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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6 Steps to Help you Handle Conflict

by Betty Lochner on June 8, 2016

ConflictConflict is unavoidable. It’s all around us. It happens every day. And, if you are like most of us, you try hard to avoid it. Most of us aren’t comfortable dealing with conflict when it happens. We remain silent and hope it will go away – letting a small thing eventually turn into a bigger one.

Others like to jump to anger right away. Recently I backed out of a parking lot and “almost” scrapped a really nice convertible.  In my defense, he was parked crooked. As I started to pull away a man came running towards me yelling at me about how I almost hit his expensive car. He said some things that weren’t very nice and I immediately felt my heart beating faster.  Fortunately, his friend came out and calmed him down. But this guy was clearly a “jump to violence when you are in conflict” kind of guy.  So, what should I do?

When conflict happens, do you jump to silence or violence?  Neither are very good options.

When you find yourself in or near a conflict situation, you always have three ways you can respond.

You can:

1) Avoid it and hope it goes away,
2) handle it poorly, or
3) handle it well.

Most of us don’t always handle conflict well.  And by handling it “well” I mean handling conflict in an assertive, productive, respectful way.

Do you handle conflict well? If you could brush up or use some new conflict management skills, here  are 6 steps for you to practice and follow.

1. Stop, breath, and think.

Stop whatever you’re doing, take a couple of deep breaths to control your tension, and then think about exactly what you need to do and say next.

2. Acknowledge the conflict.

Say something like: “I’m sensing that there are some issues between the two of us that we need to talk through,” or, “I’m feeling that getting so close to your nice car upset you. Can we talk about it?”

3. Use your active listening skills.

Don’t interrupt or try to defend or convince. Listen to their side of the story first! Say, “Tell me more.” or “I understand you are feeling angry”.  Resist the urge to interrupt to defend yourself.  Always Listen first!

4. Stick to the issue, not the person.

When responding: focus on the issue at hand instead of how you feel about the person. Focus on the unwanted behavior or the issue in the core of the conflict. Be gentle on the person and tough on the issue:

• Be specific and descriptive. Describe what specifically happened? Describe the Gap: “Here is what I was expecting; here is what happened. Let’s talk about the gap.”

• State your thoughts, feelings, and wants. What are you thinking and/or feeling? What do you want to have happen?

• Focus on the actions and behaviors, not the person. Don’t blame the person; describe the actions or behavior that caused the conflict.

• Pause and check for understanding. Say, “Do you understand what I mean?” and “Did I understand you correctly?”

5. Keep it respectful – do your absolute best to conduct yourself in a calm and respectful manner—regardless of how the other person responds. Be kind and keep a cool head.

6. Clarify your intentions. What needs to happen next? What are the next steps that need to happen to resolve the conflict? Make a plan and agree on it. Set a specific action to happen by a specific date, then remember to follow-up.

Will it be easy? Of course not! However, that doesn’t change the fact that although you can’t control what others do, you certainly can (and do) control your own behavior.

By learning the communication skills you need for successful conflict resolution, you can keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing.


Betty Lochner GrammaBetty 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.  All are available on To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:








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Communication Tools: The Power of Micro-Connects

by Betty Lochner on May 10, 2016

I can live one or two months
employee engagement on one good compliment
- Mark Twain
One of the deepest human needs is to feel appreciated.  It’s what makes us feel valued. It’s what makes us happy and it’s what motivates us.
 We live in a culture that is appreciation deprived.  Studies show that up to 70% of workers feel they are not appreciated. But, the good news is that when you give appreciation to someone on a regular and informal basis, you will see a 40% increase in their performance. Wow!
Why don’t we do more of that? Mostly it’s because we don’t realize how great of an impact it makes and how important it is to make a concerted effort to regularly practice giving appreciation.
Small Changes Make Big Differences
One of the best ways to make simple change in this area is to focus on your communication “micro-connects.” Micro-connects are small things you can do every time you interact with someone that shows you care and appreciate them.
One of the best ways to improve our micro-connections with someone is to be a better listener. You can do that by consistently paying full attention, pausing (don’t interrupt), asking clarifying questions to make sure you understand, and using good eye contact.
Here are some other great ways to add micro-connects to your daily interactions:
  • Change your body position to get on equal level with who you are talking to (stand if they are standing, sit if they are sitting)
  • Smile (the corners of your eyes should crinkle if you’re doing it right!)
  • Notice small things and mention them (i.e. a new picture in someone’s office)
  • Remember birthdays (especially those who don’t expect you to remember)
  • Remember names and use them (start with the one wearing a name tag at the grocery store)
  • Go out of your way to do something nice for someone
  • Catch people doing something good and tell them (and their boss!)
  • Write a short note of appreciation or thanks
  • Create fun: tell a joke, share a funny story – engage in a fun topic

Get out of your comfort zone and make better micro-connections with everyone you come in contact with. Exercise your appreciation muscle often through these simple micro-connects and they will soon become habits. You will immediately see changes in your relationships.  You’ll notice right away the differences: better engagement, responses and results!

