Tuesday, November 8, 2016


"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." -Mark Twain
Recently, I watched one of the Sunday news morning shows which reported on a story about an act of kindness which I think many of us would have never thought of doing.  The story was about a Starbucks barista who took it upon herself to learn American Sign Language.  This might seem like it’s not that special an act of kindness or that important until you understand why she did it.  You see, there was a regular customer who came in for coffee every day that is deaf.  Each time he came in to order it was an ordeal and most times a hassle. Then one morning he came in and the barista gave him a note that said “I am learning ASL – American Sign Language so I can help you better.”  It not only helped them both, it changed the customer’s life.  During the story, he said through an interpreter that no one had ever done something so kind for him, let alone someone working at a business.  He said she made him feel like all the rest of the customers, which made him feel like he fit in.  This simple act of kindness meant a great deal to him. 

After watching the story, it got me to thinking about what the word kindness means.  What does it mean to be kinds in a world that seems to have lost its kindness?  The Australian Kindness Movement describes kindness as “a spontaneous act or gesture of goodwill towards someone or something, our fellow humans, the animal kingdom, and the kingdom of nature.”  When you carry out an act of kindness it is a message from one heart to another.  It’s an act of love where you are making an unspoken “I CARE” statement.  Just like in the Starbucks barista story – what made the story so special was the actions by the barista was truly an unspoken statement of “I CARE”.

The thing is, many of us don’t realize that we are giving and receiving many acts of kindness every day.  When we give a smile, greet people, help others whether they are friends or not are all acts of kindness.  An act of kindness can be as simple as a smile when someone needs to see one or a compliment when one is needed or a positive outlook when the going is tough or by doing something for someone just like the Starbucks barista did.

What if we all decided to do a daily act of kindness, what a difference we all could make.  Our daily acts of kindness can change society; we could change the world.  Our acts of kindness could stop the downward spiral of our society that is fueled by selfishness, materialism and greed.  Doing daily acts of kindness can enhance the feelings of belonging by those in the community who feel like they don’t belong.  Daily acts of kindness can bring about a greater sense of meaning and purpose to everyone not just the select few. 

In its simplest form, kindness means you are nice and considerate to others.  That you don’t need to have a reason for being kind that it’s just something you do simply because it’s the right way to treat others.  When I think back on times when I thought I was being kind and doing what was good or right I ask myself, “Good or Right by WHOM?”  By me, by others, by society?  I believe kindness starts at home.  It’s all about being true to your own feelings and values and expressing those feelings with other people.  If you are not acting in a way that is kind to yourself, how will you be able to act kind towards others?

Lending someone money you know will be used to support their drug problem, alcohol problem or to rack up more debt is not kindness.  Telling them you’re not going to lend them the money but will do everything reasonable to support them on their journey is.  Kindness isn’t about heaping holier-than-thou judgement on someone in whatever their situation.  Kindness is finding the compassion and understanding for where they’re at in their life while maintaining your own boundaries and respecting your own needs.  Kindness is accepting where others are and not trying to change them to be more like what you think they should be.

Kindness can be difficult.  It can mean watching people slide into a dark place and then face the consequences of their actions.  True kindness can be tough and there will be times where it will leave us feeling less kind.  What acts of kindness have you done lately?  If you haven’t, why haven’t you?  How important is being kind to you?  All important questions to consider.

Mark twain said “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”  Kindness is the universal language that is understood beyond boundaries.  We all understand and can speak this language.  Who have you helped make feel better, what have you done to make a more positive place, when was the last time you used the universal language of kindness?

Monday, March 7, 2016

How Guilt and Resentment Can Fuel Your Anger

How Guilt and Resentment Can Fuel Your Anger
"A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green."
Francis Bacon
If you have been concerned about whether or not you have an issue with anger, the first step is to try to trace your triggers that are setting off such a strong emotional response.

One of the most common mistakes we make when assessing our anger issues is to feel as if external things are making us angry, when in fact anger is an internal process. Anger is usually a sign that something in your life needs to be worked on to get back in balance. It is often an indication that other emotions are at play, such as guilt and resentment.


