Deal with Job Loss

You lost your job and think you can put your feelings aside and march on. You think the harder and faster you run from the disturbing feelings that come from any loss, the faster you’ll recover.

Not so.

In his new book, “Self-Talk for a Calmer You,” Behavior Coach Beverly D. Flaxington provides help in acknowledging the grief that comes with any loss, as well as some steps to apply in form of mental exercises, to help you recover.

To begin, he says, recognize that grieving is normal, and you must find ways to deal with it because “negative self-talk” and ruminations associated with the person, or event, that is lost will pull you in day by day.

It’s crucial, he believes that you employ “positive self-talk” exercises to combat them and help you work through that grief to eventually come to a better place. Otherwise, you may find yourself grieving for that person, job or event the rest of your life. And that ISN’T normal.

Here are some other suggestions from Flaxington:

Because you’re dealing with a hole, or a void, a loss of some kind, you may not be able to imagine a successive or positive outcome. To combat that, start by writing down a few ideas about what that loss means to you. Write how it affects you and how that makes you feel.

The second step is to review what you wrote and circle any words that stand out to you as high impact. Those are the ones that catch your attention as you read them. Ask yourself which really drag you down emotionally—and those are your emotional “triggers” that cause you special pain and anxiety.

Consider when it’s time to end formal grieving and begin to close that loop and begin thinking of the incident, or person, in another way.

Consider that loss is a natural part of life and, after grieving, you can move on when you decide you’ve given enough of your life to that and are ready to move on. You may tell yourself, “I suffered; I mourned, I always will miss that job, or person, but I’m ready to see what the next phase of my life will bring.”

Face that the void must be filled, and your next step is to find someone or something to refill it. Join a support group, go out with friends, and/or volunteer to help a community resource organization. Then try and make the decision that you are finished mourning and ready to move on to a better place.

“Dealing with loss is difficult, but it’s something every human being has to face in one way or another,” Flaxington writes. “Grieving and mourning is natural and has its place.”

In many cases, though, it’s necessary to go through this process for quite a while before you reach a mindset that will enable you to really start searching for a new job and, hopefully, a new beginning. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to take that space.


Ace ‘Difficult to Doable’ Talks

Whether we like it or not, occasionally we have to give a tough talk, usually somewhat critical, to an employee, co-worker (or even a beloved family member.).

What can we do to make it more palatable for us and less painful for the receiver?

Lynne Cunningham, a long-time healthcare communicator, offers several suggestions in her new book, “Taking Conversations from Difficult to Doable.”

She observes that in any of those conversations, it’s important to determine the motive for it, emphasizing that it should be to “complete not compete.”

Here are some of her suggestions for accomplishing that successfully:

  1. Ease into it: Talk about somethinhg positive or neutral so the other person feels at ease and is not immediately put on the defensive. Ask questions like, “How was your weekend?”
  2. Say “Yes,” instead of  “Yes, but..”  The “but” diminishes the compliment with which the sentence started. Try “and” instead, such as: You’re doing a great job learning that new task, AND I think you’d be even better at it if you changed those first steps a little.”
  3. Speak respectively, even when disagreeing. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone talked to me this way?”

Those steps will help you create trust and a safe environment for a constructive conversation and also show you respect the other person says Cunningham.

She adds that’s important, since trust, respect and safety are three legs of a stool that must be in balance to manage tough conversations

(See more in following post)


When to Enter Others’ Conversation

Lynne Cunningham, author of “Taking Conversations from Difficult to Doable,” contends there are times when you should jump into confrontations between two other people when you’re not really invited. She calls those “ Stub-Your-Toe conversations “and while they are difficult, you are morally obligated to initiate one if you’ve seen or heard offending behavior.



While it’s critical to intercede, she says, you, as Party C, may find yourself in the middle of finger-pointing and denials, and will have to determine if Party A or Party B is in the right.


So how do you turn that from a “difficult” to a “doable” conversation?


