Relate Well! Blog

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

10 Tips for Giving Effective Feedback

Giving feedback is a critically important part of the communication process within the workplace. Most people find it easy to offer positive comments but avoid giving negative feedback because they fear confrontation and conflict.

While criticism isn’t easy for anyone, it is necessary to receive honest appraisals from those you work with in order to better understand where you stand with your co-workers and supervisors. Unfortunately, the need for improvement is not always conveyed or responded to in a constructive fashion.

Giving feedback requires specific skills you can learn if you practice. Below is a list of suggestions that can greatly improve your communication and result in better interpersonal relationships and performance at work.

1. Provide information that is descriptive and objective. When describing your thoughts stick to the facts rather than bringing in your personal interpretation as much as possible.

2. Avoid using labels to describe behavior such as...

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5 C’s for Inspiring Your Team

If it’s your job to lead a team of employees or volunteers, it can be a bit unnerving to know that the buck stops on your desk, but the group members are the ones who make you successful – or not. One of the leader’s most important functions is to inspire their team so everyone succeeds. Here are five principles to keep people motivated to do their best.

Create consensus & unity in purpose – People enjoy being part of something good, strong, and purposeful. Be sure your team meets together early on as you begin any project, so everyone hears the vision at the same time and has the opportunity to discuss ideas and ask questions.  This ensures no team member is going into their assignment without adequate knowledge of what goal needs to be met or with a “lone ranger” attitude.

Celebrate diversity & unique contribution – The strength of a team lies in the combination of multiple sets of skills, talent, and experience working...

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Do the Right Thing

In the business world we often hear terms and strategies for doing business that are predatory, aggressive, and even deceptive in order to make the sale or increase profits. Words like shark, war, and guerrilla come up in the vernacular. But I’ve been watching people over the years, and find that, in the long run, people who are willing to cheat or compromise often lose out on true success. People who do the right things for the right reasons have more satisfying careers and happier lives.

So, let’s explore this a little further: Have you ever met someone that you consider to be, or to have been, a really good person? I would imagine that you could probably name at least a few. What character traits do you think describe a “good” man or a good woman in our society today? Perhaps words such as kind, thoughtful, generous, giving, and unselfish top your list. If so, I would agree – these are traits we would all expect a good person to...

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The Power of Listening

Q: What do you think is one of the most common complaints expressed in the workplace today?

A: The habit of NOT LISTENING. (Perhaps the title was a good clue!) Poor listening is considered one of the rudest of all office behaviors. After all, the messages you send, whether intended or not, come across loud and clear when you don’t listen or pay attention:

• I don’t care about you.
• I don’t understand you.
• You’re wrong.
• What you have to say isn’t important.
• You’re wasting my time.

Most people don’t realize just how powerful listening can be, and they often miss out on its valuable benefits.

What about you? When someone talks to you at work, are you really attentive? I’m not talking about merely hearing the sound of their words, but truly paying close attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Real listening, the type that produces accurate understanding and empathy, often...

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Getting a Handle on Sibling Rivalry

“Mom, Oliver pulled my doll's head off again!” “I know you are, but what am I?” “Dad, Emily looked at me!” Sound familiar? It does if you have more than one child in your home. Sibling rivalry: A common pattern of negative interaction between children of the same family that dates as far back as the Old Testament and the story of Cain and Abel.

Even though it can make you want to scream and pull your hair out, sibling rivalry is normal and can even be constructive if handled properly. Day to day interactions between siblings and parents help children learn important skills such as problem solving and negotiating and how to develop self-control and an attitude of cooperation. 

Sibling rivalry is typically an outgrowth of a child’s immature attempts to gain their parent’s love, attention, acceptance, and approval. When emotions such as jealousy, envy, and frustration are combined with impulsivity and underdeveloped social...

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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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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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Talking to Your Kids About Financial Difficulties – Part 1

Listen to any news outlet or scroll the headlines on your phone – or just take a look at your bank statement – and it’s evident that finances are tough these days. The crunch has affected many major companies, small businesses, banking institutions, manufacturers, and individual households. And if you’re feeling the pressure, you can be sure your children are feeling it, too. 

As a parent, one of your primary roles is to educate your children about how to live in the real world, and money management and problems are about as “real” as it gets. Here are some principles to consider as you enter this vital discussion with your family.

Times Have Changed – It’s Not Your Parents’ World Anymore

Many of today’s parents were raised in homes where discussion of money was “taboo.” Some of us were told that the family finances were none of our business and some were “protected” from...

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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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