gained.

And those who show Machiavellian kindness often suffer a worse fate —trust is easy to lose and hard to regain.

But perhaps that sounds pious. Here’s a more concrete reason: it doesn’t work — or at least not for long.

In five minutes people can size you up with about 70% accuracy:

Across a wide range of studies, Ambady and Rosenthal found that observations lasting up to five minutes had an average correlation of r = .39 with subsequent behavior, which corresponds to 70 percent accuracy at predicting outcomes…

Maybe you enjoy gambling but I don’t like those odds — especially over the long haul.

Unless you have an Oscar for acting, faking for big stretches of time is hard. In fact, research shows acting smart makes you look stupid.

The only way to convincingly change how you’re perceived is to do it from the inside. (We often call this “being delusional.”)

And what’s even more insidious is that over time, we can become what we imitate.

Harvard leadership expert Gautam Mukunda, author of Indispensable, spoke about the limitations of impression management:

You’re performing. If you perform for long enough you can begin to inhabit the role. You can begin to change who you are… When you’re acting out these roles, what you’ve got to remember is you are changing yourself. Over time you will change yourself into that person, so it had better be the person you genuinely want to be.

(For more on the techniques of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.)

Being a powerful jerk is a risky tradeoff — but so is being a total nice guy. And balancing is really, really hard.

So when we pull all this together what really is the best way to get respect?

5) How To Get Respect

You don’t need to strut around like a jerk but we can learn something from powerful people: confidence is vital.

People love confidence so much that we sometimes prefer those who talk a good game over those who produce quantifiable results.

So be moderately overconfident. See the world accurately but have belief in your abilities.

And what’s the best route to this? Work hard and become an expert at your job. Competence breeds real confidence. A feeling of control kills fear.

But be warm.

This is what we can learn from the nice guys. And don’t fake it. You can learn to be more compassionate. Karma works and kindness scales.

It all starts with self-knowledge. Gautam Mukunda explains:

Changing yourself is not inauthentic. Part of what people do is they change. They evolve, they can grow, and they can change themselves.

So what it is to be authentic? It doesn’t mean you can’t change, but it does mean that the changes that you make, again, have to be aligned with the sense of who you really are, and who you want to be.

In fact, research shows that when you try to be your best self, you end up presenting your true self:

In sum, positive self-presentation facilitates more accurate impressions, indicating that putting one’s best self forward helps reveal one’s true self.

Don’t be a total jerk and don’t be an utter pushover. And don’t be a method actor.

Be the best version of who you are.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Join over 100,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

Related posts:

What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life?

How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails

4 Lifehacks From Ancient Philosophers That Will Make You Happier

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 States Where Life Is Just the Best Right Now

United States of America on Blackboard
Getty Images

Based on the nine determinants of well-being—education, jobs, income, safety, health, environment, civic engagement, accessibility to services and housing

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

The United States is one of the world’s most prosperous economies, with a gross domestic product that exceeded that of any other country last year. However, a vibrant economy alone does not ensure all residents are well off. In a recent study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), U.S. states underperformed their regional counterparts in other countries in a number of important metrics that gauge well-being.

The OECD’s newly released study, “How’s Life in Your Region?: Measuring Regional and Local Well-Being for Policy Making,” compares nine important factors that contribute to well-being. Applying an equal weight to each of these factors, 24/7 Wall St. rated New Hampshire as the best state for quality of life.

Click here to see the 10 states with the best quality of life.

Click here to see the 10 states with the worst quality of life.

Monica Brezzi, author of the report and head of regional statistics at the OECD, told 24/7 Wall St. considering different dimensions of well-being at the regional level provides a way to identify “where are the major needs where policies can intervene.” Brezzi said that, in some cases, correcting one truly deficient measure can, in turn, lead to better results in others.

In order to review well-being at the regional level, the OECD used only objective data in its report, rather than existing survey data. Brezzi noted that current international studies that ask people for their opinion on important measures of well-being often do not have enough data to be broken down by region.

