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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Conflict Communication: Should I have this conversation?

by Betty Lochner on October 13, 2016

Author’s note: The following is an encore blog – originally written Sept. 2010.  Since then, we’ve fallen in love with Kauai and return every other year…

The first time my husband and I went on vacation to Kauai, we stayed in a studio apartment attached to a private home. We decided not to stay in a resort hotel so we could have some real peace and quiet.

The first morning we were there, we were woken up by a rooster crowing loudly in the yard at oh, about 4:00 a.m. Okay, we were on vacation, and vacation to me means sleeping in. So, the rooster presented some immediate feelings of conflict, maybe even a bit of anger. We went out on the deck to see the landlord yelling and chasing after the rooster in the yard. We didn’t know whether to laugh or be more upset. And, yes, the picture here is THE rooster in the middle of the conflict.

So we looked at eat other — should we yell at the landlord so he knew we are unhappy that he didn’t warn us about the 4:00 a.m. wake-up call? Clearly he knew it was a problem and hadn’t told us. Or, should we let it go? We were, after all, on vacation.

Should I  have this conversation?

Many times we jump to try to resolve a conflict when the answer to this question may very well be no.  We immediately react with something like “hey, why did this happen to me”?  or we get angry and show it. That immediately puts the other person on the defense, and may even damage the relationship – damage that you’ll either have to repair later, or live with.

To help you think through your decision of whether you need to have a hard conversation in the first place, here are some questions you can ask yourself before you step into a difficult conversation.

Think of a conversation that you think may need to happen – or review one you’ve had lately. Write down your answers to the following questions – be honest with yourself:

1) Why do I think I should have this conversation?

What do you want to gain from having this conversation?  It is important enough to go to bat for what is important to you?

2) What is the worst that could happen if I have this conversation?

Think through the worse-case scenarios of addressing this issue. Could you ruin a family event? Lose a friend? Make a landlord mad at me? Make the situation worse?  Be as specific as you can and weigh out the risks if things don’t go the way you plan.

3) What is the best that could happen if I address this issue?

What do you hope will happen? What would be the absolute best solution to this problem? Is there a solution to this problem?

4) What if I do nothing?

If this conversation doesn’t happen, what are the consequences? Are they worth risking? Does it really matter?

6) If I decide to have this conversation, how can I do it well?

Think about what you need to say and how to say it and practice first. Don’t be unprepared!  Focus on the issue at hand and not the person.  Be respectful and don’t be unprepared.  Take an evening to think about it.  Your perspective may change in the morning.

So what happened with the landlord?  We decided not to react immediately, but we did decide to have a conversation with the landlord later that morning.  First we went back to bed.

Later in the day we went down and had a friendly discussion over coffee about the morning surprise. We suggested he let future guests know ahead of time, maybe even have some fun in the descriptions of the property. That way they would know what to expect, could bring earplugs, and be prepared to embrace the experience. He was grateful for the feedback – he had been feeling bad about it and didn’t know what to do without risking losing some business.

The result was a win-win. He got some good feedback and we made a friend. And, we learned throughout our trip that roosters are pretty much everywhere – except resorts – on the island.  Now we know.


Betty LochnerBetty Lochner is the Owner and President 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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Babysitting Azzy: A Day in the Life of a Nanny Grammy

by Betty Lochner on September 20, 2016

Azzy_2016-09-01This summer I joined a new and wonderful season of my life when we welcomed our first grandchild, Azriel, “Azzy”.  He was born on June 1 to amazing parents and an extended family and friends that love him to pieces.  He’s a lucky boy.

As our daughter, Kalli, heads back to work, our sweet Azzy is just 3 months old. It’s a tough transition for a new mama, but with the support of my work, my husband’s retirement, and a flexible work schedule for his dad, Azzy will be cared for by family members for the first year of his life.

I’ve raised two children and have a few skills in this area, so I thought I was ready for this grandma gig.  How quickly we forget how exhausting taking care of one small baby is!

My Azzy day is Friday.  On my my first solo day I learned several things.

1) Azriel runs the show.

