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Assertive Communication – 6 Tips For Effective Use

By Lee Hopkins

What IS assertive communication?

Assertive communication is the ability to express positive and negative ideas and feelings in an  open, honest and direct way. It recognizes our rights whilst still respecting the rights of others. It allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people. And it allows us to constructively confront and find a mutually satisfying solution where conflict exists.

So why use assertive communication?

All of us use assertive behavior at times… quite often when we feel vulnerable or unsure of ourselves we may resort to submissive, manipulative or aggressive behavior.

Yet being trained in assertive communication actually increases the appropriate use of this sort of behavior. It enables us to swap old behavior patterns for a more positive approach to life. I’ve found that changing my response to others (be they work colleagues, clients or even my own family) can be exciting and stimulating.

The advantages of assertive communication

There are many advantages of assertive communication, most notably these:

  • It helps us feel good about ourselves and others
  • It leads to the development of mutual respect with others
  • It increases our self-esteem
  • It helps us achieve our goals
  • It minimizes hurting and alienating other people
  • It reduces anxiety
  • It protects us from being taken advantage of by others
  • It enables us to make decisions and free choices in life
  • It enables us to express, both verbally and non-verbally, a wide range of feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative

There are, of course, disadvantages…

Disadvantages of assertive communication

Others may not approve of this style of communication, or may not approve of the views you express. Also, having a healthy regard for another person’s rights means that you won’t always get what YOU want. You may also find out that you were wrong about a viewpoint that you held. But most importantly, as mentioned earlier, it involves the risk that others may not understand and therefore not accept this style of communication.

What assertive communication is not…

Assertive communication is definitely NOT a lifestyle! It’s NOT a guarantee that you will get what you want. It’s definitely NOT an acceptable style of communication with everyone, but at least it’s NOT being aggressive.

But it IS about choice

Four behavioral choices

There are, as I see it, four choices you can make about which style of communication you can employ. These types are:

direct aggression: bossy, arrogant, bulldozing, intolerant, opinionated, and overbearing

indirect aggression: sarcastic, deceiving, ambiguous, insinuating, manipulative, and guilt-inducing

submissive: wailing, moaning, helpless, passive, indecisive, and apologetic

assertive: direct, honest, accepting, responsible, and spontaneous

Characteristics of assertive communication

There are six main characteristics of assertive communication. These are:

  • eye contact: demonstrates interest, shows sincerity
  • body posture: congruent body language will improve the significance of the message
  • gestures: appropriate gestures help to add emphasis
  • voice: a level, well modulated tone is more convincing and acceptable, and is not intimidating
  • timing: use your judgment to maximize receptivity and impact
  • content: how, where and when you choose to comment is probably more important than WHAT you say

The importance of “I” statements

Part of being assertive involves the ability to appropriately express your needs and feelings. You can accomplish this by using “I” statements. These indicate ownership, do not attribute blame, focuses on behavior, identifies the effect of behavior, is direct and honest, and contributes to the growth of your relationship with each other.

Strong “I” statements have three specific elements:

  • Behavior
  • Feeling
  • Tangible effect (consequence to you)

Example: “I feel frustrated when you are late for meetings. I don’t like having to repeat information.”

Six techniques for assertive communication

There are six assertive techniques – let’s look at each of them in turn.

1. Behavior Rehearsal: which is literally practicing how you want to look and sound. It is a very useful technique when you first want to use “I” statements, as it helps dissipate any emotion associated with an experience and allows you to accurately identify the behavior you wish to confront.

2. Repeated Assertion (the ‘broken record’): this technique allows you to feel comfortable by ignoring manipulative verbal side traps, argumentative baiting and irrelevant logic while sticking to your point. To most effectively use this technique use calm repetition, and say what you want and stay focused on the issue. You’ll find that there is no need to rehearse this technique, and no need to ‘hype yourself up’ to deal with others.


