Relate Well! Blog

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

5 Tips for Dealing with a Bull Terrier Boss

Most people have at some point in their lives had to deal with someone who refuses to lose. No matter how unreasonable their position and how obviously wrong they may be, they clamp down their jaw as instinctively as a bull terrier in a dogfight – and it seems nothing short of death will loosen it.

It’s often not that complicated to deal with this sort of person at a dinner party, where the simplest strategy may be to avoid them or to feign agreement for a couple of hours until you can escape after dessert. But in the workplace, this is seldom possible, and if the bulldog is your superior, you can come away from discussions frustrated, angry and hurt. 

William Ury, author of Getting Past No, provides five steps to surviving an encounter with a bull terrier boss, based on understanding the underlying motivations for their unreasonable decisions and resistance to cooperation. Here are five tips to help you achieve a win-win situation.

1. Control...

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Some Things Never Change

The world, our nation, and our way of living have gone through some incredible changes in the past couple of years that have been difficult and life altering. Fortunately, regarding many of the changes, you can keep the adage in mind, “this too shall pass.”  

We all need to come to terms with changes that are out of our control and make some adjustments to maintain peace of mind in the present day, but to do that, it can be extremely helpful to focus on some timeless truths that can help keep us steady in an ever-changing, aggravating, and uncertain world. 

Take a few minutes to consider these things: 

Character counts. The longer I live, the more I understand that qualities like honesty and integrity usually win over situational ethics and looking out for number one. A “win” may not look the same for everybody, but even if you don’t land the account, get the job, or receive the recognition, you’ll sleep better at night if you...

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Escape from Groundhog Day

Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? It features Bill Murray as a weatherman named Phil with a bad attitude who finds himself reliving February 2nd, Groundhog Day, repeatedly with all its petty frustrations, pointless activity, and irritation. Do you ever feel as though you’re like Phil?

We have all heard the folk wisdom that says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. While that definition doesn’t quite cover the whole concept, it does capture a part of it. It is not “sane” (rational, logical) to expect things to change if you don’t do something to interrupt an unhealthy pattern to improve your situation. In other words, if you want something to change, you must take the initiative to change it.

I work with a lot of people who are struggling in difficult marriages, where they almost can’t remember what it was like to be attracted to their spouse or enjoy each other’s company....

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Why Most People Avoid Conflict... and Why You Shouldn't

If you can think and talk, and if you ever encounter other people, there is the potential for conflict. Conflict is an inevitable, completely normal part of the human condition, yet most people readily admit that they intentionally avoid anything that even remotely resembles disagreement or confrontation.  In fact, much of my work in therapy and coaching involves helping people to understand – and even embrace – the value of conflict and overcome the fears that feed their aversion.

There are many factors that can influence conflict avoidance, such as self-doubt, lack of assertiveness, inadequate communication skills, fear of rejection, disapproval, criticism, or loss of security and more.  In other words, people avoid conflict to minimize perceived threats to their self-esteem and sense of well-being. 

Let me be clear – I’m all for avoiding real danger and I never recommend that anyone intentionally subject themselves to hostile conflict or...

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Keeping the Spark Alive

Whether you have been married for several months or many years the daily stresses and busyness of life can easily turn the passionate flame of relational intimacy into a dying ember. Every day, hundreds of couples file for divorce claiming that their once vibrant and satisfying marriage is now just a painful succession of conflicts and hollow interactions. Many more couples admit that most of their attention and energy is focused on merely surviving rather than on thriving. Their marriages have become boring and routine.

Research reveals that many divorces could be prevented and many dying marriages revived if the couple were willing to invest time and effort into learning simple strategies for rediscovering and maintaining the passion and intimacy in their relationship.

There is a fresh new year ahead of us, so I want to encourage you to make it a priority each month to sit down with your spouse to review the practical ideas listed below for making your marriage all it was...

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Making Your Employees Jolly During the Holidays

I get it – the holidays may be the busiest, most frustrating time of the year for your business. Demand for products and services skyrockets as gift-buying escalates. As lines get long, tempers can get short – on both sides of the counter. Your customers are under pressure to finish their holiday preparations, deal with kids bouncing off the walls and meet all their “joyful” obligations. You need your staff to be extra patient, extra friendly and extra efficient. The reality is, you need them to be at their best when they have all the same pressures, time constraints, plans and problems your customers have.

So, what can you do to help them have a jolly holiday despite the hassles? It doesn’t take a lot of time, money, or effort to keep employees feeling positive about working for you, even during the busiest season – a little of each goes a long way toward job satisfaction and loyalty.

Thank them – When you know your staff is hustling to...

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Gratitude Makes Life So Much Better!

I hope you’re reading this with the smell of turkey and pumpkin pie in the air. Thanksgiving is one of the things I am thankful for, because it gives us an opportunity to consider everything we have that inspires an attitude of gratitude.

Everyone is different, and the reality is that some of our tendency to be naturally positive or negative is simply an inborn, unchangeable part of who we are. However, we also found that almost half of the influence comes from what we choose to do. I am thankful for that, because it means we can all intentionally find things to be grateful for and improve our outlook on life.

I came across this list of blessings on the web, and though you may have seen it, it bears repeating at this time of year. 

Blessings

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who won’t survive the week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of...

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Escape the Argument Trap: A Strategy Guaranteed to STOP the Endless, Pointless Arguing with Children and Teens

As a father of three adult children and three grandchildren who are old enough to talk (and, therefore, old enough to argue) I know a lot about the temptations that can lure you into the Argument Trap. You know what I mean – those circular, relentless conversations that leave you battle-weary and sometimes cause you to say and do things you regret. When my own kids were still at home, I found that, even though I spent nearly every day helping people improve their personal and professional relationships, I could still fall prey to these temptations if I wasn’t careful.

However, as a veteran parent, I have found a strategy that virtually guarantees that I won't fall into this trap again: I filtered my response through ten simple, but critically important questions. Most of the time, recalling even two or three of the questions can be enough to head off a fight and set the stage for constructive dialogue. 

If you want to stop the arguing in...

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Principles for Effective Listening - Part II

In our last blog, we shared Part I of Principles for Effective Listening.  We addressed the “how-to” of listening. If you’ve been practicing the techniques outlined, congratulations! Now that you have started on the path to better listening, here are some barriers and obstacles to watch for – and avoid.

Barriers to Empathic Listening 

• Lecturing, Blaming, Moralizing, Interrupting
• Venting, Defending, Explaining, Questioning
• Generalizing, Disagreeing, Fixing, Reassuring
• Changing the subject, Warning, Pretending

Obstacles to Effective Listening

• Drawing premature conclusions

“I’ve heard this all before; it’s always the same story.”
“Now he’s going to tell me it’s all my fault.” 
“This is the part where she says I shouldn’t go out with my friends.” 
“Here comes the same lame excuse he always uses.”

• Reading into...

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Principles for Effective Listening - Part I

Listening is one of the most powerful tools of communication, leadership and relationships. Here are some things you can begin doing today to develop your listening awareness and expertise. Then watch as your relationships and performance improve, too. 

  1. Listening is Active, Not Passive! 

While simply holding your tongue can make you look like you're listening, active listening also involves a conscious, focused effort not only to hear the words but also to discern the complete message the speaker is sending. It takes into consideration the speaker's intent and non-verbal communication, and it's non-judgmental (which, frankly, can be the hard part, so we'll discuss that next time).

To practice active listening, maintain good eye contact and an open body posture. Put down your pen or phone and relax your hands so it doesn't appear that you're just waiting for the speaker to finish so you can get back to "more important" work. Nod your head to acknowledge understanding...

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