Categories for Relationships

7 Signs You Work with a Toxic Achiever and How to Cope

Toxic achievers pose a serious dilemma for business owners, managers, and supervisors. On the one hand, they get the job done — quickly, and more successfully than their peers. So, their work production or sales numbers look great. On the other hand, they create major headaches due to the way they relate to others, their condescending attitude, and their propensity to frequently want exceptions to company policies and procedures. 7 Signs of a Toxic Achiever How do you know if one of your team members is a toxic achiever, or just a pretty good producer who can be irritating to... Continue reading...

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September 19, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Have a Terrible, Awful, Very Bad Day (Guaranteed)

How to Have a Terrible, Awful, Very Bad Day (Guaranteed) Sometimes we focus on the positives in life – gratitude, appreciation, healthy relationships—and how to obtain (or maintain) them in our lives. But there are times when it can be helpful to remind ourselves of the habits and thought patterns that lead us down the path to having a bad day (or week, month or year!). Let’s take a brief look at the things that take us down the road to nowhere good, so we can acknowledge and avoid them in our lives. Our experience of life is directly related... Continue reading...

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September 12, 2022 9:00 am
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Four Steps to Ensure You Return from Your Vacation Rested

Summer has arrived. And along with the warmer weather comes the opportunity for summer vacations. Getting away from your home, your daily routine and responsibilities provides a needed mental break necessary for you to rejuvenate and re-energize. Vacations can provide valuable time for a mental reset that can be beneficial to you both personally and professionally. Unfortunately, we often come back from a vacation tired and worn down and needing additional time to recover from our trip. To help, here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your time off. The Four R’s Rest. Try to schedule your vacation... Continue reading...

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June 27, 2022 9:00 am
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The Challenge of Apathy

Recently, I was speaking to a group of organizational leaders about workplace culture, and I asked them about some of the more challenging issues they are seeing. One leader responded: “apathy” — to which numerous others nodded in affirmation. They went on to elaborate: “Younger leaders are more passive” “They seem willing to live with the status quo,” and “They lack passion — they don’t seem to have any ‘fire in their belly.’” The senior leaders I was training were asking: “What do I do?” “How can I motivate a developing leader who doesn’t seem interested?” Unfortunately, this is not... Continue reading...

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June 13, 2022 9:00 am
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Battling Disconnectedness and Chaos: Practical Steps for Staying Connected with Your Team

Connectedness has become a huge issue within our culture. The disconnectedness and loneliness created by the COVID-19 pandemic created massive upheaval in our daily social structure (working remotely, reduced social interaction with friends and family, chaos related to children’s education and activities). Our work life has been equally disrupted. Not only with arrangements related to remote, working from home and hybrid working issues, but our normal patterns of relating and communicating have been affected. When we see our colleagues, where we see them, how often we interact, the mode of communication (email, phone, video conference, text, in person) and the... Continue reading...

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April 4, 2022 9:00 am
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How to Rebuild Trust When a Relationship Has Been Damaged

For life to work, we have to trust. Trust is critical for any functional relationship—with our family, our friends, and even our work-based relationships. The issue of trust—and mistrust—is powerfully relevant in our culture today. We hear comments about trust all over the news and frequently in personal conversations: “I trust that guy about as far as I can throw him.” Trust is essential to work-based relationships for many reasons: effective teamwork, collaboration with suppliers, smooth functioning of the organization to produce goods and services, better customer relationships and, ultimately, to obtain optimal outcomes. MISTRUST IN WORK RELATIONSHIPS There are... Continue reading...

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February 21, 2022 9:00 am
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Making Things Right When You’ve Messed Up

We all make mistakes. Sometimes inadvertently. Sometimes we did what we thought was right (only to find out later, it wasn’t). And sometimes we just make a poor choice – for whatever reason. Making a mistake at work, to many of us, seems more serious than ones we commit in our personal lives. A misstep at work affects others, makes us look bad to our colleagues or boss, and may have serious ramifications on our work status. The Challenge of Acknowledging Our Errors For some of us, acknowledging to ourselves that we messed up is difficult. While admitting we made... Continue reading...