“I would like to show you some of our products”
“No thank you, I’m not interested”
“I really have a great range to offer you”
“That may be true, but I’m not interested at the moment”
“Is there someone else here who would be interested?”
“I don’t want any of these products”
“Okay, would you take this brochure and think about it?”
“Yes, I will take a brochure”
“Thank you”
“You’re welcome”

3. Fogging: this technique allows you to receive criticism comfortably, without getting anxious or defensive, and without rewarding manipulative criticism. To do this you need to acknowledge the criticism, agree that there may be some truth to what they say, but remain the judge of your choice of action. An example of this could be, “I agree that there are probably times when I don’t give you answers to your questions.

4. Negative inquiry: this technique seeks out criticism about yourself in close relationships by prompting the expression of honest, negative feelings to improve communication. To use if effectively you need to listen for critical comments, clarify your understanding of those criticisms, use the information if it will be helpful or ignore the information if it is manipulative. An example of this technique would be, “So you think/believe that I am not interested?”

5. Negative assertion: this technique lets you look more comfortably at negatives in your own behavior or personality without feeling defensive or anxious, this also reduces your critics’ hostility. You should accept your errors or faults, but not apologize. Instead, tentatively and sympathetically agree with hostile criticism of your negative qualities. An example would be, “Yes, you’re right. I don’t always listen closely to what you have to say.”

6. Workable compromise: when you feel that your self-respect is not in question, consider a workable compromise with the other person. You can always bargain for your material goals unless the compromise affects your personal feelings of self-respect. However, if the end goal involves a matter of your self-worth and self-respect, THERE CAN BE NO COMPROMISE. An example of this technique would be, “I understand that you have a need to talk and I need to finish what I’m doing. So what about meeting in half an hour?”


Assertiveness is a useful communication tool. It’s application is contextual and it’s not appropriate to be assertive in all situations. Remember, your sudden use of assertiveness may be perceived as an act of aggression by others.

There’s also no guarantee of success, even when you use assertive communication styles appropriately.

“Nothing on earth can stop the individual with the right mental attitude from achieving their goal; nothing on earth can help the individual with the wrong mental attitude” W.W. Ziege

When you match consumer psychology with effective communication styles you get a powerful combination. Lee Hopkins can show you how to communicate better for better business results. At you can find the secrets to communication success.


Proper Etiquette For Your Business Power Lunch

By Don Doman

Power lunches don’t just happen. If you leave them to chance you might end up at half-power. As in all business communications, power lunches start well before you sit down to talk . . . or eat.

Here’s what to do before your client arrives for lunch:

          • If it is up to you to suggest the restaurant, have one in mind that will be conducive to conversation. A sports bar just doesn’t make it.
          • Call and make reservations. If you are familiar with the restaurant and the staff, ask for a table that will suit your meeting.
          • Call your client to confirm. Inform the client that reservations have been made under your name.
      • Arrive early so you can make sure everything is in order.
      • Talk to your waitperson and give them your credit card. Learn the waitperson’s name.
      • Look over the menu and decide on your order.
      • Order something non-alcoholic to drink while you wait.
      • Be well aware of your client’s interests so you can easily slide in and out of small talk.
      • Keep your cell phone on vibrate in case your client needs to cancel. This way you’ll not be kept waiting at the table through lunch.

Before you even think about a power lunch you should of course brush up on your table manners. If you are in doubt, and even if you are pretty sure, it never hurts to review proper dining etiquette. One of my favorite etiquette training programs is called The Art of Dining: The Business Lunch. The video covers the basics and acts as a good reminder for the steps involved as well as table manners.

“Hosted by Marjabella Young Stewart, this program dramatically increases your social confidence when dining as a host or guest.

The business lunch includes setting up your appointment, choosing the restaurant, ordering the meal, managing hard-to-handle foods, tipping and ending the meeting. Stewart is internationally known through her television appearances on “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show.”

This video will help stop you from making the wrong moves and pave the way for an enjoyable business lunch that should make good friends and good clients.”

– Ad copy for The Art of Dining: The Business Lunch

For less than hundred dollars this wonderful training video will repay you many times over. You can share the video with your fellow employees, or keep it to yourself.

The next step involved in the business or power lunch begins when your client arrives. The waitperson will probably show your client to your table and then take drink orders.

