Real Communication. Real Results.

Author, speaker, and coach, Betty Lochner is a passionate leader, with over 25 years of experience specializing in improving interpersonal skills, building and leading teams, training supervisors, and working with different communication styles and generations. 

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How to Say Yes to Saying No

by Betty Lochner on April 18, 2017

Chocolate Chip CookiesHave you ever made cookies at midnight for a classroom party because someone called you with desperation in their voice? Or ended up as the chair of a committee that you really aren’t interested in, but everyone said you would do a good job? Or how about helping with a charity yard sale on your sunny day off?  I could go on, but you “yes” sayers – well, you know who you are.

So, admit it. You are over committed. You have said yes when you should have said no and now you are spending time on things you wonder how you ever got involved in, leaving you less time to do the things that really are important to you.

Why do we say yes when we really want to say no?

At the very basic level, we say yes because we want to be liked and we want to please. We want to help others, and, quite frankly, many of us are totally conflict adverse and unable to refuse a request. Often times we say “yes” instead of “no” out of guilt, inner conflict, or a misguided notion that we can do it all, or that no one else will do it if we don’t.

However, by learning to say no, you will reduce your stress level and give you more time for what’s really important to you – your goals, your vision for your life, your values, and taking care of you. And, when you learn to say no to things that don’t fit with your goals you will find time freedom and empowerment.

There are only so many hours in the day. That means that whatever you choose to take on limits your ability to do other things. So, even if you somehow can fit a new commitment into your schedule, if it’s not more important than what you would have to give up to do it (including time for yourself), you really don’t have the time in your schedule.

Yes, you can say no!

Here’s a step by step script for you to use to say no firmly and politely. I suggest practicing it and memorizing it so you will be ready to say no and then let it go.

When someone asks you to do something you want to say “no” to:

Example: Betty, will you be on the nominating committee for the incoming booster club board? You would do a great job and we are desperate! We really need you!

PART 1: Your initial response

Option 1: Thank you so much for asking. It means a lot to me that you think I can do that. I’m going to say no and encourage you to ask someone else. I wish I could help you but I can’t.
Option 2: That doesn’t work with my goals right now. Thank you for asking, but I have to say no.

Pick an option that feels most comfortable for you, or develop your own phrase and then practice it!

Now, what if they are persistent and just won’t take “no” for an answer?

PART 2But, we need you!

Here’s the second part of your script after they blather on about why you have to do it or that no one else can, or they share some other guilt inducing language.

Say: That may be true. No thank you.

If asked for an explanation, remember that you really don’t owe anyone one. It doesn’t fit with my schedule, is perfectly acceptable.

PART 3: Your final answer

If they still continue to try to convince you, lean over and whisper in their ear “no.”  Then walk away.

And remember, your no is someone else’s yes! You never know what kind of any opportunity you may be giving someone else.

So, practice your script, be ready for the ask – it may come when you least expect it or don’t have the energy to deal with it.

Take care of yourself and just say no!


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home and 52 Communication Tips

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:

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They’re Counting on Us

by Betty Lochner on March 18, 2017

Note: This post was originally published by the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) with the title “They’re Counting on Us to Help Build Their Pot of Gold”

Counting on You

This month many of us become a little Irish as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday is full of symbols that we hope will bring good luck to us and our families. Whether we’re covering every surface in Shamrock décor, or draping ourselves in every green article of clothing we own, we all hope we find the elusive Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow.

Having luck and a pot of money waiting for us to use for college costs would be nice, wouldn’t it?

This year I became a Grandma and now, more than ever, I’m thinking about how I can help my grandson have that pot of money waiting for him. It takes planning and discipline, but it can be done.  My husband and I did it for both of our kids and they finished college nearly debt free.  And now we are encouraging our kids to do the same for their kids (and future kids) and we’ve decided to help.

Our sweet grandson, Azriel, is about to take his first steps, but we took our first steps to saving for his college dreams several years ago. When our kids graduated from college, we took the amount we had been saving per month and opened a 529 college savings account for future grand kids. We put one account in each of our children’s names.  My daughter’s account for Azriel is now worth about $5,900 and he is only 9 months old.  We’ll continue to contribute to the account – at least $100 for each birthday and Christmas – for the next 18 years.  By the time he’s ready for college, our small contributions will add at least another $3,600 in principal alone. If his parents try to double that effort, maybe add their annual tax return, and get the word out to other relatives for gifting, Azriel could easily have the cost of two or more years of college paid for.

And, there’s more than just the satisfaction of helping build our grandson’s dreams. A 529 savings account grows tax free, and there are gift and estate planning benefits too. You can find out more and at

When it comes to paying for college, with a little discipline and planning, we can all help build that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.


About the Author:

Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation. To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit Betty is also the Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. and serves as Past Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN).


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Writing Performance Evaluations that Matter

by Betty Lochner on March 13, 2017

Azy ReadingOver the years as a subordinate and as a supervisor as all levels, I’ve learned that most performance evaluations are a better reflection of the person writing the evaluation than it is of the person being evaluated.