Guilt usually results from a sense of having done something wrong, or falling short of someone else’s expectations. It could be something minor such as showing up late for a date or forgetting to buy a birthday gift. These situations can also lead to resentment - someone is expecting something from you and you hate feeling like you’ve let them down.

Parents can often make children feel guilty by not meeting their expectations, which can be spoken or unspoken but implied. This can trigger resentment as well, especially if you feel as though you are jumping through hoops to satisfy the other person but what you do is still never good enough.


No one likes to feel as if they are a failure. But the more pressure you put on yourself, the more stress you will feel. Most of us rarely perform our best when we are constantly under stress, overworked and not getting enough sleep. We might start to feel guilty that we are working so hard we neglect our family, but might feel trapped and resentful because we don’t know what else to do to make ends.

We might also resent our partner or even our kids if we feel they are taking us for granted or putting their own needs ahead of ours by constantly demanding things of us. The most obvious example is the person who works hard all week and wants to have a little bit of "me time" at the weekend, only to be presented with a to-do list.

If they don’t do the items on the list and they are asked when they are likely to get done, this can be interpreted as "nagging" by the person who feels guilty about letting the other person down. The "nagging" can lead to resentment. This in turn can lead to arguments, which will often blow up over small things, and be out of all proportion to what the issue might be.

Secrets and Lies

One of the most common reasons for divorce has been cited as money problems. Many people equate their worth as human beings with the job they do or how much money they earn. They don’t like to admit to their partner that they might be having money issues or might not be earning as much as the other person thinks. Some people will even keep their disastrous financial past a secret - until it is too late. The couple eagerly applies for a mortgage to buy their dream home, only to get rejected due to one or both of them having a murky financial past.

The blame game never works; it just fuels more anger and resentment. One of the best ways to deal with anger is to cut the roots that allow it to grow. This means living more authentically and honestly, connecting with your feelings, both positive and negative, without trying to run away from them or suppress them. Once you start to do this, you will definitely notice a difference in your level of anger.

Monday, February 29, 2016

External Things That Can Cause Anger

"Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame." Benjamin Franklin
It is all too common to blame external things such as work, stress, having to pay the bills, and so on, as causing anger in our lives. The truth is that it is not anything external that is triggering your anger; it is caused by internal processes.

If work or bills provoked anger in everyone, we would all be furious most of the time. However, if we look around, we can see that is not the case. Many people are working and paying their bills without being gripped by anger.

Therefore, it is important to identify what triggers an angry feeling within you so you can do your best to stop the anger before it takes hold. In this way you can avoid acting out in an inappropriate way, which can only lead to even more problems.

Know Your Triggers

Our anger can often be triggered by certain aspects of our lives. Here are a few examples you might recognize.


* Boss
* Mother-in-law
* Romantic partner
* One of your (problem) children


* The office
* At home
* The supermarket
* The bank


* Your car, because it is always breaking down
* Your computer, because it is too slow
* Your lawn, because it always needs to be mown and your spouse is always nagging about it


* Holidays with the family
* Business meetings
* Phone calls with your difficult parent(s)
* Paying your bills every month

And so on.

Once you have identified your anger triggers, you can adopt strategies to curb your anger before it causes you to fly off the handle.

Understanding the Source of Your Anger

If you hate paying bills, for example, you are probably experiencing stress for a number of obvious, and perhaps less obvious reasons. The obvious one is that you are off track with your budget and are really struggling to make ends meet. Every bill coming through the door is a stressful experience that makes you feel trapped and helpless.

If you procrastinate about paying the bills, you might get a short-term feeling of relief; however, this can backfire in a number of ways, leaving you even worse off than before.

For example, paying the bills late can lead to fines or fees, harming your already difficult finances even more. It can also lead to bank overdraft fees as well if you do not keep track of the money in your account carefully.

Emotions Other Than Anger

There are other emotional aspects involved in paying the bills that might be less obvious but no less powerful triggers. For example, you might be infuriated by the fact that you are working so hard at a job that you might not even like and still can’t make ends meet. If you have been careless with money in the past, you might be angry at yourself.