  • If your client orders an alcoholic drink you should consider ordering one, but no more.
  • The time it takes for the waitperson to reappear is time for small talk about the food, about the weather, about the client’s interests.
  • If the client asks what’s tasty and well prepared at the restaurant, you can offer your favorites.
  • While the client looks over the menu, turn your cell phone completely off.
  • When the waitperson returns ask them to list the specials, and place your order.
  • After the order has been placed you may begin talking about business.

Enjoy the meal, enjoy the conversation, and enjoy your business dealings. You both should be in a good mood following a well thought-out business power lunch.

Don Doman is a published author, video producer, and corporate trainer. He owns the business training site Ideas and Training (, which he says is the home of the no-hassle “free preview” for business training videos. He also owns Human Resources Radio (, which broadcasts HR and business training information, program previews, and training samples from some of the world’s great training speakers twenty-four hours a day. You can listen and learn on Human Resources Radio.

How to Outsource – 3 Big Outsourcing Tips

By Alan Saltz

Wondering how to outsource work to a freelancer and how to find freelancers, either in the United States or abroad?

You’re not alone.

Outsourcing work to freelance workers, or virtual workers as some refer to it, doesn’t seem like an easy thing to. Especially the first time you do it.

For most people wondering how to outsource, a lot of questions come to mind:

  1. What kind of work do I outsource?
  2. Who should I hire?
  3. Where do I find freelancers?
  4. How do I hire a freelance worker?
  5. How do I communicate with my freelancer?
  6. How do I make sure my projects are being done correctly?
  7. How do I know what I’m paying for?
  8. How do I pay a freelancer?

It was questions like these that prevented me from outsourcing for a long time. I really wish they hadn’t. Now that I know how to outsource and have actually gone through the process, I can see tremendous value in it – in the form of significant time and cost savings. It’s also not nearly as difficult as I anticipated.   _

Here are 3 helpful tips to help you find freelancers and get started outsourcing.

1. Look to ONLINE freelance hubs.

I used to think that job boards and classified sites like Craigslist were the best places to find freelancers. I was wrong. I discovered that these were great ways to get lots of resumes… but ultimately I had no idea who these people were, or what I was getting myself into. People who looked great on paper proved to be awful in reality. It was an expensive mistake.

Then finally I came across what I’ll call “freelance hubs” – websites like oDesk and Scriptlance – whose SOLE purpose is to unite employers with freelancers all over the world.

These websites have thousands of programmers, writers, web developers, artists, and other freelance workers ready to take on projects. Beyond just a resume, you can see the projects they’ve taken on, how many hours they’ve logged, tests they’ve taken, language proficiency, and (perhaps best of all) REVIEWS from other companies who have hired them.

So before you outsource work, you can have a high level of confidence in the workers you choose.

That’s a lot of benefit.

It’s also great that these sites can help you learn how to outsource effectively, by streamlining steps in the process such as hiring, team management, and payment.

2. Start SMALL.

Seriously, outsourcing is much less difficult than it may seem.

What IS overwhelming is trying to outsource a major project, with lots of moving pieces, before you’ve gone through the process once. Besides, every freelance worker is different. So it pays to see how well you work with someone, and how they run projects, before you worry about figuring everything out yourself. The smaller the project you start with, the less pressure you’ll feel to micromanage and the more relaxed you’ll be. It’s a great “learn as you go” experience.

3. Have a Well DEFINED Project.

Before you get started, make sure you have your project well planned out. Know what you want to do. Know the skills that are necessary to complete that task. Know the scope of the project and the time you expect it to take.

The better you know what you want, the easier it is to find someone to complete the task, and the easier it is to communicate what you want done. A well-defined project also meshes your expectations with your freelancer’s, paving the way to a smooth and successful completion.

Also, by the time you have a larger project to outsource; many of your initial questions will be answered already. For example, you may already have a worker you trust, you’ll know the best way to communicate, you’ll know how payments are made, etc.


Outsourcing may seem like a difficult task, but it really does get easier as you go through the steps. When you start small, you reduce the risk of wasting time and money, and you improve your chances of finding someone you can work with for a long time to come.

Use online resources that help you through the process and you’ll find it can be a lot easier than you think!

