Relationships and Empowerment

In these blogs we talk about you.  Your rights.  Your responsibilities.  Your choices.  Your life.

It is necessary to remember, though, that everything discussed in these blogs applies to everyone.  This means that other people have the same rights, and the same responsibilities, as you do.  It is necessary to balance your rights with others’ rights.

You cannot empower yourself by dis-empowering others.

3 R’s of Assertiveness

Dont-Act-Like-Prey-Kindle, final, resized squareIf we are to achieve the success we desire in our professional and personal lives, we must stand up for ourselves and speak out on our behalf.  We cannot be passive.  We must be assertive.

Many of us have difficulty in being assertive rather than passive.  This can be for many reasons.  We want to be nice.  We want to be liked.  We do not want to cause conflict.  We do not like confrontations.  For us baby-boomers, as girls we were encouraged to be passive.  These reasons are all understandable.  However, they can also be obstacles to our success.

Sometimes, rather than being assertive, we go overboard and become aggressive.  This can be equally detrimental to achieving our professional and personal goals.  When we are aggressive, we can damage the relationships that we need.

We can change.  We can find that balance between passive and aggressive behavior called assertive.  Sometimes it is easier to change if we look at a behavior from a new perspective.  One perspective is the 3 R’s:  relationships, rights, and respect.


We all have relationships.  We have professional relationships with our supervisors, employees, co-workers, customers, suppliers, and many others.  We have personal relationships with our spouse/significant other, children, parents, in-laws, neighbors, friends and countless others.

These relationships are important to us.  We need other people to help us achieve what we want.  We cannot do everything ourselves.  Most of these relationships also provide us with a great deal of happiness and enjoyment.  They make our life richer.

It is to our advantage to have positive relationships with the people around us.  To do this, we need to be assertive.


We all have basic rights simply because we are human beings.  We have the right to be treated with respect, dignity, professionalism, courtesy.  We have the right, at least in this country, of freedom of speech.  Not only do we have the right to speak out, we also have the right to be heard.

We also have the right to set boundaries.  We have the right to create boundaries around what we consider acceptable behavior from others and around what we consider acceptable treatment of us.  We have the right to defend these boundaries.

In addition to general rights, within each relationship each party has rights.  For example, in a customer/supplier relationship, the customer has the right to the agreed upon good or service.  The supplier has the right to get paid the amount agreed upon.

When we are passive, it is as though we forget that we have rights.  We do not stand up for our rights.  We let others take our rights away from us.

When we are aggressive, it is as though we forget that others have the same rights that we do.  We take their rights away from them.

When we are assertive, we find the balance.  We recognize that we have rights and so do others.


Respect is the key to finding the balance between passive and aggressive behavior.  It is the key to being assertive.

When we are passive, we do not respect our rights.  We do not respect ourselves.

When we are aggressive, we do not respect others’ rights.  We do not respect others.

When we are assertive, we find the balance.  We respect our rights while respecting others’ rights.  We respect ourselves while respecting others.

Knowing how to show respect can be difficult sometimes related to differences in cultures, situations, and people.  You may think you are being respectful, but the other person may perceive it differently.  The opposite is also true.  Be aware of this and carefully listen and observe.  If you are not certain if your message has been received as intended, or if you are not certain you have received the message as intended, ask for clarification.

Consistently finding the balance between passive and aggressive behavior (assertive) can take some work.  It is well worth the effort, however, in improved professional and personal relationships.  To help you, remember the 3 R’s:  relationships, rights, and respect.


dreamstime_xs_65105548, resizedEmpowerment is external, self-empowerment is internal.

Empowerment is when someone has power, permission, and/or authority to do something.  This often comes from outside the person.  For example, our supervisor might empower us to make decisions related to the business.  We might empower our attorney to make legal decisions for us.  Laws might empower women to have more equal status in the workplace.

