Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Book Review: Cameleon

November 4th 2016

Life-Changing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has a Personality or Knows Someone Who Does

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Author: Merrick Rosenberg

Well, this book is quite interesting and a very different than so many than I read.  Although I don’t care for the subtext on the cover, I do believe that the underlying content of this book can be life changing and the wisdom has certainly helped me a tremendous amount in my life.  Ultimately this book is all about behavioral styles, specifically, the DiSC model that is often hard for people to learn, remember and apply.  I am fortunately to have learned and applied DiSC from Manager-Tools many years ago and I’ve used it heavily in my career and life to work with others much more easily and understand them.  So, while I can’t say I learned much new ideas behind these styles in this book, I can say that this book teaches them VERY well, demonstrates through excellent examples and uses stories to teach the content, which is going to be a very good way to learn them for many people.

DiSC ultimately has four behavior styles and while everyone has some combination of all four, and uses different styles at different times, we also tend to have stronger most natural tendencies in one of the quadrants or styles of DiSC. Rosenberg uses birds to be metaphor’s for each style and they are:

  • Eagle
  • Parrot
  • Dove
  • Owl


A bird of action, that is quick to take charge, look at the big picture and be in control of any situation, no matter what the circumstances.


An often excited, forever optimistic and easily distracted bird that enjoys story telling, simply enjoying flight and to socialize with other birds.


A peaceful and kind bird that cares about others and wants to see everyone getting along.  Dove’s don’t like to be in the spotlight themselves, but love to bring out the best of a whole team.


A super logic bird that will take the time to think, reflect and decide what to do, only after considering all options and having all the information at their wingtips.

Overall Thoughts

Rosenberg includes 22 separate stories with the birds learning and realizing various lessons about understanding and working better with one another.  Throughout these fables, the Chameleon character reminds me a bit of Yoda, he seems to always be in the right place at the the right time with words of wisdom and questions that drive all the birds to new levels of understanding of the various styles.

The book is very easy to read, short stories, with simple but powerful lessons in them all, that are very easy to relate with in the real world as well.  In some ways the stories and characters seem a limit childish at times, but it never really takes away anything from the book, just because it is simple and easy to understand, which I can’t say DiSC is easy for people using its classical models of learning it.

Rosenberg also summarizes every chapter with tips from that story and there are TONS of great couple line points to remind you of the various benefits of using and applying DiSC methodology to help you with your relationships, your career and life.  All in all, its a good book with good lessons and I personally love the DiSC model so the content earns a 5 stars from me but the book overall is a solid 4.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews & Learning & Relationships | Comments Off on Book Review: Cameleon

Book Review: Wins Friends and Customers

January 15th 2015

Relationship and Business Success from Empathic AcknowledgingClipboard Image (3)-814x1200

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Author: Lawrence Bookbinder, PH.D.

This book is a short and easy to read book with what is often otherwise complex content and terminology.  Bookbinder presents a wide scope of examples and context around the idea of using empathic communication (primarily listening) as well as acknowledging during conversations to help the reader better connect and understand how to show interest in relationships.  The book jumps between numerous examples, some repeated, to highlight different aspects of conversation that teach how to bring more empathic (the same thing as empathetic) listening into common situations.  People are so often focused (even in private conversation), on what they want to say in the conversation, it is common for neither party to ever really hear what the other is saying and even more rare that they connect and engage on the “important” portions of a conversation.  The techniques in this book help to demonstrate that and give methods and subtleties that can be practiced to change that and be more empathetic in conversation with others.

The acknowledging focus then in the book is essentially recognizing and repeating what another person is actually saying and a more advanced version of that, is to interpret some feeling or meaning from that that connects with the person sharing the information.  This is again a conversation technique and can be used while listening to confirm what has been heard, or to connect and engage the other on what or how it has impacted them, if that can be determined.  The author describes many advantages and disadvantages of each of these techniques and provides some great insight as to when to use them or when to refrain.  I thought these guides were quite refreshing and helped to lay a better context around when these tools should actually be used, as obviously they do not always make sense.

I enjoy reading books on different communication techniques or tools and this book was an easy read, quick to understand and I think one that will be very useful to me as I actually now do some practice with these methods to see where I can better connect and engage others in not just any conversation, but meaningful conversation.

