Category Archives: Relationships

How to Gain Influence with More People

2 minutes to read

While running earlier today, up ahead two women were exercising. One was dressed in what can only be described as practically nothing. So they couldn’t accuse me of leering I looked away as I ran past them. To my chagrin, the other made a disparaging remark about me. Evidently they wanted to be ogled. How’s a guy to know?

How to Gain Influence with More People

Immodesty Makes Cordiality Impossible

I believe modesty is a virtue. It applies to dress, language, and behavior. Having said this, I recognize many Americans don’t share this value. Case in point, I rendered military honors at four funerals last week. At all of them young women wore short sleeveless black dresses. I don’t make the club scene these days. So the last time I saw such dresses was at a navy Christmas party. There’s a difference between the festivity of a celebration and the solemnity of a funeral that necessitates different standards of dress. But such a distinction doesn’t exist today.

Nor do they for speech and public behavior. Those of us who embrace modesty have to accept many of our fellow citizens don’t. So be it.

But simple justice demands we not be denigrated for prizing modesty. How is a man to know when a scantily clad woman wants to be checked out? Why is someone who doesn’t use profanity a prude? What is gained by condemning someone who refuses to turn a discussion into a verbal brawl?

To Gain Influence Create a Relationship

Differing attitudes toward modesty have resulted in greater friction between people. And that makes maintaining relationships more difficult.

Recently I read a story about a pastor. Young women were coming to church services in thigh high stockings and short skirts. He felt they looked like prostitutes. He considered speaking against such behavior from the pulpit. Wisely he realized doing so would be counterproductive. The women would have rejected the label. And he would have destroyed any chance of creating relationships through which he could influence them.

Differences in values can be tolerated. But couple them with arrogance and the situation becomes intolerable.

There are three steps to gain influence with more people:

  1. Be clear about your values. That doesn’t mean flouting your beliefs in other people’s faces. Clarity comes from within.
  2. Live your values. If what you believe is worthwhile, make it evident from your behavior.
  3. Cherish relationships over self-righteousness. Until people know you care about them as individuals they won’t trust your opinions.

One of the most influential men I know prizes modesty. He never even shakes hands with women. The hundreds of people who attend his lectures do not share his value of modesty. But rather than avoiding him like the plague they seek him out. How has he built such a large and loyal following? He followed the three steps.

Whatever you want to accomplish will come from convincing people to help you. In your work, with your family, among your friends, build strong ties. Having set the foundation, you’ll be able to influence them. They will know you’ve invested in understanding them. Seeing the quality of your life will encourage them to seek out its roots. And you’ll be there to help them.

Where are you action turning good advice bad? Please comment below.

When Will You Stop Giving Your Kids Bad Advice?

2 minutes to read

Thank goodness school is out for the summer. My daughter had a spelling test every week. She also had tests on Scripture several times a month. She’s only in second grade. But she did two to three hours of homework most afternoons. And she complained. “Daddy, why do I have to do so much homework?” “Daddy, I hate taking tests!” Recently I realized how much bad advice I’ve been giving her on this topic.

When Will You Stop Giving Your Kids Bad Advice-

Words, Words, Words

I find my daughter’s complaints hard to understand. I loved school. Even tests were cool. They let me show my teacher how dedicated a student I was. Math was my specialty. I always found a second way to do a problem and verify the answer was right!

My advice to her fell into two categories:

  1. Exams help you understand what you know and what still needs work. It’s nice to get high marks. More important is identifying the questions that don’t make sense. In this way you build knowledge.
  2. The tests you’re taking now are easier than ones you’ll take later in life. Your studies only get more difficult. And unlike math, most of the time you won’t be able to check your work. Correct answers become illusive.

On their face, both are sound. Yet she never seemed to buy them. Relieved of the daily homework grind, I’ve had time to reflect. Here’s the thing. Just because we’re out of school doesn’t mean we don’t take tests anymore.

Truth is, I complain about tests more than she does.

Turning Good Advice Into Bad Advice

I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.” ∞ Lewis Carroll

Aside from a couple I took while earning a Masters in Library and Information Science, I don’t take sit-down examinations. But life tests me everyday. When my wife gets home we talk about our days. She relates to me the challenging (read stupid) ways people handle their health issues. I tell her about the problems I face with my business and the navy. It’s the kind of harmless chitchat that goes on in most homes.