Kalli told me he does best if he is swaddled or naps on you.  I couldn’t really figure out the swaddle velcro thing so I just put him in his bed. I was quite pleased with myself that he was sleeping in his bed and got busy doing the laundry.  Twenty minutes later, Azriel woke himself up.  I couldn’t get him back to sleep. That was, until I let him sleep on me.

2) Things will not go as planned.

After he re-awoke, he was hungry.  Really hungry. While we both waited anxiously for his bottle to warm, I heard water running.  I strolled down the hallway with my unhappy baby and found the sink next to the washer overflowing into the garage.  I rushed to move tools off the floor and opened the overhead garage door.  My dog, Penny, made a run for it down the street to chase the neighbor’s cat.  As, I went running after her, still with baby in tow, the neighbor saw me and asked if he could help.  All I could think to say was “this didn’t happen.”

3. Bouncing is Good.

After we downed the bottle, Azzy started his descent back in to sleep.  I learned the bigger the bounce, the faster the fall.

4. Playtime is as fun for Grammy as it is for Azzy.

So far we love the necklace game (featured in photo above), stroller rides, peek-a-boo and some serious hand exploration.

5. There is a schedule. And, we have a goal.

It’s called “sleep, play, eat.”  Not necessarily in that order and for no specified time.  The sole goal of the day was to make sure he was either sound asleep or awake and exceedingly happy when mama came home. And in that we succeeded.

We survived week one and now, in week two, I feel like a pro.  We have a system.  It is basically to refer to #1 above: Azzy runs the show.  And, that works for me.


Betty Lochner Gramma


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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Communication Skills and the 55 Percent

by Betty Lochner on August 15, 2016

Maui Whale-2383

I didn’t really say everything I said. – Yogi Berra

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten back to basics so I’m refreshing one of my early blogs that really hones in on that.  It all starts with this: successful communication is a package deal. It’s in the words you speak, in the tone of your voice and in the language of your body.

One study conducted at UCLA found that the impact of communication is:

7% = words spoken/written +
38% = percent tone of voice +
55% = percent body language 

Let’s talk about the 55 percent

If most of our communication cues come from our non-verbal cues (a whopping 55%) let’s spend at least 55% of our communication on that!

Without saying a word, you reveal your feelings and attitudes. Your smile says, “I’m happy,” your frown and crossed arms say “I’m mad,” and your drumming fingers say “I’m impatient.” Your pouting may mean, “I’m frustrated.”

Even when you try to show nothing, your closed-off stance and refusal to speak says, “I don’t want to talk about it. Leave me alone.” The silent treatment speaks volumes. 

Body Language: Your key to communication success

Improving your body language is all about self-assessment and learning how you come across (or don’t).  And, once you’ve focused on how you are coming across you can begin working on how to change your body language to improve your communication.  

1. Eye contact — Do you use eye contact regularly? Keep it comfortable and maintain it as much as possible.

2. Facial expression – What is your face showing? Is it inexpressive, or emotionally present and filled with interest? 

3. Tone of voice – Does your voice project warmth, confidence, and delight, or is it strained and blocked? 

4. Posture and gesture – Does your body look still and immobile, or relaxed? Sensing the degree of tension in your shoulders and jaw should answer this question. A relaxed posture with your hands at your sides is best. 

5. Touch – Remember, what feels good is relative. Be careful about touch unless you know how you will be received. 

6. Intensity – Do you or the person you are communicating with seem flat, cool, and disinterested, or over-the-top and melodramatic? This has as much to do with what feels good to the other person as it does with what you personally prefer.

7.Timing and pace – What happens when you or someone you care about makes an important statement? Does a response—not necessarily verbal—come too quickly or too slowly? Is there an easy flow of information back and forth?

8. Sounds – Do you use sounds to indicate that you are attending to the other person? Do you notice sounds from others that indicate their caring or concern for you?

Source: The Language of Emotional Intelligence by Jeanne Segal

Building Your Communication Skills Toolbox

The easiest way to improve your communication skills is to pay attention to all to words written, words spoken, and body language. They all contribute to the message you send. And while it’s important to focus on body language (the 55%), you should always use as many of your tools together as possible. 