For example, one of the nine measures, health, is based on the mortality rate and life expectancy in each region, rather than on asking people if they feel well. Similarly, another determinant of well-being, safety, is measured by the homicide rate rather than personal responses as to whether people feel safe where they live.

Based on her analysis, Brezzi identified one area where American states are exceptionally strong. “All the American states rank in the top 20% of OECD regions in income,” Brezzi said. Massachusetts — one of 24/7 Wall St.’s highest-rated states — had the second-highest per capita disposable household income in the nation, at $38,620. This also placed the state among the top 4% of regions in all OECD countries.

However, the 50 states are also deficient in a number of key metrics for well-being. “With the exception of Hawaii, none of the American states are in the top 20% for health or for safety across the OECD regions,” Brezzi said. Minnesota, for instance, was rated as the third best state for health, with a mortality rate of 7.5 deaths per 1,000 residents and a life expectancy of 81.1 years. However, this only barely placed Minnesota among the top third of all regions in the OECD. Similarly, New Hampshire — which was rated as the safest state in the country, and was 24/7 Wall St.’s top state for quality of life — was outside the top third of all regions for safety.

Across most metrics the 50 states have improved considerably over time. Only one of the nine determinants of well-being, jobs, had worsened in most states between 2000 and 2013. Brezzi added that not only was the national unemployment rate higher in 2013 than in 2000, but “this worsening of unemployment has also come together with an increase in the disparities across states.”

Based on the OECD’s study, “How’s Life in Your Region?: Measuring Regional and Local Well-being for Policy Making,” 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states with the best quality of life. We applied an equal weight to each of the nine determinants of well-being — education, jobs, income, safety, health, environment, civic engagement, accessibility to services and housing. Each determinant is constituted by one or more variables. Additional data on state GDP are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and are current as of 2013. Further figures on industry composition, poverty, income inequality and health insurance coverage are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. Data on energy production come from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and represent 2012 totals.

These are the 10 states with the best quality of life.

10. Wisconsin
> Employment rate: 74.8% (9th highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $29,536 (23rd highest)
> Homicide rate: 2.72 per 100,000 people (15th lowest)
> Voter turnout: 73.6% (2nd highest)

Based on nine distinct well-being measures, Wisconsin is one of the top states in the nation for quality of life. Like nearly all top-ranked states, Wisconsin’s housing score was quite high. A typical home had 2.7 rooms per person. Additionally, nearly three-quarters of households had broadband Internet access, both among the higher rates nationwide. Residents are also more politically active than people in a majority of states. The state reported a 74% voter turnout rate, better than almost every other state.

9. Washington
> Employment rate: 67.8% (21st lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $31,307 (16th highest)
> Homicide rate: 2.55 per 100,000 people (11th lowest)
> Voter turnout: 65.6% (16th highest)

Nearly four in five Washington residents had broadband Internet access last year, tied with New Hampshire for the highest rate in the country. Washingtonians also enjoy exceptional air quality and a relatively healthy environment. Just 4.1 mg of airborne dangerous particulate matter per cubic meter was recorded in the state, nearly the lowest level of pollution measured. Washington also leads the nation for renewable energy production, with more than 1,012 trillion BTUs produced in 2012, far more than any other state.

ALSO READ: America’s 50 Best Cities to Live

8. Maine
> Employment rate: 72.7% (11th highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $28,333 (22nd lowest)
> Homicide rate: 1.88 per 100,000 people (8th lowest)
> Voter turnout: 68.6% (9th highest)

Based on OECD metrics, Maine — which advertises itself as “Vacationland” — is far more than merely a tourist destination. Like more than half of the best states for quality of life, Maine received a nearly perfect score for its housing. Maine homes had an average of nearly three rooms per person, more than all but one other state. Spacious households are likely favored by Maine residents as the state’s long winter can keep people indoors for long periods. And while heating costs can be a burden, falling U.S. crude oil prices have considerably reduced the financial strain of buying home heating oil, which is more-widely used in Maine than in any other state.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

6 Strange But True Health Tips

Plate, kinfe and fork made up of food
Getty Images

Grabbing a 100-calorie snack pack of cookies or pretzels may seem virtuous, but it's more likely to make you hungrier than if you ate something more substantial

Many methods to improve your health are pretty straightforward: to lose weight, eat less and exercise more; to boost your energy, get more sleep; to prevent dehydration, drink more water. Others, however, are totally counterintuitive. The following tips really do work—but they may leave you scratching your head.

