Archive for the ‘Relationship Skills’ Category

Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without.

June 14, 2018

From the summer reading pile.  I read ’em so you don’t have to …

Rath argues that “vital friends” play one or more of 8 roles.

Which of the role(s) do you play?  Which do each of your vital friends play?

(more…)

Rating Tiger's apology against "8 Simple Principles" …

February 22, 2010

OK, here’s the essence of what el Tigre said:

Standing at a lectern and speaking from a script in a slow, deliberate voice, Mr. Woods said,

“I was unfaithful. I had affairs, I cheated. What I did is not acceptable and I am the only person to blame.”

“I want to say to each of you, simply and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703787304575075051038318196.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

Reaction to his pitch was mixed.  Some saw it as sincere, some saw it as a control freak’s robotic infomercial — the first step to winning back endorsement deals. 

Tiger Woods must stop being a control freak

As always, Tiger Woods sought control on Friday morning.

His scripted apology for marital infidelity offered an unprecedented view of this idol in remorse, choking up, talking about healing himself through Buddhism, taking responsibility for selfishness. 

Fundamentally, though, he remained a hermetically sealed champ, making the statement entirely on his own terms, surrounded by a hand-picked audience, speaking as if from a pulpit, and correctly assuming that the media would lap up every unchallenged syllable. The 13-minute speech will pass a humility test only if graded on a steep curve.

Will his fall from corporate grace, his descent from the family-man pedestal, take his game down, too?

Woods has spent the bulk of his life, and all of his professional years, in a bubble of adulation.  He took for granted that his fans and his colleagues on the PGA Tour would behave like nobles in a Tudor court, genuflecting to a king whose power left them richer than they could have imagined and more intimidated than they cared to admit.

Now, those fans and fellow golfers routinely speak of him with either pity or disdain

 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/20/SPVR1C4GJ3.DTL#ixzz0gAosmPCx

Bottom line: some bought in, some didn’t.

This is how Woods ended his statement: “Finally, there are many people in this room, and there are many people at home, who believed in me. Today I want to ask for your help; I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.”

Whew, that’s a tall order. Believe in what?

The squeaky-clean Tiger Woods whom people believed in does not exist.

All that’s left is the two-faced, womanizing, narcissist Tiger Woods.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20100220_Editorial__What_is_there_to_believe_.html

How do you think Tiger did?  Awhile ago, I stumbled on “8 simple principles” for making a meaningful apology.  A nice grading key …

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Nothing relieves the pain caused by a mistake quite so effectively as a genuine and unconditional apology.

There is simply no way to state strongly enough what a difference it can make in relationships.

The problem with most apologies is that they’re “CPI”  — Cheap, Premature, and Incomplete — “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Whatever it was that I did, I apologize.”

Here are some simple principles that can make an apology more meaningful.

  1. Understand first, then apologize. Make sure you really understand what has happened and what part you played in it.
  2. Talk to everybody involved. It’s not enough that you apologize to the person you hurt directly. You need to apologize as well to the people who know what you did.
  3. Be specific  … so it’s clear that you understand your mistake.
  4. Apologize unambiguously. Say you’re sorry, and  be careful not to qualify it at all. That’s why “I’m sorry if I hurt you” and “I don’t know what I’ve done, but I apologize” don’t cut it.
  5. Describe how your mistake has affected you. You may realize, for example, that someone you care about deeply has trouble trusting you now. If so, you need to describe that as part of your apology.
  6. Outline the steps you’re taking to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Concentrate on actual behaviors that other people should be able to observe. Then, walk the talk.
  7. Affirm yourself. If you don’t think you’re the kind of person who sets out to hurt people, you need to say so.  You need to state in clear and explicit terms that you think you’re a better person than this behavior would indicate. You need to describe how you plan to demonstrate that over the days and weeks ahead.
  8. Ask for forgiveness — but don’t  press for it quickly. You may even need to ask the other person explicitly not to forgive you too quickly so that forgiveness, when given, will be complete.

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Warning: just because the principles are simple doesn’t make them easy to apply.

For most of us, they represent a fundamentally different behavior, and changing behavior always feels awkward and uncomfortable at first.

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Excerpted from “Apologize – and Make It Count!”

When You Apologize – Make It Count!

October 27, 2009

Ken’s Take: In a prior post, I cited some research that proved it’s good business for companies to apologize to customers they’ve wronged — that an apology goes way further than, say, a discount on the next purchase.

I also made a passing reference to how important apologies are in personal life, too.