Self-empowerment comes from inside of us.  It is when we give ourselves the power, permission, and/or authority to do something.  This might be to grow and develop into the person we want.  It might be to create the life we want.  We have the power within us to create what we desire.  Often what stands in our way is that we do not think we have the right to it.  We need to give ourselves permission to go after what we want.

Self-empowerment is when we use our power to take control of all aspects of our life.  It is when we take responsibility for our choices, our thoughts, our actions and the consequences of these.  It is when we decide what we want, develop a plan on how to achieve it, and implement the plan.

This applies to our professional and personal life.  Each impacts the other.  An important benefit to this is that the knowledge and skills that make you successful in one aspect of your life can assist in another.  For example, skills that you learn to deal with less-than-desirable co-workers can often be used to deal with pesky relatives who refuse to fall off the family tree.

To take control of your life it is important to be aware of what makes you you.  What are your thoughts?  Values?  Beliefs?  Passions?  Goals?  Motivations?  Who are you, and why are you the way you are?  This helps you determine why you do the things you do.

My writing is designed to provide you with opportunities to think about various topics.  From this you might gain a new perspective about yourself, your thoughts and beliefs, your motivations, and your actions.  After that, it becomes easier to make changes in your thoughts and behaviors, if you decide to do so.


Common Courtesy—Not So Common

dreamstime_xs_87916289, resized_edited-1I’m beginning to believe that common courtesy is an oxymoron.  Courtesy is not so common anymore.

You do not hear the little courtesies (please, thank you, you’re welcome, excuse me) as frequently as in the past.  You also hear more obviously discourteous behaviors (yelling, screaming, interrupting).

I think part of this is related to television.  Think about the lack of common courtesy in many of the TV shows; think about how people are treating each other.  Even in many of the news programs, it’s not about a civilized discussion, it’s about who can outshout the others.  When people watch this enough, they begin to think that this is appropriate behavior.

I think part of the lack of courtesy is related to social media.  It’s easy to slam people and their views when you don’t have to do it to their face.

I think another part is related to parents who don’t teach their children manners.  Too many parents let their children do whatever they want.  Children need to be taught what is acceptable behavior, and this means teaching boundaries.  It also means that when children display negative behavior, there is a negative consequence to their negative behavior.  If the child is allowed to continue with the negative behavior, it reinforces that the negative behavior is acceptable.

I think the root of lack of courtesy is lack of respect.  Too many people do not respect other people.  They do not respect that other people have the same rights they do.  They do not respect that other people have the same right to their views and beliefs.  They do not respect that other people deserve to be treated the same way they want to be treated.  And too often children are not taught to treat others with respect, both directly and by example.

I know this is not an easy issue to solve.  But if each of us try to treat the people around us with courtesy and respect, it will at least make our little piece of the world a little better.  And who knows?  Maybe it will spread!

The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen (Video Link)dreamstime_xs_40324783, resized

My paternal grandmother’s favorite story was “The Little Red Hen.” I am not sure if it was because she liked the message or that she liked chickens.  (Chickens on a farm were important then.)

For those of you who have not heard the story of the little red hen, or have forgotten it, the basic story line follows. The little red hen found some wheat grains. She wanted to grow and harvest the wheat so she could make bread. At each step in the process (planting, weeding, and harvesting the wheat, grinding it into flour, and making bread) she asked each of the other farm animals if they would help. Each one, at each step, said, “No.” When each one said they would not help, she replied with, “Then I’ll do it myself.” Finally, after months of work, the little red hen had her bread and was sitting down to enjoy the results of her efforts. Each of the farm animals came up and wanted some of her bread. She told each one, “No, I’ll eat it myself.”

There are many people in the world who are like the little red hen. They know what they want and they work hard to make it happen. If they do not get support from others, they do it anyway.

Unfortunately, there are also many people who are like the other farm animals. They want the results, but they do not want to work for them.

This can occur in very obvious ways. For example, there are people who want money, but do not want a job. They want someone else to give them money without giving anything in return.

