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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Communication Tips We Can Learn From Our Pets

by Betty Lochner on July 15, 2015

2015-06-12 21.58.52My husband and I had a really great date nights when we redeemed a certificate my son gave me to take a paint class to learn to “Paint Your Pet.”  Who knew that 2 hours and a glass of wine would make me an artist?  But, as you can see by our displayed masterpieces here, that’s all it took!  It was a fun evening of meeting other dog lovers and indulging in our creative side.

Spending time talking about and painting our four-legged family members reminded me of some of my best and favorite communication tips I have learned from our family dogs, Penny and Ruben.

Top Commuication Tips Can Learn from Our Pets

1. Listen first. Listen with every bone in your body and as if your next snack depends on it.

2. Make a lot of noise when you need to. When you need to say something, say it.  Don’t withhold communicating because you are uncomfortable.  Be brace, and practice saying what you need to say, when you need to say it.

3. Say you’re sorry when you’ve done something bad. We all make mistakes, so just snuggle up and be cute and say (and mean) you are truly sorry.

4. Don’t bite people. Don’t be mean spirited or sarcastic when you communicate.  It will get you no respect and it’s not worth the consequences. You may even end up in a really bad place.

5. Wag your tail. Show appreciation and gratitude to those around you. It’s a very powerful communication tool and works every time.

6. Pay attention.  Pay attention to what you are paying attention to.

7. Live a balanced life. Enjoy the simple things in life. Learn some and think some and sing and dance and paint and play and work every day some!

I don’t ever remember taking a “Paint Your Child” art class.  Probably because when our kids were young, our goal was simply to get through the day.   Now that we are empty nesters with a less demanding family schedule we can take time to do something new and reflect.  Something I highly recommend doing every chance you get.

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Betty, Ruben and Penny Betty, Ruben and Penny

 

Betty 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 Amazon.com.

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Making Authentic Leadership Real

by Betty Lochner on July 5, 2015

leadership wordle

I’ve been teaching alot on Authentic Leadership lately – one of my favorite topics.  Authentic leaders can motivate, are confident, and get results.  They are also genuine and often really amazing and interesting people.  Why?  Because they’ve done the work and they are reaping the benefits!  They know their strengths and work to them.

Here’s a quick overview and three key ways you can better understand and do the work you need to do to become a more authentic leader.

The first key to authentic leadership is knowing yourself.  Most of us are not as self aware as we think we are.  Consider these questions:

  • What motivates you to do and say the things you do?
  • Do you communicate with truth?
  • Do you have the courage to say the things you need to say in a kind and respectable way?

If you can answer these “yes!” with confidence and demonstrate these qualities in your daily life, you are on the right track.  If there are any areas you aren’t sure about, or know you need to work on, then think about what steps you can take to do that.

A Word about Respect

The second key is one word: Respect.  Respect and authentic leadership go hand in hand. Studies show that the #1 thing employees want from their supervisors is respect. It ranks higher than pay or professional development.

Do you show respect by listening, by being kind, by not judging?  Are you patient?

My third key to becoming an authentic leader is to start to practice some ways to integrate it your daily life.   Here are a few ways you can start now to become a more authentic leader:

  • Recognize you are an influencer – be a good role model.
  • Be courageous  – say what you need to say sooner than later.
  • Be an encourager – look for whats going well and encourage that behavior.
  • Articulate your vision – tie everything you do to your vision – figure what is your mission and vision for the work you do and live it out.
  • Take an assement from those around you. Ask for colleagues and family:  How am I doing? What can I do better?
Do you want to learn more about authentic leadership?  Let’s talk.

Mt St Helens

 

Betty 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 Amazon.com.

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Finding Common Connections: Meeting Alizza

by Betty Lochner on June 25, 2015

 

2015-05-31 11.13.21
“Only you can make friends with a New Yorker on the Street” ~ Elizabeth to me after I made friends with a stranger on the street.

My recent visit to New York included many great adventures – media interviews, two Broadway shows, my first visit to MoMA, and visits with dear friends.

I love New York. It’s such a different world from Olympia and a really fun place to visit.  But, the people there have a reputation. They aren’t that friendly, or so I’ve heard.

Now, out west we are pretty casual, accepting, and usually nice to strangers.  In New York, that’s not always the case.  Not everyone says “hi” on the street and people generally keep to their own business.  Sometimes they are known to be downright rude.