Drink coffee to have a better nap

In a Japanese study that examined how to make the most of a nap, people who took a “coffee nap”—consuming about 200 milligrams of caffeine (the amount in one to two cups of coffee) and then immediately taking a 20-minute rest—felt more alert and performed better on computer tests than those who only took a nap.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine

Why does this work? A 20-minute nap ends just as the caffeine kicks in and clears the brain of a molecule called adenosine, maximizing alertness. “Adenosine is a byproduct of wakefulness and activity,” says Allen Towfigh, MD, medical director of New York Neurology & Sleep Medicine. “As adenosine levels increase, we become more fatigued. Napping clears out the adenosine and, when combined with caffeine, an adenosine-blocker, further reduces its effects and amplifies the effects of the nap.”

For healthy teeth, don’t brush after eating

Don’t brush your teeth immediately after meals and drinks, especially if they were acidic. Acidic foods—citrus fruits, sports drinks, tomatoes, soda (both diet and regular)—can soften tooth enamel “like wet sandstone,” says Howard R. Gamble, immediate past president of the Academy of General Dentistry. Brushing your teeth at this stage can speed up acid’s effect on your enamel and erode the layer underneath. Gamble suggests waiting 30 to 60 minutes before brushing.

HEALTH.COM: 20 Things That Can Ruin Your Smile

To wear a smaller size, gain weight

Muscle weight, that is. If two women both weigh 150 pounds and only one lifts weights, the lifter will more likely fit into a smaller pant size than her sedentary counterpart. Likewise, a 150-pound woman who lifts weights could very well wear the same size as a 140-pound woman who doesn’t exercise. The reason: Although a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of muscle, muscle takes up less space, says Mark Nutting, fitness director of SACO Sport & Fitness in Saco, Maine. “You can get bigger muscles and get smaller overall if you lose the fat,” he says. “The bulk so many women fear only occurs if you don’t lose fat and develop muscle on top of it.” Cut back on calories and add weight to your workout to lose inches.

To eat less, eat more

Grabbing a 100-calorie snack pack of cookies or pretzels may seem virtuous, but it’s more likely to make you hungrier than if you ate something more substantial, says Amy Goodson, RD, dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine. “Eating small amounts of carbohydrates does nothing but spike your blood sugar and leave you wanting more carbs.” Goodson recommends choosing a protein such as peanut butter or string cheese with an apple. “They are higher in calories per serving, but the protein and fat helps you get full faster and stay full longer—and you end up eating fewer calories overall,” she says.

HEALTH.COM: 17 High-Protein Snacks That Speed Up Weight Loss

Skip energy drinks when you’re tired

Energy drinks contain up to five times more caffeine than coffee, but the boost they provide is fleeting and comes with unpleasant side effects like nervousness, irritability, and rapid heartbeat, says Goodson. Plus, energy drinks often contain high levels of taurine, a central nervous system stimulant, and upwards of 50 grams of sugar per can (that’s 13 teaspoons worth!). The sweet stuff spikes blood sugar temporarily, only to crash soon after, leaving you sluggish and foggyheaded—and reaching for another energy drink.

HEALTH.COM: 14 Reasons You’re Tired All the Time

Drink a hot beverage to cool off

Which will cool you off faster on a steamy summer morning: iced coffee or hot? Two recent studies say the latter—and so do others where drinking hot tea in hot weather is the norm, like in India. When you sip a hot beverage, your body senses the change in temperature and increases your sweat production. Then, as the sweat evaporates from your skin, you cool off naturally.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

TIME Business

2 Simple Rules for Naming a Successful Product

Alphabet letters
Getty Images

Successful naming demands focus, linguistic alchemy, and midnight oil

When I tell people at parties what I do, they’re always curious. “You’re a namer-of-things? That sounds like fun. Tell me more,” they say, seemingly surprised that it’s an actual job.