An EASY way to outsource? —> Read this oDesk review.oDesk matches employers with freelancers all over the world and can help you easily find freelancers that are capable and trustworthy.Article Source:

Try a Virtual Assistant

by Keridak Kae Silk

Virtual Assistants are usually home-based workers, who have a wide variety of expertise valuable to businesses.  In this way business can have the luxury of a secretary, a “Girl Friday”, a greeter, gate keeper, book keeper, social net-worker, techie… and on the list can go. Each VA has their own set of skills and abilities.

Owning and running any business is time consuming.   It is important to decide how best to spend your time.  Isn’t  it best spent making money, working directly with clients?  Wouldn’t you rather spend your time following your passion? If so, make a list of all the tasks that are needed to successfully run your business. Include all the tasks that you wish you had time to get to.

Perhaps, you’d like to start a blog or create a following with twitter. Perhaps, you are ready to create an event. (With all the possibilities of receiving payment, keeping track of ticket sales, marketing the event, and what if there is a chicken or fish option?) How to you find the time?

The great thing is that you don’t have to. Virtual Assistants fill the gaps and free you up to do the things that you do best.  Most businesses don’t think twice about hiring an accountant or book keeper.  Use that same freeing way of thinking for the other tasks you may have been avoiding or just haven’t had the time to get to.  Take your list and look for a VA to fill the gap.

Virtual Assistants range from the new & less experienced to those with strong, well managed, high tech skills.  Fees also have a wide range.  You need to decide your budget, the level of expertise you will need and the level of professionalism.  Is your business best served by a bargain basement VA or are you ready to work with higher end, high skilled professionals?

Once you have a list of needs; go through and rate each with how important it is to your business success.  Then go through the list again and place a star next to the things that you either love to do or feel you cannot let go of.  All the tasks that are left are possible tasks that a VA can take off your hands.

This article may be published in your blog or newsletter by including the following:

Authored by Keridak Kae Silk, MS, DTM: Virtual Freedom VA Services/Funding Success Grant Services, 866-279-8666, ,

Letting Go to Grow

by Patricia Guerzo

To achieve more, aspire to do less yourself, and more through others. This is such basic advice, why is it so hard to do?

One reason – you’re too close to the story to see the plot.  You have a one-man play instead of a production.

Another reason – you form new relationships with the service providers.  This takes time, yet results are needed right away.  Break-in time period can be awkward, and requires structure that might not exist.  More work!

Yet another reason – it takes time to locate the right resource for you.  Friends and family can be tempting, but carry high risks.  Do you really want your mother to be angry because you fired your payroll firm?

I help business owners see where their time is best spent, and what can be outsourced.  We create a plan to prepare for the transition.  I then work the plan to make the outsourcing successful.

What keeps businesses from outsourcing?  The answers may surprise you.  Here are a few that surprised the owners themselves.

  • If rules are communicated orally, contractors will produce inconsistent work.  Procedures must be written down, boring as that may sound.
  •  Owners become managers of the outsourced work.  This is a new skill for some, and requires some structure to help the owners succeed.
  • It is even more helpful to have an adviser after outsourcing.  The business is bigger.  New opportunities can now be pursued.

If you feel like there are not enough hours in the day, find someone to talk through your options.  There are many service providers with low minimum requirements and reasonable rates. Be sure to check out more than one option, and look on social media sites to validate the website and brochures.  Or contact your friendly business adviser, who specializes in knowing those providers.

What would you most like to outsource in your business?

To use this article in your newsletter or blog- you must include the following: Patricia Guerzo, President of GBSC, is an accomplished business executive with a proven record of enhancing bottom line results.

Turn Prospects into Paying Clients

by Ali Brown

As a small business owner, you know that keeping your marketing funnel –your stream of prospects– full is essential for sustaining your business. I’ve spoken often of the merits of:

  • Building your contact list of potential clients/customers
  • Communicating regularly through an ezine (email newsletter)
  • Posting valuable content on your blog
  • Connecting through social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

If you’re doing all this, but still struggling to convert prospects into customers, here are some additional strategies for you to implement:

Back to basic methods work:

1. Call. Sometimes we get so wrapped up with our status updates, tweets and email broadcasts that we forget the most personal connection that you can make with someone: calling them up and having a live conversation. Don’t go for the hard sell though, instead connect and listen.