If your family seem irresponsible with money in your opinion, this can cause resentment. You might feel guilty that you can’t provide for them as well as you wish. This in turn might make you feel like a failure every time you sit down to pay the bills. This underlying feeling or negative mental chatter can trigger your anger, rather than the bill itself.

If you’ve been seeing the sources of your anger as external to yourself, remember that nothing and no one "makes you feel" anger or any other emotion. Anger just arises like other emotions. It is up to you if you choose to let it get the upper hand, or brush it aside as you get on with paying your bills in a calm manner.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Different Ways to Express Anger

Different Ways to Express Anger
Anger is just one letter short of danger.
Everyone feels anger at some point in their lives. It is the way that they express it that can cause problems. If you feel that your level of anger has increased and it is starting to affect your closest relationships negatively, it’s time to consider anger management strategies that can help you express your anger in more productive ways.

Taking Time

The first way is the age-old technique of counting to ten, or twenty - that is, forcing yourself to pause for a length of time before doing or saying anything you might regret. Then you can explain why you feel angry.

Another technique is the time out. You can say, “I’m sorry, I feel angry so I need a few minutes before I can deal with this.” Then go somewhere to be alone until you feel that your anger won’t be as out of control.

Shake It Off

Another way to work off your underlying anger is through exercise or sports. Some busy executives love to get out their aggression on a racquetball court, but even a simple walk around the block can help. Yoga and tai chi will center and ground you, helping reduce stress so you are much less prone to fly off the handle.

Taking a break at lunch and small ones throughout the day may seem counter-productive, but you can actually get more done as you lower your stress and increase your concentration levels.

Own Your Feelings

Another very important strategy is to own the anger. No one is “making you feel” angry. It is a natural emotion that arises in all of us. However, it is your choice as to whether or not you will allow it to take control, or just ignore whatever has irritated you as not worth making a big deal out of.

Expressing Anger Effectively

Anger management also means learning how to express yourself in a healthy way. This can be quite difficult to do for many of us, because a lot of the time we try not to make waves and therefore avoid conflict. The truth is that you are really not avoiding anything, because the feelings can build up like a pressure cooker to such an extent that you explode and splatter everywhere, doing all sorts of damage and leaving you to mop up the mess.

There are a couple of ways to express your anger effectively. The first is to not say, “I am angry because,” but rather, “I feel angry now because.” The latter statement distances you from the emotion and also makes you realize it is only temporary - a new feeling can arise a split-second later.

The second strategy is to express yourself with “I” phrases only, not “You”. “You made me feel angry,” is not taking responsibility for and control of own your feelings.

A third strategy is to avoid absolutes. “You ALWAYS” and “You NEVER” are two good examples of this.

Manage Expectations

One other key strategy is to manage expectations and understanding. For example, your anger might stem from you expecting one thing to happen and another does. Or you thought you and your boss or spouse had agreed to X and they have done Y or expect Y. Remembering that there are two sides to every story can help you rein in your anger and control it, instead of it controlling you.

Anger management is not about never feeling angry. It is about learning how to express that anger in a way that will not damage or destroy relationships. Try these ways of expressing your anger differently and see what a difference it can make to your life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Why Do I Feel Like A Human Doormat?

Why Do I Feel Like A Human Doormat
"Your job gives you authority.  Your behavior earns you respect."  - Irwin Federman
Ever feel like a human doormat? Here’s an even more painful question: Are you inviting people to walk all over you?

Most people would say, "Of course not! Don’t be ridiculous!" In fact, it might be exactly what you are doing without even realizing it.

Are You a People Pleaser?

We all like to be popular, but it can come at a price if we turn ourselves into a "people pleaser" who does everything to make others happy but seldom gets the same treatment in return. Women in particular are taught to be people pleasers. They are told from a very young age to act "ladylike" and that being assertive means being a b*tch (B), which means of course that no one will like you.  

Nowadays, there are actually books on how to be a B, which one author defines as “Being In Total Control of Herself.” This is a nice image of a confident woman who does not let anyone push her buttons. Other titles are why men date and marry Bs and how to be a leader in business without being a B.  

