What Is Your Signature Brand Touch?

11.25.15 Signature-Brand-Touch-BlogYou’ve heard me preach ad nauseum that your brand strategy informs everything your business does, inside and out. Even when it comes to how you thank your clients, customers or partners. You can refresh yourself on some good reasons to thank your tribe­–and a few insanely clever ways to do it.

It’s important to remember that any “thank you”–from clever emails to thoughtful handwritten notes–says something about you and your brand. It’s yet another touch point to reinforce your brand message and vibe.

Once you determine your brand strategy, you can easily brainstorm brilliant ideas for a “signature touch” you can use as a unique thank you gift. If your brand is playful and whimsical, maybe you can send customers a mini-Slinky, a retro candy box, or for the truly quirky, a Japanese candy box! My friend, publicity expert, Melissa Cassera uses decadent language about salted, gooey caramels and other guilty pleasures, so it was no surprise when a thank you gift of caramel marshmallows arrived on my doorstep. It was just so her. And that made it special.

A creative brand signature touch can generate buzz and leave an unforgettable impression. (TWEET THIS!)

It can light up your packaging, email signoff, or perhaps your event outfits (maybe you are the “purple suit lady?”). There is a wonderful case study in my book Branding Basics about a Los Angeles psychotherapist who stands out in a very crowded profession because she uses lemon imagery in everything from her business name (Lemon-Aid Counseling) to her website to her office décor to even lemon-shaped notepads for her clients. She is now known for this.

Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s consistent with your brand and doesn’t confuse your audience! If my savvy, conservative and super-smart financial planner sent me that Japanese candy box, I’d be like, “What the….?!”

Early on in my business, I started sending Chukar Cherry gift boxes to clients and partners as a way to show my gratitude. Irresistible chocolate covered cherries, delivered in a bold, neat red box­–and from a Seattle company, where my business started? What could be more Red Slice?! Fresh. Delicious. Fun. BOOM. In addition, “giving back” is an important Red Slice brand value, so every year, my clients get to choose a charity and I donate on their behalf as a holiday gift.

Do you have a signature touch? Oooohh….please share it in the Comments below!

Image Credit: Jim Hammer via Flickr

6 reasons to thank your clients + how to do it

We all need to thank our customers and clients for making us successful. But if you’re not sure when it’s appropriate or how to do it with panache, take a tip from today’s guest columnist, tech geek + website wonder woman Alison Monday of Tiny Blue Orange. Alison is my right-hand web woman and she has mad digital skills and signature style. Today, she shares 6 ideas for when  you can say “thank you” to your tribe members – and a unique way she made her thank you’s stand out. At Red Slice, I like to send chocolate covered cherries because, remember:

A thank you note/gift is yet another customer touchpoint you have at your finger tips to convey your brand. (Tweet this!) Make it count.

Showing Gratitude

One of the easiest + most impactful ways that you can make your clients + contacts feel loved is by showing your gratitude. It only takes a few minutes to put together a hand-written note + mail it via snail mail. And the amount of joy it will bring to the recipient is exponentially greater than the time you invest in sending a card.

One Extra Step

Since hand-written cards are a big part of my weekly task list, I wanted to make something special for my clients + vendors that would add just a little bit more love to an already wonderful gesture.

It didn’t take me long to decide that getting my 101 pound dog + office mascot, Brutus, to “sign” the cards by painting his paw {with non-toxic paint} + stamping them was the perfect idea. He really doesn’t mind the signing process since he gets lots of treats during it + I know that most folks don’t expect a 4″ paw print on a thank you note they received in the mail.

Necessary Supplies

In order to set myself up for being able to easily write out thank you cards, I purchased an assortment of pretty + funny notecards, made a few of my own, bought a pack of stamps from the post office + some new ink for my return address stamper. That way I can spend a little bit of time expressing my gratitude each week + almost no time at all adding the address info and stamp.

