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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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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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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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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Are You Putting on an Act?

Lights! Camera! Action! When the spotlight of life is focused on you, what do people see? Are you an actor just playing a role or are you the “real thing?” Are you willing to let people see who you really are? Hollywood actors are paid big bucks to portray a make-believe character on the screen, but there are many people outside of “Tinsel Town” who put on a very convincing act every day without ever being paid a dime. In fact, many of them pay a high price. 

You don’t have to be a Hollywood star or public figure to be concerned with the way others perceive you. All of us are involved in personal image management to some degree, and in most cases, this is perfectly normal. In fact, thinking about who you will be with and what you will be doing is a reasonable way to determine what “image” to put on by dressing and behaving appropriately in a given situation. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with putting your best foot forward in...

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Job Stress – What Can You Do? Part 2 of 2

Last week we looked at the damaging effects that work-related stress can have on your health and life. Today, we will talk about some of the ways you can better manage the stress you feel.

If you are an employer or if you’re in charge of a team or staff working under your supervision, be sure to consider the tips about how you can make the working environment less stressful, too!

Big improvements in stress management take place in small increments and daily habits. Here are some Recommended Daily Habits to get you started:

  • Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself
  • Do something nice for someone
  • Share a laugh or a word of encouragement with someone you like
  • Make a list of things you are most grateful for
  • Take a leisurely bath or hot shower
  • Rest your eyes for 15 to 30 minutes without interruption
  • Relax outdoors, enjoying nature
  • Revisit your accomplishments - even the smallest ones
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Get up 15 minutes early to avoid having to rush
  • Watch a funny...
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Job Stress – What Can You Do? Part 1 of 2

Today’s workforce faces a multitude of pressures: deadlines, office politics, nonproductive meetings, conflict, job ambiguity, miscommunication, increased workload, inadequate resources, customer complaints and long hours. . . not to mention adjusting to working from home, complying with government requirements or feeling nervous about going back to the office! On-the-job stress can be quite costly, too, because it often results in increased absenteeism, reduced efficiency, low morale, reduced effectiveness, and high staff turnover.

Even before the pandemic, researchers discovered that since 1965 the overall stress levels in the U.S. increased nearly 50%, and that 75-90% of all office visits to health care professionals were for stress-related symptoms and disorders – so we can only imagine how the numbers have been impacted more recently!

We know that a certain level of stress can be good. It actually improves performance by sharpening concentration, focusing...

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Why Your Personality Type is Awesome

One of the most challenging, interesting, and rewarding things about working with people is helping them discover the unique combination of personality traits that make them the way they are. There is something so powerful about an individual seeing themselves – sometimes for the first time – as necessary and valuable to their communities and employers BECAUSE of who they are, not IN SPITE of it. I have seen too many people going through life thinking they are somehow wrong or inadequate because they aren’t like someone else.

While the comprehensive view of any individual is much too large and complex to address here, today we are just looking at the four main personality types outlined in the DISC Personality System. Which one sounds most like you?

Being “D” and Getting it Done – The DISC Profile lists the primary traits of the High “D” as Dominant, Driven and Determined. These people tend to be natural leaders who grab hold of a task...

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Helping Your Child Process the Illness or Death of a Loved One

In this life, there is no escaping the reality that your family will be impacted by serious illness and death at some time. This is painful and hard for adults, but we must be mindful of the children who are affected as well. 

When someone we love is seriously ill it can evoke within us a sense of helplessness and powerlessness and children feel it, too. Allowing the child to assist in an age-appropriate fashion can help teach them important lessons about caregiving and compassion, help them be distracted from the inevitability of death and give them a sense of purpose and a special connection to the one they love. This may be as simple as drawing a picture for their sick loved one, bringing a drink of water, helping a caregiver adult prepare a meal, or visiting with them as tolerated. 

When a child experiences the death of a family member due to illness or accident it is important for the parent or adult caretaker to speak openly about it. Children can’t be fooled...

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