I’ve recieve formal and informal performance evaluations that I have read over and over because they either 1) upset me by the language used , the way it was written, and the focus on the negative; or 2) because it made me feel good about the work I was doing and my goals for the future.

Pretty radical extremes. The difference? How well the evaluator understood the goal of the evaluation and how well that was communicated.

Often the boss, aka the evaluator, will see a performance evaluation as something that has to be done – like eating something you don’t like because you were told to – rather than something that can highlight your role as a coach and mentor to help your employees be the best employees they can be.

Instead of dreding the process, think of it this way – a well written and communicated performance evaluation is one of the best tools you have to help employees work to their strengths and do their best work. They will  help you retain good employees and coach those that are under-performing.

Here’s where to start.

When you are writing a performance evaluation, think about the goals you are trying to achieve. Break out of the tendency to follow any rating system in place or a special format. If you are required to use a form, use it sparingly and attach a more comprehensive and meaningful memo. The best evaluations are those that result in meaningful discussion and a plan to move forward.

Here are some tips to make sure that the performance evaluations you give are meaningful and truly bring the best out of your staff.

  1. Start the evaluation process way before the actual evaluation. Make sure you are having regular coaching sessions to talk about expectations and how it’s going throughout the year. An annual performance evaluation is not a time for surprises, but a time to reflect on the year in a positive and helpful way. In the end, you get to decide how to write the evaluation, but it can be very empowering to an employee to make them a part of the process that is helpful to them, not just a reflection of you.
  2. Always start with sharing the positive – I like to call these strengths. Talk about what has gone well and which expectations were met.  Have examples ready and focus on the successes, even if they are small things like their reliability (getting to work on time), or their overall professionalism (being nice).
  3. Use peer comments. Ask colleagues to share comments about their interactions together.  The good and the not so good comments may give you some insight on patterns or behaviors you may want to address. And, it’s always nice to hear the good comments. Share those freely.
  4. Address stretches – those areas that need some improvement. Again, there should be no surprises.  This is an opportunity to talk about expectations that still need work and to lay out a plan for addressing them.  If you need to have a hard conversation with them, have the courage to do that.
  5. End with positive reinforcement. Re-emphasize what went well and that you are glad they are on your team.
  6. Ask how you can help make them even more successful. Be open to hearing what you can do more of or less of and how you can be a better manager.
  7. Ask if there is anything they would like worded differently or anything you missed before you produce the final evaluation.
  8. Start the planning process for the next evaluation – talk about expectations, goals, and professional development.

As supervisor, it’s your job to make your employees’ performance reviews as objective and unbiased as possible.  Take the time you need to be good supervisor and coach by writing performance evaluations that matter.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transform your life at work and at home, 52 Communication Tips, and Gladie’s Gift – all are available on  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit

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Breaking Your Bad Communication Habits

by Betty Lochner on February 28, 2017

Closet purgeHave you ever gone through your closet and sorted out your old clothes? You know, ones that either don’t fit, or that aren’t your “color?”  I learned recently that I shouldn’t wear black. I think half of my wardrobe is black.  So, I decided it was time for some clothing reassessment.

I grabbed a friend and a glass of wine and went through my closet. We used the color charts and tips and after a very productive session of closet downsizing, I took three garbage bags full of clothing to my car to be transported to charity. The bags sat for a week, and whenever I opened my car up I peeked over to take a look and congratulate myself on my accomplishment and discipline. Then I started poking through the bags. I found myself pulling out a few things that I decided I just wasn’t ready to let go of – I need at least some black in my wardrobe, right? And, maybe that 25 year old sweatshirt my kids made me should stay too.

My husband even tried to help by communicating that I have too many shoes by lining them up and blaming the dog.

shoe roundupThis isn’t unlike how we respond to getting rid of bad habits. We know we should get rid of them, we’ve learned what we should keep and what needs to go, but when the going gets tough we revert back to the familiar. But we need to let them go and make way for new, improved habits!

Think about it – do you have a communication habit you need to let go of?  Do you talk more than you speak? Or maybe, you are really good at interrupting and want to change that?  It’s hard to break our communication behaviors that we have hung on to for so long. Our human nature makes us want to hold on to the familiar and resist change – even if we know it’s for the better.


If you are working on changing a habit, give yourself some grace.  But, when you find yourself putting bad habits back in your closet to stay, go back in there, put them in a bag and get rid of them. You’ll be so glad you did.

You can check out training opportunities to help you get rid of some old comunication habits and work on new ones to improve your relationships at work and home here.
Betty LochnerBetty Lochner is a communication specialist, author, and professional speaker who teaches individuals and organizations how to make small changes that make huge differences in their relationships at work and home – improving morale, confidence and productivity. She is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home and 52 Communication Tips. Both are also available on
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Connecting Through Kindness

Let’s celebrate Random Acts of Kindness week by making a contribution to making world a better place to live. Here are a few ways to do that.

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Communicate Your Love|Give Your Valentine a Heart Attack

Communicating your love is sometimes uncomfortable, but always important. Here are some really easy, inexpensive and tangible ways to do that.

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