There are several male equivalents of being a B, but they don’t seem to bother men in the least. In fact, we are sure they coined the phrase, "Nice guys finish last."  Switch that to nice girls and you can see why you might be getting the short end of the stick at work, and in particular at home.  

Do You Have Trouble Asking for Help?

There is nothing worse than feeling taken for granted. We want to do everything we can to be a good spouse, good parent, good son or daughter, and so on. Where does all this goodness get us? A pretty good life if we are lucky, or an endless cycle of demands for more from everyone you are trying so hard to please. 

If you feel as though there are never enough hours in the day and your partner and kids are doing nothing but draining you dry, it’s time to tap into your authentic inner self to start building the life of your dreams.

It will mean working on some changes, but you will be surprised at how little things can make a big difference. The first one is to stop suffering in silence. Ask for help nicely. "Can you please help me with this?" might be tough to say when have been in the role of superperson for so long, but you might be surprised at the results. 

Have You Learned How to Say No, and Mean It?

Saying no is one of the hardest things people pleasers have to learn. Practice in front of a mirror as often as you need to until you sound and look convincing. Make eye contact and say, "No, I can’t." You can add a sorry if you really think you need it. Never give a reason, however, because that leaves the door open for them to try to talk you into doing it after all. 

Do You Need to Set Boundaries?

Saying no is setting a boundary. So too is making time for yourself to do things you enjoy. It can also be that you are not expected to sacrifice your career for the sake of the family, but that your work outside the home is recognized as being of value. Setting expectations such as chores, curfew, computer time permission and more will all show the children who is in charge, and will ease the feeling that you are always fighting an uphill battle.

Practice these simple techniques and see what a difference it can make in your life.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why Am I Being Passed Over For Promotions?

Why Am I Being Passed Over For Promotions?
" Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn't spend half our time wishing."
Alexander Woollcott
Most of us like to feel appreciated in our jobs and proud of our careers. But sometimes we hit a wall or a glass ceiling, and it seems as if nothing we do can change the situation - except suffer in silence, or go to another company.

The new job might seem like the best option, but it can also be a great deal more work. You will need to prove yourself all over again. You will also need to navigate successfully through a whole new set of relationships.

Are You Being Sabotaged by Others?

It is possible that others are sabotaging you because they want to get promoted themselves. Or your manager might want to keep you exactly where you are because you make the department so much more productive. They might see putting you in a managerial role as less important than you continuing to crank out projects at the speed of light.

Are You Sabotaging Yourself?

But there might be some things about yourself that are worth taking a look at and trying to change if you are showing any of them at work. In a recent survey of human resource managers, here were their top reasons for not wishing to promote a person:

* A negative or pessimistic attitude versus a can-do attitude
* Frequent lateness
* Using foul language
* Often leaving work early
* Taking too many sick days
* Gossiping around the office
* Spending office time on social media sites
* Not cleaning up after themselves but expecting others to do it
* Constantly talking about non-work topics in the office, such as sports
* Taking too many personal phone calls at work
* Taking too many or too long breaks
* Taking too many smoking breaks

If you know you are guilty of any of the items on this list, now is the time to nip these habits in the bud.

Are You Too Much of a People Pleaser?

But do not make the mistake of swinging to the other end of the spectrum and becoming a "people pleaser," otherwise known as a "yes man." This will not gain you any respect either, except possibly from a manager who thinks even their most half-baked idea is a stroke of genius.

It is possible to be positive and upbeat while also telling the truth and giving valuable feedback as needed. You might need to work on your confidence and perhaps even assertiveness so you are not so shy in meetings, but will speak up and have something worth paying attention to.

Are You Too Arrogant?

We've all heard the phrase, "There's no such thing as a stupid question." Yet many of us roll our eyes in disbelief at the "dumb" questions they think they hear at meetings, conferences and so on. Some of these questions will of course be the person opening their mouth trying to impress others with what they know. They might even totally disagree with the speaker and try to hijack the meeting. Needless to say, this is rude and very unprofessional.