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February 14, 2022 9:00 am
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Heads or Tail (Feathers)? Successes and Failures – Tell Us About Your Thanksgiving Celebrations

Recently, I wrote about humor in the workplace and thought it would be good to put some of the principles in action. And Thanksgiving seemed like a good time to ask about and share some successes and “fails” people have experienced over the years. While the Thanksgiving holiday and giving gratitude at work are important, I personally have become a little worn down by all of the reminders to “be sure and tell your colleagues you are thankful for them.” (If you do want something in that vein, read this past entry from our blog.) Let’s agree that is a... Continue reading...

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November 8, 2021 9:00 am
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Build a Positive Relationship, No Matter Who You Report To

In the past, an employee’s relationship with their direct supervisor was found to be one of the most influential factors on whether or not the employee enjoyed their job. However, this dynamic has changed somewhat. Jared Lindzon, in an article about change and work, spoke to analyst Josh Bersin who says, “Most companies, even big companies, are much less hierarchical and much less top-down in their execution than they used to be. Leaders are finding that they have to be more inspirational, they have to be more collaborative.” In recent years, both the structure of work teams and physical office... Continue reading...

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September 20, 2021 9:00 am
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Should We Focus on “Mental Health” in the Workplace?

Since the COVID-19 virus appeared, the focus on the mental health of employees has increased significantly. And rightfully so. As a result of the pandemic, major social changes occurred in 2020: “stay-at-home” orders, tens of millions of workers shifted to working from home, children were educated remotely, we were required to maintain social distance from one another (and cover our faces with masks). Family and community relationships were hindered. The practical consequences? Isolation. Dramatic changes in daily life routines. Uncertainty. These tectonic shifts in our lives shook our daily lives to the foundations and created an enormous amount of stress... Continue reading...

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July 19, 2021 9:00 am
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Is Appreciation Just an American Concept?

I have had the privilege of traveling internationally to numerous countries to introduce the concept of authentic appreciation in the workplace. Fortunately, authentic appreciation and vibrant workplaces aren’t limited to certain cultures. They exist on every inhabited continent. (Our book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, has been translated into 27 languages.) Lessons from a Multinational Training Experience A few years ago, I had the opportunity to train the management and supervisors of an elite international organization in how to communicate authentic appreciation to their staff. Functioning within the tourism and hospitality industries, the staff (in one location) come from over... Continue reading...

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May 31, 2021 9:00 am
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The Most Important (Countercultural) Steps for Making 2021 a Success

Individuals who do well in life commonly utilize four key skills to help their lives move forward in a healthy direction. That is, people who achieve healthy personal goals tend to incorporate the same tools to assist them in moving toward their aspirations.  Unfortunately, some of these tools are not valued or embraced in our culture, which makes consistently utilizing them more difficult. Yes, believe it or not, we need to acknowledge that some of the beliefs and values of the majority Western culture are actually not helpful to us in living our lives well. Four Important (but often Countercultural)... Continue reading...

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January 4, 2021 9:00 am
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The 2020 Election – A Survival Guide for Talking about the Election at Work

Well, here we are, on the verge of the long anticipated (and for some, dreaded) 2020 elections. The tension is thick in the air – within the culture at large, on the airwaves and Internet, within families, and within workplaces.  A number of factors combine to create a significant sense of uneasiness for most of us:   -the unpredictability of the results   -the strong feelings many have related to the issues intertwined with the election   -fears about potential violence and destruction of property after the election   -concerns about how the results of the elections will impact our... Continue reading...

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October 29, 2020 3:10 pm
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Building and Rebuilding Trust at Work

The issue of trust – and lack of it – is a common topic in our current culture. Comments can be found in any news medium and frequently in personal conversations. “I don’t trust him.” “They aren’t trustworthy.” “Big organizations can’t be trusted.” The reasons why there seems to be an epidemic of lack of trust is a complicated discussion, in and of itself. Partly, because many people and organizations have shown themselves not to be trustworthy. First, we must understand what trust really is, then we can consider and respond correctly to relevant situations. It is Not as Simple... Continue reading...

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October 26, 2020 9:00 am
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Coping with Schooling at Home While Working From Home

  “How am I supposed to get my work done while I’m also expected to oversee my children’s schoolwork?” This critical question is one of the most common concerns raised by parents who are working from home. And with the schoolyear just beginning, this challenge, facing millions is both a very real and practical one. First, some context regarding my credibility. Prior to and during my work focused on work-based relationships and workplace culture, my professional focus included evaluating students with learning challenges, and consulting with parents and schools on the best ways to help their students learn. Additionally, we... Continue reading...