Reasons to be Grateful

You can send thank you notes for a number of reasons when working with a client, but below are just a few ideas to get you started –

  • Right away after your initial call/consultation
    {“thank you for reaching out or considering working with me”}
  • Unexpectedly during a project if you haven’t officially thanked them yet
    {“I’m so grateful to be working with you”}
  • With an order they placed for a physical product
    {“thanks for your order, we hope you love…”}
  • When a project is complete/launches/etc.
    {“it was such a pleasure to help you + your biz”}
  • If they referred you to someone that reached out
    {“thank you so much for your kind words + praise”}
  • For sharing your product or service with their followers or fans
    {“you didn’t have to promote my latest program, but it means the world to me that you did”}

And, of course, expressing appreciation isn’t just for business. I made sure to purchase some non-branded cards with my business ones so that I can thank my friends + family throughout the year too.

In what ways do you show gratitude or give thanks to your clients, followers + fans? Leave a comment below with something that you already do to show your appreciation or something you’ll start to do right away. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Learn more about Alison Monday and her website wizadry at tiny blue orange


Is accountability dead?

Sometimes, it feels like our world has turned into a giant game of tag. People and organizations are constantly pointing fingers to blame mistakes, gaffes and actions on someone else. The ink barely dry on headlines, and people are shouting, “Not it!” in an effort to get the spotlight off themselves.


  • GM uncovers ignition flaws on their Cobalt years ago, but instead of fixing the problem at the time (too much money and time) or recalling the vehicles immediately (or even now, doing a full recall to ease public concern, they blame the drivers:  “… the Cobalt and other recalled small cars were safe to drive as long as drivers used only a key and not a heavy key chain.” (WSJ)
  • Retailer West Elm backorders my table by over 2 months without notifying me. When I email to complain after checking my order status, there is no apology or offer to rectify – it’s simply “the manufacturer’s fault.”
  • An overnight dog boarding facility skips my dog’s dinner which I discover due to food being left over upon pick up. While they investigated the cause, the response? “We’re sure he was fed but it was probably another dog’s food.” Which is also not a good thing. No apology, no mea culpa, no offer to make it up to us, compensate us a free stay, etc.
  • An intern fails to report status of the work she’s doing. When asked to correct this going forward and work on improving her communication skills, she responds with, “But it’s not my fault. You never asked for a status update.”

Is apology a dirty word? When did accountability go out of style? Whatever happened to “The situation is what it is, for whatever reason. How can we now make it right?”

When it comes to your brand, how you respond to crisis says more about you in a louder fashion than the thousand heroic acts you may do when things are going right.

Explanation is not a substitute for accountability. Make things right to protect your brand. (Tweet this!)

It may indeed be factual to blame someone or something else for why you’ve disappointed your audience, client, or customer. Traffic, lost shipments, sudden illness a personal emergency that distracts you. All valid, all believable, all true.

But that doesn’t give you or your brand a free pass to disappoint and go back on your word. I can’t even count how many virtual assistants or interns I tried to hire who had something interfere with doing what they said they were going to do, leaving me and my business hanging.

Responsibility is defined as: the state of being the person who caused something to happen. Accountability is defined as: the quality or state of being accountable, especially :  an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

Simply put, you may not be responsible, but you need to be accountable.

Hey, I get it. Life happens. Believe me, I know this better than anyone. I was in the middle of a client project when I had a brain aneurysm.  The firm under which I was subcontracted immediately sent in one of the principal partners to replace me so the client would not be left in the lurch.

I once gave an overseas client back a non-refundable deposit and lost money on the deal – after delivering all the work promised in the contract that she (allegedly) read and signed-  simply because she abusively claimed it was not at all what she needed or asked for. English was her second language, so I think there may have been a major communication gap. But at the end of the day, in her mind, she did not get what she asked for and it was not worth it to me to argue with a crazy person. So I took a loss: I still had to pay my subcontractor who did her part. I wished the client well and told her to use the work we’d delivered if she wanted.