One thing I found very odd about the book, was how much content is in the appendixes and how some of them are written.  They describe the book, they outline why you should read it and they seem to go into great detail to convince you to read it, almost to a defensive stance, which I could understand this on the cover, on the preface, but not in the appendixes.  I, like most people read the book from start to finish and so reading these aspects in the appendixes after reading the book, made me question what I had just read, since it seemed like the author was defending the book and perhaps even himself, despite any reason or challenge to do so.  I found that quite odd and not something I’ve seen before in a book.  If you do pick this up, I’d recommend starting in the appendixes and then reading the main book afterwards.

Posted by Mike King under Book Reviews & Relationships | Comments Off on Book Review: Wins Friends and Customers

Do You Graciously Receive?

November 20th 2012

I often get feedback about my lists like 100 ways to serve others, and just recently Kate commented that someone had a sharp response to her wanting to buy their coffee being next in line at a coffee shop.  This might be a classic example of what you wouldn’t normally expect someone to respond like to an act of kindness but it seems that in reality, things are much more difficult to graciously receive than one might think.

Many times I think that serving others is actually easier than receiving from others.  Perhaps you’ve hear about someone getting mad over paying for their coffee and think you would never do this yourself.  You would likely want to simply thank the person and move on, but I doubt you would find it that easy.  Here are some other ways that receiving graciously can be very hard and I challenge you to consider each of these in how you might respond.  Do you graciously receive each of these in your life?


Compliments are great to hear and can spark a lot of good feelings about one self, one’s decisions or whatever else the compliment might be about.  A problem many have is that they often don’t simply thank the person for the compliment and believe it, instead they down play it as if it isn’t that important to hear (even though it is).  This can be done by someone dismissing it, where they might say something like, “No, this old thing, its not that nice.”  Other people have a habit of excusing a compliment and simply saying no, or passing on the credit to someone or something else.  This is actually a strong message back telling the person is wrong to give the compliment (even if that is not intended) as you deflect what they have to say that is nice.  Another bad habit is people who minimize a compliment to something meaningless or less important.  Simply saying, well it was no big deal might seem harmless, but it still dismisses and minimizes the compliment itself. Often when someone says it is no big deal, really was a big deal and that person had to sacrifice something as a result.  It’s much better when you receive a compliment to simply accept it as it, say thank you and graciously receive it.  The person is doing something nice and going out of their way to tell it to you, the least you can do is simply accept it and thank them.

Offer to Help

Another area many people have a hard time graciously receiving is in an offer to help someone.  Many people give the impression that help is a sign of weakness so they refuse any offer of help and indicate that they can easily do it on there own, or want to, when in reality this is rarely true and help is almost always better to have than not.  There are many tactics here that I’ve heard from time and time (and unfortunately said myself many times) such as down playing the need, responding that it won’t be hard or that I can easily do it on my own so won’t need the help.  It’s not a weakness to accept help, and typically its a way to strengthen a relationship and spend some added time with someone if you are able to do something together.  Where do you stand when offered help and do you graciously receive it or make excuses and reasons why you don’t need it?

Friendly Purchases

Receiving is often toughest between friends and many friends secretly keep track of favors, purchases or costs accumulated in a friendship.  This is dangerous grounds, a recipe for disappointment and often leading to hurt feelings and arguments. A classic example here is when friends go out for lunch and one person pays for the other’s lunch. This often leaves the friend who’s lunch was paid for to feel obligated to pay next time, or to return the favor in some way.  I’ve seen friends literally fighting to pay at a restaurant or at their table over who and how they are going to pay. Maybe you’ve been at one of those tables, as I suspect many have. This expectation on oneself that the favor or lunch needs to be returned really should not be that critical in a friendship and its much better to avoid the argument or obligation and simply accept the kind gesture and thank them for picking up the tab.  If you get the chance next time, go ahead and return the favor, but don’t take notice or score of who pays what when, simply accept the kindness, be kind in return when you can and look at this as an area you can more graciously receive.

