Relationship Building; Making Compliments Count

bigstock-Beautiful-Family-Enjoying-2085173It’s the little things we do on a regular basis that have the greatest impact on most areas of life – including relationships. How you talk to others, the kind of voice you use, your intonation and the words you choose all make a difference.

An important part of building any relationship involves doing or saying things that feels good to that person. Of course, a person with a healthy self-esteem doesn’t need to hear anything from you to know they are worthwhile or to feel complete, but we are not talking about them at this point, we are talking about your relationship with them.

The late, Stephen Covey talked about this as building an emotional bank account with the person and suggested that anytime you said or did something kind, caring or helpful, you were making a deposit into your relationship bank account. He went on to say that anytime you did something negative (broke a promise, laughed at them, put them down…) you were making a withdrawal.

I call this the give and take of relationships and both Covey and I suggest you make sure you are giving (depositing) more than you are taking (withdrawing).

Giving a person a compliment is an easy way to make a person feel good and build on your relationship with them. For this to work it is important to be authentic (there must be a strong element of truth in what you are saying) and it must be said in a tone that suggests you mean it.

Unfortunately, when we are in a negative space with another person (colleague, child, neighbour), it can be really hard to see the positives and find something to compliment them on. When this happens I suggest you start with small things, “Nice shirt” and then learn how to find the positive in the bigger things, such as the argument they are intent on winning; “Your determination and willingness to see something through to the end is pretty amazing.”

One of the greatest challenges we face with those we are close to is not always being authentic with our compliments because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. In this case you might tell them you love their new hairstyle when in fact you think it looks terrible. When this happens you create a trust rift especially when you later admit that you didn’t like the way it looked. Try to always be authentic, “You’re so cute you can pull off any hairstyle,” might be a way of not hurting them and still being authentic.

It’s also helpful to become aware of the different qualities of a compliment so that you can practice using the ‘big ones’ more often. A small compliment focuses on something the person has no control over and is not part of who they are, such as; “Nice shirt.”  A notch up from this would be a compliment that focuses on something unique to them but still not something they really control; “You have beautiful eyes.” One level higher would be sharing a compliment about something they have some control over and is connected to them; “That colour really brings out your eyes.”

Although how a compliment feels is unique to a person’s story and situation, the ultimate compliments tend to be those that are specific to them and that they control, “I really enjoy spending time with you, you have such a great sense of humour.”

The point of this article is not to critique compliments, but to show you that with some thought your compliments can become more meaningful and therefore have a more positive impact on relationship building.  Although it might seem like such a little thing in life, when it comes to building relationship, kind acts – like giving a compliment – really do count.

Enjoy this short video on playing Compliments Count (Family Booster Shot series)

Why Respect Needs to be a Discussion in Your Relationships

What is respect really and how do we teach it to others?

MP900439553[1]When I worked in the school system I would talk to kids about what they thought respect was and they would give the expected response of exactly what their teacher that year had put up on their wall. “Don’t interrupt; Raise your hand if you have a question; be nice; wait your turn…”

Then I would ask them what respect meant in their home and they would spout off the same answers they had given for their classroom. “Really?” I’d ask, “Do you have to raise your hand at home before you can speak or stand up when O’Canada plays?” The kids would giggle and the real fun would begin.

At some point an interesting thing would happen. The kids would start spouting off the rules in their house as being respectful and sometimes the word respect would even creep into the definition. “Eat your supper; don’t run in the house; take your boots off at the door; don’t talk back; be polite: respect the rules.”

Through discussion and games we’d figure out that this respect thing was pretty confusing and appeared to be different in many of their homes and classrooms. “So, if respect is really just following the rules, then if someone drives slower than the speed limit are they being disrespectful?” I would ask. “Or if they run in the hallway because someone is hurt and needs help fast – would that qualify?”

“No,” they’d respond, “it’s not rules it’s something else.”

So what the heck is this respect thing that we hear so much about, if it isn’t just a bunch of rules?

The truth is, respect is a word that is bandied about as if it has clear meaning, when in reality its definition is individual specific and often defined by how it makes the other person feel. We teach respect by what we do (modeling), not by what we say or the lists we write.

