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Excellent People Skills Means Business Success

February 20th, 2012 by Sherry Collier

Business Relationships

If you are in business, then you ARE in the people business.  No matter what service or product you sell, ultimately this will be sold to people.  It follows that if you know how to have healthy and mutually fulfilling relationships with your client or customers, you will have more success in business.


I have been a professional therapist (MFT) for the past 15 years and have seen the awesome effects of learning the skills to create mutually beneficial, healthy relationships.  When each person that is a part of the relationship brings a win-win mentality to the table, all the parties are happier.

For the past 3 years, I have been coaching small business owners (such as nutritionists, therapists, crafters, archery teachers, and software creators) and I have discovered the power of teaching them how to relate to their clients and customers in ways that will attract more business, new business and create a loyal following.

All you have to do is think back to a past negative experience you had with a business.  Perhaps you were trying to purchase something online and they screwed up the order and then they were impossible to reach on the phone.  Or maybe you hired a coach and they were not really hearing your needs and gave you bad advice.  These are only two random examples but I’m sure you’ve had your own experience that sticks out like a sore thumb in your memory.

If you are a business owner, you do not want your own clients or customers to have any such negative experience with you and your business.  There are many ways to build happy, healthy client/customer relationships but I will outline three of them in this particular article.

1.  Connect – think about the point where your potential or existing client/customer will make contact with you.  It may be through a newsletter, a blog, an advertisement, a phone call after being referred by a friend.  When you put out any communication (written, visual or verbal) you must consider it from their point of view.  Are you speaking to their need and/or want?  Are you creating some means for them to communicate with you so you can understand their specific need?  Treat the first telephone call just like an “intake” that a healing professional might perform.

Ask them about their situation and why they contacted you/your business.  Find out about their current “support systems” (anything that is currently helping them with their situation).  Ask about what they have already tried that has not been effective (sometimes this is the most important information as it shows you what to avoid).  Take an interest in their lives, other people (friends, family, clients) that may be affected by their situation.  Have empathy.  Don’t rush in and try to immediately “fix” their situation, rather active listen, empathize and then . . .

2.  Communicate your solutions (services, products, packages) that will benefit their specific situation.  Be clear, be concise – show them you respect their time while making it clear that you would like to help them address their situation.  Let them ask you more questions if need be, then address these questions with simple, integrity-filled answers.  Give them examples of what you would like to do for them (with your products, services, packages . . .).

3.  Be willing to address their fears.  Don’t let any negativity on their part affect your own responses.  Be ready to to empathize with their fears and then explain to them how you can address these issues in a way that will take away as much risk as possible.  Do NOT get defensive about your products, services and packages – this will escalate any negativity and up their concerns.  Do be assertive in a compassionate and gentle way, much like a kind teacher explains a challenging math problem to a child and then encourages the child that they can conquer this problem.

These are just a few pointers to get you started with fine-tuning your business-boosting relationship skills.  There will be more to come . . . but first, I’d like to ask you what specific relationships you need help with in your business?  Do you have employees?  Do you work directly with customers or clients?  Do you have a business partner?  I would be grateful to you if you take a moment to reply (comment) to this blog article with your “people” questions.


Compassion versus Co-dependency: Caring without Enabling

May 2nd, 2011 by Sherry Collier

The term “co-dependent” has been around for a while and means different things to different people, so let’s start by defining our terms.  An operational definition of co-dependency is as follows:

Co-dependency is a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one’s relationships and quality of life. It also often involves putting one’s needs at a lower priority than others while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.  Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including in families, at work, in friendships, and also in romantic, peer or community relationships.  Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, and/or control patterns.

Co-dependency exists on a continuum.  Everyone battles some co-dependency from time to time, but some struggle more significantly with it.  The question I hope to answer is – how do we show compassion and care toward others without slipping into co-dependent behaviors?  When we are able to come alongside someone who is hurting or is in need and help them through supportive conversation, active listening, and suggestions (when they are wanted) we are acting compassionately.  When we find ourselves trying to  fix the other person’s problem or if we find ourselves needing to help the other person for our own sense of identity – then we are dealing with co-dependency.