Gift Giving

Can you think of someone’s birthday, an anniversary, a thank you gift or some other special event you want to give a gift for?  Does it cause you a little tension or stress?  How about if you receive a great gift from someone but it is not a special occasion, they simply did it because they were thinking of you?  Does this cause any kind of stress in how you respond?  Many people make comments about gifts like you shouldn’t have, or I didn’t get you anything, which stems from a feeling of obligation to return a gift.  Gifts are supposed to be that exactly; a gift, but unfortunately, we often associate many other expectations with a gift.

Definition of a Gift: something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.

This definitely shows that it is something without payment in return, also meaning without expectation of anything being returned. The best way to receive a gift is to do so graciously, with joy and appreciation, not attaching anything else to it like an obligation, returned favor or similar gift.  Many people feel that a gift’s value is representing something deeper in a relationship as well so want to match the value of a gift.  This is not graciously receiving either and is difficult to eliminate and simply receive with joy and appreciation, nothing more.

This Holiday Season

So, the holiday season is fast approaching, which is often a time for gifts and other offerings. I hope this article gives you something to think about and to look for ways you can more graciously receive when the time comes and to let things be as intended, received with appreciation and to do everyone who is kind to you a favor by not complicating things, not over analyzing and not attaching obligations to what you should be able to gracious receive.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 8 Comments »

Learning to Say No

November 25th 2011

I’m a very direct person when it comes to how I communicate and saying ‘no’ has never been that difficult for me. However, that is not the case for most people and I have had to coach several people on learning to say no to prevent themselves from being overwhelmed or burdened by requests from others they regretted taking on. There are a few ways to make saying no easier and the first thing to remember is that the whole reason it might seem uncomfortable to say no is entirely in your own mind.  The reason people ASK for things IS to give you the opportunity to say no when it is the right response for you using used cell phones.  Remember that and take a look at these additional techniques.

Change How You Delivery a No

Saying no to most people may seem to harsh and often they are simple too uncomfortable with the words.  You can soften and change the delivery of a ‘no’ by a few things:

  • give an explanation – this helps associate logic with the response (some p
    eople value that)
  • say you want to, but simply cannot or are unable to at that time
  • No thanks, I’m simply not interested.
  • Well I’d love to, but I don’t have time this weekend, sorry.
Saying no doesn’t have to be a negative thing or in any way rude.  Be polite yet clear that you are saying no and deliver it in a way that is more comfortable for you.  If you think back to all the times you have agreed to something and later regretted it, you will find it much easier to remember that you should be willing to say no.

Say No When It Truly Matters

When first learning to say no, it might be very difficult to have that response for everything you want to actually say no to.  There are certainly things you value your time for more than others and its these most important things you value that will help you say no when requests come piling in for your time.  Perhaps its your time with your family you value most, perhaps its your activities, a special event; whatever it is, remembering to keep time available or that important item will help you identify which requests you should start saying ‘no’ to.  The ones that will impact your important time the most, the things that truly matter to you, those are the ones you need to start saying no to first.

Look at your priorities and ask yourself if the new request is more important than those top priority items you want to keep time for and ask if you can fit it in without loosing the time you need for what truly matters.  If either are at risk, it might be a good time to say no.

Keep Previous Commitments

For me, commitments mean a lot and I intend to uphold every commitment that I make.  It builds trust with others when you do what you say and you gain a lot of confidence when you are able to actually deliver the things you promise.  That trust can be something you hold a lot of value in or it can be something you put at risk.  When you are asked for a new commitment, often there is a previous commitment at stake and some risk you won’t have the ability or time to uphold both.  My advice is to keep the first one, keeping that trust and learning to say no to next conflicting request.  Over time, if you are able to maintain commitments and keep that trust with others, the times when you need to say no because of another commitment, become much easier and authentic.  In other words, people will believe you have a legitimate reason and won’t second guess you or think you are just making excuses.  Saying no becomes a lot easier when you have something such as trust at stake and you want to uphold for your character more than some new one off request.  Also, when you know you are going to carry through on any commitment you do make, even something that doesn’t conflict know with an important task, you will know that it might get in the way of something new that comes in that will be more important.  If you already committed to do the first thing, you won’t leave much room for new additional requests that might be more important to you.  Keep this in mind as well and learn to say no when when something isn’t a priority for you and you think it will create a conflicting commitment.  Keep your previous commitments and build that trust with others by doing what you say you will do and sticking to your promises.  If that means you need to say no more often, then at least it is a very good reason to do so.