If you feel disrespected when someone raises their voice at you, then respect to you would be using a quieter voice (or not yelling). If you feel disrespected when people ask you questions about your personal life, then giving you space to share only what you want to share will be respectful.

In the end, respect is closely connected to our personal boundaries, our upbringing (specifically what we have become accustomed to such as people yelling) and our own experience with how different things make us feel. There can be cultural definitions around respect – lowering your head and not making eye contact  with an elder; never questioning your father/boss – although even these will be challenged.

A discussion around respect and what it means to another person is a must in any relationship and one that we should definitely have with our kids. This became even more obvious to me when I would have the same conversation with adults (parents or teachers) and come up with the same confusing results.

A teacher will be most successful with her students when she discusses what respect means in her classroom, becomes clear on what these things look/sound like (i.e. defines be nice) and then consistently models respectful behaviour (or calls herself on it) in the classroom. In essence she is setting boundaries for the kids and then respecting the rules she has created with them.

True respect is something we feel when other people treat us in a way we believe shows they care. This cannot be defined easily or consistently, but can be learned through action and clear communication.

This week’s Family Booster Shot video is on the topic of respect. Check it out here:




Standing in Your Power Interview on CJOB

Last Friday I had the honour of being the guest on the radio show “Your Life Unlimited” . Guest host, Deb Dawson-Dunn and I had a great time talking about what it means to stand in your power and covered topics like:

  • why I wrote Standing in Your Power
  • what kind of power I’m suggesting we connect to
  • what the difference is between the inner critic and your inner wisdom
  • how you can fill yourself up and why it’s important
  • what an Oh My Goddess Moment is along with an example
  • who Jane is and why she plays a prominent role in the book

If you missed it and would like to listen to the session you can listen until March 21st in their audio vault.

The interview was February 22nd, 2013 at 8:00 pm. 

If you’re in the Winnipeg area and would like to attend either booklaunch on March 8th or 14th, I’d love to see you there! Pick up the details on any page of my website.

Lighten Up! Tips and Techniques to Help You Avoid Capsizing In Your Busy Life

Are you aware of your Plimsoll line? 

Did you even know you had one? 

Apparently you do and in this 50 minute discussion with Doreen Penner (Brilliance Telechats),  Bev Doern from A Thought Worth Sharing explains what it is, why it’s important and what you can do to lighten your load and keep yourself from capsizing into overwhelm.

Enjoy listening now or download a copy – it’s worth it!

Access Lighten Up! Recording

Standing in Your Power Releasing Soon!

Do you ever find yourself wondering;

Why do I compare my life to others and feel like I don’t measure up?

Why do I commit to so many things when my life is already so crowded?

Why do I shy away from standing strong when people question or challenge me?

Standing in Your Power;  A Guide for Living Your Life Fully Awake, will help you:

  • Reconnect with your inner wisdom
  • Quiet your inner critic
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • Assertively stand up for yourself
  • Embrace the incredible journey you are on
  • Practice living your life fully awake

Author Debbie Pokornik, BA, BSW shares, “My favorite part of this book is the fictional story about a woman, named Jane, who the reader gets to see succeed, mess up, try again… in other words to personally develop throughout the book in a fun, entertaining and helpful way.”

Standing in Your Power is a book for any woman who has ever felt too big, too small, or just not good enough to meet the demands and expectations in her life.  This passage sums up the beauty of this book, “Confidence never leaves you. It just gets covered up with negative stories, beliefs and thoughts you have about yourself.” Author Debbie Pokornik offers gentle understanding and solid encouragement for any reader who wants to be happier and more confident. Highly recommended. 

Lynne Klippel, best-selling author of Overcomers, Inc.

Reserve your copy today!

How Would You Like to Create Your Own Reality?

Parent Coaching for Empowered Parents                                                         By Kassandra Brown

Some days life feels like one big rush. The ‘To Do’ list is a mile long, the kids are calling “Mommy!”, you’re late for work and what the heck is for dinner anyway? Maybe your version of rushed and overwhelmed is different than mine, but I’m guessing you can resonate with the feelings that come up when there just seems to be too much to do and not enough time.

