"Sour-grape" vs "The grass is greener on the other side"

  • "The grass is always greener on the other side" suggests that people spend much of their time longing for things they don't have.
  • In Aesop's fable of "The Fox and the Grapes", the fox walked away from the grapes he desired because he could not reach it, concluding that the grapes were probably sour anyway. This tale teaches that failure can make future success appear less attractive.

In a study, people who see grass as greener on the other side predict higher happiness with future success. Participants that reacted like Aesop's fox would try to distance themselves from failure. It suggests that initial failure made people underestimate how good it would feel to succeed.

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Failure leads to underestimation

We have all encountered failure, be it failing a final exam, or a job interview. We're told that overcoming difficult obstacles will make a future success much sweeter.

But new research shows that initial failure can lead people to underestimate how good it would feel to succeed.

Named after "The Fox and the Grapes", the sour-grape effect is a systematic tendency to downplay the value of unattainable goals and rewards. We underestimate our future happiness because we don't always know what we want, and adjust our desires to what appears within reach.

People will rather devalue a goal than devalue the self. It means that people could miss out on the chance to try again because what once seemed impossible might now be within reach.

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Social ambiguity

Social life can be full of uncertainty. Friends don't always smile back at you. Strangers sometimes look upset. The question is how you interpret these situations. Do you take everything personally or do you think there are reasons they behave that way that has nothing to do with you?

While most people tend to overcome socially ambiguity with ease, knowing it is unavoidable, other people tend to see themselves as perpetual victims. They believe that one's life is entirely under the control of forces outside one's self.

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Why We Avoid Asking For Advice

Most people shy away from asking for advice when they cannot figure out how to finish a tricky task or assignment at work.

  • Reasons range from not wanting to bother anyone, or not trusting them for the solution that might be provided.
  • There is also a misconception that others will think less of the person asking for advice.
  • Advice seekers have a false psychological fear that the person whom they ask will refuse and embarrass them. Research proved that this is deeply unfounded and we grossly underestimate how helpful and assistive people can be.
E-mail rudeness is a pervasive problem

Studies show that more than ninety percent of professionals surveyed admitted that they had experienced disrespectful e-mails at work.

Rude e-mails are on the rise. The e-mail may be written entirely in capital letters or contain exclamation marks equivalent to shouting across the office.

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