This can also occur in less obvious ways. For example, there are people who have a job and want to make more money. But they do not want to gain the additional knowledge, skills, or experience necessary to be promoted. They want to receive more without giving more.

Another example is group projects. I hated group projects in college. Usually everyone in the group wanted an “A.” Usually it was me and maybe one other person that was willing to work hard enough to actually earn an “A.”  The same thing happens in work situations.

Think about your professional and personal relationships. In each relationship are you a “little red hen” or are you one of the “farm animals?” Which do you want to be?

The 3 R’s of Assertiveness

Farrell_Don'tActLikePrey_FULLCOVER_FINAL_090714, cropped_edited-1

This is a very condensed presentation on assertiveness.  The title is The 3 R’s of Assertiveness.  (An alternative title is Don’t Act Like Prey!)  The 3 R’s are relationships, rights, and respect.

We all have professional and personal relationships.  Within each of these relationship we and the other party have certain rights.  When we do not respect ourselves and our rights, we are passive.  When we do not respect others and their rights, we are aggressive.  When we respect both ourselves and others, we are assertive.

I published this presentation previous in a series of five segments.  If you did not have an opportunity to watch the segments, I hope you will learn something in this one that will help you achieve the success you want.

Equal Partnerships

dreamstime_xs_32614115Equal Partnerships (Video)

Throughout these blogs we have talked about you.  Your rights.  Your responsibilities.  Your choices.  Your life.

It is necessary to remember, though, that everything we have discussed applies to everyone.  This means, that if you are in a committed relationship, your partner is just as important as you are.  The life he wants is just as important as the life you want.  Not more important, but as important.

I think a committed relationship should be an equal partnership.  Each person should work equally hard, take on equal responsibility, and give as much support as he or she expects to receive.  It is necessary for both people to work together to determine how their life together will meet their individual desires and goals.  It may take some negotiating.

The opposite of an equal partnership is a double standard.  That is where it is all about one person and about what that one person wants.  If you are in a double standard relationship, and it is all about him, can you change things?  If not, is it worth staying in that relationship?  If you are in a double standard relationship, and it is all about you, remember that he has the same rights as you do and can leave you.  You might want to make changes before that happens.

An equal partnership is a beautiful relationship.  I recommend that you always remember that your partner, and what he wants, is as important as you, and what you want.

Stealing Stuff

hStealing Stuff (Video)

This blog provides additional information to the attached video clip.  The clip is from an assertiveness presentation I did for The Business Building Academy.

In my presentation on assertiveness, Don’t Act Like Prey!, I discuss the three R’s of assertiveness:  relationship, rights, and respect.  In this presentation I used the customer/supplier relationship as an example and we discussed the rights of each party.  In this clip, we are discussing the rights of the supplier.  One right of the supplier is that the customer will not steal her stuff.

I never would have thought of that until this story happened to me.

Do No Harm, and…

Do No Harm, and… (Video)

“Do no harm” is a phrase that has been around for a very long time.  I think this is a good concept to live by, up to a point.

I read somewhere (I do not remember where) an addition to this phrase that I really like:  “Do no harm, and do not let anyone harm you.”

When we are aggressive, we harm others.  When we are passive, we let others harm us.  When we are assertive, we find the balance.  We do not harm others, and we do not let others harm us.

For more information and exercises to help you become more assertive, or assertive more consistently, see my book, Don’t Act Like Prey! available through or from Amazon.

Assertiveness (5), The Finish of the Story

The attached video is an excerpt from a very condensed presentation on assertiveness.  The title of the presentation is The 3 R’s of Assertiveness.  (An alternative title is Don’t Act Like Prey!.) 

Part 5 finishes the story started in the first segment.  It includes important points to remember when you are in a situation where you know the best thing is to be assertive.

This is the final segment of the condensed assertiveness presentation.  I hope you have learned at least one or two items that you want to implement to improve your success.