Following the links in the original article, I stumbled on these “8 simple principles” for making a meaningful apology …

Nothing relieves the pain caused by a mistake quite so effectively as a genuine and unconditional apology.

There is simply no way to state strongly enough what a difference it can make in relationships.

The problem with most apologies is that they’re “CPI”  — Cheap, Premature, and Incomplete — “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Whatever it was that I did, I apologize.”

Here are some simple principles that can make an apology more meaningful.

  1. Understand first, then apologize. Make sure you really understand what has happened and what part you played in it.
  2. Talk to everybody involved. It’s not enough that you apologize to the person you hurt directly. You need to apologize as well to the people who know what you did. 
  3. Be specific  … so it’s clear that you understand your mistake.
  4. Apologize unambiguously. Say you’re sorry, and  be careful not to qualify it at all. That’s why “I’m sorry if I hurt you” and “I don’t know what I’ve done, but I apologize” don’t cut it.
  5. Describe how your mistake has affected you. You may realize, for example, that someone you care about deeply has trouble trusting you now. If so, you need to describe that as part of your apology.
  6. Outline the steps you’re taking to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Concentrate on actual behaviors that other people should be able to observe. Then, walk the talk.
  7. Affirm yourself. If you don’t think you’re the kind of person who sets out to hurt people, you need to say so.  You need to state in clear and explicit terms that you think you’re a better person than this behavior would indicate. You need to describe how you plan to demonstrate that over the days and weeks ahead.
  8. Ask for forgiveness — but don’t  press for it quickly. You may even need to ask the other person explicitly not to forgive you too quickly so that forgiveness, when given, will be complete.

* * * **

Warning: just because the principles are simple doesn’t make them easy to apply.

For most of us, they represent a fundamentally different behavior, and changing behavior always feels awkward and uncomfortable at first.

* * * * *

Excerpted from “Apologize – and Make It Count!”

Why It Pays to Apologize …

October 26, 2009

Ken’s Take: In personal life, apologies can clear the conscience and “clear the air”.

In business, apologies make for good customer relations …

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Excerpted from Business Week, Why It Pays to Apologize, Oct. 12, 2009

What’s the best way for a company to disarm a disgruntled customer? A simple apology beats a cash rebate, according to a new study.

Researchers at Britain’s Nottingham School of Economics worked with a large German wholesaler that sells goods on eBay, tracking the lukewarm or negative comments posted on the site by the company’s customers over six months.

They then responded to the 632 complaints—about defective salt shakers, say, or the late delivery of a leather belt.

Half of the e-mailed responses offered a brief apology. Half offered instead a “goodwill gesture” of a small cash rebate (from $3 to $8). All the e-mails asked the customers to remove the comments they had posted online. For those offered the rebate, it was a condition of receiving the cash.

The result?

About 45% of customers who received an apology withdrew their so-so or negative ratings, compared with 21% of those offered money to do so.

It’s worth noting that the e-mailed apologies were effective even though they were brief and impersonal — and asked for something in return.

Why?

Despite the suspicions people might harbor, “apologies trigger a biological instinct to forgive that is hard to overcome.”

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_41/c4150btw802994.htm

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Tomorrow: Getting personal – 8 principles for making your apologies count …

According to psycho-analysts, what do Obama, Sanford, and Palin have in common?

July 9, 2009

According to some political-psyche pundits and news reports: they’re all narcissists. 

Some have gone a step further and presumptuously diagnose them as having  Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is also called pathological narcissism.  (Details below)

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When I heard the term the second or third time, I got curious.

Initially, I thought that NPD was a made-up talk show slur.  But, I did some digging and discovered that Narcissistic Personality Disorder really does exist as a documented pathology. 

Below are its diagnostic criteria and the “so whats” of the pathology. 

Worth reading …

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Pathological Narcissism: How do you know ?

People may be  clinically diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder if they exhibit at least 5 of the following attitudes and behaviors:

1. Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance; obsess over appearance and image

2. Are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

3. Believe they are  “special” and can only be understood by other special or high-status people

4. Require excessive admiration; crave the spotlight; expect to be recognized as superior to others.

5. Have a sense of entitlement; expect special treatment and automatic compliance with their wishes

6. Selfishly take advantage of others to achieve their own ends; lie, deceive, and manipulate; believe rules of morality don’t apply to them

7. Lack empathy; fail to recognize or sympathize with other people’s feelings and needs.

8. Are often envious of others and believe that others are envious of them; covet others’ relationships and possessions.

9. “Act out”: present arrogant, patronizing, contemptuous, risky, self-destructive behaviors or attitudes; when caught and confronted, blame bad behavior on other people and burdensome circumstances, show little conscience or true remorse. 