Here are some actions that might inspire you to intercede at work:

  1. Abrupt or disrespectful behavior or language
  2. Passive or passive aggressive action or language
  3. Complaining and/or gossip
  4. Talking about rather than to each other
  5. Failure to comply with policy, regulation or standard of behavior.


Following are some tips on how to resolve the problem:

  1. Avoid the tendency to “fix” the problem that caused the other person to act inappropriately.
  2. Stay on message: You are entering the discussion because specific behavior is inconsistent with one of your standards and values.
  3. Avoid tendency to downplay or enable the bad behavior. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t have entered the conversation.
  4. Keep it short. If the chat lasts more than four minutes, you’re off track.






Gaining Corporate ‘Presence’


Q. EVRERYONE TALKS ABOUT “PRESENCE”—walking into a room like a leader and making everyone notice you. I know I’ll need it for a successful career, and I wish I had it. But I’m young and new to corporate politics. Where do I start? What can I do to start standing out in a good way?\

A. ACT LIKE A LEADER TO look like a leader, advises Beverly Jones, author of “Think Like An Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO.” Make a list of things you admire about leaders, such as reliability, honesty and positive attitude. Look at it often, so they will begin to be part of your own demeanor. Organize your work, papers, memos, and assignments, so you are always ready to perform without searching through a mess. This will make you appear to be “in charge.” Think about whether you need a “makeover” or at least some sprucing up in the personal care and wardrobe departments. If so, get that done so you look professional. Learn to make a presentations. If you have speech or communication problems, get professional coaching. At least pretend to be confident, and speak with assurance. That projects “leadership.”

Mend Strained Office Relationships

You know you’re in a difficult relationship. You feel awkward, unhappy and apprehensive whenever you’re in that person’s company, but what can you do about it?

Educator/clinicians Pat Love, Eva Berlander, and Kathleen McFadden give that answer, showing how broken relationships may not only be mended but magnificent in their new book, “You’re Tearing Us Apart: Twenty Ways We Wreck Our Relationships and Strategies to Repair Them.”

Although their book is geared primarily to relationships between mates, partners, and spouses—its solid, yet simple, advice applies equally well to office and work-related issues.

Readers get a quick and straight-to-the-point look at twenty ways a relationship can be ruined and most importantly how to fix them. Using more than fifty years of combined professional experience and scientific study, they’ve ensured tried-and-true strategies that work.

Experience proves one person can destroy a relationship not two. A broken trust can be caused by just one person pushing the other too far. It can happen either by invading privacy, over criticizing, or even a drunken argument. But the good news is that while one person can indeed break the relationship apart, one person can also be the one to fix it. All it takes is three steps:

Step 1: Recognize the part of your behavior that undermines intimacy
Step 2: Replace harmful behaviors with healthy acts of love
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2!

Who has the time and inclination to wade through 200 pages to find a solution to an immediate relational problem? These three authors collaborated to write a narrative where each chapter is broken down into four easy to understand sections. The first illustrates what it’s like to live with (or in some cases work with) someone practicing the relationship-threatening behavior. Then the psychology behind the behavior is explained followed by a concise description as to why the behavior is so threatening to the relationship. Each chapter ends with a variety of strategies to help any two people overcome their problems.

One example is controlling behavior. You like your job, you like your work, but  your supervisor continually criticizes you, doesn’t allow you to submit good ideas, and in general keeps boundaries on everything you do. That’s not healthy for anyone and, these authors contend that the most common reasons one person tries to control another is to manage his or her own anxiety or insecurity. He feels safer and less vulnerable when everything happens as expected. Often the behavior is unnoticed because it’s unconscious and others view it as being the right way.


As Dr. Phil often says, and it applies in this case, “You teach people how to treat you!”

Even if he’s your boss, even if you risk being fired and have to get another job, you MUST speak up if you want to be happy in this one.

These authors claim, “If you’re the person being controlled, then it’s your responsibility to speak up! Silence enables the behavior to continue. You might be more aware of the controlling behavior than the person doing the controlling. Find a way to agree on a new behavior (a way of talking to one another.) If that doesn’t work, check with Human Relations for counsel. There may be others who reported this supervisor is mistreating employees.