So, get out of your chair and tell your cubicle neighbor what you want to say instead of e-mailing. Call your friend instead of texting. Look up from the TV when someone talks to you. Most of all, focus on communicating! It doesn’t always come naturally. You have to learn and work at it to get better. And, like most things worth having in life, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.  


IMG_0011Betty 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, 52 Communication Tips, and Gladie’s Gift

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

Photo credit: Shootin’ for Fun


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wedding kiss 1978This month was my 38th wedding anniversary.  Being married to a complete opposite isn’t easy, but it sure is worth the hard work…..

Like most marriages, my husband and I have many important things in common – our shared belief in God, our treasured family, and some interests and hobbies including music, hiking, dogs, and cop shows (I follow the relationships, he follows the action).

Also, as in most marriages, we are very different in many, many ways. For example, we view money differently (I spend, he saves) and we don’t always agree on how clean our house should be (I’m a slob, he like things orderly) and, well, I could go on for a while on our differences.

In discovering our differences, we’ve learned that enjoying a good marriage is really hard work. It is usually how we communicate, or how we don’t communicate that makes or breaks our time together. Without exception, our biggest struggles come when we aren’t communicating well.

Here’s an example from a recent conversation: we were traveling in the car on our way to a movie. My husband was quiet and smiling smugly. I said, ‘What are you thinking?’ He replied, ‘I was just thinking how critical you are.’

“My natural instinct was to say “I am not critical!” But, instead, I took a pause and asked, in as kind of tone as I could muster, ‘What does that mean, that I’m critical?’ He replied, ‘I mean our family couldn’t exist without you. You are so critical to me.”

So glad I asked. In earlier days of our relationship that misunderstanding, followed by some assumptions, and added with a tone of sarcasm, would have set us into quite an argument.

While we are still practicing most of these on a daily basis, here are 10 tips for improving communication in ANY relationship.

1) Use complete sentences. “Good”, “yes”, “no”, “don’t know” and other shorthand answers can convey you aren’t listening or don’t really care.

2) Be as specific as you can. This goes hand in hand with #1, and is also critical. Don’t use vague words like “the thing”, “that way”, or my personal favorite: “look”! – (look where? up? over? down?)

3) Ask for what you need. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements to share what is on your mind, what it is bothering you, or what you need. For example, instead of saying, “You never come home for dinner on time,” say, “I feel neglected and hurt when I have dinner all ready and have to wait for an hour.”

4) Don’t assume ANYTHING. If you expect something and don’t tell the other person, don’t be surprised when they have no idea what you are talking about because, quite frankly, mind reading is frustrating.

5) Don’t blame. Use “we” instead of “you,” when things go wrong. “I thought we agreed to go to this party tonight” works better than “why are you home late again?” And, say you are sorry for your part in whatever misunderstanding is going on.

6) Be kind. Make an intentional effort to be kind and thoughtful on a daily basis. Say what you appreciate (“I love that you make coffee in the mornings!”) and do small acts of kindness (give a flower from the garden, offer a drink or snack, compliment on what they are wearing).

7) Show genuine interest. If your spouse has a specific interest that you could care less about, try your hardest to listen, pick out interesting parts and comment, and be patient.

8) Smile. Try to look for the positive in every situation. When in doubt, hold your tongue and choose to smile.

9) Give the gift of time. Slow your life down a bit and take time to give your relationship the attention that you did when you first met. Put regular dates on your calendar, take a vacation together, hold hands, snuggle up.

10) And, finally, and most important: Say “I Love You” often, and sincerely, even when you are cranky or mad. Because, let’s face it, it’s hard to stay mad when you see compassion and caring in your partner’s face.

Top_of_CamelbackCommunication specialist, author, and professional speaker Betty Lochner teaches individuals and organizations how to make small changes in how they communicate 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

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



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6 Steps to Help you Handle Conflict

When conflict happens, do you jump to silence or violence? Neither are very good options. Here are 6 steps to help you learn to handle conflict well.

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