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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Spend Your Time Wisely

As the new year begins, we often give a lot more thought to things we want to do differently, better, or not at all. Many of us evaluate our calendars and priorities, and I was reminded that several years ago I came across an illustration in a newsletter that I have never forgotten. Karen Ann Bland had submitted this thought-provoking item:

“Imagine you had a bank that each morning credited your account with fourteen hundred forty dollars – under one condition: Whatever amount you failed to spend each day would be removed from your account, and no balance would be carried over.

What would you do? You’d probably withdraw every cent every day and use each one to your best advantage.

Well, you do have such a bank and its name is TIME. Every morning, this bank credits you with fourteen hundred forty minutes. And it writes off as forever lost whatever portion you’ve failed to invest to good purpose. Use your credit wisely!”

Wow! It is a simple, yet profound...

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Merry Christmas!

If you’re reading this blog in the days before Christmas, maybe you have found a quiet moment either before or after a flurry of activity, family gatherings, celebrating and opening gifts. Or maybe your day doesn’t include any of that because you’re not close to your family – whether that’s by physical distance or emotional separation. 

Quiet moments are rare for some of us and “the usual” for others, but either way, they give us opportunity to reflect on the important things in life. In your quiet times, do you think about what you may be missing, or wish you had more – or less – of? Life is meant to be a balance of work and leisure, happiness, and sorrow, expressing and listening, giving, and receiving. Christmas and other holidays tend to magnify these aspects of life – the highs are higher, and the lows are lower. Sometimes people are overwhelmed with difficult emotions like regret, grief, and loneliness. It is not...

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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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Simple Arithmetic = A Better Life!

Is your life perfect just the way it is? If so, you can stop reading now.  However, if you’re normal there’s probably something that could be better.  Can you put your finger on what you don’t like or are unhappy with? You see, if you can identify what you wish were different, there’s a simple solution – either add or subtract.

The wisdom of the Principle of Addition and Subtraction is revealed in the following statement: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got.  In other words, if there are things in your life causing you recurrent pain, whatever you’re doing about them apparently isn’t working.  You have to introduce something new or different in order to experience relief.  If you are struggling with your children, marriage, finances, career, communication, health, friendships, etc., something must either be added to or subtracted from your life in order to...

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How to Guarantee Fewer Problems in Your Life

Do you want to experience fewer “problems” in your life?  Great, keep reading.

I was talking with a couple recently, and they consistently used the word “problem” to describe many of the things happening around them.  This situation was a problem, that person is a problem, etc.  Their words sounded as though life was heavy and frustrating and they felt helpless and hopeless.   As I listened, I was reminded of how the words we choose have such a powerful impact on how we think, feel, and respond to things that happen in our lives – especially things we perceive to be negative or difficult.

I said to the couple, “I want you to consider for a moment that what you have been describing are not really problems, but rather challenges.  No one can avoid life’s challenges, but it is possible to keep them from becoming problems.”  I believe the problems many people experience are in reality challenges that were...

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Real Freedom

As an American I am mindful of the value of being free. When our nation’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were focused on freedom from political and religious tyranny, and I am grateful for their vision and sacrifice. But even though we live in the Land of the Free, we can be held captive by our own tyrants – and sometimes we volunteer for bondage. It may be time to declare independence from one or more of these common captors:

Fear of Rejection – Humans have an inherent need to be accepted and loved. Yes, some are extroverts, and some are introverts so appearances can be deceiving. Extroverts often seem to interact easily with others and their fear of rejection may show up as neediness. Introverts are more likely to withdraw if they’re experiencing fear of rejection, feeling as though it’s safer to avoid contact than to risk it. Free yourself from this fear by remembering that you have intrinsic value that is not based on any...

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Some Things Never Change

The world, our nation, and our way of living have gone through some incredible changes in the past couple of years that have been difficult and life altering. Fortunately, regarding many of the changes, you can keep the adage in mind, “this too shall pass.”  

We all need to come to terms with changes that are out of our control and make some adjustments to maintain peace of mind in the present day, but to do that, it can be extremely helpful to focus on some timeless truths that can help keep us steady in an ever-changing, aggravating, and uncertain world. 

Take a few minutes to consider these things: 

Character counts. The longer I live, the more I understand that qualities like honesty and integrity usually win over situational ethics and looking out for number one. A “win” may not look the same for everybody, but even if you don’t land the account, get the job, or receive the recognition, you’ll sleep better at night if you...

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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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