You can be creative. You can find solutions. You can ask for patience as you honor your commitments. You can offer an alternative or line up a replacement. Or like a dedicated writer I know, you can go a night without sleep to deliver what you said you would if someone is counting on you.

What can you do to make things right? What can you do to turn disappointment into delight? What can you say to make the person feel heard and appreciated? It’s not enough to say, “Well, this is why it happened. So deal with it.” It’s YOUR responsibility to turn the situation around as best you can.

Epilogue: After a tweet, West Elm told me to contact elevated support, the woman personally located a comparable item from a sister company, credited me back the difference and added a 15% discount on top of it all to boot. Nice. I told her my biggest frustration was the cavalier attitude conveyed in the initial email exchanges. True, I didn’t get this service level until I took to Twitter to complain (that should not be the case) but in the end, she turned around my negative experience. It was not “Judith’s” fault this happened. It was not even West Elm’s. But they are the face of the transaction and they (finally) took care of it. Nice.

When have you bravely taken accountability for disappointing a client or customer even when it was “not your fault?” Would love to hear your heroic story in the Comments below!

How to Define Your Target Market? Channel your inner Aaron Sorkin

What can the screenwriter of such TV and movie hits as West Wing, The Social Network and my new obsession The Newsroom teach you about defining your customer niche or target market? A heck of a lot.

Doesn’t matter whether you have a business, blog or book. It’s vital to define who will realistically consume what you have to offer. Specifically, who is your ideal customer, client or reader?

Here’s a simple and fun exercise to flesh out just the right buyers and ensure all your marketing efforts will attract the right people at the right time. You just need to channel your inner screenwriter (or Inner Sorkin)

When you intimately know and understand your audience, you can better connect with, talk to, and engage with them (Tweet!)

One of the biggest mistakes I see small business owners, aspiring authors – or even blog writers – make is that they boil the ocean. They claim their target market is “Women” or worse, “Everyone.” That creates too large of a target to which to connect and speak. If your target is that broad and wide, how will you know a good marketing investment or tactic when you see it? They will all look good but few may actually work.

As much as you want to believe that anyone and everyone would (or should) engage with you, I have news. They won’t.

It’s a better idea to focus on your IDEAL customers or clients. And that means creating Customer Profiles. Time to put on your creative hat and channel that inner screenwriter. Create a detailed character sketch of your ideal customer as if you were writing a script or casting a show. I recommend that small businesses or bloggers stick to no more than three profiles/segments. You just don’t have the time, money or resources to spread your marketing efforts too thin.

Build a character sketch of your ideal customer. Yes, think ideal, not average because you want to make this person real to you. What is her name, age, occupation, household income? Where does she live, what is her family life like? What does she like do to do for fun? Which websites does she visit, in what stores does she shop, where does she go out to eat (or does she cook at home?). Where does she get her news and info? What books does she read or movies does she see (does she read books and go to movies)? What is her favorite movie or TV show? What are her fears? What does she value? What keeps her up at night? What does she struggle with?

Like screenwriter, build a fully-formed character. Maybe 2 to 3 paragraphs long. Find a stock photo online to represent this person and hang it up by your desk. Every time you write content, or build a new offering, think about Jane or Steve or Charlotte and craft it for them.

Once you have this profile, you can pull out the buying drivers and that will help you craft your offerings and marketing to speak to what matters most to him or her.

You won’t be leaving people out, trust me. It doesn’t mean others outside this profile will not ever buy from you – if others land in the net, great. This is simply about where you will target your limited time and resources on outbound content and activities.

It’s not about who you’ll let into your Open House; it’s about who you are targeting with invitations! (Tweet!)

Just spend an hour on your ideal customer profiles, if that’s all you have. I guarantee it will save you time and money and make your marketing more compelling and effective!