In reality it’s not so harmless. From my daughter’s perspective, the challenges my wife and I face are adult versions of the tests she takes in school. If we complain about ours why shouldn’t she do the same about hers? Nothing like mismatched words and actions for turning good into bad advice.

If my daughter understood the context it wouldn’t be so bad. We want her to get the most benefit from the tests she takes. In that light, if we’re just blowing off steam we need to make sure she knows that’s what’s going on. Otherwise, our conversations about work need to focus on how we can improve based on overcoming the challenges we mention.

Parents have to match words and deeds. But some behaviors are so ingrained you may not realize you’re acting incongruently. Look for where your kids aren’t taking your advice. You’ll find fertile ground for keeping your good advice from turning into bad advice.

Where are you action turning good advice bad? Please comment below.

How to Have a Father Daughter Relationship

1-½ minutes to read

My daughter reminded several times she’s glad I’m home. I was on navy duty most of the last two weeks away from my family. So we spent most of yesterday together. We didn’t do anything special. Washed the car. Shopped for groceries. Ate lunch together while she showed me a Peanuts movie she loved. At the end of the day, she told me it had been great, just spending time together.

How to Have a Father Daughter Relationship

There’s No Substitute for Time

Military life teaches there’s no such thing as quality time. Short, intense interactions like going to Disneyland don’t substitute for the consistent togetherness that builds enduring relationships. If a father fails to make this time commitment what is he teaching his daughter about male attention?

When we go places I take the time to open the door for her when we get into and out of the car and stores. I ask her advice when buying food. Over the years I’ve guided her choices and little by little have made progress. We share audio books while driving. I’ve seen her mind expand from listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Absent positive father-daughter interaction, where will she learn how to deal with boys and later men? Consider how the wrong guy could take advantage of her need for attention.

Father Daughter Enhances Mother Daughter

My wife and daughter have a terrific relationship. But they argue too. I understand. Sometimes my wife and I don’t see eye to eye.

When mother-daughter conflict gets too hot, I’m there to help get the relationship back on track. Likewise, my wife does the same for father daughter discord. All our bonds are tighter because we have strong paired-connections too.  The quality of my marriage will probably dictate how good her's is.

I found another version of Grouch Marx’s Father’s Day song. I hope my daughter and yours will echo the sentiments of the last line that Groucho and Dick Cavett sing together: “For they say a child can only have one father and you are the one for us.”

How do you build a father daughter relationship? Please comment below.

How to Recognize the Warnings Before Trouble Strikes

2 minutes to read

Parsha Nugget Bechukosai – Leviticus 26:3-27:34

I can’t stand punishing my daughter. My heart breaks when I have to ground her or restrict her from playing video games. I know there has to be consequences when she does something wrong. Especially after several warnings. If not, when she’s an adult she’s likely to suffer far worse. Sometimes she acts surprised when I hold her responsible for misbehavior. But my disciplinary system is sound. It comes from this week’s parsha, Bechukosai:

If you will follow My decrees… But if you will not listen to Me… (Vayikra/Leviticus 26:3 and 26:14)

How to Recognize the Warnings Before Trouble Strikes

This Sabbath’s parsha is the final one in Leviticus. It gives the blessings and the curses the Israelites will suffer depending on whether they follow G-d’s decrees and commandments. The rest of the parsha deals with gifts to the Temple and how they are redeemed. It ends with the procedure for redeeming houses and fields, and tithing.

The Process for Redirecting Behavior

Put this week’s and last week’s parsha together. You’ll see G-d’s procedure for correcting the Israelites’ conduct. First, G-d tells Moses to speak to the Children of Israel and explain a commandment. Then the Almighty describes the blessings for obeying His will. Last, He details the punishments for failing to fulfill his laws and decrees. These three steps will help someone change his behavior:

  1. Make expectations clear.
  2. Give an incentive for complying.
  3. Explain the consequences for noncompliance.

The same pattern works for adults and children. When incentives don’t work behavior gets redirected through unpleasant repercussions. We call them punishments. But in reality they’re warnings. G-d doesn’t want to punish His children. It’s too negative and can damage the relationship. So He created a notification system mirrored on the stages of admonitions in the parsha.

