Did you make any resolutions this New Year? Most of us did - mostly to lose weight and get in better physical shape. I mean – just look at all the ads for exercise equipment, diet meal plans, books on dieting, etc. Practically everyone does it. Even the Steps to a Healthier Weld County program at the Weld County Health Department is sponsoring the ‘100 day challenge’ to help encourage people to attain their resolution goals.

I recently spent the day with Scott and Julie Helman, you know, The Fence Guy and his wife, and we talked about our resolutions: our new fitness endeavors, and the programs we were undertaking to look and feel better ….and HOW out of shape we all were! We were trading various fitness tips and tricks we’ve learned in hopes of getting a grip on this fitness idea that sounded so good a few weeks ago and see some measurable results that would inspire us to keep going.

Well, there are also other ways to get fit: tax time is just around the corner; many of us could be in better shape financially, whether before or after the holiday spending (you’ve probably heard the reports that the average household is carrying an around $8,000 in credit card balances).

How about your relationships? Could they be in better shape as well? Are your relationships with your spouse and kids all you want them to be? You know, warm, loving, full of compassion and respect and appreciation. Come to think of it, that’s the kind of relationships we want with our close friends, co-workers and business associates. A client recently told me the best thing about his job was he got to work with people and sometimes the most frustrating thing about his job was working with people. Many of us can relate to that!

I started this business several years ago as an exit strategy out of my full time job at the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment. One thing I learned was essential to working at the County was how to communicate well. You see, I worked in the Environmental Health Division (think restaurant inspections, septic permits, West Nile Virus surveillance, and food borne illness outbreaks to name but a few programs). The Health Department is unique, especially for restaurant licensing and septic permits in they are the licensing and permitting authority for those activities. You HAVE to get your permit or license from the Health Department. Because the staff is hired to enforce regulations that are in place to protect the public’s health, certain requirements have to be met as a part of this process. If you get right down to it, we are telling you what to do, when to do it and by way of that, how much spend to get your project done. Doesn’t exactly create a warm-fuzzy atmosphere for caring and sharing, as you can imagine. To top it off, because we are the permitting authority, you can’t fire us and go somewhere else to get your license to open your restaurant or get your septic permit if you don’t like your inspector. Septic permits (which were my area of expertise) have an added domino effect on a building project: a delay in issuing the septic permit holds up the building permit being issued, which in turn holds up the excavators, the framers, the plumbers, the drywall contractors, the painters, etc. Are you getting the picture? If soil conditions require the septic system cost more than was budgeted for, it puts everything into chaos! As an inspector, it was critical to an effective working relationship to be able to communicate well.

Trust me, I have plenty of stories of communication challenges. But you can have effective conversations and learn to work together, even under those circumstances. Sure, you’re thinking. You don’t know MY situation. True, but the ones I described are no walk in the park, either.

The point is you have two choices: you can keep doing things the way you’ve always done them and hope your relationships will change (kinda like eating fried Twinkies (they actually sold those at the Stock Show!) and hoping you’ll lose those extra pounds) or you can do something about your relationships.

Unlike what you may believe, you don’t have to settle for the relationships you have, whether personal or professional – and they can be actually better than you imagined. But like anything else, they take work. Just like the education, training, and knowledge you received to excel in your profession, you have to acquire the same skills with relationships. Read books, take seminars, get a relationship coach, and practice what you learn every day. New habits don’t become habits overnight. You can’t say ’I was nice to someone ONE day and the next day they were just as nasty, mean and spiteful as before…this doesn’t work’. Not with that attitude it doesn’t!

Resolve this year to have better relationships. Need help getting started? Call me. I’ll point you resources I’ve used. And if you want to talk about a training program, we can do that too.



Author's Bio: 

Pam Smith is the founder of Happy People Enterprises, LLC, a training and consulting company, and works with citizens, industry and business professionals and government agencies to help them improve their communication skills. With 20+ years in regulatory enforcement/compliance work, Pam knows firsthand the value of communicating what you mean.

For free resources to help you understand your communication styles check out www.HappyPeopleEnterprises.com