Excerpted from:
http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/dsm-iv.html

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Pathological Narcissism: So what ? 

Most people are somewhat narcissistic.

A healthy level of narcissism is a mature, balanced love of oneself coupled with a stable sense of self-worth and self-esteem. A healthy narcissist has a proportionate and realistic appraisal of his achievements and traits, and respects interpersonal boundaries.

Pathological narcissism is marked by an immature or impaired sense of one’s “true self” and situational reality that is exaggerated into a fraudulent, compensatory self-image

Down deep, a  pathological narcissist is usually deficient in self-esteem or self-worth.  He draws esteem and worth from the attention and admiration of others  Hence, the pathological narcissist is in constant pursuit of recognition and adoration, relishes the spotlight, and habitually preys his environment for more dependable admirers

Pathological narcissism is often a reaction to abnormal environments and situations (e.g., abuse, trauma, smothering, etc.), the repression of overwhelming memories and experiences, and the suppression of inordinately strong negative feelings (e.g., hurt, envy, anger, or humiliation).

Pathological narcissism is addictive and dysfunctional.  Pathological narcissists are obsessed by delusions of grandeur, superiority, and perfection – in life and love. As a result, they present themselves as image-obsessed (flawlessness) and very competitive (win at all cost).  They want to be at center stage, and when others might be merely motivated, they are strongly compelled. They are driven, relentless, tireless, and ruthless. They strive and fight and learn and climb and create and think and devise and design and conspire. They need to be in control of their relationships and environments.

Pathological narcissists are prone to self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors. They often abandon their commitments, careers, and relationships in mid-stream – losing interest, giving up, moving on.

Sub-consciously, a pathological narcissist may masochistically frustrate his deepest desires and drives; obstruct his own efforts; alienate his friends and sponsors; provoke figures in authority; actively (but unconsciously) seek, submit and relish mistreatment;  incite anger or rejection; engage in risky and improper behavior — all without conscience or true remorse.

Pathological Narcissism: What’s the prognosis?

While Narcissistic Personality Disorder can sometimes be moderated with psycho-therapy. the “prognosis is generally not good”.  That is, the likelihood of recidivism (i.e. repeat behavior) is very high and progressive (i.e.  it gets worse}. 

Excerpted from:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652/DSECTION=symptoms

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Best online medical summary of NPD – from the Mayo Clinic:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652

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Final shots; Obama, Sanford and Palin may be narcissists, but pundits shouldn’t be throwing around the term “Narcissistic Personality Disorder “ lightly.  It’s a real pathology.  Not to be taken lightly.

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Take the loyalty test …

July 8, 2009

From the summer read:
Why Loyalty Matters, Keiningham & Aksoy, Benbella Books, 2009

in prior posts, I highlighted 25 notable nuggets from the book and recounted the 10 Relationship DNA Factors (i.e “styles”)..

Here’s an acid test of loyalty:

Do your friends believe without a doubt that you convincingly demonstrate your loyalty to them? Specifically, do you

  1. Devote enough time to your relationships with them?
  2. Stand up for them when it is uncomfortable to do so?
  3. Celebrate their successes without envy?
  4. Support them during difficult times?
  5. Hold fast to information provided in confidence?
  6. Make every effort to carry out commitments to them, even when it requires considerable self-sacrifice?

Being truly loyal isn’t easy to do. 

Virtually all of us fall short in delivering true and comp,ete loyalty to friends and family.

The good news: there is always room for improvement.  Get started.

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What is your relationship style?

July 7, 2009

From the summer read:
Why Loyalty Matters, Keiningham & Aksoy, Benbella Books, 2009

in a prior post, I highlighted 25 notable nuggets from the book.

In my opinion, the most useful part of the book was a relationship framework based on the notion that each of us has our own relationship DNA that serves as the code for how we interact with one another. 

While  no two people are identical in how they connect with others, all are made up of the same 10 basic building blocks:

  1. Leadership
  2. Reliance
  3. Empathy
  4. Security
  5. Calculativeness
  6. Connectedness
  7. Independence
  8. Traditionalism
  9. Problem-focused coping
  10. Emotion-focused coping

Being high or low on a particular factor does not imply good or bad, since each factor has the potential to have both the positive and negative impact on our relationships, regardless of where one falls on the factor.