Improve Life with ‘Me Time’

Everyone wants to improve their lives, and the start of a new year is the best time to do it with the help of Ruth Fishel’s new book, “Time for Me: Daily Practice for a Joyful, Peaceful, Purposeful Life.”

It makes the point that change—any change that would be beneficial to make—is always possible, and lays out the process for making the change in a clear, simple way. Nothing is too hard when taken in small bites, a week at a time, she says.

Ruth Fishel acknowledges the letdown feeling people tend to get when they have high hopes for something, and fail to understand or accept that change usually takes time. The purpose of the book is renewal and re-energizing one’s self, in order to reach self-actualization and fulfillment. It is designed for a person to go at his own pace, and take everything one week or longer at a time.
Highlights from the book include:

• Time for Me is a personal practice book—not a workbook—laid out in a weekly format to be practiced daily. It features a very simple Three-Step Method:

~    Mindfulness: Only by being aware of our thoughts can we change them.
~    Universal Energy: Call it God, spiritual energy, Higher Power, Buddha energy, Allah, whatever you choose to call a Power greater than yourself that you feel connected to.
~    Power of Our Thoughts: Based on our new scientific understanding of neuroplasticity and neuro-pathways, we have the power to change our thoughts and thought patterns.

• Time for Me includes 49 chapters that all begin with the title “Time for”:

~    Time for Peace
~    Time for Authenticity
~    Time for Forgiveness
~    Time for Gratitude
~    Time for Stillness
~    Time for Slowing Down
~    Time for Enlightenment
~    Time for Friendship
~    Time for Change

•Time for Me has Eight Empowering Steps to Change

1. Willingness: Look at “Time for” subject of the week.
2. We can pray for the willingness to make this change to whatever we believe is a power greater than ourselves.
3. We need an intention: An intention is very powerful. It is the energy that takes us to our next step. Once we feel this intention, we can move on.
4. We make our commitment: Our intention comes from our head. Our commitment comes from our heart.
5. We can affirm our commitment: We can create an affirmation such as “It feels so good to know that God is giving me all that I need to be a forgiving person.”
6. An Action Step: The energy of affirmation pushes us to an action step.
7. Practice: The more the action step is practiced, the more it will become natural.
8. Results: Feeling great and change.


And this probably is a good “time for” reading this book! ###

Create ‘ROI’ Relationships


Q.1 NOW THAT I’M IN THE BUSINESS WORLD many of my school friends no longer “fit in” my life. We have different interests and while we can still go out for a beer once in a while, I feel I should make friends who can help with my career as well as share common interests. How can I do that and should I feel guilty about moving on?

A. DON’T FEEL GUILTY because those friends possibly feel the same way and also are seeking new friends among people in their own new lives. But it is wise to find people who will share your interests and eventually help you rise up the ladder with them. In their new book, “Abunfance NOW: Amplify Your Life & Achieve Prosperity Today,” Lisa Nichols, with Janet Switzer, describe those new friends as ROI, or those who offer “Return on Investment.” Such individuals provide intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally fulfilling relationships that, when you need them, give you something you didn’t have before. They advise you seek people you meet who represent the things you want to be or do or have. Ask them to teach you to do as they do and, most importantly, how to develop their mindsets.

Q.2 MY SMALL COMPANY IS STRAPPED FOR CASH, but since we signed on several new accounts we should be in good shape in a few months. I can get a new credit line if I open a new charge account at another bank, but a friend just told me anytime anyone opens or closes a charge account his insurance rates raise. Can that be true?

A NOT EXACTLY. Donna Eckert, agent for DSP Insurance in Arlington Heights Il, for Acquity Insurance, explains that if you have several cards totally maxed out, and open another charge for the purpose of carrying even more debt, your credit rating possibly WILL drop, and insurance companies now do consider that when deciding your annual rate. But if your credit rating remains acceptable and this is temporary until your new clients come on board, that may not apply to you. Ask you accountant to examine your books, credit rating, and expected income to help make that decision.