Yes, that’s what I’ve heard.  But that’s not been my experience.  I have found that, no matter where you are, if you look people in the eye and smile, and point out something you have in common with them right away, you can make connections quickly.

My visit took me to see my daughter’s best friend, Elizabeth. We were walking along the Upper East Side where she lives and I spotted a woman with a mini-dachshund.  I immediately moved toward the woman with the dog and asked, “Can I say hi to your dog? I have dachshunds at home and I miss them.”  She looked up at me cautiously and said “okay.”  I carried on a conversation with the dog for a minute then asked the woman her dog’s name and other things that dog people ask each other like  “how old is she?” and “was she hard to potty train?”   We talked for a minute, I said “thanks,” and Elizabeth and I started walking again. This native New Yorker started walking along with us and in the next 2 blocks we had a great conversation – I learned about her background, where she lived, who her dog walker was, and how she found her apartment.  All because of Alizza, her dachshund pup.

Making friends with strangers can be great practice for making connections when it’s important to do so – a new boss, co-workers, clients, neighbors.  It lets you try out conversations in a low-risk environment with, sometimes, huge benefits (e.g. if I ever need a dog walker in New York – I know who to call).  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  A stranger may think you are strange.  And, as strangers go –you most likely will never see them again.  So why not take the risk?

Sometimes, all it takes to break the ice with someone is to connect with something you have in common.  Go to that right away in the first thing you say, and watch how quickly you can connect.  Point out whatever you notice that’s interesting, or offer to help, or simply smile.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Betty 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 Amazon.com. – See more at: www.cornerstone-ct.com

 

With Elizabeth in New York City, NY

 

 

 

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The Great Connector: Goodbye Golden Frig

by Betty Lochner on June 2, 2015

The Great ConnectorWhen our son was a baby, we moved into a house that had an old refrigerator that was an awful retro golden color.  We immediately got a newer, more hip model and relegated the old refer to the garage. When we moved across town about 8 years later, we considered leaving it behind but had gotten used to a place to store extra drinks and big salads for a potluck, so it came with us.

As our kids grew up, the old refer became the source of extra kid drinks and treats.  My son’s best friend dubbed it the “Golden Frig” because of the color and its magical properties. It was always full, or so it seemed to a then 4th grader.

The Golden Frig became a popular fixture as my kids passed through middle and then high school. It was a stop off for friends on their way to and from events.  It hosted scout meetings, after school drop-bys, home movie nights, slumber parties and a myriad of kid and young adult gatherings. Once, one of our son’s friends stopped by and when we announced that he wasn’t home he said “that’s okay, I just stopped by for a coke.”

We started to stock it with visitor favorites much to the delight of our guests – “hey, you have my drink!” and, “this is the coolest frig ever.”  It was a pit stop and communication hub and we were thrilled to know where our kids were and who they were with. It was a conversation starter: “what’s in the Golden Frig today?” and created a silly sense of excitement for our children and our guests.  Maybe most important, we became the cool parents who had the house with the Golden Frig.

Over the last year the Golden Frig has had a steady decline in health. A constant humming noise with intermittent groaning made us realize it was finally at the end of its useful life (some 30 years after we inherited it.)  We fully expected it to just stop one day, but it never did.

A few weeks ago, I spotted a newer frig at an estate sale and bought a replacement.  I sold out the Golden Frig, our family’s great connector, for $50.

It was a sad day when we said goodbye and sent it away. The new replacement reminds us that we are in a new season of our lives. Our kids are gone now and our extra frig is now home to healthy protein shakes, medicines that need refrigeration, and an occasional beer.  I’ve tried to adjust and have even considered painting it gold, but I know that just wouldn’t be the same.

Yes, the Golden Frig was a great communication hub and connector.  It created a reason to gather and something to look forward to.  It was predictable and reliable. It made people happy and it served as a check in point for our kids.  You can’t ask more from a faithful friend than that.

Goodbye Golden Frig, and thanks for the memories.

 

Betty 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 Amazon.com.

 

 

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How to Improve Your Listening Skills | 5 Strategies

by Betty Lochner on May 6, 2015

Eighty-two percent of people prefer to talk to great listeners, not great speakers.
- Ten3 Global Internet Pol

Being an engaged listener is one of the most important communication skills you can have.  

Think of one person who you feel doesn’t listen to you.  How do they make you feel?