People have their own idiosyncratic relationship styles. We are able to build strong, loyal relationships with one another precisely because each of us is different. It is our differences that allow us to enrich each other’s lives.

* * * * *

Leadership is the ability to influence others to follow you voluntarily. Leaders have a general sense that they are in control of themselves and their surroundings, are motivated to achieve success, attain a comfort level interacting with others, and are not afraid to take risks. The leaders competitive spirit fuels ambition. Some people see this fortitude as a blessing; it alienates other people who see it as being too competitive and too aggressive.

Reliance describes how well a person trusts and attaches to people around him. Reliant people have a support web that is based on openness and accountability. They are willing to ask for help when it’s needed. Reliant people tend to have “deep” and long-lasting friends. People low in reliance usually try to solve problems autonomously without depending on others. They often have difficulty building long-term relationships.

Empathy is the ability to identify and sympathize with others. Empathetic people tend to have a more flexible outlook and appreciate people for who they are. This brings with it more friendliness and is inviting to others. Empathetic people are compassionate, kindhearted, and understanding. They see problems through the eyes and hearts of others. People with  low empathy create distance between themselves and others.

Security is a general sense of stability and comfort with oneself and one’s environment. It’s a feeling that things are going well and there is no need to worry excessively or be anxious. This leads to life with a lower amount of stress and pressure, and prevents being needlessly encumbered by a sense of the impending. Secure people are able to manage anxiety and stress successfully. Insecure people often feel “on the edge”, and think that things are either wrong, or are going to go wrong. Insecurity leads to worry.

Calculativeness is an attempt to control and promote one’s self image and create an ideal environment for personal benefit. Calculating people place importance on showcasing themselves in the right way.  So, they have an air of formality in their interactions, selectively articulate themselves to others (versus “being themselves”), and tightly control their self-presentation. Calculating people are often viewed as contrived, less sincere, and less worthy of complete trust. They are often perceived by others as unemotional and manipulative.

Connectedness is how one interacts with others on a personal level  Close and tight relationships typify the crux of this dimension. The feeling of connection to others forms the basis in the bedrock of happiness. People low in connectedness may be loners, or may be surrounded with casual friends — lacking deep and intense bonds.

Independence is marked by autonomy, self-discipline, and thoroughness. On the upside, independent people are rarely disappointed by others, since they usually take matters into their own hands. But, they often miss out on valuable opportunities by failing to capitalize on other people’s ideas and strengths.

Traditionalism reflects a desire for consistency, normalcy, and regularity. Traditionalists like to operate within their comfort zone, and are cautious when approaching truly unfamiliar situations. Traditionalists rarely flaunt their successes, instead preferring humility. As a result, they may sometimes be underrated and underappreciated. Of course, traditionalists miss out on new experiences that could potentially provide novel perspectives and excitement.

Problem-focused coping is taking a planned, reasoned and rational approach to solving problems, meeting challenges, overcoming obstacles, making choices, and withstanding the consequences of decisions. Problem-focused people dissect issues and examine them from multiple angles. They are sometimes viewed as coldly analytical and callous in their decision-making.

Emotion-focused coping tries to suppress or manage the emotions surrounding a problem, rather than the problem itself. Often, advice and comfort is sought from others.

* * * * *

Next up: The “Are you loyal? “ checklist.

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Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without.

June 17, 2009

From the summer reading pile.  I do it so you don’t have to …

Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without, Tom Roth, Gallup Press, 2006

Ken’s Take: Below is all you need to know from the book. The “8 roles of vital friends” were pretty interesting. Which role(s) do you play?  Which do each of your vital friends play?

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Summary

Each person needs a few very deep friendships to thrive — the magic number seems to be three or four.

What matters most is not the number of friends, but the quality of the friendships.

A vital friend is someone who measurably improve your life. Ask yourself: “if this person were no longer around, would my overall satisfaction with life decrease?”

We expect the other person in a relationship to meet our every need. We expect them to do several things to uphold his or her end of the relationship. We expect them to be able to do it all. Then, we’re disappointed when we discover that they do only a few things very well.

The trick is to focus on those things that our friend does well — the strengths that complement our weaknesses. Focus on the ways that your friends contribute to your life, not on the ways that they disappoint you.

There are eight vital roles that close friends might play. Some may play only one; few play several: none play them all. Ask yourself: what role does this friend play?  what role do you play for him / her?

