Relate Well! Blog

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

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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Real Freedom

As an American I am mindful of the value of being free. When our nation’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were focused on freedom from political and religious tyranny, and I am grateful for their vision and sacrifice. But even though we live in the Land of the Free, we can be held captive by our own tyrants – and sometimes we volunteer for bondage. It may be time to declare independence from one or more of these common captors:

Fear of Rejection – Humans have an inherent need to be accepted and loved. Yes, some are extroverts, and some are introverts so appearances can be deceiving. Extroverts often seem to interact easily with others and their fear of rejection may show up as neediness. Introverts are more likely to withdraw if they’re experiencing fear of rejection, feeling as though it’s safer to avoid contact than to risk it. Free yourself from this fear by remembering that you have intrinsic value that is not based on any...

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What Makes a Great Dad?

In last week's blog post, I discussed the importance of the father’s role in the lives of his children, but what does that mean to you in practical terms? Really, the question is, “What does it take to be a great dad?” Based on my work with hundreds of couples and families, I have found that great dads consistently practice five key principles.

Raising children is a little bit like building a home. I’m not an expert in construction, but I know that if you want to build a quality home, you need to pay close attention to the details – just as a father seeking to raise “quality” kids will find it helpful to keep these five key principles in mind. 

1. A great dad LOVES his children. Just as the foundation of a new home has to be poured before the building can be framed, a father’s love for his family is the foundation that supports and sustains everything else he does. When your actions and decisions are motivated by love, your...

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The Importance of a Dad

If I asked you to tell me about your father, you might give me a variety of responses. Maybe you weren’t raised by your biological father. Instead, you were raised by your mother, a stepfather, adopted father, or grandfather. Or your father may have raised you, but you didn’t have a good relationship with him. Or as is the case for me, your father passed away and all you have left are memories. Or perhaps you had – and still have – a great relationship with your dad.

Is the Role of a Father Really That Important?

There are those who say that fathers don’t play a significant role in the lives of their children and that, in fact, parents don’t really have the kind of influence we once thought they did. This is not true! Parents play a vital role in the lives of their children, and fathers, in particular, have a profound influence on their development. 

A survey of over 20,000 parents found that when fathers are involved in their...

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Talking to Your Kids About Financial Difficulties – Part II

Last time we talked about the importance of including children in discussions about financial difficulties your family may be facing.  Now it’s time to convene the family meeting to discuss your situation, and here are some pointers to get you started.

Prepare in advance – Take time to think about what you want to say. If you are married, discuss the situation without the kids first to make sure you are both on the same page. If you go into the discussion with disagreement, you will likely send conflicting or mixed messages.

Be honest – Tell them how the family is being impacted but strive to find the balance between too much and too little information. 

Set aside plenty of uninterrupted time to talk – Discussion that’s rushed or disjointed makes the situation seem even more stressful. A calm atmosphere will help children believe they will be all right.

Share age-appropriate information using terms they can understand –...

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