Relate Well! Blog

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

Think Before You Act or Speak

In grade school I loved to participate in class, so when my teacher would ask a question I often quickly raised my hand even though I sometimes didn’t have a clue as to what the answer was. My enthusiasm often caught the teacher’s eye and she would call on me first. Needless to say, when I didn’t know the answer I felt rather embarrassed. I was upset with her for asking something I didn’t know and with myself for being impulsive.

Unfortunately, the pattern of “acting before thinking” hasn’t totally escaped me, even as an adult. While I am happy to report that I do much better now, there are still times when I have reacted to someone’s comment or behavior out of irritation or frustration, and those reactions all have something in common – I acted on feelings rather than thinking first. When that happens, I often end up apologizing for my insensitive words. If you or I blurt out the first thought that flares up when we have...

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Quaking in Your Cubicle: Dealing With a Difficult Boss

Surveys show a high correlation between job satisfaction and liking and respecting workplace superiors, yet few are awarded “Boss of the Year.”  So, unless you’re independently wealthy, chances are one day you’ll encounter a difficult boss.

Common complaints involve bosses with a negative or pessimistic attitude, those who offer limited direction, hover over employees, claim undeserved credit, speak critically of others, withhold recognition of success, correct in front of others, play favorites, speak when angry, exhibit moodiness, refuse to listen, pass the buck, make destructive comments, and fail to express gratitude.

Fortunately, there are constructive steps you can take to effectively address the problem.

Clarify the problem.  Answer these questions: What specific behaviors are problems for me?  What might cause or motivate my boss’s behavior?  Which concerns seem to be within his power to control – and which are...

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What is Loneliness and How Can You Rise Above It?

Loneliness is simply the feeling of being alone and feeling sad about it. It is a completely normal feeling that we all experience from time to time, but feeling trapped in our loneliness is what can become a problem. It can lead to isolation and depression or poor choices about how to feel better.

Why do we get lonely?

Loneliness can stem from missing loved ones who have died, are far away or whom we are no longer connected with because of a break-up, divorce, etc. It’s a significant factor in the process of grieving the loss.

Loneliness can also result from feeling fearful, unworthy or awkward around others. This is why you can feel lonely in a room full of people. These feelings and perceptions can make you want to withdraw and strongly influence isolation.

Sometimes, loneliness can be related to not being in love or having a romantic relationship. It’s only natural to miss feeling wanted, cared for and nurtured and to be disappointed by the absence of intimate...

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Communication Myths that can Cripple Your Marriage - Part II

Last time we talked about the first 5 of 10 myths that cause a great deal of frustration and pain in many marriages. Although these myths can be destructive they are rather common in that most people believe one or more of them at some time, even in a healthy marriage.

To review, the first 5 myths are:

Myth 1: We should never go to bed angry.

Myth 2: My spouse ought to know what I think, feel and want.

Myth 3: A successful discussion always ends in agreement.

Myth 4: If we bring up or discuss a problem it needs to be solved now.

Myth 5: When I share my feelings my spouse must always do something in response.

Now we will look at Myths 6 through 10.

Myth 6: If my spouse rejects my views he/she is really rejecting me. 

Rejection hurts, especially from someone you care about. However, disagreement and rejection are two very different things. If disagreement feels like rejection to you, you may be caught in “personalization”. Personalization occurs when a...

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Communication Myths that can Cripple Your Marriage - Part I

No question about it – one of the most significant problems that motivates couples to seek counseling is poor communication. The fact that the couple shows up in my office already aware that they need to work on it is very encouraging, because it’s a big step toward improvement. But, even among the most motivated couples, I find that many are hung up on some myths about communication in marriage that greatly undermines their progress.

Today we will talk about the first 5 of 10 Communication Myths that can cripple your marriage.

Myth 1: We should never go to bed angry.

I have worked with couples who have stayed up into the early morning hours trying to resolve an argument for the sake of not going to bed angry.  Ironically, the very thing they are attempting to avoid – wrath – is exactly what they experience due to believing this myth.

