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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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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Communication Tips From the Unlucky Traveler

by Betty Lochner on October 9, 2014

delayed planeMy name is Betty and I am an unlucky traveler.

I can’t explain why, but I do know of several colleagues who will no longer travel with me because, well,  things just happen to me.  If a storm is coming, plane maintenance is needed,  or the luggage guy gets confused, you can count on me to be on that flight.  Today was no exception.

I was in Richmond, Virginia to speak about Generations at Work at the NCSL conference, and then visited with CSPN colleagues.

The day started with an over “snooze,”  $10 short for a cab fare,  and then a flight delay (mechanical), a missed flight (bad signage), and now, I sit in a hotel near the airport waiting to try it all again tomorrow.  Since, this is not unusual for me, I have developed skills to deal with it.  Today I was labeled  one of many “distressed passengers.”  But, I think I was the only one that was looking forward to unexpected time alone in a hotel room.  With good food.  And wine.  And a big TV on a good TV night.

I’ve trained my husband to expect the worse and be grateful when I get home safely. Tonight he said he was in a meeting when the texts started coming. He shared and laughed and simply said to his colleagues “things happen to Betty when she travels.”

Yet, through experience, I’ve learned to go with the flow and I have a strategy for dealing with my traveler’s curse.  That strategy includes 3 simple key components:

1)      Be nice.

2)      Chill out.

3)      Have fun.

This strategy can be applied to the non-cursed as well.  Try it in the long line at the grocery store,  the traffic jam, or the cancelled meeting.

People respond really well to nice people in bad situations. I guarantee you will make someone’s day better by not making it worse.

Through these simple strategies, I have gotten free coupons, free bags, free wine, free food, and lots of free thank you’s for not being the cranky ungrateful customer complaining about things that are out of their control.

Tomorrow, I will get back into the craziness I call my life and wait for my next travel drama.

But for now, I indulge in a free hotel room on a good TV night, writing the blog post I never have time for,  and enjoying the fact that I’m not on a plane that had a faulty something that could have gone really wrong.

 

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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It’s All About Perspective

by Betty Lochner on September 15, 2014

barn flowersI told my brother, Gary, that this summer I had one toe dipped in work, one in helping with my sick sister, and one in planning a wedding.

He replied, “It’s a good thing you have 10 toes!”

Doesn’t it always seem that when you are feeling maxed out, someone puts your frustration in perspective?

As I juggled a challenging job with coast to coast travel, my sister’s terminal illness, and planning my baby girl’s wedding, I sometimes wondered how I would manage. On a stress level, with 10 being high, I was hovering around 12.  And, just when I would start to get a case of the “poor me’s”, I would realize how thankful I should be.Thankful that my daughter’s wedding came at a time when it could give some happy reprieve to a sad situation. It was not unusual to be entrenched in hospice decisions, when I would get a text from my daughter that read, for example, “Do you think the cupcake liners should be yellow or silver?” I would pause, take a deep breath, and enjoy the break. Her texts and calls always seemed to come at a time when I needed a break and some fresh perspective.

I created my own terms for the types of stress I was going through. There was the “heavy stress” and then there was the “fun stress.” Fun stress was the stress I brought on myself by getting worked up over things that were in my control, like, the wedding! We made it as stressful or stress-free as we wanted, with every decision we made. Heavy stress was the stress that felt out of my control – such as making life decisions around an illness that no one could control. And, sometimes, we would get a little giddy and turn the heavy stress into fun stress. Thanks to my sister’s positive attitude and sense of humor, we were able to do that as well.

I found that creating some fun stress in my life – like planning a wedding with some guidelines and expectations – gave me fresh perspective when I found myself embroiled in my heavy stress.  I learned that it is healthiest just to lighten up and be grateful for what was going right in my world.

Think about the stress in your life — are you making what could be fun stress into heavy stress? A change in your perspective can help you step back and look at the situation differently. It may help you take some steps to make changes you need to make, or maybe even to accept the things you can’t change.

Betty Lochner_trainerBetty 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: www.cornerstone-ct.com 

 

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