Don’t Mask It, Use the Word No

Sometimes its hard to say no because you are too subtle, or only hinting that you might say no. Many people won’t take no as an answer or will keep pressuring you if you are not clearly saying no.  Once you’ve had some practice saying no in the other methods in this article, it becomes even easier to start using the word no directly.  Its OK to be direct sometimes as it prevents people from pushing harder or making assumptions that you might change your mind or commit with a bit more nagging.  When you really do want to say no, you should really use the word directly in your response and not mask it behind a maybe or I’ll get back to you.  Simply be polite and say no.

Offer a Suggestion or Another Option

Finally, another great way to learn to say no is to offer another suggestion or option when you are not willing to take on the request.  You can say no to what is asked directly, but then still offer something in return if you are not yet comfortable saying no and leaving it at that (Brother MFC 9970CDW).  You might offer another time that works better for you, you might offer to help for only a portion of what was asked or perhaps you can do something in another way, or lead them to someone else who would not want to say no and be more interested.  Whatever the request, if you do have something else to offer as a suggestion, it can make saying no yourself much easier to do.  I’m certainly not recommending that you deflect requests to other people so you can get out of it, I’m only suggesting to offer a better or more likely solution, which might be someone who is more interested, or it might be something else they could do as an alternative.  What ever else you come up, keep it helpful and genuine.  Offer the other option while you firmly say no to the original request and only offer an alternative that you would want to commit to, otherwise it is still best to simply say no and leave it at that.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 13 Comments »

How to Make the Most of Every Face to Face Interaction

July 13th 2011

I’m happy to introduce another guest author, Tim Rye who operates Extra Space Storage, and has much to tell about face to face communication skills.  Read more about Tim or contact him from his info at the end of the article.

One of my friends just came into the room. Oh, there’s another one. No, I’m not at a party (who has time for social events like that?) — I just happen to have my social networking software up and it’s telling me whenever a friend logs onto Facebook, sends me a tweet, or starts to compose an IM. The truth is, I can go for days interacting with friends and colleagues only via computer.

It’s great to be able to stay in touch this way, but as a result, I find that those occasional face to face encounters have become all the more precious. Ironically, I spend more time interacting with littlegreenbutton than I do with my friends, family, or even my coworkers! But I believe in learning whatever you can from the experiences life gives you — and I’ve learned a lot about how to make the most from a face to face interaction by talking with my customers. Here are a few tips:

Make time for face time

Don’t turn down a chance to network with your colleagues because it will tear you away from your computer. I’m not an introvert — you can’t be in my line of work — but I know a lot of people who are. And for those individuals, the temptation to become a computer hermit is strong. If the opportunity for face time does not arise naturally, look for a professional conference to go to or even a lecture to attend. Or take the time to drop off a document in person (if it needs to go to someone in your town), just so you have a chance to say hello in person. Staying in touch through Facebook is good — but actual face to face time can really cement your connection. Make time for it.

Increase your vibration before you meet.

Increase your vibration? This is a New Age term I’ve been hearing from some of my customers — but to me it means, find a way to get your energy up before you meet with someone. If you are feeling down and depressed, you’ll be looking down a lot and your voice will seem flat. You won’t be able to seem interested in another person. So raise your energy in whatever way works for you — sing in the car on the way to your meeting, exercise that morning, drink a glass of orange juice or coffee — do whatever it takes to help you to feel cheerful and pleasant to be around. Most people can’t fake a good mood very effectively — so jolly yourself into a good mood, if you have to, before your face to face interaction. Extroverts seem to cheer up just by being around people, but if you are an introvert, you will have to take time to do this in advance.

Make eye contact.

In a meeting with colleagues or customers, don’t spend all your time looking down at your papers and taking notes. Not that having papers and notes is a bad thing — it can be a way to increase your credibility. But, I have to tell you, having facts and figures on the tip of your tongue, information that you can pull right out of your head, increases your credibility even more. Looking at people is hard if you are an introvert, but it shows people that you genuinely care and are interested in them. If you are too shy to look in someone’s eye, use an old self-defense trick: look at a point just over one of their shoulders. Believe it or not, it will still appear as though you are looking them in the eye.