Perhaps you could clone yourself? Or duct tape the kids and put them in the closet? Or hire a nanny, like Maria in The Sound of Music? Or maybe you can learn a few simple tricks here to help you find your ease in the midst of your life, just as it is? Perhaps instead of changing the circumstances, you can create your own reality? How? Here are a few ideas.

  1. Take time for yourself every day. As little as 10 minutes, just for you to be with yourself, can make a huge difference. What can you do with that time? Anything that helps you be in your own skin, your own mind, and your own intuition counts. Journaling, yoga, and meditation are my favorites. Other clients have chosen going for a walk, sitting by the ocean, or drawing.
  2. Notice what’s going on. Slowing down your own inner commentary, rush, and critic is pretty critical to making real change. We have to notice the stories we’re telling ourselves, the stories that are driving our life choices, before we can make different choices.
  3. Set goals for yourself. Go for the smallest increment of change you can do to see transformation in your world. Go for something reasonable. And then cut it in half.
  4. Track Changes. If you want to stop yelling at your children, set the goal of noticing when you yell and writing down what you were doing, what the kids were doing, what you were thinking just before you yelled, and what you wanted to have happen. Try it. Tracking helps.
  5. Entertain the idea of Radical Self Responsibility. Everything (everything!) that is happening in your life right now has been created by you. Yet most of it seems to be happening to you and to be out of your control, right? When you entertain the idea of radical self responsibility, then the possibility arises to become conscious of what you’re creating, to see the gifts in what you’ve already created, and to choose to live the life you truly want.

You are the author of your own world. Raising children is incredibly challenging because you have responsibility for, and believe you should have control over, other human beings. No one can truly control anyone except themselves. This can set you up for incredible frustration. For me, practicing the list above has brought ease and spaciousness into my life. For the next week, I invite you to try at least two of the above practices. Let me know how it goes, any questions, or desires for further support.


Kassandra Brown is the owner of  Parent Coaching  and is dedicated to helping parents realize and harness the incredibly creative powers within them. This allows each family to craft unique solutions to their unique challenges. Visit Kassandra’s website for a free consultation

Ego, Meet Your New Boss

There are a lot of people who talk about the Ego as if it is something we would be better off without. In fact, the Ego is what makes us human so to get rid of it would not be desirable at all!

A few years ago I heard Sonia Choquette, a gifted intuitive, speaker and author, talk about the Ego as if it is our faithful companion – a loyal pet like a dog to be loved and enjoyed. You don’t go home and kick the dog, I remember her saying, but you also don’t let the dog run the show.

These few words literally changed my understanding of the Ego and with it my ability to keep it in its place.

Your Ego is the human side of you. It feels, it fears, it gets jealous and it reacts. Just like a dog, it will bite when threatened or curl up in fear and pee on your shoe. Left in charge, the dog will run the show the way it thinks the show should be ran.

When someone says something to you and you feel a need to correct them, explain your behaviour, compete with what they have said or blame someone else, your Ego is running the show. Only the Ego will take things personally, become defensive, act overly confident and try to bring others ‘down a notch’.

The higher-self on the other hand, is the spiritual side of you. It is the soul and if you believe in this idea, it is the part that is connected to all. The higher-self does not judge, blame, feel or panic. It has access to Divine wisdom, although that doesn’t mean it knows all the answers or will always tell you the best way to do things.

I believe the secret to making this relationship work, is to strive to bring the higher-self into the picture as much as you can while recognizing that your Ego is equally important and in desperate need of regular pats.

One way to do this is to ask your higher-self to be in charge and instruct your Ego to allow this to happen. When you tell your Ego to sit it will, however, like a puppy you might have to remind it more than once.

Notice when you feel defensive, hurt, angry, competitive, and so on, then ask yourself if these feelings are going to help you do your best work. If the answer is no – which it will be ninety-nine percent of the time – remind your Ego to sit and call in the calm cool one to run the show.

