Relate Well! Blog

Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development

Do the Right Thing

In the business world we often hear terms and strategies for doing business that are predatory, aggressive, and even deceptive in order to make the sale or increase profits. Words like shark, war, and guerrilla come up in the vernacular. But I’ve been watching people over the years, and find that, in the long run, people who are willing to cheat or compromise often lose out on true success. People who do the right things for the right reasons have more satisfying careers and happier lives.

So, let’s explore this a little further: Have you ever met someone that you consider to be, or to have been, a really good person? I would imagine that you could probably name at least a few. What character traits do you think describe a “good” man or a good woman in our society today? Perhaps words such as kind, thoughtful, generous, giving, and unselfish top your list. If so, I would agree – these are traits we would all expect a good person to...

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What are You Thankful For?

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday of the year.  I have very fond memories of the many special gatherings my family has celebrated together.  Playing and watching football, catching up on the latest news, and eating until we practically pass out continues to be a part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.  As is the case for many families, it has also been our tradition to acknowledge the many blessings we experienced throughout the year.

Pausing to reflect on the things and people you are thankful for at Thanksgiving is a great practice, but it’s important to remember how valuable it is to engage in this exercise on a daily basis. When you consistently make space in your life to regularly pause and express gratitude it promotes an attitude of appreciation, optimism, and hopefulness.

The truth is, we too often take for granted the things and people that help to bring happiness...

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The Power of Listening

Q: What do you think is one of the most common complaints expressed in the workplace today?

A: The habit of NOT LISTENING. (Perhaps the title was a good clue!) Poor listening is considered one of the rudest of all office behaviors. After all, the messages you send, whether intended or not, come across loud and clear when you don’t listen or pay attention:

• I don’t care about you.
• I don’t understand you.
• You’re wrong.
• What you have to say isn’t important.
• You’re wasting my time.

Most people don’t realize just how powerful listening can be, and they often miss out on its valuable benefits.

What about you? When someone talks to you at work, are you really attentive? I’m not talking about merely hearing the sound of their words, but truly paying close attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Real listening, the type that produces accurate understanding and empathy, often...

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Getting a Handle on Sibling Rivalry

“Mom, Oliver pulled my doll's head off again!” “I know you are, but what am I?” “Dad, Emily looked at me!” Sound familiar? It does if you have more than one child in your home. Sibling rivalry: A common pattern of negative interaction between children of the same family that dates as far back as the Old Testament and the story of Cain and Abel.

Even though it can make you want to scream and pull your hair out, sibling rivalry is normal and can even be constructive if handled properly. Day to day interactions between siblings and parents help children learn important skills such as problem solving and negotiating and how to develop self-control and an attitude of cooperation. 

Sibling rivalry is typically an outgrowth of a child’s immature attempts to gain their parent’s love, attention, acceptance, and approval. When emotions such as jealousy, envy, and frustration are combined with impulsivity and underdeveloped social...

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Who Apologizes First?

“He started it!” “No, she did!” That’s how a lot of childhood arguments sound, and the common mistake that a lot of parents make is to dig in and try to be the judge so they know who to punish and who to comfort. The trouble is, it doesn’t work well because the issue is rarely black and white, and the parties involved aren’t exactly objective. 

So, what happens when you’re not a child anymore and someone hurts your feelings, says mean things or the inevitable argument breaks out from time to time? We often revert to the conflict management method we learned in childhood – identify the good guy and the bad guy and make sure they get what’s coming to them.

No matter who started it, you can finish it –with an apology. I understand there are exceptional situations where one person truly violates another, but most of our day-to-day conflicts are made up of small offenses on both sides.

A genuine, effective apology...

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The Sherlock Strategy: Guaranteed to Improve Communication

Do you want your personal and professional relationships to be stronger and more satisfying? If, like most people, your answer is “of course”, then I want to share a very powerful communication tool that has the potential to transform your relationships.

I refer to this communication tool as the Sherlock Strategy.  Named after the famed detective, this practice of effective inquiry simply involves the ability to ask timely and relevant open-ended questions for the purpose of increasing accurate understanding of another person’s thoughts, feelings, and needs.  The great Sherlock Holmes could always dig past the obvious to see what was really going on. 

Every human being shares a common desire and need to be understood.  Unfortunately, when it comes to our high-stake (most important) relationships we often feel misunderstood, especially when it comes to important and sensitive issues.

When communicating we too often assume we understand what...

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Simple Arithmetic = A Better Life!

Is your life perfect just the way it is? If so, you can stop reading now.  However, if you’re normal there’s probably something that could be better.  Can you put your finger on what you don’t like or are unhappy with? You see, if you can identify what you wish were different, there’s a simple solution – either add or subtract.

The wisdom of the Principle of Addition and Subtraction is revealed in the following statement: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got.  In other words, if there are things in your life causing you recurrent pain, whatever you’re doing about them apparently isn’t working.  You have to introduce something new or different in order to experience relief.  If you are struggling with your children, marriage, finances, career, communication, health, friendships, etc., something must either be added to or subtracted from your life in order to...

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How to Guarantee Fewer Problems in Your Life

Do you want to experience fewer “problems” in your life?  Great, keep reading.

I was talking with a couple recently, and they consistently used the word “problem” to describe many of the things happening around them.  This situation was a problem, that person is a problem, etc.  Their words sounded as though life was heavy and frustrating and they felt helpless and hopeless.   As I listened, I was reminded of how the words we choose have such a powerful impact on how we think, feel, and respond to things that happen in our lives – especially things we perceive to be negative or difficult.

I said to the couple, “I want you to consider for a moment that what you have been describing are not really problems, but rather challenges.  No one can avoid life’s challenges, but it is possible to keep them from becoming problems.”  I believe the problems many people experience are in reality challenges that were...

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Help! My Child is a Bully

As a parent, you want to help your child if he’s being harassed at school, but what if it’s your child who’s pushing others around? First, understand that even good parents who do many things right can have a child who’s a bully. If you do, it’s important to learn what influences are at work.

Researchers at the University of Arizona surveyed 6th to 8th graders. Those who reported bullying most had experienced more forceful, physical discipline from their parents, viewed more TV violence and misbehaved more at home. In that group, 32% lived with a stepparent and 36% were in single-parent households. They generally had fewer adult role models, more exposure to gang activity and easier access to guns. Researchers concluded that bullies learn much of their behavior by example, and consequently need as much help as their victims. 

Other predisposing factors include a strong desire for attention, immaturity, a lack of popularity among peers and a dislike...

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The Secret to Aging Well

If you ever suffer from insomnia and find yourself watching late night infomercials, chances are you have been tempted by products that are “guaranteed” solutions for aging well.  Many people today are obsessed with trying to discover anti-aging secrets in nutrition, exercise, skin care, strong relationships, and the list goes on, in an effort to stay young – or at least young at heart.

Recent research conducted by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany, reports evidence that suggests if you want to age well you may need to learn how to effectively let go of regrets. 

The poem Maud Muller by John Greenleaf Whittier ends with the well-known line, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!”  Do you agonize about missed opportunities? Are you still fretting over decisions gone bad or risks you were afraid to take that may have paid off handsomely? If...

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