Betty hikingBetty 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.  All are available on To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:
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7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Money

by Betty Lochner on April 19, 2016

Betty LochnMy parents were children during the great depression. Because of this, they taught me to think of money as a demonstration of success, and always said that “you can’t take it with you, so you’d better spend it now.”  I was given just about anything I wanted, regardless of whether we could afford it, and taking on debt was a money management tool.  My parents were trying to protect me from having to worry about money.  They meant well and were the most generous people I have ever known. But my lack of financial literacy led me to a rocky relationship with money, and I developed bad spending and saving habits.

April is Financial Literacy Month. So what better time to do a bit of spring cleaning and review your own relationship with money, especially as it relates to saving for college? Studies have shown that even a very small college savings fund significantly increases the likelihood that a child will attend college.  So, finding the money to save even a little can go a very long way.

Here are some tips to improve your relationship with money:

  1. Review your spending.  Where are you spending your money? Analyze your spending habits and look for waste.
  2.  Communicate. Talk to your family about priorities and make a list of your financial goals.
  3. Create a budget.  Budgeting is an important tool that is used by only 40% of U.S. adults! By creating a budget, you learn to control your spending.  And, where you spend your money shows your priorities.  If saving for college is a priority, then plan for it!
  4. Set up an emergency fund. Be ready for unexpected life events – illness, job loss, major car repairs – by saving at least 3 months of your basic living expenses.  This is where unwanted debt can easily accrue if you don’t plan ahead.
  5. Get out of debt.  Find ways to save money to pay off your debt by limiting luxuries, selling stuff you don’t use anymore, or even getting a temporary 2nd job.  And, avoid taking on new debt if possible.
  6. Make deliberate purchases. When you want something like a new car, or those adorable, but outrageously expensive shoes, try waiting 24 hours before making the purchase. Marketers want us to think we can’t live without a lot of stuff, but when you put your savings goals before instant gratification, maybe you can.
  7. Teach your kids about money. According to Parents, Kids & Money Survey, over 70% of parents are reluctant to talk about finances with their children.  Like mine, these parents think they are protecting their children from having to worry about money. But, in reality, children who are involved in family finances tend to be more confident about money and are more motivated to save.

In addition to these tips, this month #FinancialLiteracyMonth has taken to Twitter to give some of the best financial literacy stats/tips around. Check it out.

I think every month should be financial literacy month, don’t you?

Betty Lochner is the Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. Under her leadership, the GET program has grown from 7,900 to over 130,000 accounts, with a fund valued at over $2.4 billion. Washington is unique in that their only 529 plan offered is a prepaid tuition plan. Lochner currently serves as Past Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN). Note: This post was originally published by the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) on April 18, 2016

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Communicating Respect | Test your skills

by Betty Lochner on March 30, 2016

Respect is about how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress. ~ Richard Branson


How do you spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T? 

Something I hear alot from people that are having trouble communicating is:  He/she just doesn’t respect me. 

Have you ever felt that way?

Why is that? For most of us, not showing respect isn’t something we intentionally do. 

It’s much easier to see what a lack of respect looks like in others, than to recognize when you aren’t showing respectful behavior.  Quite simply – we don’t always notice our own behaviors and non-verbal cues that can be perceived as a lack of respect.

Test out how you are doing by using this acrostic of 7 ways to show respect:

Recognize how what you are saying is coming across.   Pay attention and watch for feedback from others. Watch your tone and use good non-verbal skills.

Eliminate negative words and phrases from your vocabulary.  Don’t use words that can be hurtful, offensive or misinterpreted.

Speak with people — not at them, or about them. Engage in a conversation, not a debate, or a lecture.

Practice appreciation. Show appreciation to those around you daily through your words and actions.

Earn respect from others by modeling respectful behaviors.  Don’t expect respect from others if you are acting like a jerk.

Consider others’ feelings before speaking and acting.  Is what you are saying kind? Is it necessary?

Take time to listen.  Don’t interrupt.  Always listen first.

So, how did you do?  Do you do them all, regularly?  What could you do better?   Pick out one of these descriptions of respect and work on making it a daily habit when you are communicating.

Showing respect is often something you don’t think about. But, it’s an incredibly important skill to develop to make your communication better for better results. Some of these behaviors will take time to practice and learn.  But, it is well worth it! Learning to regularly show respect when you communicate will make a huge difference in your relationships at work and home.


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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Positive comments – are yours 5 to 1?

Are you a positive communicator? Are you sure?

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5 ways to improve your work relationships

Do you have people at work that you have trouble connecting with? Do you wish you could improve some of those relationships?
Here are 5 ways to do just that.

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