Category Archives: Relationships

How to Go from Contact to Relationship

2 minutes to read

Networking may be the most frustrating part of finding a job and building a business. First you have to muster the courage to go to a meeting of strangers. Then you have to figure out how to approach them. Next you have to get a card or information so you can follow up later. Finally you have to follow up and create a relationship. If you feel overwhelmed read on. I’m going to simplify this process.

How to Go from Connection to Relationship

Be Selective

Everything you want in your life will come from relationships. Professional success, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual growth come from them. The more and better connections you have the happier you will be. But there are limits. Most people can maintain about 150 relationships. That may sounds like a lot. Still, you need to be intentional about the people in whom you invest time, energy, and emotion.

We tend to think of networking groups and meetings as being the best place to make connections. But that may not be true. Any situation where you organically meet new people is likely to be a better place to make new contacts. Social situations, classes, even church create a natural basis for rapport.

Look for people you like and sense a bond with. And if your gut says something’s wrong trust it.

Building the Relationship

I always figure you might as well approach life like everybody’s your friend or nobody is; don’t make much difference. Kevin Kline as Paden in Silverado

Unless you’re content to keep your connection at Facebook friends level you’ll need to set a foundation for greater depth. The building blocks are mutual trust and service.

No association gets beyond the acquaintance stage until both people feel they can trust each other. Some people offer you trust right away. It’s yours to lose. Others trust in stages. You’ll have to figure out into which mode you fall. It can be frustrating establishing trust when modes don’t match. But it may be worth it. In any event, the process will work better if you are aware of this dynamic.

Building and maintaining trust comes from helping the other person. I don’t necessarily mean by convincing them to buy what you’re selling. That may be appropriate if what you’ve got will really help the person. But you’ll want relationships with people besides customers.

Be curious about the person’s life and business. What challenges does he or she face? What resources or contacts do you have that can help? Think about how you can provide the means for success. Most importantly, give without an expectation of return. If you expect reciprocation every time you help you’re not building a relationship. You’re just contracting a series of debts. Most people don’t like feeling obligated. As a result you won’t create mutual trust.

The process may sound lengthy. In some case it will take time. But often you can move from contact to relationship in a matter of a few days or weeks. You’ve probably done it before, albeit not intentionally.

While I’ve focused on business relationships, all the above is true for personal relationships. Other factors may impact whom you choose for a spouse and friends. But fundamental to a marriage and companions is mutual trust and selfless service.

How have you built trust in your relationships? Please comment below.

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.

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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!

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