2. Send a personal note. In a mail box full of bills and ads, a hand-written personal note is golden. If you have a special event or promotion to tell someone about, consider the personal touch of a hand written note.

3. Invite someone to coffee. Face to face bonding goes a long way for making a favorable impression. Host a coffee for one or more contacts, and find out what they’re up to, and share your latest projects as well.

See people in person:

1. Host an event. Give people an excuse to get out of the house, break out a new pair of shoes, and mingle with colleagues. From an intimate gathering to a big production, you’ll make a big splash by bringing people together to connect and collaborate. Make it worth their while to attend by offering a discount, incentive, or complimentary information.

2. Invite the locals. Speaking engagements are terrific list builders, and when you do speak, whether it’s at the local chamber or a larger event, let everyone know. Send out a targeted email to your prospective customers in that area, and they’ll feel special and want to attend. Similarly, if you are attending an event, let your contacts know that you are going and that you hope to see them there.

Get more personal:

1. Send a personal email. You’re probably using an email broadcasting system, and that’s great, but it’s even better to regularly reach out to your top prospects with personal emails.

2. Survey your prospect’s needs. If what you’re doing isn’t working, find out why. Survey your potential customers personally by phone, or set up a survey (Check out Survey Monkey) and email it to your customers. Keep the survey short, carefully select your questions, and get assistance from a pro if you need it. Reward them in some way for taking the survey, and you’ll get better results.

3. Be super-responsive. It’s all about connecting with the people on your list to build their trust over time. One way to achieve that is to respond to every email, Facebook post, and Twitter tweet that you can possibly manage, and within 48 hours. (You may need an assistant or a team to help you with this.) Even though you can’t make everyone happy, respecting them with courtesy will make a lasting impression.

Offer them more:

1. Present bonuses. Add bonuses to your sales page if your customers sign on by a certain date.

2. Offer discounts. Make discounts available for certain circumstances to entice buyers.

3. Extend deals. Everyone loves a deal, so join forces with a joint venture partner, and offer customers a two-for-one offer.

4. Provide fast action bonuses. Reward early purchasers with fast action bonuses of special gifts.

5. Hold a drawing. Enter all customers in a contest for an enticing grand prize.

6. Make it easy. Deliver stellar customer service that makes doing business with you a pleasure by devising ways to make it easier for them. (Example: If a customer has just purchased a spot at your event, offer to make their room reservation for them.)

Be generous:

1. Deliver fabulous content. Make sure that your ezine, blog, Facebook, etc. has valuable content your readers can use, so they want to stay connected with you.

2. Reward referrals. Word of mouth from existing customers can be your most effective sales tool. Reward clients who refer you by offering referral fees, or better yet, create an affiliate program.

3. Offer options. Provide products and programs for every level of customer. Even though entry-level programs can be a “loss leader,” it’s a way to get people in the door, build trust, and eventually this pool of people may join at a higher level later.

Connect in every way:

1. Friend them. Create a Facebook Fan page that’s attractive to prospects and “friend” everyone and reinforce connections.

2. Follow them. Create a Twitter account and tweet away. Provide leading edge and engaging messages that attract followers.

3. Share. Share personal snippets of your life to keep people engaged with you to create a relationship.

As the economy continues to pick up, those who go the extra mile with their prospective clients will enjoy a higher customer conversion rate. Be personal and generous, offer fabulous incentives, informative content, and connect in a variety of ways. Then watch you sales lift and your spirits soar.

© 2010 Ali International, LLC

Self-made entrepreneur and Inc. 500-ranked CEO Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE weekly articles and advice at

Workplace Humor: Are We Having Fun Yet?

By Allen Klein, MA, CSP (aka Mr. Jollytologist®)

“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.”

– John Cleese

Work places are not necessarily fun places. Yet research has found that people who have fun at work are apt to be more productive and have a lower rate of absenteeism.

How to add some fun to a not-so-funny workplace is, of course, a challenge. A recent issue of Inc. magazine, however, gave some clues of how to do just that. Some of their suggestions and examples are below.