Time to Let Some Clients Go

Difficult as it may be, it’s possibly time for you to let some of your clients go, and there’s no better time to do that then at the start of a new year.

As the new year approaches, you’re probably looking forward to taking advantage of new opportunities that will help your business grow and blossom. What you aren’t looking forward to is another year full of Client A cursing you out every time you have a meeting. Or Client B always asking for more, more, more and then complaining once they get the bill. Or Client C being so slow to respond that every project takes twice as long as is necessary.

These are the clients, say Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, who starve your business of the energy it needs to grow and prosper. They suggest it might be time to do some winter pruning and cut off those bad branches.

“Bonnie’s mother used to tell us that seasonal pruning makes the trees grow stronger and produce more fruit,” says Houlihan, co-author along with Bonnie Harvey of “The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People.” The same is true of pruning troublesome clients. When you disconnect your business from these toxic energies, your employees will be happier, you’ll be happier, and everyone will be able to focus their time and energy on more productive, more rewarding tasks.”

But before grabbing your pruning shears, it’s important to have a plan. First, you need to truthfully evaluate the situation. Do you have more troublesome clients than happy campers? In other words, are you the real problem? Is the client behaving badly because you’re providing bad service or are they chronically abusive and disrespectful even when you provide great service? Second, you have to prune with finesse. It should be done in a way that prevents bad feelings on both sides.

“Make it about you,” says Houlihan. “Explain that it’s not about them, but about the direction the company is heading at this time. Depending on what the case may be, tell them that you’re reorganizing, making changes due to personnel issues, focusing on a set number of clients, and so on. You don’t want to permanently burn any bridges.”

So what kinds of clients should you consider putting on the chopping block? Below Houlihan and Harvey provide a list of client types that you should prune in 2016:

The Abusers. These clients never have a kind word for you or your employees. In fact, interactions with them are usually peppered with demeaning language and expletives. It’s one thing when they treat you like crap, but an abusive client being nasty to your staff is something you simply can’t tolerate. Nothing can sink employee engagement and happiness faster than rude and abusive clients. “I find that a popular phrase with Abusers is always ‘or else,'” says Houlihan. “They yell at you or your employees that you better do such and such or else! Know that you’ll never be able to please them. There will always be an ‘or else’ looming. Know that at the end of the day, you’re in control and you get to decide whether you’re going to put up with them or not.”

The Pot Stirrers. These clients aren’t team players but they do infiltrate your team. Unfortunately, once they’re working with you, they do nothing but stir up trouble. They say bad things about you to your employees and vice versa. “Clients might do this because they feel like it gives them an upper hand,” notes Harvey. “If they can play everyone against each other, they think they may be able to work out a better deal or keep everyone scared enough that they’ll do everything they ask. Pot Stirrers are poison to a company. It’s important that you nip this kind of behavior in the bud as soon as you realize its happening.”

The Unhappy Campers. Time and again, you deliver great work, but your unhappy campers always find something to complain about. They’re never fully satisfied, and their lack of gratitude has taken the wind out of you and your employees’ sails more than once. “Unhappy Campers may not be the worst clients on your list, but they can be exhausting,” notes Houlihan. “When you and your staff have put time and energy into a project and you’re pleased with the results, your clients’ appreciation means a lot. And it doesn’t have to be a big show of gratitude. A simple ‘thank you!’ is all it takes. But Unhappy Campers can’t be bothered. If they’re not happy, you’re not happy, and it’s best to cut them loose while you still have energy to give to other clients.”

The Cheapskates. Any business owner knows that deciding on how to price your products or services is never an easy decision to make. Chances are before presenting a client with a price list, you’ve already put a lot of time and thought into it, running the numbers to settle on a price that works for your business and potential customers. But Cheapskates don’t care about any of that. They’re the clients who always ask for a discount or want to keep paying based on an outdated price list.