Some working definitions will help clarify this issue. Anger is a normal emotion usually born out of impatience and...

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Family Business Mistakes #3, #4 and #5

In my recent blogs we’ve explored some reasons that family owned and operated businesses have problems and how it’s generally related to the inability to separate the FAMILY from the BUSINESS. We also looked at some of the ways this shows up in specific mistakes many businesses make.

Mistake #1:  The absence of clearly defined rules, roles and responsibilities.
Mistake #2:  The failure to treat adult children like grown adults.

Today we will move on to the other three mistakes that a lot of family businesses make and talk about how to fix them.

Mistake #3:  Assuming every family member is a good fit for the family business

Business success depends heavily on hiring the right people and placing them in the right position that allows them to use their greatest strengths for the company’s benefit. Clearly, if a particular family member is not the best candidate for a position, the business owner sabotages their potential success if they hire...

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Family Business Mistake #2

In my last blog I shared that one of the most common mistakes that can cause problems in a family-owned business is the absence of clearly defined rules, roles and responsibilities. Today we will address another major mistake that can seriously damage both your business and your family – failure to treat adult children like grown adults.

Continuing to treat the second generation as children carries heavy consequences, such as:

Good ideas and opinions may be devalued or dismissed. If “Little Johnny” was the class cut-up in junior high, it’s easy to dismiss his suggestions, even once he’s in his 20’s, 30’s or even older. Not only does this have the potential to deprive the business of creative new opportunities or methods, it also decreases Johnny’s confidence. If his input is consistently devalued, why should he try? Both Johnny and the business lose out.

Decisions may be reversed or overruled. If the adult child has a position of...

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Family Business Mistake #1

In my last blog I talked about one of the core issues underlying most internal challenges faced by family-owned businesses – the tendency to run the family BUSINESS as a FAMILY business. In order to succeed, some of the family dynamics need to be set aside during work hours so the business can be run by solid business decisions.

In the next few blogs, I’ll talk about the specific mistakes that have the potential to derail your success and make your work experience more frustrating and less satisfying.

Mistake #1:  Absence of clearly defined rules, roles and responsibilities

When most family businesses begin it is not uncommon for the employees to wear multiple hats – that’s okay and even necessary.  However, the moment a business adds a second employee, even if part-time, you want to put in writing the role and responsibilities that individual has.  From this list of responsibilities, job descriptions can be created. Just because the...

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Is Your Family Business Making these Common Mistakes?

Owning a family business can have some great benefits. For example, you already know the strengths and weaknesses of employees (no surprises), you can cut a lot of red tape to get things done, you can usually count on family to be loyal when things are tough, and you can communicate more openly (even if it falls into a familiar pattern of raised voices.) 

But let’s be clear; while there are special benefits, there are also challenges unique to family-owned and operated businesses. In my work I have found that most family business problems are much more about the FAMILY than the BUSINESS and inevitably involve human behavior and relationship issues rather than technical or money issues. Problems are almost always caused by family members making one or more of the top five mistakes common to family businesses. But first, let’s start at the root of the problem…

Are you a FAMILY Business or a Family BUSINESS? 

According to Quentin Fleming, author of the book...

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Give it a Rest: The Importance of Taking a Break

When I think about resting, something rather strange occurs. At first, I begin to imagine lounging on the couch, watching golf and (inevitably) falling asleep. But just as I begin to enjoy this image, I am yanked back into reality with the thought that dozing off to a lullaby of polite clapping and hushed announcers is just plain lazy.

This kind of internal scolding is a culturally-driven, knee-jerk reaction many of us have because we have grown up in an environment that values Type A drive and workaholism. “I do, therefore I am.” We have come to believe that our worth is found in our productivity, and our value to our employers is achieved in tireless, devoted activity with no thought of our own needs.

The good news is that the tide is turning, and workers today are less likely to be plagued by guilt if they grab a quick nap mid-afternoon or take a short walk outside to clear their minds, and some companies actually endorse activities that refresh their employees. This...

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