Thursday, December 31, 2009

Step Families: The Missing Steps

Relationships in step-families are extremely complex. Often, in a step-family, the normal developmental phases are bypassed and the important stages or steps that help prepare a family to deal with the next phase are missed. Families with teen-age children, especially, may find themselves unprepared for the stress that results when an adolescent tests his/her independence.

Without the advantage of shared experiences that are gained over a period of time, step-family members often don't have a chance to learn to trust one another, come to an understanding of the rules of discipline, or agree upon reasonable expectations. However, if family members are very committed to working through the issues they can get to a wonderful place. IT IS POSSIBLE. But, it takes time, patience, and an emotional investment. The place to start is in learning about the dynamics of step-families and seeking professional counseling to help with the transition.

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Year's Resolutions For Small Business

Baby steps are usually best when talking about change so please look at these proposed resolutions as year-long projects.

1. Resolve to clean out the clutter. Clutter is unprofessional and a psychic drain - blocking creative energy and new ideas. When a business's physical space is disorganized or overcrowded it sends a negative message to staff and customers. Use ebay (or an ebay reseller), freecycle (, or a bartner exchange to get rid of your extra inventory and unwanted items.

2. Resolve to tap into your existing resources. List your personal and professional resources and create an action plan outlining how you will use each of those resources during the next month, six months, and year ahead.

3. Resolve to give your website a face lift (or makeover). Your web presence should be viewed as your business' face on the world stage. It should be a work in progress. Keep your website current and make frequent updates and revisions. Make sure your website links to your Facebook, twitter, and blog pages.

4. Resolve to reduce expenses. What worked during boom times will not work now. If it is too difficult for you to see what you can trim, sit down with someone else who doesn't know that much about your business. Show them your expense spreadsheet. Explain where your money is going. Which expenses can you justify? Which ones seem out of line?

5. Resolve to provide exemplary customer service. Your customers are the key to your success. Can you keep your customers happy? I am amazed at how often I encounter businesses that seem oblivious to the fact that if they don't make their customers happy there is someone else waiting for the business. Stay connected to your customers, find out what is working for them, what isn't, and what needs you can meet.

6. Resolve to create an out-of-the-box niche. Your out-of-the-box niche is what makes you stand out from the crowd. If you don't have a niche and nothing in your industry calls to you, start studying your industry's past, current, and emerging market trends. Do some market research by talking to targeted customer groups and find their unmet needs. Having a niche doesn't mean you turn away other business. You can still take that business in. But, having a niche gives you a marketing target and expert status.

Conflict Managment Predictions For 2010

Recently I was asked to make conflict related predictions for 2010. Here is what I said.

In 2010, as resources become tighter, we will encounter more conflicts in our personal and professional lives and this trend will be mirrored on the local, national, and international stages. The new economy will continue to foster the creation of innovative services by entrepreneurs who are able to side-step the traditional attorney-driven model of conflict management. The majority of these services will be technology based, allowing people to access information that they will use in DIY models or with reduced fee service providers.

Additionally, here are my top 3 Conflict Managment predictions for 2010

1. Mediation will be used to resolve many of our current foreclosure and related mortgage problems.

2. Terminated employees will bring law suits against their former employers in record numbers. Most of these cases will be treated as nuisance matters and settled for small sums.

3. Media circus divorces (Jon and Kate) will continue to lose in popularity with celebrity couples choosing instead to use the confidential process of mediation to negotiate their break-ups. The public will continue to follow suit.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fighting Through Divorce

Often, when I tell someone the name of my business - A Friendly Divorce - they laugh. "A Friendly Divorce? Ha, Ha. That's an oxymoron." Others think we only help couples that are already friendly. And, they wonder how much business we could possibly do if our target market is divorcing couples that get along. In fact, very few of our clients walk into our office feeling friendly. Our goal is to turn that around and get them to a place where friendly (or at least polite) is possible. And, we know that a fight serves a purpose for a divorcing couple and a part of the process. Of course, we believe that the fight is best staged in our office and not in a courtroom with attorney assistance. Why do couples going through divorce fight? Well, the fight serves five purposes.

1. To enable the partners to determine if reconciliation is possible.
2. To expose past hurts.
3. To confirm that the spouse is no longer part of the team and instead wants to take care of him/her self.
4. To keep the connection alive until the lessor connected partner is ready to let go.
5. To enable each spouse to avoid looking at her/herself and their individual failures. By pointing the finger at the other spouse, each partner can lessen his/her guilt and feelings of failure.
6. To promote letting go.

Keep in mind that each divorce, each couple, and each fight is unique. So some of this be more relevant in some cases then in others. However, there is always some version of the fight and if we can help a couple structure their fight and make it more productive there is a better chance for a productive dialogue as they move through the process of divorce and into their future relationship as co-parents. If instead the fight is driven by attorneys in a court setting they miss much of this opportunity for self-discovery and closure.

Why Did Tiger Cheat?

Read The Top Ten Reasons Why Tiger Cheated