One quick way to determine if you are acting from a place of compassion versus a place of co-dependency is to do a motives check.  Ask yourself “am I hoping to help this person so I can rescue them?  Am I helping this person because it seems like my identity rests upon my ability to help others?  Am I helping this person because I don’t feel strong enough to help myself – so their problem  becomes  a distraction from my own challenges?”  If you answer yes to any of these motive-discerning questions, then chances are co-dependency is rearing its head in this situation.

There are some relationships that will elicit more co-dependent behaviors from us than others.  Be on the watch for how you feel (physically and emotionally) when you are around different people.  If you come away from some relationships feeling drained, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling criticized – chances are high that these relationships fall into the co-dependent category.   If you come away from interactions in healthy relationships that leave you feeling upbeat, energized, and positive, chances are these are relationships that fall into the category of interdependent – making true compassion possible. 

When you are showing compassion and care toward someone, both people will leave the transaction feeling energized, empowered, and encouraged.  If you can offer a listening ear without being tempted to dive in and fix their problem for them, then you are acting with compassion.  If you are invited to offer suggestions, help, or advice and you are able to offer that without expecting them to take it, then you have acted with compassion.

One of the best ways to steer clear of co-dependent behaviors is to approach every relationship you are a part of with a healthy sense of boundaries.  If you balance kindness with being able to say “no” when you or the other person is stepping over the boundaries – you will be able to stay in compassion without enabling the other to continue to depend upon you.  Each person should take full responsibility for his or her own self-care (emotional, physical and spiritual) with the knowledge that no other human being can do this for you.  When you cannot help yourself, it is healthy to ask for help, but to do so without feeling entitled to it.  When you reach out to help someone else, seek to support them in their own journey while refraining from creating an unhealthy dependence upon you. 

Remember the old saying, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish and feed him for life.”?  This actually gives us a nice word picture of how to have compassion without enabling.  When we come alongside someone to offer support, we should try to do so with “teaching a man to fish” in the forefront of our minds.  We may choose to spend more time with some than with others as we “teach them to fish”, but our goal should be to help them become capable to search out their own resources and solutions for their challenge.

As a therapist, I am constantly striving to interact from a place of compassion versus enabling.  If a client comes to therapy with high emotional needs, it is my job to teach them how to meet these needs in a variety of healthy and useful ways.  We may work on healing old wounds that keep them from being able to feel emotionally fulfilled, but the therapist cannot heal them.  Ideally, the therapist teaches the client how to heal and how to behave interdependently (teaching them to fish).  If I find myself feeling tempted to really dive in and fix my client’s problems – I need to take a step back and steer myself away from co-dependency and realign myself to an interdependent compassionate stance.

Co-dependency can be difficult to recognize at times.  Just keep in mind the rule of thumb that each person is ultimately responsible for their own emotional needs.  If you can support them along their journey without getting entangled in “fixing” or “solving” their problems for them, then you will have acted with true compassion without enabling.


How Does Success Effect Friendships?

March 8th, 2011 by Sherry Collier

Whether you are an entrepreneur growing your own business, a career type moving up the ladder, or a stay-at-home mom (or dad) doing great things in your family and community, you may have noticed that when you begin to succeed – some of your friendships become strained.  What in the world is that about?  Success […]


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Goal Setting: Getting Ready for a Purposeful 2011 – Part 2

December 6th, 2010 by Sherry Collier

In Part 1 of this blog series, I wrote about how to take an inventory to prepare for your goal setting sessions.  If you have already completed the steps outlined in the “Taking an Inventory” portion, gather your three pages of written information about the past year and find a nice, quiet place to sit down […]


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Resolving Conflict in Relationships

November 15th, 2010 by Sherry Collier

When two people are in the middle of a conflict, the limbic system of the brain becomes activated – which escalates irritability, anger, sadness, hurt and other emotions.  For this reason, it is best to wait until both people have had some time to breathe, cool off and then come back to the “table” ready to […]


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