In fact, the profession has grown in the last 15 years or so with the explosion of entrepreneurs and startups that need to name everything from products and services to websites and apps. “Verbal identity” is at the core of every product launch and includes not just names but slogans and taglines.

I’m a naming consultant hired by branding agencies to tackle projects for clients that have included a faith-based financial institution, an online investment service, and wine marketed to women. I’ve coined quite a few cute names. For example, City Block™ is a note cube with a city map printed on its side. Then there’s HandJive™—fashion gloves designed for cyclists.

When I get hired to name a product, the branding agency provides me with a briefing document that outlines the client’s business strategy, identifies the competition, and suggests preferred directions, themes or language. Then I go to town. I get into a naming zone. I start with a walk for fresh air and ideas. I stop at the neighborhood newsstand and scan the magazine covers. I window-shop and note clever taglines (like the Gap’s “Fall into our sale.”)

I’m often one of several namers working on a tight deadline—anywhere from just 24 hours to a few days—to generate as many as 200 names. With luck and persistence, a short list of top contenders is presented to the client.

The tools of my trade go beyond Roget’s Thesaurus. I peruse foreign-language dictionaries, as well as a rhyming dictionary, Visual Thesaurus, and the Oxford English Dictionary to study a word’s historical origins. If I’m looking for a three-letter word, I can search ScrabbleFinder.com.

Successful naming demands focus, linguistic alchemy, and midnight oil. The creative process of naming is always tempered by legal scrutiny to ensure that a name doesn’t already exist. My clients—mostly small businesses and startups—hire trademark attorneys to register and protect the names that I’ve come up with for them.

Research is easier than when I started thanks to companies that allow you to search and register domain names. But it can be difficult to find a name that hasn’t already been claimed. One common solution to this problem is to leave out a letter: See Flickr or Tumblr.

My parents tell me I was born for this occupation. As a little kid, I was verbal, inquisitive, and imaginative. Even then, I paid attention to the names of beauty products. I blushed when my mom revealed she was wearing Revlon’s “Naked Pink” nail polish to a PTA meeting. Today, nail polish manufacturer OPI has cornered the market with its quirky, clever names. My top pick for a pedicure is their “I’m Not Really a Waitress” red. Rule #1 of my profession: A name should be memorable.

In 1990, I jumped at the chance to tap into my inner-child and took a job as packaging copywriter for toy manufacturer Mattel. Over more than 15 years, I produced countless descriptions and taglines, and hundreds of names, for toys.

I worked at Mattel in a team with a graphic designer and a structural engineer. We met with product designers who made preliminary drawings, engineers who created prototypes, and marketing mavens who called the business shots. In our brainstorms—or as we called them “name-storms”—we entertained dozens of ideas. The work wasn’t always fun and games and required many levels of approval. But the rewards were big: What could be more exciting than to hear a little one ask for Baby Ah-Choo™ at Toys “R” Us?

Rule #2: A name must be easy to pronounce. Some of my favorites: Stack-tivity™: a set of building blocks, each with a playful activity on it. A child could draw on the blank face of the What’s Her Face™ doll. There were plenty of names that I loved that were nixed by a higher authority. For example, Paw-Pets was the perfect name for a set of animal finger puppets. Rule #3: Never fall in love with a name—and never take rejection personally.

In so many words, a good name is memorable, meaningful, and distinctive. You know it when you see it. Even more importantly, you know it when you hear it.

I recently bought a pair of men’s cashmere socks, despite the hefty price tag, because the name blended playfulness and luxury. I knew that the recipient of my gift would appreciate it, too: Ovadafut. The spelling may look exotic, but say it out loud.

If you say it out loud and you smile: bingo. That’s the game of the name.

Ellen Lutwak wrote this piece for Zocalo Public Square, a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser