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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Authentic Communication: Walking the Walk

by Betty Lochner on February 28, 2015

Women mentorsThis month I gave a presentation at a Women in Leadership Symposium that was held at a waste water treatment plant, which sounds weirder than it was. On site was a open trail area and a beautiful conference and learning center with the appropriate name  of “Brightwater.”

 My presentation was titled “Performance Coaching: Bringing out the Best in Others.” We learned and practiced some basic authentic communication skills to better provide direction, regular and timely feedback, and encouragement to enhance work groups. We learned what can get in the way of communicating clearly and we talked about walking the walk.

Walking the walk is all about living out your authentic self.  It means being self aware of your non verbal cues, being careful about making assumptions, giving clear expectations, and dealing with issues as soon as they arise.

One of the best ways to become a better communicator and leader is to be aligned with a mentor. A mentor is someone who you can learn from and who can help you meet your goals. They usually have more experience than you, and are in a position in life that you desire to be. They can help you by sharing their wisdom, connecting you with people who can help you, and sharing their perspective with you.

This was illustrated so well by the youngest speaker of the day, Elsa. She is an 11 year old girl who ended the conference with a wonderful acrostic poem on Leadership set to music.  It was creative and inspiring. She clearly has mentors in her life – one of which is her mom, Lara, who watched proudly from the side as her daughter presented herself with poise, confidence and humor.

 We all learn from people who walk the walk – whether they are parents, colleagues, friends, or anyone you look up to. Find a good mentor. Someone who believes in you and has time for you.  And, learn how to be the best you can be.  If you’d like to learn more about becoming an authentic communicator or finding a mentor, please contact me!

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Betty, Ruben and Penny Betty, Ruben and Penny
My passion is teaching 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.
For more information visit www.cornerstone-ct.com or call 360-951-1691.
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Seahawk Mania: Pursuing the Common Goal

by Betty Lochner on January 29, 2015

Seahawk ManiaSeahawk mania is crazy here in Washington State and I fear it will get worse before it gets better, but I’m okay with that.

With all the tragic news we see and hear everyday, it is a nice welcome to see the 12th man community come together.

It reminds me how important it is to have common interests and goals.

We all have a need to feel connected and to have something in common with the people around us.  Bringing the 12th Man together in our community has been something that has been amazing to watch. People that don’t always agree are coming together. People that don’t even like each other are finding things they have in common and breaking down barriers. If they can get into Seahawk mania, they can’t be that bad can they?

It also gives us something other than the weather to talk about to break the ice in a hallway conversation, in the grocery store or in a new situation. That in it’s self is a welcome relief. We can always use good ice breaking material and our Hawks are filled with personalities, controversies,  and leadership stories to keep the conversation going as long as the elevator ride, or any other potentially awkward situation is.

When this weekend is over, and someone wins the Superbowl, we’ll still have our Hawks, we’ll still have our stories, we’ll still have our common comaderie and we’ll still have next season.  Thank you Hawks, for giving us some common interest and goals to help improve our relationships.  What a bonus for a great ride!

I do hope you are taking time to enjoy the mania, whether you are a Seahawks or, dare I say, a PATS fan.

We need some happy mania in our lives.

Seahawk PupsBetty 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: cornerstone-ct.com 

 

 

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Is Your Communication Good Enough?

by Betty Lochner on January 27, 2015

2015-01-27 19.34.00As I often do, I spent this morning looking for something. Those who know me best, know that I lose things. I saw a sign that captures my thoughts on this:

    Organized people are people that are too lazy to look for things.

I was looking for this little key fob thing for my computer to connect it to another drive. After no success, this real life transcript took place:

Me: I can’t find my key fob

Husband: Isn’t it supposed to be on your key ring?

Me: Yes, but I was afraid I would lose it.

Husband (while busting up laughing):  Do you hear yourself?

But it made perfect sense to me. I was trying to make sure I wouldn’t lose something, so I didn’t put it where it should go. I put it in a “special place” – unfortunately one that is likely never to be found.

Why didn’t I put it in a place that was good enough? Because I thought I knew better.

It’s that way with communicating too.

We forget that we don’t have to communicate perfectly. We put pressure on ourselves to “do it right” and often end up not doing it at all.

I think you will agree that most of the problems we face at work and at home can be traced back to poor communication.

Here are four communication skills that are easy to master and, with a little practice, will take you past good enough right on up to great!

  1. Shut up and listen.
  2. Be clear and specific.
  3. Say what you’ll do and do what you say.
  4. Ask for feedback. Did you get it right?

It seems simple enough. So why don’t we do it? Why don’t we have the courage to say what we need to say? Why don’t we just give it a try? Are you trying to be perfect? Are you too lazy? What is it?

Think about your “good enough” communication. Is it working for you?

Betty-and-dogs-5x7Betty 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: cornerstone-ct.com 

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Effective communication starts with looking up

by Betty Lochner on January 10, 2015

Look upI was in an airport magazine shop standing in line, when I overhead a frantic question from a women to the sales clerk:

“Do you have note pads?”

The clerk quickly replied, “No.”

I looked up and saw panic in the woman’s face.  I stepped up and  asked her if she just needed a piece of paper. She exclaimed “Yes!”

I tore out a few sheets of paper out of my notebook and handed it to her. Then she said, “Now I just need a pen.”

I dipped in to my purse and pulled out one of many I had collected and handed it to her.  She looked me in the eye and exclaimed,  “You have saved my life. Bless you!”  and she ran off.

Now, I’m guessing I didn’t really save her life, but I did help her with some sort of communication message-type emergency, I’m sure.  Maybe she needed to get an important note to a friend, or lover, or divert a huge misunderstanding. Whatever it was, it was important to her. if I had stayed focused on me, and my texting-my -husband-while-gum-seeking mission, I wouldn’t have been able to help her.

How many conversations do we miss out on because we aren’t looking up? In our tortured culture of multi-tasking and in your face technology, face to face communication becomes distracted and often incomplete.

Not paying attention can quickly unravel any relationship.

My dogs Penny and Ruben model this skill every day. They don’t want to miss a thing, so they pay attention to what is going on around them 24-7.   We can learn a lot from them.

Are you so focused on your phone, your work, and your immediate mission that you fail to miss out on cues that can improve your relationships? This week, think about looking up.  You never know what impact you’ll have on your everyday relationships until you do.

 

Betty and her dogsBetty 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: cornerstone-ct.com 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Communication Tips for Creating Memories that Last

by Betty Lochner on December 21, 2014

NYC 2014

One Christmas, when my kids were very young, we left a small gift for them in their room that could open us as soon as they woke up.  The idea was that it might slow them down enough to give us a few more minutes of sleep.

What happened was that the minute they awoke they screamed with delight. They ran into our bedroom and exclaimed, “Santa came!”

They opened their gift on our bed – a Polly Pocket and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle – and squealed with joy.  I turned to my husband and declared “We could have just done this and they would be happy.”

I learned that that it’s the small thing that have the biggest impact. People don’t always remember the stuff you gave them, but they remember how you made them feel when they were with you.

This week, think about the feelings you are creating. Here are 9 ways to do just that.

1) Be welcoming – unconditionally.

I know for us this year, it will be the 4 additional dogs that will arrive with our family members.  Yes, they are important to our children and so they are important to us.  Even if one of them isn’t potty trained yet.

2) Take the time to listen more.

Are you really listening, or are you busy trying to think of what to say or to ask?  Pausing is okay. Give some air time to others and just listen. Really listen.

3) Slow things down a bit whenever you can.

Try turning off the TV and playing a game.

4) Have a sense of humor when things don’t go as planned.

5) Cut out activities that stress you out, or give them to someone else who may enjoy it.

Do you carry on traditions just because that’s what your mother did? Or you have just always done it that way? Maybe it’s time to down scale the baked goods, or buy the shortcut cinnamon rolls (that everyone likes just as much). Don’t be afraid to start your own, manageable traditions.

6) Don’t say “we have to do this,” but rather enjoy whatever happens.

Chill out and go with the flow more.  You’ll be glad you did.  Stop trying to be do everything, rather enjoy the journey in what you choose to do.

7) Focus on how you are responding to the situation rather than trying to change someone else’s perspective.

Remember you can only change you.  Trying to change someone else can be frustrating and futile.

8) Give grace when grace is needed.

Think before you speak. Maybe what was said wasn’t intended the way you received it.  Ask for clarification when needed.  And know that sometimes it’s okay to just let it go.

9) Be the first to say, “I’m sorry.”

Don’t escalate a situation by waiting for an apology.  Take the higher road and refer to #8 above.

10) Give thanks for all you have.

Spend less time being disappointed for what you don’t have, or what’s not going right in you life. Be joyful for all of the blessings you do have. Count them right now. One by one.

betty christmas hat

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: cornerstone-ct.com 

 

 

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Top Tips for Better Generational Communication at Work

by Betty Lochner on October 28, 2014

texting in 80s

This month I traveled to Richmond, Virginia to give a presentation to the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) on Generations at Work.  It’s an important communication topic – understanding how to embrace generational differences can make a stressful relationship a more productive one.

Did you know?

For the first time in history we have four generations working side by side in the workplace.

 

The two older generations are:

Traditionalists/Veterans (born 1909-1943) and Boomers (1943-1960)

The two younger generations are:

Generation X (1960-1980) and Generation Y/Millenials  (1980-2000)

Each group brings a unique set of experiences and values that influences their behavior and outlook as adults. And, while Boomers are the majority in the workforce today, Millenials are growing in numbers and will comprise the majority of the workforce by 2025.

Here are some of the current facts about generations at work. 

  • More than 70% of older employees are dismissive of younger worker’s abilities.
  • 50% of employers say the younger employees are dismissive of the abilities of their older co-workers

This may be in part because:

  • Older generations value loyalty to a company and are on career tracks, younger generations are loyal to a person and are on life tracks.
  • Older generations believe there is value in seniority and hierarchy; younger generations have high expectations and enthusiasm and often don’t want to “pay their dues” – but rather want to start or move quickly to the top.
  • Older generations struggle with technology; younger generations – well, you get the picture.

What that tells us is there is still a lot of work to do to bridge the generational gaps at work.

To help you with that, here are some of my Top Tips that will help you communicate better with different generations at work.

DON’T:

  1. Don’t dwell on differences – instead make connections and find out what you do have in common.
  2. Don’t make assumptions – many times actions are misinterpreted as disrespectful when that wasn’t the intent at all.

DO:

  1. Use teamwork. All 4 generations work well in teams. Try that instead of individual work for better results.
  2. Develop incentive plans that matter to each generation – different generations are motivated by different things.  Conduct surveys to understand needs.
  3. Make expectations clear and follow up to make sure you are understood – often instructions are misunderstood because of how they are (or aren’t delivered).  Be clear in stating what you want, by when, and then send an email to follow-up.
  4. Different generations prefer different modes of communication. Use the one that works best for them, not you!
  5. Create healthy relationships – find some common ground. Focus on what you have in common rather than what you don’t understand.
  6. Encourage and mentor younger generations. Match older mentors with younger and let them learn from each other.

Understanding differences and embracing them, rather than resisting, is the key. For more information on working with generations, check out my other posts on generations, or my book, it has a whole chapter on it!

Betty LochnerBetty 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: cornerstone-ct.com 

 

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