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September 14, 2020 9:00 am
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Making ‘Negative’ Communication Healthier: The Differences Between Complaints and Concerns

A lot of comments have been voiced about the increasing intensity of negative and conflictual conversations in our culture – on television, on radio talk shows, in social media, even in our personal interactions. In reflecting on the numerous challenges facing us in the workplace and our community activities (decisions about school attendance, sports events, social gatherings), it became clear that there are a lot of areas in our lives that we can complain about. Almost simultaneously, I thought: “We are in a space where almost all of us can become overwhelmed with the amount of complaining we hear and... Continue reading...

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September 8, 2020 9:00 am
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How to Help Your Employees Find Purpose at Work

“Does what I do matter?” Every person on the planet wants to know the answer to this question. This is especially true for employees that are feeling unstable and uncertain about their future. Employees that have a clear sense of their purpose are more engaged, more loyal, and more productive too. Amidst the pandemic, your team is looking for hope. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly one-third of all Americans currently suffer from depression and anxiety. As quarantine orders took effect, self-help book sales shot up by 39%. Man has been searching for meaning from the beginning of time.... Continue reading...

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August 31, 2020 8:55 am
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Preparing for a Storm – Lessons from Tornado Alley

As a country, it appears likely we are headed for stormy times. Why do I think so?  First, as a psychologist and social scientist, I’m trained to observe patterns in social behaviors that assist us in predicting future likely behavior patterns. Secondly, because I’m from the Midwest in the heart of “tornado alley” and we are experts in being able to see the signs leading to severe weather. And the two sets of patterns and conditions are quite similar. Stormy Weather I’m not going to go through all of the different circumstances that lead up to severe weather in the... Continue reading...

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August 10, 2020 8:55 am
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Building a Strong Team Culture: Valuing & Appreciating Differences in the Workplace

To build a successful and sustainable business, you need a team of employees who bring their unique abilities, strengths and perspectives to the challenges you will face. But to draw and keep talented individuals who have a variety of skills and personality types, you have to learn a key skill: You have to learn how to lead people who are different than you. Many books on leadership provide valuable insights into key skills and abilities needed to effectively lead others. But one concept that is not stressed enough is: to lead a successful team, you have to understand those who are... Continue reading...

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August 3, 2020 9:00 am
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Email Etiquette Refresher

A significant portion of our communication happens through email. This is especially true with current work from home set-ups resulting from COVID-19 where communicating properly and effectively through email is essential. Chances are, you’ve misinterpreted an email or had one of your emails misinterpreted at some point in your life. Email can quickly trigger unnecessary conflict. Here are a few tips and reminders to help you use email as an effective communication tool. Don’t read energy or emotion into emails. All you have in email are words, which only account for 7% of communication. The other 93% of communication happens... Continue reading...

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July 20, 2020 9:00 am
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Tips for Surviving Working from Home – From Remote Employees Themselves

Working from home (WFH) has moved from a short-term hassle to a longer, “this is life now” stage. The novelty is gone. The changes for the initial transition are in place. We now have to figure out how to make this scenario work for a while. Who best to learn from than other remote, WFH employees? We recently followed a group of WFH workers, having them fill out a questionnaire once a week for four weeks. We asked a lot of questions, and the results are just being published in Training this week. We inquired about their level of anxiety,... Continue reading...

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June 8, 2020 8:55 am
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Memorial Day in the Time of COVID-19

A typical Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. represents a variety of things to different people: A day off of work The beginning of summer Going to the lake Having a barbeque with friends and family The Indianapolis 500 Visiting family gravesites Veterans parades and celebrations Watching war movies This year has already brought substantial changes in our daily lives and this weekend will be no exception. Sporting events and parades are cancelled. BBQs and travel, if they happen at all, will look markedly different. I usually take time over the Memorial Day weekend to gather with my family and... Continue reading...