We’ve all had that experience, but are we creating that experience for others?  To take a quick listening quiz to see how you are doing.

Now, check out these 5 strategies you can practice that will improve your listening skills.

1. Slow your listening down. Take a minute to breathe and think about listening and to be aware and present. Listen from your head to your toes. Listen as if what you are hearing could change your life.

Factoid: We speak an average of 120 words per minute, but listen four times faster. Your mind fills the gap by thinking of other things and wandering off. Stay focused. Slow down your listening and listen more than you talk.

2. Pay attention. Watch out for shiny objects!

Stay focused. Don’t get distracted, but rather offer a statement of observation. For example: say, “It sounds like you’re angry” (or sad/upset/frustrated, etc.). Listen and watch for the tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions of the person you’re talking to.

3. Get clarification. Listen first, then, ask questions. Find a way to understand their story – their facts, their feelings, and their perceptions.

Say, “Tell me more,” or clarify by saying, “help me understand,” or “do you mean to say that…?”

If you still don’t understand, ask again in a different way. Sometimes you may need to ask for different words. My daughter may say something like, “the thing didn’t work and it’s just not fair!” I may have to ask her to find a different word to use for “thing” to understand what she is trying to communicate.

4. Validate the speaker.   Show some compassion for how they are feeling. 

Say things like: “It sounds like you are feeling left out,” or, “It sounds like you are feeling tired and don’t want to go.”

5. Paraphrase. Repeat in your own words what was said to make sure you understand. Try this paraphrasing technique: “What I hear you saying is…” or “So you are saying that…” And then check for understanding. Say, “Is that right?”

After listening carefully, respond genuinely. Don’t fake it. An insincere response is worse than no response. Give non-verbal communication. Use eye contact and head nods to show your concern and interest. And, here’s a tip: a response that demonstrates you really weren’t listening is not a good response.

A simple change in the way we listen will change the way we understand and how we respond. Active listening will increase the odds of success at understanding what the real issue is. This may take some practice, but you will get better at it, and it may even transform a relationship or two.

photo credit: shootinforfun.com

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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.

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

http://www.cornerstone-ct.com

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The 5 Alarm Morning

by Betty Lochner on May 5, 2015

PennyI’m not a morning person. My husband would say that is an understatement.

I confess – I often stay up later than I should because that’s when my brain is wide awake and I feel most productive, or at least that’s my story. When I do that, it makes getting up early a challenge. So, I’ve come up with a new system for getting out of bed. I call it my 5-Alarm system. It works like this:

1) First alarm goes off.

2) 10 minutes later a second, and much louder, alarm goes off in another room.

3) Husband gets up, turns on light, TV, makes a bunch of noise and goes downstairs to let our dog, Penny, out.

4) Penny runs upstairs and barks at the side of my bed. I fling my hand over and she licks it then runs downstairs to go outside.

5) About 5 minutes later, Penny returns and barks, scratches, and jumps up until I get up and give her a treat she knows I have nearby.

 The whole process takes about 20 minutes. And it works!

Coming up with my 5-Alarm system was a way to respond to a situation that I know will happen when I stay up late. I know that going to bed earlier will solve the whole problem, but I’m also realistic in knowing from experience, and knowing myself, that I’ll choose not to do that quite frequently.

It’s that way with communication challenges too. When you do or say something that you know needs a different outcome, have a plan ready. Think about how you’ll respond.

It comes down to this simple process: If something is working for you, do more of that. If something’s not working for you, then try something else. 

Do you have a challenge you need to address? Here are some steps to help you get started:

  1. Identify the challenge. Pay attention to feedback from others.
  2. Decide you want to address the challenge.
  3. Commit to making a plan – maybe even write it down (this will greatly increase your chance of first time success).
  4. Get others involved in ideas and help implementing the plan. This will help others understand that you are trying to work on something that quite possibly is irritating or frustrating to them and makes them part of the solution.
  5. Stick to the plan. Adjust as needed.
  6. Repeat as necessary.2015-04-23 19.14.23
Coming up with a challenge/response plan can turn a communication or life challenge into a new, more positive outcome. And, you may even inspire others to work on some of their issues.
Or, in my case, inspire my husband to try to get me to stop throwing my bag down the minute I step inside the door. So far, it seems to be working…
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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.  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website: http://www.cornerstone-ct.com
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