However, most questions that are asked out loud in a public situation are asked because the person genuinely does not know the answer and wants to find out. Therefore, be respectful of all contributions no matter how trivial, in the same way that you would wish your questions to be treated.

Be approachable to all staff and they will soon ask you for help, which will put you on the radar as a person with leadership potential who is worth promoting.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Improve Your Relationships

Improve Your Relationships
"Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher." 
Oprah Winfrey

We Are All Guilty

We ALL do it. We are so busy and pressured to get everything done that we dash off an email without reading it through, checking the spelling, and so on. Or we make a comment, or what we think is a joke, in an email or on one of the social networks - only to find at the end of our plane flight that our boss has fired us. The young lady who made a racist tweet discovered to her cost that anything you say can and WILL be repeated or passed around online.

In this article, we will discuss some of the major trouble spots in online and offline communication, and how a few simple changes can lead to big results.

Email Relationships

One of the main issues with email is the lack of "tone" of voice that you would get from speaking to someone in person or on the phone. Email lacks the human touch. If you are working in a cubicle-based office where the people on your team are sitting right next to you but you always email, it might be time to get a bit chattier with them in the real world.

If what you need to discuss is something important that includes other people, by all means use email. Or, speak to them and then confirm via email what you understood to be the most important points and action steps.

Before hitting the SEND button, take the time to check over your email to be sure you are as clear as possible and that it is error-free. A good rule of thumb in any corporate communication is to never send an email you would be embarrassed to see posted online.

This is especially true of customer service replies. Customers are the lifeblood of most businesses. Unskillful replies can and do filter to the top of social networks all the time, perhaps tarnishing your reputation or that of your company forever.
One CEO made the mistake of emailing one employee he trusted that he would be offline for a couple of days to deal with some personal problems. When he returned, it was to his worst nightmare. Some of his "trusted employees" had stolen valuable assets, and a larger company was going after him in a hostile takeover bid.

Social Media Strategies 

In terms of social media and online discussions, only contribute the bare minimum and never venture any personal information that might be used against you in some way.

If you feel you have something really helpful to say to others, join in. But don't use the network as a soapbox to spout your own views. Every post or tweet should be about your customers, not you.

If you want to advance your career as an expert in your industry, don't try to prove it by boasting about your skills and accomplishments. Your expertise will speak for itself when you give intelligent response to a person's most pressing problems.

Finally, never "flame" anyone on a social network or discussion board, and do not respond in kind if you are. That would lower you to their level. The best thing is to ignore it. If you feel you can’t ignore the flame, simply say that everyone has their own perceptions. Remember, our relationships are as much about what we do as what we don’t do. Be courteous and polite to others and see what a difference it can make to all your business and online relationships.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to Deal with People Who Sabotage You

How to Deal with People Who Sabotage You - Jeff Heiser
"Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick.  Don't lose faith." ~ Steve Jobs
It is the start of a new year and time for the resolutions for change to be made.  It is great to want to improve yourself in order to improve your relationships, but you might discover that you meet with resistance at every turn from people in your life. What should you do if you discover someone you care about is sabotaging you and putting obstacles in the way of you working towards a better self?

Deliberate or Unconscious

First, you need to determine if the sabotage is deliberate or unconscious on their part. They might just be a control freak, true, but they might not even realize what they are doing. For example, women often think that their romantic partners would love it if they slimmed down, or that their mother would be proud that they were getting healthier.

Instead, they are told, “You look fine just the way you are,” or “Go on, have a little. It’s your favorite.” This can be through habit, or it could be because the person sabotaging you is afraid of change. If you change for the better, what will happen to the relationship?

What if you drop 50 pounds and get down to a healthy weight, will you suddenly become so sexy that you will have a lot of other options apart from the person you are with? Or if your mother is a competitive kind of person, she might hate the thought of competing with her own daughter to be the center of attention.

No one is saying that these thoughts are logical, or even conscious. What we are saying is that if you feel anyone is holding you back from being your best self, it is time to make some smart decisions so you can make the changes that will improve your relationship with yourself first, and by extension with others.