Stuck in neutral? 4 ways to reboot your business and rekindle your fire

Ah, the first blushes of entrepreneurial love. The romance! The energy! But what happens when the passion fades and the reality of demanding customers/clients, overwhelming marketing options and painful tasks (QuickBooks, anyone?) creeps in? Suddenly, your business becomes a grind and you find yourself working harder for less reward, less return…and less joy. Your once appreciative and dreamy-eyed business starts angrily demanding more of your time and energy – but in return, rewards you with the wrong customers, a weak profit margin and just doesn’t take you salsa dancing or wine tasting anymore.

I’ve been where you are. I know what it feels like to have your business success lead you down the wrong path. How choices innocently pile up – each one seemingly rational – paving a perfect road to discontent.

So a few years ago, I took a step back. I sought the objective counsel of colleagues, a wise coach and a wondrous wordsmith and tweaked my business model and messaging – core brand elements. I started doing more of what I loved and ditched what wasn’t working. And you know what? My heart (and success) soared.

If your business (and heart) feel stuck in neutral, here are 4 ways to reboot  – and check out my big announcement at the end on how I can help…

  1. What do you hate doing? STOP IT! If your business offerings have kept piling on so you can simply cater to every single need under the sun, you need to take stock and simplify your business model. What activities bring you the most joy? Do you love teaching and strategic planning but hate detailed tactics? Then start doing more workshops or retainer projects  and don’t offer hourly project work. Do you love doing massage and energy work but hate giving facials? Then cut down your services list. This also translates into how you talk about yourself (i.e., maybe you’re no longer a “full-service spa” but a “body care studio”)
  2. Play with pricing or packaging to attract the right customers/clients: You may find that the people you are attracting pay little but demand a lot, offering little profit margin in the end. How about adding more value/quality to your offerings and increasing your prices to deter more budget-conscious folks and attract a more affluent market? Or offer a tiered set of products or services to give more cost-conscious folks a self-service option, while freeing up your time for deeper, higher-value work that you adore.
  3. Revisit your messaging: Take a good, hard look at your web copy, company descriptor or even job title. Are you saying you do everything for anybody? Are you too vague and not focused on clear, crisp benefits? Does it sound boring, even to you? This could either a) be attracting the wrong type of work or b) confusing the prospective people that you really want. Remember, when you try to create a brand that is all things to all people, you end up being nothing to no one. Detail out your ideal customer or client and only focus on content, services or products – and the appropriate messaging – to attract those people. Don’t worry about pleasing (or offending) anyone else but that target. Trust me, they’ll be fine without you.
  4. Audit your visual brand: OK, this one may require an investment to make some changes. Based on the people you really, really want to attract and the kind of work you really, really want to be doing, is your visual branding way off base? Do you need to modernize your colors, select bolder fonts or change out your imagery to better appeal to those people? I once consulted with someone trying to attract high-powered Alpha-male executives – and yet her website was all pastel colors and flowery script fonts. She was beating her head against the wall and wondering why those powerful male executives were not hiring her. She needed to update her look and feel to match her new offerings and target clients. Side benefit? Updating your visual look and feel might also get your heart racing with pride again about your business and give you a new opportunity for some word of mouth buzz.

With these tips, you can shift out of neutral and into overdrive again. In a good way, of course. Don’t drive yourself crazy. OK, I’ll stop with the driving metaphors….

Photo credit: Vincent O’Keeffe, Flickr

Has business boredom ever happened to you? What actions do you recommend to reignite your business – or your own personal passion? We’d love to hear so please leave a Comment below. Your wise words could help someone else!


8 unexpected places to find your next client or customer

It’s simple.

If you solve a pressing problem or have a story to share that moves, ignites, provokes, heals or amuses people, you can find your tribe. The first step is that you have to really believe in what you’re selling. In fact, don’t think of it as selling. What is the mission behind what you do? I don’t care if you’re writing a book, offering massage services or developing enterprise software. Why do you do what you do? What will others gain from it?

