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 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?

by Betty Lochner on March 21, 2016

When words are both true and kind, they can change our world. ~ Buddha


Are you a positive communicator?  Do you focus on what’s going well instead of what isn’t going well?  Do you regularly practice appreciation and gratitude?  Are your words kind and positive?

Are you sure?

Many of us don’t think much about how we come across. Quite frankly, we aren’t all that self aware. We tend to think we come off better and more positive than we really do.

Studies show that positive to negative comments should be in a 5 to 1 ratio for a relationship to be healthy and survive long term. That means we should be saying 80% positive and not more than 20% negative comments to each other.

So, how are you doing?

Spend some time today paying attention to how many times you say something positive vs. how many times you say something negative to or about someone.  Especially keep track of how you do with the most important relationships in your life. Keep a checklist of how many positive comments you make and how many times you catch yourself saying, thinking about, or getting ready to say a negative comment.  How did you do?

Are your positive comments 5 to 1?


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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To become a good communicator in something you have to be committed to making some changes and, like the kid kissing the pig, you have to be all in.

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