Relate Well! Blog

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

Raising Mature, Confident Adults (or How to Avoid Messing Up Your Kids)

We all have “issues” of one kind or another. Many of them stem from fears, past experiences, misunderstanding, or lack of accurate information. Many people point to their upbringing as the source of their problems today.

The truth is, no parents are perfect, and there comes a time when we have to let go of blaming all of our problems on our childhood and choose to develop the confidence to make the best of our own lives. In some cases, this may involve forgiveness of everything from not getting the toy you always wanted, to being forced to take tuba lessons to traumatic abuse. It’s an important part of growing up to finally realize that your parents may have done the best they could with what they had and knew and to begin taking adult responsibility for your adult life.

That said, maybe you can learn a few things from your past experiences that will help you avoid some of the mistakes that can potentially have a long-term negative effect on your children.

Here are...

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What Does it Take to Be a Leader?

You may have heard of The Peter Principle, which states that, “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Laurence J. Peter, a Canadian scholar, author and lecturer (1910-1990) wrote a book with the same title expounding on his observations about how organizations work. In a nutshell he says if you are great at your job, you will likely be promoted to a management or leadership position with a different set of skills required and languish there with little chance for real success or job satisfaction.

Before you assume you are doomed to a lifetime of misery drowning in a job you’re not ready for, let’s look at how you can prepare for greater opportunity and success in a leadership role. Competent, respected leaders usually display the following qualities:

Integrity – Inspiring leaders put this quality first, because they know that their employees or volunteers will follow their example. No business, ministry,...

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Do You Know What Really Makes You Attractive?

In his book, Be a People Person, Dr. John Maxwell identifies some of the personal characteristics that make people more attractive. He points out that it is the charismatic quality of an individual’s personality that makes them come across to others as warm, engaging and popular.

Dr. Maxwell uses the word CHARISMA as an acrostic to identify the specific traits he believes will draw the attention of others and help you improve your ability to relate well. Each of the traits in the acrostic below can be developed no matter who you are. I have added a few thoughts to Dr. Maxwell’s list to help you apply each concept to your own interactions with other people. I encourage you to commit these traits to memory and make the effort to consistently practice them in your relationships at home and work.

Concern: What you show – You have heard the saying that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Ask people about themselves and genuinely...

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Raise the Bar to Elevate Your Life

I ran track in high school for awhile, and I loved high jumping. What excited and scared me most was knowing that I had to raise the bar if I wanted to win.  For that to happen I must have cleared the previous height, but I knew the next level would be more difficult.

During a track meet the bar was set higher than I had cleared before. On my third attempt I gave it everything I had and cleared the bar but injured my ankle, forcing me to drop out of the meet.

My ankle eventually healed and I started to compete again, but I never jumped as high as I did the day I got hurt. I had convinced myself that if I couldn’t get past a certain height as a member of the varsity track team I might as well not even try to compete. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I realized that my problem wasn’t that I had reached the pinnacle of my athletic ability, but rather I didn’t want to raise the bar for fear of suffering another injury.

To this day, whenever I...

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How NOT to Manage an Employee

As a psychologist and executive coach, I am always interested to observe the way people demonstrate either good or bad habits in the way they conduct business. I remember well a time I was shopping at a well known chain store when I witnessed first-hand how those in leadership should NOT manage their employees.

The customer service specialist who was assisting me ran into a snag while trying to complete my transaction. After having pushed almost every button, she exhausted her personal knowledge base of solutions and had to request assistance from her store manager. By this time, it was obvious that she was feeling embarrassed and moderately anxious.

When the manager arrived he had a scowl on his face and looked put out by the request for help.  Without acknowledging his employee, or me (the customer spending money in his store), he abruptly punched some numbers into the computer, made a poorly veiled critical comment to his employee and stomped away. It was quite evident that...

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Don't Let Your Thoughts Fool You!

I was reading an article on the internet called the Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time and it was very entertaining. My favorite was about BBC TV conducting a prank interview with a London University professor who claimed to have created the technology to transmit odors through television. His invention was aptly named “Smellovision.” He performed a demonstration using coffee beans and onions and asked viewers to report if they detected the aromas. According to the article, numerous people reported being able to smell the coffee and onions and some even said the onion made their eyes water!

We laugh at their gullibility, but we should also pay attention to the fact that our brains can play tricks on us. Sometimes we need to evaluate the thoughts we think and make sure they are based in truth and reality, because our thoughts direct our perceptions and feelings, which results in our actions. So, our thoughts play a primary role when it comes to our...

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Essential Communication Tips for Leaders

One of the most powerful skills a leader should strive to master is communication. He or she may have brilliant ideas and the vision to solve problems and accomplish daunting missions, but if the ideas and direction can’t be communicated effectively to others, the mission may produce weak results and fall short of the goal. When that occurs, low morale among the ranks usually follows.

I recently came across a list in New Man Magazine of nine principles of communication every leader should adopt. To be the kind of leader that not only gets results, but also earns the respect and loyalty of those you work with, you will want to learn and consistently apply these principles.

1. Dispense information freely to build esprit de corps. People are much more willing to enthusiastically participate when they know what they’re doing, why and how. Leaders who play close to the vest in order to maintain the appearance of power tend to alienate their teams.

2. Go out of...

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How to Respond to Your "Lion"

You’ve probably heard the saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” While that traditional wisdom is meant for weather trends, I think we can stretch it to apply to some relationships as well. Do you know anyone who “comes in like a lion” – roaring and ready to devour anyone who gets in their way? Would you like to be able to hold your own when talking with them and possibly calm the situation?

Here are some tips for dealing with “lions” in your life:

Begin with yourself – your attitude, your response. Look past the behavior and see the person as a whole and valuable human being who may be acting out feelings of fear, frustration, anger, hurt or insecurity. Understand that there may be valid reasons for those feelings and try to exercise empathy. This will help you control your response when someone is coming on strong. It’s more natural to retaliate if you feel you’re being attacked, but...

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Tips for Conquering Your Fears

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by an irrational fear – so much so that it prevented you from doing something you wanted to do? Believe it or not, this is a common problem faced by many people daily.

Fear has the power to hold you back from taking risks, following your dreams, or becoming successful at anything you attempt to do. If you allow it to control you for long enough, it can eventually erode your quality of life and keep you locked in a prison of inactivity and regret.

What many people fail to realize is that fear is nothing more than a conditioned response. It’s a natural reaction to any situation that is perceived as threatening.  Although not easy, there are things you can do on a regular basis to overcome irrational fear. Review the tips below and make the decision to begin putting them into practice today.

1)  Check your expectations

One major contributor of fear is the prevalence of negative expectations. Do you usually find yourself...

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Why You Want to Develop More Empathy

Empathy is simply defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. We can sometimes feel as though we already have too many feelings of our own, and that taking on the burden of feeling what others are going through will be overwhelming.

Interestingly, the opposite seems to be true. Let’s use an example most of us can relate to. You are driving to work when suddenly a car pulls out of a parking lot right in front of you, and you have to brake hard to avoid a collision. As your pulse races and you try to steady your breathing, how do you respond? Your answer to that depends largely on your ability and your desire to empathize with others.

The absence of empathy makes it difficult to understand another person’s perspective, so your response to the near-miss in traffic will likely be anger and hostility. Defensiveness assumes that the other driver willfully did something dangerous that could have caused a crash and that there is no excuse. The anger...

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