Relate Well! Blog

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

A Sure Way to Increase Marital Satisfaction

Pick up almost any book on marriage, and you will find a good portion of it dedicated to helping couples improve their marital satisfaction. The reason so many authors address that topic is because so many couples express some level of disappointment or dissatisfaction in their marriages. Many of the suggestions and ideas are helpful, but I’d like to talk about one thing that really works and doesn’t require any special preparation, counseling or training.

The simple fact is this: Couples who spend time together are likely to be more satisfied in their marriage. Think back to when you were dating. If you were like most couples, you couldn’t wait to be together and to spend as much time as possible doing fun things and growing closer together. But once you returned from your honeymoon and finished all your thank-you notes, the realities of married life may have crept in. Most couples are separated a significant portion of the day by work, and then much of the time...

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How to Live Well After a Loss

I’ve been thinking a lot about loss during the last week since having learned that a dear friend has died. Warren Bolthouse was the founder and long-time President of Family Life Radio.  For years, he played an important role in the opportunities I have had to observe the kind of vision, mission and hard work it takes to fulfill a dream and grow a successful organization. While his absolute faith in God assures us that he is at peace, he will be sorely missed by his family, friends and the countless number of people whose lives he positively impacted throughout the years.

No matter who you are, how much money you make or whether you feel like a success or a failure, there’s one thing you can count on: Loss. No one can go through life without experiencing the loss of someone or something important. It can happen through death, divorce, job changes, relationship breakups, health problems, economic downturns and a host of other possibilities. It can leave us...

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Why Do Toxic Employees Keep Their Jobs?

I spend a good deal of my time helping companies and organizations keep people problems from becoming business problems.  Executives, Directors and Managers often ask for my assistance in helping them navigate the challenges associated with toxic employees.  The toxic employee is the man or woman who consistently behaves in ways that offend the people they work with. This may include gossiping, complaining, blaming, foul language, laziness, bullying, dishonesty, sloppiness, etc.  Any ongoing behavior that sets a negative tone in the workplace is toxic, and most of the behaviors listed originate with a negative attitude.

If you have been employed for any length of time, you have probably encountered a toxic employee.  You have also probably thought to yourself, and maybe even out loud to others, how in the world does this person keep their job?

Toxic employees can create a great deal of destruction within the companies they work for.  The negative impact they...

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Failure Doesn’t Exist – Only Outcomes

I talk to people every day who tell me that they don’t know how to overcome their fear of failure.  Because of their fear they often quit a project before finishing or they don’t even bother to start.

What if I told you that failure doesn’t exist? Would it make a difference in how you approach things in life?

Dr. Richard Varlinsky, in his article, Taming the “Fear of Failure” Monster, states that every time you put forth some form of action there are two possible outcomes:

The results are as good as or better than expected.
The results are not as good as expected.

He asserts that if the outcome is what you expected – keep doing the same thing because it’s working.  If the outcome is less than what you expected change the action until you get the results you are looking for.

Thomas Edison is a great example of this truth.  When he finally invented a light bulb that worked he was asked, “Mr. Edison, how does it feel to have...

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Is It Anger or Unresolved Grief?

He was one of the angriest men I had ever counseled. Jim struggled with what he called a “bad temper” for the last three years, and it was costing him his relationships and possibly his job. He said he tried everything to control his angry outbursts, but as soon as he encountered a disagreement, delay or even a minor inconvenience like an incorrect restaurant order he blew his top. He was convinced it was a character flaw or just an unchangeable part of who he was.

As Jim and I talked about how he had grown up and some of the events he remembered most vividly, it didn’t take long for me to realize that most of his anger wasn’t caused by the normal frustrations of life, and it wasn’t something wrong with his character, but rather it was the result of his inability to express the grief and sorrow related to several significant hurts and losses in his life. He was a man who was living every day with pain, and weighed down by a sense that real men just...

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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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