Ask questions.

As they say on Sesame Street, asking questions is a good way to find out things you want to know! It’s true when you are a student, but it is equally true when you are a business owner or manager. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most people are flattered when others take an interest in them.

Respect nonverbal cues.

Some nonverbal cues say “don’t talk to me right now.” Sometimes people don’t want to talk — yet. But pay attention, because “I don’t feel like talking” can turn into “I have a question” in the blink of an eye. You can tell when that change occurs by watching for nonverbal cues. Notice when a customer goes from a “head’s down” position, reading brochures and looking over merchandise, to a “head’s up” position, looking around and actively seeking to make eye contact with someone.

Have some down time later.

Again, this tip may not apply to you if you are an extrovert — but if you are a natural extrovert, you may not need to read this post at all! If you don’t get energized by being around people — if face to face interaction is a chore for you — then give yourself some time off between face to face interactions, if you can. Give yourself down time to recharge your batteries so that you can bring your energy back up for your next interaction. It’s worth taking the time to make sure that you are able to make the most out of each of your face to face experiences. But if one doesn’t go as well as you’d like, don’t worry about that either. I like to change the old saying, “Life is not a rehearsal,” and turn it on its head. The fact is, life IS a rehearsal. What comes before is practice for what comes next. So if a face to face doesn’t go so well, remind yourself that it was practice — and learn from it for next time.

Remember: most people say they are happiest when they have regular face to face interactions with other people. Don’t be shy about your face time with people — even if they are “merely” casual acquaintances — revel in it!

Tim Eyre helps residential and business customers who use self storage when they don’t have enough storage space on their own property. Tim’s company – Extra Space Storage – has locations from coast to coast, including Boston self storage storage and multiple Philadelphia self storage locations.

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | 9 Comments »

The Joy of Reciprocity in Relationships

April 21st 2011

reciprocity-logo.jpgThere are a number of rules and laws that are often used to describe leadership, such as Steven Covey’s laws of leadership and specifically the law of reciprocity. This one happens to show up in leadership to me because leadership is so heavily dependent on building great relationships.  I believe any leader has to be able to form strong relationships to lead and so I’ve put a spin on this law to look at it more specifically with the joy of reciprocity in relationships.  The dictionary definition of reciprocity is:

A mutual or cooperative interchange of favors or privileges, especially the exchange of rights or privileges of trade.

That exchange of favors that seems so natural with benefits for both parties is also, unfortunately, what gets in people’s way before reciprocity ever occurs. People get caught up in looking for the immediate benefit to themselves in many situations and don’t initiate that generous first step of offering their own help or service first. They also often expect a favor in return or feel that they owe someone who has done good to them. This selfish thinking or score keeping often stops a good deed from being done in the first place, which over time limits the good deeds returned. Its a cascade effect and emphasizes cynical thinking and just reinforces the selfish attitude and solitude for an individual.

The law of reciprocity is NOT a law that can be measured in any instance of time or even between the same parties involved for the give and take. It works across ones whole life and so the payback or benefit can’t be recognized by looking at any scorecard with an individual or even in a specific relationship. Its a balance beyond any single measure, any single relationship and even beyond the time you serve here on earth (Romans 2:6 – He will reward each one according to his works)

Instead, what needs to occur is simple generosity. Be willing to offer help, give that time, pay for lunch, make that apology first, share some vulnerable personal story, step out of your comfort zone, make a step in faith, be brave, be first and be generous. Do this without keeping score, offer it every chance you get. Put the effort into your relationships without expectation! Everything about doing this changes your attitude, increases your outlook and joy in life and is eventually paid back, if not immediately, later in life and even in eternity. Every personal connection you develop is another opportunity in your life, both with business colleagues, friendships and family. A generous mind will graciously give AND accept offerings of help, money, service and advice. And these will come to you more naturally, and at the time of need for yourself or others.  So, put everything you can into your relationships and experience the joy of that on its own and eventually the joy of the reciprocity that will occur if you simply put in everything you can and let the law of reciprocity occur!

Posted by Mike King under Relationships | Comments Off on The Joy of Reciprocity in Relationships

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