As you practice this you’ll find your higher self slipping into the lead role more often and your Ego quite happily running by its side. Like the master with a well trained dog, the two make an excellent team and are content when they know their place and feel loved and appreciated for what they have to offer.

This article is excerpted from my new book Standing In Your Power releasing late 2012

Relationships, How Expectations Become Irreconcilable Differences

The relationship between life partners is a critical one for standing in your power. A lot of testing and setting of boundaries is done in this setting because it is often the people you are closest to that push you to do your best growing.

When you were young your parents made the rules and set the boundaries that you had to live by within their home.

These boundaries have a huge affect on your beliefs around what you can and can’t do as an adult in regards to food, touch, privacy, language, arguments, gender roles, emotional expression, sleep schedules, parenting… pretty much everything. You can change these beliefs, but first you have to be aware of them.

Unfortunately many people were raised in homes where the boundaries were too rigid and restrictive, barely existent, unpredictable or totally unhealthy. As a result they grow up confused about how to question things that don’t feel right, how to put their foot down about those things they cannot tolerate, or even what’s within their right to insist on and not be seen as selfish.

When it comes to relationships one of the greatest gifts you can give to each other is to know your boundaries and to share your expectations around them clearly and positively. It sounds like such a simple task, but depending on your communication skills there are many reasons it can backfire.

The first batch of problems arises with some main difference between the feminine love of connection and the masculine need for secrecy.

The feminine love of sharing thoughts and feelings, coupled with a common history of not being heard, often results in a desire to think aloud. Thinking aloud tends to be circular in nature which can be extremely frustrating and confusing for a listener who really just wants the bottom line.

As a result when the woman tries to spontaneously share her expectations she will often put out an idea, rethink it aloud, contradict the idea, share some more and muddy the water completely before ever getting to her final thoughts on the issue.

i.e. It bothers me when you call right before I’m expecting you for supper, to say you’ll be late. I realize you don’t always know when you’re going to be late, especially when it’s traffic that causes the problem, but I wish you could let me know ahead of time. Maybe when it’s traffic you could call on your cell, but that doesn’t really matter, because by then I’ve already started the meal and really can’t do much about it. I guess I could wait and make the meal when you get home, but then I’m hungry and if you call that you’re going to be late and it’s not the traffic – there’s no reason I should have had to wait….

This kind of conversation can work in a strong, healthy relationship, as the feminine loves to think aloud and if the man is content to just let her go until she’s ready to provide the summary, everything will be clear in the end.

When a relationship is already stressed, however, this ‘thinking’ comes out with an emotional undercurrent that creates defensiveness while it confuses. The result will often be an argument, hurt feelings, and increased confusion rather than clarity.

At the same time, the masculine likes to keep their plans close to their chest (they are not always aware that they do this) and share it on a need to know basis only. Men need to feel safe to share (which seems contradictory to their ‘tough’ exterior) and will only open up if they believe it won’t backfire on them in any way.

Add to this the societal message that talking about feelings is ‘fluffy talk’ and most men will want to hightail it out of the room as soon as their partner says the dreaded words: Can we talk?

As a result, finding out a man’s expectations can be much like picking a tiny piece of eggshell out of your omelet when it’s still slipping and sliding around in the pan. It’s difficult to see, hard to grab onto and if you’re not careful you have a good chance of getting burned in the process.

As if that’s not enough, another challenge with this type of discussion for both genders is that many people have been raised to think that if they don’t like what someone else is doing in a relationship, they should tell them so they can change their behaviour.

This feels like rejection, is unrealistic and totally ignores the reality – which is that people will not change something about themselves until they are ready to do so!

Telling your partner – this is what I don’t like about you and what I expect you to change so we can get along – is rarely well received or accepted.

As a result of all of the above, many conversations meant to clear the air in a relationship and share expectations will result in defensiveness, arguments, undermining of each other and, in many cases, a break-up. What started out as a desire to clearly share in an effort to build a strong, open relationship, has turned into irreconcilable differences that can’t be overcome.

So, what can you do? Tune in next week and I’ll tell you…


Video – Self-Control Tip for Parents

Self-control is not something our kids are born with, but something they must learn and practice along the way. When parents are aware of this they can use little things (like a request to stay up late) as an opportunity to teach their kids coping skills and practice self-control.