“Of course, it’s okay to give clients a discount here and there,” says Harvey. “But Cheapskates have no problem bleeding you dry. And the worst Cheapskates are also chronic late or non-payers. They never pay invoices on time, causing you to have to spend time tracking them down in order to get paid. Your energy is better spent elsewhere.”

The Know-It-Alls. These are the clients who make you wonder why they even hired you in the first place. They never want to take your advice, fight you at every turn, and then change all the work you send their way. Even worse, when they do it their way and don’t get the results they wanted, they find a reason to blame you or call you and need you to fix it under a ridiculous deadline. “When a client prevents you from doing what you do best, that’s a big problem,” explains Houlihan. “It makes the work you do for them less satisfying, and worse, you run the risk of having your business’s name attached to subpar work.”

The Sponges. Your Sponge clients seem to think they’re your only clients and use your time accordingly. They call constantly, send email after email, and request needless meetings or flake on important meetings and deadlines because they view their own schedules as much more important than yours. “You put much more into your interactions with Sponges than you get back,” says Harvey. “They eat up valuable time with unimportant tasks and worries that keep you from servicing other, more profitable clients.”

The Headache Inducers. These are the clients who hold up a hoop and expect you to jump through it. Then, they hold up an even smaller hoop and expect you to jump through it. And on and on. They specialize in making unreasonable demands and last-minute requests that put unreasonable stress on your company. “If anyone is going to give you a migraine, it’s this type of client,” notes Houlihan. “You might be able to rein them in by setting boundaries—for example, ‘no changes can be made within 24 hours of a deadline’—but if they repeatedly breach those boundaries, it might be time to pass them on to your competition. You don’t need the headache!”

The Cowboys. Every interaction with these clients feels like a Wild West showdown at high noon, but instead of carrying a six shooter, their biggest threat is firing you. They constantly remind you how easily you could be replaced. “Unfortunately, the best way to handle Cowboys is to be the first one to pull the trigger,” says Harvey. “You might suggest that they’d be happier working with another company and help them take steps to make that transition. There’s no joy in always being under the gun, and you’re never going to do your best work when you’re being threatened with termination.”

The Two-Faced. With these clients, you never know what’s up or down. They won’t hesitate to lie to get what they want—or conveniently forget previously agreed-upon goals or deadlines. They’re always changing the rules and moving the goalposts. You can never reach a satisfactory point with them because they’re always changing their expectations. “You never know where you stand with these kinds of clients,” explains Houlihan. “And that can cause a lot of unnecessary frustration and confusion. It becomes difficult for you to make the right decisions for them. You end up constantly second-guessing yourself or wondering when they’re going to turn everything on its head. Don’t waste your time. There are plenty of honest clients out there.”

“Whether you think of freeing your business of troublesome clients as pruning away the bad or opening up a port to welcome new opportunities, the results are the same,” he concludes. “Your business will be healthier. You and your employees will be able to blossom and pursue those activities that can truly improve your business.”


How to Fire Clients

Firing employees is hard, but “firing” clients can  be even more difficult. Yet sometimes  it’s  necessary, and fortunately, Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, Co-authors of “The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People,” offer these suggestios:

Do it in a measured, planned way. Firing a client should not be a quick decision. If you’re angry, cool off before you even think about having this kind of conversation. And when you do it, avoid using the words, “You’re fired.” You need a plan. You need to know exactly what you’re going to say ahead of time so that bad feelings and harsh words don’t come into play. So, once you’ve decided to fire a client, create a plan. Think about when it’s best to do it (will a project be coming to an end soon?), where it’s best to do it (should you go to them or meet in a neutral location?), and how it’s best to do it (what will you say?). Then do it quickly, succinctly, and move along.

Line up a replacement first. Close a new client. Then, sit your old client down and say, “We’ve recently begun work with a new client and due to time constraints will no longer be able to continue our work with you. We recommend that you reach out to [insert competitor].”