That’s what is interesting. That’s what gets people hooked.

Now, take that mission, that story, and bring it to these 8 unexpected places to capture your next client or customer. Or better yet, think of it as “to capture your next client or customer’s imagination.”

  1. The elevator: Not just the networking luncheon or conference itself, but the elevator. Classic place to engage one on one. Often, people are feeling a bit of trepidation going into a big conference hall or luncheon alone. So start the conversation with one person while you’re both trapped in this big metal box.  This is how I met one of my favorite colleagues with whom I exchange business referrals. In the span of one minute, she and I connected based on our passions and missions – and even found out we both had written books.
  2. LinkedIn groups: I posted a comment in an Indiana University alumni group once and a week later got an email from someone, saying he liked what I’d written and asking to chat about his company’s current project. Really. It was that simple. Same thing with another group recently, where someone contacted me after I posted a helpful comment. Of course, make sure your comment is insightful, adds value without asking for anything in return and related to what you do. That helps.
  3. Guest blogs: Reach out and share your expertise with others in related fields. Who really resonates with your brand? Who rocks your world? For whom do you think you can be a missing puzzle piece and add value to their community? Make an effort to guest blog at least once a month and this will open you up to so many more potential clients or customers.
  4. Your butcher, baker, candlestick maker: So often, we tend to separate our personal lives from our professional lives. For the longest time, I didn’t reveal to anyone outside of “work situations” that I had written a book about how to create a brand strategy. I thought they might not “get it” or wouldn’t care out of context. Why? That’s just stupid. Why not tell your massage therapist, your Crossfit buddies or your local UPS Store owner what you do for a living? You’d be surprised at how often people whom you think would never be interested in your business actually know someone who needs what you’ve got. Margit Crane, ADHD Coach and co-founder of Good Enough Parenting threw a fit with a restaurant and the owner called to apologize. After talking a bit, he hired her to be an ADHD Coach for his family
  5. Personal business transactions: Selling your house. Buying a car. Renting event space for your teen’s graduation party. Why not talk up your business to someone with whom you are already engaging in contracts? @ywpresidente, CEO of social networking start-up hub site, YourWorld.me  tweeted me that he turned the guy across the closing table for his house into one of his best clients.
  6. Vacation: While we often let our hair down on vacation and try to do as much as we can to unplug from our work, there are times when an unexpected opening may present itself. Be prepared – and make sure you are always keeping your personal brand in mind, even when “off the clock.” Kelsey Foster, a dating coach and author, found a new client while dancing with her cousin and a Michael Jackson impersonator in Vegas at 4 a.m.  Some people came over the chat with her and – boom – she gained a new client.
  7. Random bump-in: Publicity expert Nancy Juetten had a chance meeting with someone she had worked with before at a natural foods market.  After catching up, she said, “Call me next week to chat about a project” and offered her card. Nancy followed up, and they worked together for several years. ALWAYS remember to follow up!
  8. Volunteer committees: Writer Tina Christiansen worked on a convention committee for a car club. The committee chair was also president of a company and, after getting to know each other, they hired Tina and became her very first client.

If you believe in what you do and why you do it, client/customer opportunities are everywhere. Be prepared! (Tweet!)

Where have you unexpectedly met a future partner, client or customer? Got a crazy story to share about how this came about? Please share in the Comments!

12 things you will never regret saying in business

We all have had that moment when our mouth moves 3 milliseconds faster than our brain. Often, the heart has bypassed the brain’s filter completely and as you say something, you can almost literally see the words flying out of your mouth in slow motion but can’t stop them and stuff them back in.

As a fiesty redhead, this has happened to me way more times than I care to admit. With age and experience, I can honestly say it’s getting better. But tell that to the sassy 8 year-old who walked out of a TV commercial audition for a new snack cracker only to exclaim loudly to my brother, “God, those were soooooooooo gross!” – with the casting agent and client walking right behind me sporting  nervous smiles and shocked expressions. Yeah, not one of my finer. more tactful moments.