  • First, identify people at your organization who share some common traits such as having attended the same college, bike to work, or perhaps have the same first and last names that begin with the same letter. Then, bring one group together at a time and see if they can determine the common denominator.
  • Doing spring cleaning in your office? Make that fun too by offering prizes for the oldest or strangest or funniest items to emerge from the clutter. The most fossilized food gets a special prize.
  • Post a cartoon, without it’s caption, or photograph over the copier each day. Have employees add a funny caption on a piece of paper underneath the photo or cartoon.
  • For a great social lubricant at meetings, or a way of getting to know new employees, ask everyone to write down two facts about themselves that are true and one that isn’t. Then have people try and guess which is the fib.
  • Hold a food fest. Have something like a cookie contest or barbecue rib-off. Ask employees to bring their favorites in those categories and have judges or customers select the best.
  • One company, P. J. Salvage in Irvine, California, lightens up their staff’s workload by providing tea and scones every afternoon at three.
  • Another company, Sub Pop Records in Seattle, Washington, once hired a pet psychic for a day. Employees brought in their furry friends for an analysis session.

As the Inc. magazine article shows, there are lots of ways to add more fun to dull workdays. But you’ve got to plan them. Sometimes fun takes a little bit of work.

Allen Klein is a professional speaker and author of The Healing Power of Humor. He can be reached at

Improve Lead Potential From Any Event

Do you enjoy business networking?  Most people have strong feelings, positive or negative.  Yet even if it’s not your idea of fun, networking is a required activity for anyone hoping to succeed.  In this article, I will share some tips and ideas that I have read or otherwise collected to help you enjoy networking, and improve the lead potential from any event.

It is helpful to think of networking events as the beginning of a relationship.  The chance of selling your product or service to someone at that moment is less than 5%.  So why not try for a more likely scenario?

Networking events are ideal forums for you to be your best self.  We prefer to do business with people with whom we feel comfortable, and whom we believe are competent and confident in their abilities.  If you want to attract quality referrals, you simply act confident, competent, and comfortable in the networking situation.  I have listed some ways to project these traits, with some guardrails against going overboard.  Once you’ve mastered these techniques, your confidence and networking success will soar.

Confidence – People lose confidence when they don’t know how a game is played.  In the game of networking, preparation increases confidence. Take 15 minutes the day before an event, and look for information about the sponsoring organization, venue, and featured speaker.  Many invitations will show the guest list, enabling more research.  You may be able to develop a list of people you would like to meet.

Another way to increase confidence is to prepare a current event opener.  Look at the day’s news and find a story to share.  Make sure it is non-controversial and not negative, so the memory of your conversation is positive.

Lastly, prepare a 15-second (max) message that describes the benefits of your product or service.  Not a detailed description of the features or processes, but a clever summary of the good things that result from using your service.  Think of this message as the outer layer of an onion.  If you pique someone’s interest, they will ask a follow up question, and another.  If you bore them with a 60-second description, most likely, they will look for ways out of the conversation.  These longer messages are intended for referral groups, where people are expecting to listen to a lengthy message.  Make a shorter one for networking purposes.

Competence – Obviously, no one at a networking event will truly know how good you are.  We use our own experience talking casually and project what it would be like to work with you.  We typically want someone passionate about what they do, who wants to help.  So think about your services, and what information you share that would help others.

I recently attended an event and talked with the owner of a nearby bed & breakfast.  She informed me that her inn offered fellow Association members a discount or free upgrade for our visitors.  A few weeks later, I found out friends were planning a visit, and I was able to make the connection.

You are viewed as competent simply be remembering the names new people you meet.  If names are not your strong point, form a habit to repeat someone’s name when you meet them.  Even if they notice, they will see it as a sign of respect.

For those whom you may not meet, show your best self by standing tall.  Posture and eye contact are seen as proxies for competence and confidence.

Comfortable – For most people, being at ease around strangers is not natural.  You can help your own cause with some easy steps, starting with what to wear.  Wear a jacket that has pockets above your waist, so you can store business cards there.  Don’t store business cards below your belt, and don’t write on someone’s card in their presence.  Think of business cards as valuable photos, you wouldn’t write on someone’s photo, would you?  And remember your own card is also “currency.” Make sure someone wants your card before you give it.