Shun Those Who Sabotage You

This does not mean you have to give up the relationship completely. But while you are working to change yourself for the better, surround people who will be supportive of your efforts. Join an online support group, for instance. Get a workout partner. Tell your friends you want to avoid gaining weight at the holidays, and see if you can all come up with tasty low calorie or low carb recipes you can share.

Set Boundaries

Sticking with our weight loss example, it can be almost impossible to lose weight if the people you are living with have habits that will damage your chances of succeeding in making the changes you wish to. For instance, they might be buying fast food or snacks all the time and putting the food in front of you to eat.

In this case, set your boundaries the best ways you know how. Tell them not to eat it in front of you. Or, take that huge can of peanuts, look at the suggested serving size, and then use a kitchen scale and some plastic bags to divide it up into snack packs.

Be More Assertive

We’ve probably all encountered this situation: someone takes all the credit for the work we’ve done. There are a number of ways of handling this without seeming like a crybaby. You could casually offer all the supporting documentation that you used to draw up the report to whomever the thief was trying to impress. You could also ask them if they wanted your help explaining any of the details behind it. From these helpful offers, everyone will soon see who is the high-performing team player and who the sneak.

Being sabotaged in any relationship can be an unpleasant experience. But, it doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship if you set your boundaries and assert your right to live on your own terms, with your own goals and boundaries.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Have You Lost That Loving Feeling?

Have youlost that loving feeling?
"If you would be loved, love and be lovable."  ~ Benjamin Franklin
Whenever we hear the word relationship, we immediately think romance - such as boyfriend, girlfriend, partner or spouse.  There are of course many different kinds of relationships, but for many of us, romantic ones are at the top of the list.

However, all relationship change over time, for a number of reasons. How you handle that change can make all the difference between sizzle and fizzle.  


Teamwork may not sound very sexy, but it takes two people to make a relationship. And there are a lot of external factors and people that can damage it if we are not careful. For example, the number one cause of divorce is money problems. If you and your partner have been arguing about money recently, there are a number of positive steps you can take.

You can review your own spending habits by keeping track in a diary. You might be surprised at how much you are frittering away each day on coffee, lunches and so on. Then consider ways to cut back and still get what you need - such as investing in a good coffee maker and travel mug and brown-bagging four days a week, then treating yourself on the fifth.

You can review your budget with your partner. Collect all of the regular bills together and your pay stubs. Add up all your income in one column and all your expenses in another. You might be shocked at what you find.

Together, you can then work out a plan to get yourselves out of debt and stay out of debt. You can even start to save up for your family goals, such as a down payment on a house or a dream vacation.


It is tough to be romantic with one another when you are constantly worried about financials. And the word budget is about as sexy as the word diet. However, working together in this way can often lead to a much closer relationship through honesty, forging a real partnership.

The sad fact is that many people mislead or downright lie about themselves. Some partners get the shock of their lives when they apply for a mortgage and discover their partner has a terrible credit score or even a recent bankruptcy.

Why do people lie by commission, or omission? Often it's because they value the relationship and do not wish to lose it. However, this is like trying to build a house on quicksand.

Honesty really is the best policy in any romantic relationship. If you’ve been holding things back from your partner, you are withholding parts of yourself, and withholding is a barrier to true intimacy.

Is Intimacy Important to You Both?

A reality check with regard to your intimacy might be painful, but it can also save a marriage. Once the children come, romance often takes a back seat, causing the sizzle to fizzle. Luckily, there are a number of ways to tend the spark to keep the flames burning regularly.

For example, no matter how tough things might be, try to schedule a regular date night and stick to it. Arrange for child care, even if it is only for a few hours, to reconnect with your spouse.

Avoid emotional infidelity, which can lead to physical infidelity if you are not careful. Treat your spouse like the most important person in your life rather than seek out others you might think you have more in common with.

When a romantic relationship hits the rocks, it can seem as if it is impossible to salvage. But truth, honesty and reminding yourself about all the reasons you fell in love with that person and the best qualities they possess, can improve your relationship and keep it on the right course in future.