Like what you're reading? Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you a FREE gift as a thank you. Click here to subscribe.

G-d’s Warnings Start Subtly

When you do something wrong, the Almighty starts out with a subtle notification. I call it the heavenly tap on the shoulder. Often it’s mistaken for being a minor annoyance. Like when someone touches you on the shoulder and you’re busy. You brush it off.

Having not paid attention, G-d’s next warning is stronger. He gives you time to reflect on what’s happening in your life. You’ll have a chance to figure out a change of behavior is in order. If you ignore this warning too the next one is more urgent. Eventually, real trouble must come into your life to get you to pay attention.

On occasion something negative may happen in your life seemingly without explanation. Know that G-d isn’t punishing you. He wants you to take time to reflect. Make an accounting of your relationships. Examine your business dealings. Review your conduct. Maybe you’re doing nothing wrong. But are you doing everything right? Are you making greatest use of your G-d given abilities?

By making positive changes early you can avoid real trouble.

What do you do when faced with life’s challenges? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

The One Thing You Must Do to Get What You Want

2-½ minutes to read

Remember the last time you got a gift? Did you get what you wanted? It’s disappointing when you don’t isn’t it? But it ruins the surprise if you drop hints. My daughter loves to hear me tell of how I prayed for a girl when my wife was pregnant. In this case the hints worked. Prayer is a powerful tool for getting what you want. But you shouldn’t treat your aspirations like gifts. You’ll have to take direct action.

The One Things You Must Do to Get What You Want

Forcing People to Read Your Mind

Rejection tops many people’s lists of fears. Sales is a tough profession. For every yes, the typical salesman had heard nine to 24 no’s. A lot of people cannot take such rejection day in and day out. But the professional arena isn’t the only arena where people fear rejection. Some avoid relationships or let theirs stagnate rather than risk being told no.

Why didn’t you get the job you wanted? How come you didn’t get a date with the guy or gal that sparked your interest? Did you ask for what you wanted?

At the end of a meeting to discuss a job, if you want it you must ask for it. Jobs aren’t gifts. You have to close the deal. If you don’t, the next candidate will. The same goes for getting a date and having the relationships you desire. People have to know what you want. They can’t read your mind. You’ll have to tell them.

The Kindness of Asking for What You Want

You’ve heard it before. If you don’t ask the answer is definitely no. What have you got to lose?

In many situations the other person may fear rejection. When you take initiative they don’t have to worry about being turned down. As well, most people don’t like rejecting others either. So by giving them the chance to say yes without fear of your saying no to them you make it as easy as possible.

Ask in the way it's easiest for the person to say yes:

  1. Preface your question with a reminder of why the person should say yes: “Given our understanding of the scope of the job and how well my qualifications fit…”
  2. Be positive: “Are you prepared to give me the job?” Not negative: “You wouldn’t want to hire me would you?”
  3. Be confident: Smile and look the person in the eyes as you ask.

If the person does say no, you can still make progress toward what you want. Having turned you down, he is more likely to say yes to your next request. Ask for a referral to someone who needs an employee with your qualifications. Be specific about who you want to connect with.

By giving the person a chance to help, you relieve him of any guilt he may feel about saying no to the job.  All the above is true for sales and personal relationships. In fact, it applies to anything you want.

The best way to get over a fear of rejection is to ask a lot of people for what you want. Despite hearing no 90% or more of the time you’ll find enough who will say yes. You only need one yes to get the job you want. You’re going to marry only one special person. When you close 4% to 10% of your sales prospects you’ll have a big income.

Ask for what you want. Expect to hear yes. If you don’t, move on. Repeat.

What prevents you from asking for what you want? Please comment below.

Get More Ideas Like These for Firing Up Your Life and a FREE Bonus!


  • The wisdom of Scripture
  • Battle-tested ideas from the military
  • Profitable business concepts

to design a better life for you and your family!

Plus, you'll get a FREE bonus, my 49 Day Challenge to Refine Your Character!