But I came to a realization in recent years that there are just some things you will never regret saying in business. You will never want to take them back and, however uncomfortable it may feel at the time to say some of these things, the regret would be in not saying them:

  1. You’re right. This seems like a great idea and offer. Let me think it over before giving you my answer, ok?
  2. I adore working with you, too! Let’s just make this official and put it in writing, so I’m sure I can deliver exactly what you’re expecting and we’re on the same page.  Protects you and me.
  3. I’m sorry. How can I make it right?
  4. That’s a really good way for us to go. Or, another option we may want to consider is….
  5. It would help me serve you better and ensure I’m delivering on my end if you overcommunicate rather than undercommunicate. I don’t mind multiple emails or calls if it means we can be successful.
  6. Let’s set up a weekly status call for this project. Sometimes, voice is easier than going back and forth on email.
  7. I would love to help you with this project but I am just too overcommitted right now and would not be able to give it the attention and care it deserves. Here are 3 other people who may be able to help you out.
  8. Please
  9. Thank you
  10. You’re welcome
  11. How can I support you in your efforts?
  12. Great job!

Photo credit: dno1967b on Flickr

Want even less regrets? If you’re in Seattle on April 23, please join me for a special workshop with the Puget Sound Business Journal: Building a Buzz-worthy Brand on Any Budget, 9-11 am. Click here for details (hurry, space is limited!)

Your turn: I know you’re dying to share your own bit of hard-earned wisdom with us, so please tell us below what phrase you have never regretted saying when doing business.  Or is there a deadly phrase you have regretted saying that led to bad consequences? Please share in the Comments below!

NO is not a dirty word

I think we’re programmed to see “No” as a dirty word from a young age. No candy before bedtime. No, don’t touch that outlet. No, you can’t have the car tonight. No, you absolutely cannot date that guy who’s ten years older than you and plans to pick you up on his motorcycle…

Here’s the truth: Saying No is actually a gift. Why?

It’s a gift for you because sometimes we need to say no in order to focus on what matters. We need to keep our eyes on the prize. If you say no to the wrong clients or customers and focus on serving the ones you enjoy, who will pay you what you’re worth and who will gladly spread the word about how awesome your products or services are – your business is going to be a lot more successful.

I don’t care how big or small your company is. You’ve got to treat loyal customers better than the rest. You’ve got to serve their needs first and offer then special perks, privileges or rewards.

Remember your brand strategy. Who are you talking to? Who are your “people”? Who matters to your business? Your customers and clients represent your brand to others, so choose wisely. (Tweet this!)

I’m not suggesting you act rudely toward prospects or those in your audience. Not at all. I’m talking more about managing your time, attention and budget better and invest in the right people for your business. If you are too busy dealing with the wrong people, you won’t have the bandwidth to serve the right ones.

Saying no is also a gift to those to whom you say no. You enable them the freedom to find a better fit, to find what they are looking for at a price they are comfortable paying. You also avoid becoming bitter as time goes on and just making both you and the customer unhappy in the end. If something is a bad fit from the start, it’s better to cut bait right then and there.

Also, you give them a gift because you don’t agree to something you don’t have time, energy or passion to deliver. Instead of overcommitting and making everyone unhappy, focus on quality rather than quantity. It may hurt to say no to that client, customer – or even volunteer opportunity – but remember that you do them more harm if you can’t truly deliver your best for them. Let them find someone who will invest their best.

See? No is not a dirty word and, frankly, it needs to be said with love and respect way more often.

How do you turn down work or say no when asked to volunteer? Any tips for how to do this gracefully? Please share your insight and wisdom with us in the Comments!

Two to tango or tussle? How to build better business relationships

Any business relies on relationships, no matter what you sell.  Whether with customers, suppliers or your business partner – maybe you’re co-authoring a book with someone – your relationships are a key business asset and can make or break your brand…and your success. How do you make a business “marriage” work?