Another way to display confidence is to slow down your body movements.  Fast, jerky motions are associated with nervous behavior.

Make yourself comfortable for others to approach. Do not allow your hand to go above your shoulders to rub your ears, hair, note, mouth, or eyes.  This may make someone reluctant to shake your hand.  This tip is harder than it sounds!

Try a couple of these ideas, and let me know what you think.  The world of business etiquette is vast and varied, so feel free to share your favorites with readers.

To use this article in your newsletter or blog- you must include the following: Patricia Guerzo, President of GBSC, is an accomplished business executive with a proven record of enhancing bottom line results.

The Attitude of Entitlement and How to Fix It!

By Stephen J. Blakesley 


Recently, I spoke to a wonderful group of Human Resource executives. The group from the Houston area known as the Bay Area Human Resources Management Association (BAHRMA) met to “sharpen their saws.” I was asked to participate and shared my thoughts on Strategic Performance, its value and how to get it.

During the presentation a young lady raised her hand to comment and told of a situation that echoes around our country, today; She told of an attitude of “Entitlement with which they struggle.”

The “Big E,” as we call it, is when employees express their belief that others and the organization to which they belong, are somehow blessed by their presence. Often there is no evidence supporting their right to a favored state, just a belief in their own minds that they, somehow, deserve special treatment, recognition, pay or all three.

She put it like this; “We are consistently faced with younger employees believing that we (older employees and the company) are somehow fortunate in our association with them.

They come to work late or miss deadlines and believe it to be Okay,” she says. “It seems, as if, they believe the organization should be thankful that they decided to come to work, at all.”

The Entitlement attitude seems to be more prevalent among younger employees. Our experience has been that many of the Generation Y employees do, somehow, believe that they have a right to a job. A belief, I support, at least in part. I believe that there is work for anyone who wants to work, not necessarily the work you may want, but work from which you can earn a living. That does, somewhat, differ from the Generation Y notion.

So, what can or should you do about an attitude of entitlement, whether it comes from Generation Y employees or elsewhere? We believe that corporate America is in control and if the attitude of Entitlement is an issue, in your company, you can do something about it. Here is what we recommend:

  1. Clearly state expectations before you hire anyone.
  2. Get agreement before you hire
  3. Have a “Zero Tolerance Policy”
  4. Operate with integrity

Many organizations complain about poor attitudes but shoot themselves in the foot by not being clear about the values of the organization, their expectations of the employee and enforcing their own rules. Organizations should know their values and clearly share them with potential employees, but few do, they should create a “Top Ten Reasons People Work for XYZ Corp.”, A Values Statement, and a clear, easy to read statement of expectations in the job a candidate is being asked to fill. Get them to sign and date those documents and keep them as a permanent record that the candidate acknowledged your expectation and agreed to them. That document should go in the employee file. That takes care of item 1 & 2, now let’s talk about the rest.

Many organizations want people who have a great attitude, many do not, but it is their own fault. They continue to believe that they can put into someone something that is not there, hire someone that is marginal, and somehow expect superior performance. That seldom occurs. The key to having the right people and attitudes on your bus is hiring excellent people, in the first place and realizing we are all human and make mistakes, sometimes hiring the wrong person. When you hire someone who does not wish to adhere to something they agreed to before the hiring and obviously the wrong person for the job, fire them. That takes care of 3 & 4 above.

Applying these four simple rules will, I guarantee, diminish the number of employees that believe they are entitled to their jobs, but most importantly, send a clear message to the many people in your organization that you value their good work ethics and operate with integrity.

Stephen J. Blakesley, Managing Partner, GMS Talent L P ( ) is a Successful Entrepreneur, Marketeer, Author, Radio Show Host, and Speaker. His two, most recent books, “The Target-The Secret to Superior Performance; ( ) and Strategic Hiring – Tomorrow’s Benefits Today are top resources for business owners, mangers and C-Level executives.

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How to Break Up With a Business Partner

by  Dawn Reiss

Break-ups are always difficult. Some are more amicable than others. When it comes to the legalities of a divorce, be it personal or a business relationship, most people run to an attorney and prepare for battle.

It may become necessary, but there’s another route that should be tried first: mediation.