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May 22, 2020 8:27 am
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Change Goes Better When Staff Feel Appreciated

Change in the workplace is often inevitable. Previously, changes had to be made in response to external circumstances, like marketplace forces, or they were part of a larger institutional plan to create growth and improvement. Now, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, change seems to be the only constant in the workplace. Changes in the foundations of how we work and where we work are ever evolving and they can take their toll on employees — which leads to uncertainty, anxiety, resistance, low morale and more. The good news is, managing reactions to change can be made easier if... Continue reading...

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May 18, 2020 9:00 am
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Encouragement, Support, and Staying Connected During Quarantine

Last week we conducted a small survey to see how our readers were feeling supported and encouraged, how they were supporting and encouraging others and what has helped them stay positive. We were overwhelmed by the positive answers and examples you gave us. First, we asked you: How much have you felt supported and encouraged by someone with whom you work since the COVID-19 crisis has developed? The average of all responses was a “4” (1 = Not at all; 5 = Extremely)! We were glad to learn that many of you are feeling supported and encouraged during this difficult... Continue reading...

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May 4, 2020 9:00 am
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How Do You Successfully Encourage Employees During Difficult Times?

Anxiety. Discouragement. Feeling disconnected. Worried about the future. All are currently common experiences for hundreds of thousands of workers in the U.S. We are told “we’re all in this together,” “we’ll get through this,” “it will get better soon” – all of which are true (to some degree). But almost all of us have moments when we are emotionally worn out, lose hope, and want to give up. Some of us cycle through these periods rather quickly, others linger in the dark space for a while, and some of us have difficulty climbing out of the cave. Enter: the need for encouragement and... Continue reading...

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April 27, 2020 9:00 am
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Spring and the Importance of Newness in Our Lives

Spring is late in coming in my part of the country. The mornings have been cold; the days are often cloudy and dreary. And Spring – the vibrancy and newness of life – has been put on hold across the country due to shelter in place and social distancing policies. Being able to get out and about, get together with friends and family, and go “do something” has been essentially written out of our lives. As a result, many people feel stagnant. Bored. Unstimulated. All of which can lead to depression and irritability. These feelings, coupled with the underlying anxiety... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2020 9:00 am
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Why Relational Connection Is So Important During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the need for social distancing, quarantine and isolation so that vulnerable individuals are not exposed to the virus and healthcare systems are not overwhelmed. Collectively, we understand the goodness of “flattening the curve” by each of us doing our part to slow the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is not the only epidemic we are facing. Separating ourselves because of COVID-19 comes at a time when America and many other nations are in the midst of an epidemic of loneliness whose antidote is greater positive social connection. Our current situation—the simultaneous need... Continue reading...

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April 13, 2020 9:00 am
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Recognizing and Coping with Discouragement

You work hard, try your best, and still, things don’t work out as you hoped. You plan, prepare, think ahead — and yet, something unforeseen comes out of nowhere and creates another obstacle you have to overcome. Life, both at work and outside of work, is difficult. This is especially true now with shelter in place rules, kids at home, and new work arrangements. What is discouragement, really?  Discouragement literally means, “without courage.” We lose that fighting edge to “go get ’em” and attack the challenges of the day. We lose heart. We are worn out. We wonder if “it”... Continue reading...

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April 6, 2020 7:54 am
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The Intersection Between Emotional Intelligence and Employee Appreciation

Emotional Intelligence is a big deal, and a lot of people across all fields have recognized its importance. Daniel Goleman labeled it the sine quo non of leadership. Travis Bradberry found high levels of emotional intelligence in 90% of top performers across a variety of industries. Actor David Caruso called emotional intelligence the “intersection” of head and heart. Jack Welch said that emotional intelligence was more important than book smarts in the making of a leader. Emotional intelligence describes a person’s ability to recognize, manage, and influence emotions in themselves and other people. It is the skill you use to... Continue reading...

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March 16, 2020 9:00 am
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Why “Thinking Outside of the Box” (by itself) Doesn’t Work

Most of us would agree that we all have a certain way of thinking. We’ve been taught our whole lives that our own way of thinking is thinking “inside the box.” We’ve been told many times that we need to learn to think “outside the box.” I contend that this doesn’t work. When we’re in a box (our way of thinking), we may hear or see something that encourages us to make a change. We are encouraged, and we decide to attempt to get outside of our normal way of thinking. But when we get outside of our box, we... Continue reading...

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February 3, 2020 9:00 am
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