OG Tuesday Issue #153

The Assist Newsletter
August 28, 2023
Start your morning with this affirmation:
OG Tuesday Affirmation #153
Today’s checklist: Learn about the bright side of conflict, befriend your stress, get quick tips for projecting executive presence, and understand noncompete agreements.


Should you embrace conflict?


Last week, we talked about leaping away from conflict. But here’s the thing: Conflicts come in all shapes and sizes. This week, we want to talk about some of the potential benefits of conflict.

In her article in Contexts sociology magazine, Evelyn M. Perry discusses the upsides of conflict in the context of racially and/or economically mixed communities. Despite this specific focus, many of her broader insights can be applied to workplace communities.

Below, we’ve pulled out some of her ideas about the upsides of conflict and explained how they might be applied to work life.

Conflict inspires collaboration.
Why? Because resolving conflict requires collaboration—the kind that comes along with listening and compromise. Collaboration may be efficient when everyone agrees, but it may be more enriching when it happens despite disagreements.

Conflict clarifies shared expectations. 
You might have team goals clearly spelled out on a vision board, but that doesn’t mean they’re clear to everyone. Conflict spotlights differences in how people process information and also presents an opportunity to accommodate those differences.

Conflict opens opportunities for airing multiple perspectives. 
When everything’s going “just fine,” people don’t bring up little things—what they disagree with, ideas they have for making things better, or fresh ideas for new projects.

Why stir things up? When conflict arises, it may be unpleasant, but it also signals it’s time to rethink, to pivot, and to say what needs to be said.

Conflicts lead to resolutions, compromises, accommodations, and change without erasing difference.
Conflict stops your team from becoming too homogenous or static. People on your team have a wealth of differences. Conflict simply means they’re expressing those differences instead of accepting the status quo. The team will be stronger for it.


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You + stress = friends forever


Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal wants you to be friends with stress.

You might be thinking: What? Stress sucks; I don’t want us to be friends.

Just hear her out.

For years, she told her clients stress was bad for them. Then she read a study that changed everything. What it found, more or less, was that:

  • Stressed people who also believed stress was harmful to their health had an increased risk of dying.
  • Stressed people who didn’t believe stress was harmful to their health had no increased risk of dying and actually had the lowest death risk of anyone in the study, including the control subjects.

The study’s authors estimated that just believing stress is harmful could be linked to over 20,000 premature deaths per year, which as McGonigal points out, would make it the 15th largest cause of death in the U.S.

That’s right. Being stressed about being stressed may be more harmful to you than just being stressed.

The silver lining is that you can change your mind about stress, and when you do that, you can actually change your body’s response to stress. McGonigal’s recommendations for achieving this are delightfully simple:

  • Seek social support. Tell others about what’s stressing you out.
  • Support others who are stressed. Connect. Offer help.

She explains that this works because oxytocin, which most people know as the love hormone, is also a stress hormone. The body releases it when you’re stressed to get you to seek love and support.

“[. . . ] when oxytocin is released in the stress response,” McGonigal says, “it is motivating you to seek support. Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel, instead of bottling it up.”

Watch the complete Ted Talk: How to make stress your friend >


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Shortcuts to executive presence


On July 25, we talked about building executive presence through courses and trainings. What if you don’t have time for all that? What if you just need some quick tips for a meeting this week or even in one hour?

The Corporate Career Girl has you covered. We’ve summarized her tips for building executive presence:

Develop informed opinions and own them. 
Understanding how you feel about something and also why you feel that way will help you share your ideas with confidence, like an executive.

Practice executive swagger.
Body language may seem superficial, but people notice it. Try cultivating the commanding posture and unwavering gaze of an executive.

Act like you own the room, and you will.
Boost your confidence with a little positive self talk: Your opinions are worth their weight in gold. When you talk, people listen. You command the room. You are invaluable.

Having this mindset helps create a matching reality. You’ll speak more slowly and clearly—more confidently. You’ll stop watering down your opinions with qualifiers. You may even, by virtue of your confidence boost, express yourself more frequently and freely.

Speak like you know things.
In reality, you might not be 100% certain that a prospective client is going to sign a contract, but there’s (usually) no harm in acting like you are. This subtle projection of confidence oozes executive authority.

If the client signs with us, we’ll… 


When the client signs with us, we’ll…


101: Noncompete agreements


Non-compete agreements have been getting some buzz since January 2023, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed a rule to ban them in the United States.

Here are some quick facts to know about non-compete agreements and what’s happening with them.

What is a non-compete agreement? 
A contractual clause that aims to stop an employee from working for or starting businesses in competition with their current employer (when they become a past employer).

Why does the FTC want to ban them?

We’ll let them explain. According to the FTC:

  • Because non-compete clauses prevent workers from leaving jobs and decrease competition for workers, they lower wages for both workers who are subject to them as well as workers who are not. 
  • Non-compete clauses also prevent new businesses from forming, stifling entrepreneurship, and prevent novel innovation which would otherwise occur when workers are able to broadly share their ideas.  
  • The Commission estimates that the proposed rule would increase American workers’ earnings between $250 billion and $296 billion per year. 

When will we find out if the ban is happening?
Potentially not until April 2024 on a federal level. However, California, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Oklahoma have already implemented state bans.

What should I do if someone asks me to sign one?
“Just walking away” might not be an option if you really want a certain job. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Double check state and local laws. If non-compete agreements are banned or restricted in your area, you might have to have an awkward conversation instead of worrying about signing the contract.
  • Read the specific terms carefully and ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand. For example, what constitutes “direct competition” could be arbitrary. If you don’t know what they mean, find out and ask them to clarify in writing.
  • Get advice from a lawyer. Ideally you have a few lawyerly BFFs to call on. If not, it’s still worth the investment to get sound guidance.
  • Negotiate on terms that make you uncomfortable. For example, you might find the geographic restriction unreasonable. You’re not okay with terms that cover the continental United States, but you could potentially accept one state.

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