A Disciplined Path for Relationships

Each year Americans spend 300 billion dollars on diet products.  They do this thinking that these products will quickly make them thin, which in turn, will make them happy. But when trying to lose weight, there are no quick fixes. It requires a lot of hard work - regular exercise, eating right, and a commitment to a plan.

But just like anything in life, there are no shortcuts to getting what we want.  Only through discipline can we get the results we are seeking, whether it's adopting a healthier lifestyle or having positive relationships.

According to vocabulary.com discipline is a verb that means "to develop behavior by instruction and practice."  When you have discipline, you have self-control.  And self-control is a gift we give ourselves that can help us with all situations. 

How disciplined are you? Can you control your temper when a person sets you off? Are you patient with a demanding customer? Do you think before you speak?

Our life is full of relationships that make us either happy or miserable.  It is only through the practice of self-awareness and self-control will we ever be able to build healthy partnerships. Here is a plan to help:  

  • Elongate your fuse.  People with short fuses are oblivious to the long-term impact of their short reactionary responses.  The longer the fuse, the better the relationship will be in your life.
  • Know your temperament.  Each of us has a temper.  Identify your triggers and what sets you off.  Once you know your tolerance level, you will be more equipped to balance your energy and know what level of self-control you need to exert in that specific situation.
  • Control your impulses.  When someone does something that offends, irritates or upsets us, our immediate response is usually an emotional outburst. Control that urge to react. Instead get your emotions under control so you can respond logically to the event. 

Make it a habit today to practice self-discipline and you will be on the path to have relationships that give you what you want and need!

All in the Ask

My assistant shared a story with me recently that reminded me how important it is to ask the right questions.  

Her son had just turned 14 and was anxious to get his working papers. She had heard through the usually reliable mom-network that even though school was out for the year, the high school guidance office was the place to get working papers. Upon entering the high school, she and her son proceeded to the General Office and asked where the Guidance Office was.  The secretary pointed to the sign in the hallway with a directional arrow.  They then proceeded in the direction of the arrow but found the District Office and not the Guidance Office.  They entered the District Office and proceeded to ask the secretary where the Guidance Office was.  A helpful janitor smiled and offered to show the way, explaining that the directional arrow was misleading and the hallway to the Guidance Office was dimly lit. 

Having found the Guidance Office at last, the son told the counselor that he was there to get his working papers. The counselor then advised "Oh, you no longer get those here. You can get them in the General Office where you first came into the school".  So the tour of the high school offices could have ended where it started, had my assistant simply asked, "Where can my son get his working papers?"

How often do we go through life getting frustrated with the outcome or response from a person because it wasn't what we expected or wanted?  In customer service and sales, asking the right questions is critical in order to provide the right solutions, product or services to clients.

Taking time and planning out a list of questions can help uncover a customer's pain point, what is most important for their decision-making process and their overall goals. Asking a blend of simple questions can help you discover their needs and provide the best solutions to exceed their expectations:

•What can I do for you? Describe to me what you need.

•What is most important to you? What are the outcomes you are expecting?

•What is your budget? Why do you need this product or service?

It all comes down to the simple ask---getting the right information so you can provide the right solution every single time!

Ask and You Shall Receive

Just recently I participated on a search committee to select a new non-profit executive director. It was both energizing and exhausting as I had to dust off and use my old HR interviewing skills.

As I went through this, I realized that many times when we go through a selection process, we end up hiring an individual that isn't a good fit for the organization.  The candidate may interview well, but once on board it becomes apparent this was not a good hire. 

As I reflected on why this happens, it occurred to me that the root cause of any bad decision comes from asking the wrong questions.

Picture the first grader raising her hand and asking the teacher permission "Can I go to the bathroom?" and the teacher's response, "I'm sure you can, but, yes, you MAY go to the bathroom."  If we don't ask the right questions we won't get the answers or results we are looking for.

  • What questions do you ask employees and co-workers to see what support and help they need?  
  • What questions do you ask your customers to discover how you can serve them better?
  • What questions do you ask to get to the root of a conflict or disagreement?  
  • What questions do you ask to find the truth in a situation? 

Begin by thinking about the information you are trying to get, then structure your questions accordingly. Productive questions should be open-ended, high-gain questions.  These are direct, but thought-provoking and invoke an emotional and honest response. And just as important as asking the right questions, is listening to the answers given.

Just like an interview process, if we ask the wrong questions with good responses we may end up with a bad selection that can cause irreversible damage to the organization.

Quote of the Month

"Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard for it."


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