1.  Builder
2.  Champion
3.  Collaborator
4.  Companion
5.  Connector
6.  Energizer
7.  Mind Opener
8.  Navigator

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1. Builder

builders are great motivators,always pushing you towards the finish line. They continually invest in your development and genuinely want you to succeed — even if it means they have to go out on a limb for you. Builders are generous with their time as they help you see your strengths and use them productively. When you want to think about how you can do more of what you already do well, talk to a Builder. Much like the best coaches and managers, these are the friends who lead you to achieve more each day. And great Builders will not compete with you. They figure out how their talents can complement yours. If you need a catalyst for your personal or professional growth, stay close to a Builder.

 

2. Champion

Champions stand up for you and what you believe in. They are the friends who sing your praises. Every day, this makes a difference in your life. Not only do they praise you in your presence, the Champion also “has your back” — and will stand up for you when you’re not around. They accept you for the person you are, even in the face of resistance. Champions are loyal friends to whom you can share things in confidence. They have a low tolerance for dishonesty. You can count on them to accept what you say, without judging, even when others do not.  Champions are your best advocates. When you succeed, they are proud of you, and they share it with others. Champions thrive on your accomplishments and happiness. When he needs someone to promote your cause, look to Champion.

 

3. Collaborator

A Collaborator is a friend with similar interests — the basis for many great friendships. You might share a passion for sports, hobbies, religion, work, politics, food, Visa, movies, or books. In many cases, you belong to the same groups or share affiliations. When you talk with a Collaborator, you are on familiar ground, and this can serve as the foundation for lasting relationship. Indeed, in those conversations, you often find that you have similar ambitions in life. Looking for someone who can relate to your passions? Find a Collaborator.

 

4. Companion

A Companion is always there for you, whatever the circumstances. When something big happens in your life — good or bad — this is one of the first people you call. At times, a true companion will even sense where you are headed — your thoughts, feelings, and actions — before you know it yourself. Companions take pride in your relationship and they will sacrifice for your benefit. They are the friends for whom you might literally put your life on the line. If you’re searching for friendship that can last a lifetime, look no further than a Companion.

 

5. Connector

A Connector is a bridge builder will to get what you want. Connectors get to know you — and then introduce you to others. These are the people you socialize with regularly. Friends who play the role of a Connector are always inviting you to lunch, dinner, drinks, and other gatherings where you can meet new people. This extends your network dramatically and gives you access to newfound resources. When you need something — a job, doctor.. friend, or a date — a Connector points you in the right direction. They seem to know everyone. If you need to get out more or simply want to widen your circle of friends or business associates, a Connector can help.

 

6. Energizer

Energizers are your fun friends who will always give you a boost. You have more positive moments when you are with these friends. Energizers are quick to pick you up when you are down — and can make a good day great. They are always saying and doing things that make you feel better. Energizers have a remarkable ability to figure out what gets you going. When you’re around these friends, you smile a lot more. You’re more likely to laugh in the presence of an Energizer. If you want to relax and have a good time or need to get out of a rut, call an Energizer.

 

7. Mind Opener

Mind Openers are the friends who expand your horizons and encourage you to embrace new ideas, opportunities, cultures, and people. They challenge you to think in innovative ways and help you create positive change. Mind Openers know how to ask good questions, and this makes you more receptive to ideas. When you are around a Mind Opener you are unguarded and express opinions aloud, especially controversial ones that you might not be comfortable sharing with other friends. These friends broaden your perspective on life and make you a better person. If you need to challenge the conventional wisdom or shake up the status quote, spend a few hours talking with a Mind Opener.

 

8. Navigator

Navigators are the friends who give you advice and keep you headed in the right direction. You go to them when you need guidance, and they talk through the pros and cons with you until you find an answer. In a difficult situation, you need a Navigator by your side. They help you see a positive future and keep things grounded in reality. Any time you are at a crossroads and need help making a decision, you can look to a Navigator. They help you know who you are — and who you are not. They are the ideal friends to share your goals and dreams with, and when you do, you’ll continue to learn and grow. When you ask Navigators for direction they help you reach your destination.

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Miscellaneous Tidbits

During her teenage years, we spend nearly 1/3 of our time with friends. For the rest of our lives the average time spent with friends is less than 10%.

If your best friend has a very healthy diet, where five times as likely to have a very healthy diet yourself.

Marital satisfaction is 5 times more dependent on the quality of a couple’s friendship than on physical intimacy.

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