Before you groan and roll your eyes, consider this: if a separation can’t be decided in court, a judge can send two people, already represented by lawyers, into mediation before they can settle in court. Why? Because at its core, mediation is about using counseling so you can break up and sever that relationship in the friendliest and fairest way — or at least come to a mutual agreement that can then become a legal document.

 John Hassey Mediation.

John Hassey

“I don’t think people realize money is the physical manifestation of emotion,” says John Hassey, 35, of Chicago-based John Hassey Mediation. Money represents the time, effort, hard work and the “I deserve this monetary compensation factor” which is the emotional value of the relationship. “It’s healthy, even in a business divorce, to acknowledge those emotions in the process,” Hassey says. “Mediation isn’t removing the emotion from the process; it is acknowledging the emotion so you can come to a logical and fair agreement.”

That’s something that can be lost in the traditional legal process.

Nicole Brucker

Nicole Brucker

“Most business people aren’t as comfortable with someone called a mediator and assume an attorney will have their best interest,” says Nicole Brucker, 32, a divorce mediator who runs The Sapient Solution Advisor and is a registered investment adviser with her Series 7 license. “But lawyers aren’t trained in the long-term emotional implications of that, which is where a skilled mediator can come in.”

For example, Brucker says she knows a CEO who retired after he was bought out by his business partner. Years later, when that former CEO became a client of Brucker’s, he still feels like he wasn’t given a fair deal; not because the financial compensation wasn’t correct or substantial, but because there wasn’t any closure. He no longer talks to his former business partner of 15 years because he feels like the company was taken away from him, Brucker says. “When you are an entrepreneur, an owner, that company becomes a representative of you, an appendage, and when you hand it over, you have to grieve that loss, which can be very difficult for some people,” Brucker says. “A lot of people just want to be heard or validated in how they feel. If you have these resentments they are going to lead to regret. Everyone still needs time to grieve that loss, because the process is hard and it’s about finding a mutual solution that doesn’t give anyone everything you want.”

 Here’s How:

Recognize that like any divorce, usually one person wants to get things over with and the other person is a little further behind.

 Forget Myth No. 1: Counseling is Only About Keeping the Relationship Together

That’s just not true, says Hassey. “The goal of mediation is to help people get the most informed and fairest choices for them and their divorces,” he says.

 Forget Myth No. 2: Break-ups are Always Bad

Depending on what happens, it can end up being the most positive thing you do and give you a new lease on life, personally, financially and emotionally.

Say Any Idea

One of the most important things to do, says Hassey, is to discuss every possible idea, no matter how many times it has been discussed before, how ridiculous it sounds, because when you squash ideas, it wipes out the creative process rather than pulling pieces of every idea to create a viable solution.

 List the Reasons for the Dissolution

Include both business-related issues as well as emotional ones, says Brucker.

 Want more tips on working with a business partner? Check these out:

Slow Down the Communication Process and Become an Active Listener

Simply put: shut up, listen, and then verbally repeat everything that was just said. “While one person is talking, the other is thinking about what they want to say next,” Hassey says. “It’s no wonder that the conflict is happening because they are just talking at each other.” Hassey only allows one client to talk and the other can’t respond; the only thing they can do is paraphrase what the other person just said. When they are done, the counterpart gets the chance to do the same. “I force my clients to do this and at first they get annoyed,” Hassey says. “But it slows down the communication process, to stop rapid-fire disagreements, where everyone is shooting. The beautiful bi-product is it creates empathy between people.”

Talk about the Taboo Topics

What are your biggest concerns? What are your fears? Discuss the topics everyone has been avoiding, that usually include infidelity. Just like a marriage, business infidelity can mean addressing the unethical behavior of one business partner who is using the partnership to benefit that person individually or hiding a business connection from the other partner, instead of sharing the resources to benefit the entire company.

Plan for the Future

Think about where you will be five years from now. Discuss non-compete, non-disclosure clauses, and think about how much or how little you each will interfere with each other’s businesses in the future.

 Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based journalist and a former St. Petersburg Times and Dallas Morning News staff writer who writes for a variety of outlets including: TIME magazine/ and the Chicago Tribune.

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