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The Heart Beat The Heart Beat blog

Leaders are better at relationships, study finds

Is there a link between your job title and your love life?

By Kristin Wong Jan 22, 2013 7:53PM
From making the first move to maintaining the spark, relationships can be hard work. But some might have it easier than others. 

According to a recent study from the University of California at Berkeley, powerful people have a few advantages when it comes to dating and relationships. 

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For most of us, making the first move is downright nerve-racking. When it comes to approaching someone for a date, the possibility of rejection is enough to hold back even the most charismatic among us. But for those in positions of power, rejection is less of a risk.

Lead researcher Maya Kuehn conducted a series of experiments to test the impact of rejection on people in both high and low level workplace positions. In one experiment, subjects were told they weren't invited to a happy hour gathering, for example. Kuehn reported her findings: 

"When rejected instead of accepted, subordinates reported lower self-esteem and greater negative emotion, but supervisors did not show an adverse reaction to rejection."  

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Theoretically, if you have subordinates, you probably have more game. Or you at least find the game less daunting.

In another experiment, Kuehn brought couples into a lab and videotaped them discussing problem solving tasks. Beforehand, she asked the couples to rate each other according to who had the most power in real-life relationships. Kuehn found that powerful people were more willing to work through problems with their partner. Meanwhile, the submissive partners were more negative about the conflict; they were less willing to find a solution with their significant other. The study seems to imply that powerful people are more willing to stick it out in tough times. 

While many of us find it difficult to connect with someone special, that connection might be easier for natural leaders, too. Kuehn found that the subjects in high-level positions were more willing to seek out opportunities to bond with others.

Jack Zenger, an author who specializes in leadership development, said: 

"The most important competency of inspiring leaders is their ability to make an emotional connection with those they lead." 

Overall, leaders are driven by interpersonal relationships. So perhaps it's only natural that they should jump over these romantic hurdles with ease. 

What do you think—are you a powerful person? If so, do you find it easier to maintain your love life, or are you just as afraid of conflict and rejection?

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Study: It takes men 20 minutes to decide if they want a second date
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Photo: Patrick Lane/Getty Images

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