Phase them out. Explain that you’re taking the business in a different direction, and as a result, you’re transitioning away from certain projects. Bring any projects you have with them to a closing point and then opt not to renew the contract.

If you can, give them a time frame. For example, “In three weeks, Project X will be complete. At that point, we must devote our time to other clients. We wanted to let you know now so that you’ll have plenty of time to find another vendor.”

Hand them off. Set them up with your competition. Yes, you read that right! At first glance, it may seem odd to hand your competitors a shiny new client. But think about it. You’re not exactly handing over a gem. Let your competitors deal with the client’s bad habits. While they do, you’ll be growing a much healthier business.

And the great thing about handing clients off to your competition is that you can do so without permanently burning any bridges with the client. Tell them, “I’ve changed the direction I’m taking my business. I think you’ll find that [insert competitor] will be better able to meet your needs at this time.”

Call it like it is. If a relationship with a client has been especially contentious, the best route may be directness. You might say, “I think you’ll agree that our working relationship has become strained. I don’t feel that my company can satisfy you. As such, I believe it is best if we cut ties. [Insert competitor] provides similar services to ours. I recommend that you reach out to them for your ongoing needs.”

Tell them how you’ll wrap things up. Clearly state how you’ll be bringing your work together to a close. If any of these details are unclear, you run the risk of drawing the separation process out, which won’t be pleasant for you or your client. Tell them what duties you’ll fulfill and give them a hard end date. Meet those fulfillments and stick to your deadline.

Stay strong. It’s not uncommon for bad clients to suddenly realize just how wonderful you are as you’re showing them the door. They might start to promise that this time they’ll really change, offer to pay more, give you a bigger chunk of their business, and on and on. Don’t give in. Know that chances are a year from now you’ll find yourself in the same situation with them. Let them go and focus your time on clients who appreciate you and your company from the get-go.

Holiday Romance vs. Job

Your personal life absolutely influences your career, and at holiday time many people begin thinking about making a commitment to someone they love, giving engagement rings, etc., as gifts.


But remember, the person you choose may influence where you’ll live, how ambitious you will be at the office, how much time you’ll want to devote to home and family, and many other variables.


Authors and relationship coaches Diane and Mario Cloutier offer some to help you choose the right partner in their new book,  Relovenship™ – Look Within to Love Again!        .


Here are questions they suggest you ask:


  1. Are my feelings towards the holidays blinding me from the new relationship possibilities?

Go back in time. If your experience with the year-end celebrations is filled with loving memories of your folks hugging each other or older siblings endlessly kissing their new significant other by the fireplace, it could explain your inclination for wanting your new love interest by your side. On the other hand, if all you can recall of each holiday season is time spent alone in front of the TV, or the memory of a “new Mom” introduced to you around this time each year, chances are you’ll look at the season as an opportunity to pause in your new relationship. Either way, don’t let your feelings for the holidays blur your vision for what the relationship could become.


  1. What do I want this new relationship to become?

The answer here determines if you’ll need to consider question 3: Do you want this to be a long lasting relationship, or are you still not sure if this person is a good match for you? If it’s the latter, stop here and know that your relatives will have your undivided attention when you sit together around the turkey.


  1. Why do I want someone with me at the family event?

Be honest here. Is it because you just want to shut up Aunty Jane and her relentless questions about why you haven’t met someone? Is it because you’re lonely during the holidays and everyone else is paired up? Or, are you just afraid he or she will forget about you and you’ll end up alone again? Whatever it is, be truthful and assess the real reason that makes you contemplate asking anybody to spend an evening with Aunty Jane this early in a relationship.


  1. How many of my “meaningful people” will be attending?

This is a biggy for us. One of the personal laws we never compromise on is: “Meaningful people deserve befitting introductions.” Who are those people in your life — your parents, your children, your siblings? If they are that meaningful, please don’t put them through a group introduction with your new flame. They’re worth more than that. Besides, what’s the rush? You and your new love are in it for the long run, aren’t you? ###