Having trouble viewing the video? Watch it directly on Youtube:

Self-Control, 5 Tips to Help You Keep It

Self-control is a learned behaviour that requires both social and emotional skill development. It is easier for us to maintain self-control in the public eye although some people “let it fly” regardless of their audience. Over time, losing self-control in public has become more common, with horrific examples being displayed in the media and movies on a regular basis. As a result, most of us witness people losing self-control quite often, which desensitizes us, making it seem normal and acceptable.

Many parents struggle to model and teach this skill since they were never taught it themselves. They figured out how to use their self-control to avoid unpleasant alternatives like spankings, the strap, imprisonment, etc. As a result, they do not know how to effectively teach this life skill, and their kids are growing up without it.

Stress seems to play a role in both the intensity and the frequency that people lose their self-control. Between aging parents, demanding jobs, financial concerns, illnesses, and relationship difficulties, stress does appear to be on the rise for many people. Since it’s not socially appropriate to snap at a client, colleague, or grocery clerk, many of us hold it in and take it home with us. We don’t do this on purpose—it’s just that when we get home and take off our public face the guard is released on both our pent-up emotions and our social behaviours. Our children misbehave and snap— we lose it. The more we allow ourselves to lose our self-control the easier it becomes to do it again.

There are three things to keep in mind if we want to be successful in both learning and teaching self-control:

  1. We must become self-aware so we can pick up on cues early and take action before a major reaction occurs.
  2. We must practice new behaviours and create new patterns to follow. In times of stress we take the path we are most familiar with, making our patterns repeat.
  3. We must have a real desire to succeed. Just saying we wish we were more controlled will not make it happen. We have to truly want it or our negative thoughts will overpower our optimistic ones.

If we understand and accept these three points, then there are plenty of things we can do to maintain our control. What we do on a regular basis to deal with stress and challenges in our life will influence how easy it is for us to lose it. Here are five ideas to help you deal with these concerns:

Positive Thinking: Our thoughts have the greatest influence on our being calm and staying in control or, alternatively, on feeding the fire and losing it. By controlling our thoughts we control our actions. Having a number of simple phrases we can silently recite when we feel our emotions taking over is a critical part of regaining control. Coming up with those ideas in the heat of the moment is nearly impossible to do, so it makes sense to create some ideas when we are relaxed and in control. Examples of such phrases might be: “Calm down”; “I’m okay”; “Relax”; “Whoa”; “I can handle this”; “It’s not worth a fight.” You must allow your feelings to change with these thoughts or an over-reaction is still likely to occur.

Breathing: Our breathing greatly affects how we feel. By focusing on our breathing and taking deep breaths, we can help our bodies relax and take a moment to refocus our thinking. Some people like to combine counting with their breathing and others just like to focus on the breath itself. See which works for you and practice in times of calm.

Exercise: When we are carrying around a lot of extra emotion and stress, exercise can be a great way to work it off. Exercise does not fix unrelated problems, but the benefits go beyond self-control and it can be a great way to work off some steam. Try to work positive thoughts (from the positive thinking example) into your workout for the greatest effect.

Relaxation: Our goal when we are feeling stressed is to help the body relax and release tension. This can be done using stretches, yoga, breath work, or any variety of relaxation techniques. Some people like to fill their body up like a balloon and then let the breath and tension out in a big rush. Others prefer to breathe slowly and focus on releasing the tension out of their body piece by piece. It’s great to know which works best for you so you can use it at a moment’s notice.

Connect with Nature:  Many people rebalance by going for a walk, sitting under a tree, patting a dog, or watching a fish tank. Nature has a calm way of being that will transfer to us if allowed. Concrete, electromagnetic fields, and satellite signals all take their toll on our bodies. Mother Nature provides wonderful examples of living in the moment, if we can find the time to notice.

In summary, start to notice your feelings, thoughts and behaviours, then notice what you can do to stop negative feelings from escalating into a personal explosion. The more you practice the easier it will become and in time, self-control may just be as easy as breathing!