Enter Kathy Clayton: Personal and partnership coach, “radiant guide and dog-on-a-bone
relationship advocate.” She is passionate about making the world a better place by teaching, guiding and sometimes cajoling her clients on how to be self-aware and conscious in their life, work and relationships so they can transform the world with their unique genius.

Kathy’s work with couples and especially business partners really sparked my interest so I invited her to the Slice of Brilliance column to share her wisdom about common relationship pitfalls, how to maintain a healthy work partnership and how to be more self-aware of our actions.

RS: Welcome! Kathy, your specialty seems to be working with a couple or business partnership when people get stuck and can’t move forward. When your clients need to rely on a relationship with another person for success but have obstacles, are there common issues you see time and again?

KC: What I see most often is the need to be right. As soon as one person takes this position, communication grinds to a halt because, well, they’re right and they aren’t particularly interested in the other person’s point of view.  The question you have to ask, “Is it more important to be right or to be happy?”  Too often folks are so invested in their position they lose sight of what really matters: the relationship.

Another trap:  listening to respond vs. listening to understandThink how often you have the perfect response and you’re just lying in wait until they stop talking so you can get ‘em with your brilliant, likely stinging retort.  If what you want is to keep this ‘me vs. you’ dynamic going, stay the course.  On the other hand, if what you want is to be on the same team again, get quiet, check your intentions and be honest with yourself and your partner.  You actually have a tremendous amount of power to change the dynamic by simply using these two tools.

RS: Business partnerships especially can be tricky with different personality types, expectations and work styles. What is a good first step that readers in this situation could take to start moving forward when they hit an impasse?

KC: Know thyself and know thy expectations! The first piece, knowing yourself, is essential for success in any relationship.  We are all wired differently and it’s folly to think you’ll be on the same page with your partner all the time.  Investing in self-development pays off so quickly and in so many arenas – you will see positive results immediately.  More importantly, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively.

As for expectations, we all have them.  Usually we’re too scared or worried about what our partner will think that we don’t speak up.  I advocate transparency.  The very first conversation I have with new clients is about expectations.  I have them, you have them: let’s get them out in the open so when inevitably one of us doesn’t meet those expectations, we can talk about it.  This lets us find solutions and strategies to stay focused, keep moving in the desired direction and get the results you say are most important.

RS: You talk about self-awareness as a prerequisite to healthy relationships. My husband complains often about people who seem to have none: the person who talks too loud in a restaurant, the one who pulls out of a parking space without looking, the one who cuts right in front of you in line. What is your take? What tips can we put into practice to ensure we’re appropriately self-aware? 

KC: I believe every person is trying to do their very best given their life and experience, and like your husband, I get irritated when folks go unconscious, too. The remedy?  Pick one area of your life where you want a different result or experience and practice, practice, practice compassionate honestyThe ability to tell yourself the truth about who and how you really are is the first step toward self-awareness.   Why compassionately?  Because all of us have an amazing array of torturous, insidious tools and methods for beating ourselves up for being, well, who we are. Never in a million years would we talk to others the way we talk to ourselves. Changing your internal dialogue – be kind to and with yourself! – opens you up to seeing yourself and the world through a new lens.  This new perspective changes how you engage with others, which leads to greater self-awareness.

More about Kathy Clayton: Over the past 20 years, Kathy Clayton has capitalized on her insatiable belly-button gazing by creating tangible, practical, effective strategies and tools that transform how people relate to themselves and their partners (business and personal).  Using the living laboratory that is her marriage (thank you, Michael!), Kathy commits daily to walking her talk and being in service to all who say “Enough!” to the status quo and seek authentic connection and expression with themselves and their partners. Visit her website, reach out to her on Twitter or Facebook

What is your biggest relationship challenge with a business partner, colleague or client/customer? Please share in the Comments and tell us how you deal with it.