How to Succeed with People without Trying Too Much

A Leader’s Perspective

Intrigued? Sound a bit counter-intuitive? Because we want to be liked or successful, sometimes we just try too hard with people. And trying usually shows up in selling oneself, which is the opposite of how to succeed with people. There’s a better approach to connect with people and achieve more success in leading them.

Most people focus on making a good first impression, and yes, first impressions pertaining to appearance, body language, and facial expressions are important. However, first impressions extend into those first few words spoken. If you’re like many, when you initially meet someone, especially someone important, you might start talking about yourself, a project, or chat about the safe topics like the weather. Instead, focus on the other person. Be a study of other people and help them FEEL accepted and valued: understood, needed, and affirmed for who they are. When you turn the focus on others, and genuinely engage to talk about themselves, you win a friend, ally, or colleague.

You may not feel skilled at this point in making people the center of attention. I wouldn’t expect you to be if you haven’t practiced it. I only wish these relationship skills were taught in high school or college. If so, we’d all be more prepared when we stepped into the real world. At first, you will likely have to be intentional in how you connect, but don’t worry, with practice, it will become second nature.

Some concepts you need to keep in mind:

  1. People can spot fake. Understand who you are, and if you’re not happy with how you show up, develop and take action in changing your attitudes and behaviors. Always operate within your authentic self.
  2. Build trust across all your relationships. Trust is both the foundation and mortar in every relationship. Trust starts with you, and if it’s an area you’d like to learn how to deepen it, reach out for a conversation. It’s an essential element worth exploring if you need help.
  3. Engage people beyond the surface conversation. People love to talk about themselves, so ask lots of good open-ended questions that stimulate thought, make people laugh, or put people more at ease.
  4. Ask people for advice. People love to be asked what they think and believe as long as they know their response will land on non-judgmental ears.
  5. Find common ground. What do you share in common? You might be interested what you learn when you ask meaningful open-ended questions.
  6. Identify people’s strengths, then find opportunities to leverage those strengths as well as promote them.  

Overall, people are complex, because they are a mixture of core values, personality preference, motivations, and external pressures. However, as human beings we all share the deep desire to FEEL loved and accepted for who we are despite being a work in progress. We acknowledge that not everyone has to like us, but we want to FEEL valued.

When you interact with others, how do you make them FEEL? If you’re a leader, inspiring people is less about logic and more about how you make people FEEL. If you’d like to explore specific situations or relationships, or need a tune-up, schedule a coaching session. I can help.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

What If Diversity & Inclusion Were Verbs…

…and we measured their progress through the lens of how people feel.

Companies are currently wrestling with how to create and weave more diversity and inclusion (D&I) through their organization and into their people operations. Some are jumping right in by establishing D&I task forces, forums, and in some cases, even creating a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) position that sits at the senior leadership table. What will be the outcome of these types of initiatives? Likely varied.

Here are some of the challenges I expect organizations to encounter on their journey to move the needle toward greater organizational diversity and inclusion.

  • Talking the same language: If you ask 10 people what D&I means to them, you’re likely to get 10 different definitions. These definitions are likely to have some overlap, and through discussion you might get a consensus. However, it might be presumptions to suggest that you could ever achieve agreement. How will organizations handle these differences and create a cohesive language?
  • Making it a priority: Sensitivity to this issue is personal. Diversity and inclusion affect each of us in different ways, either directly or indirectly. Someone may be sympathetic or empathetic to a cause but will he or she prioritized it against other competing business objectives? How will organizations keep D&I at the forefront of their missional goals, especially early in the journey when it takes a lot of energy to “figure it out” and align the organization?
  • Expanding employee self-awareness: Companies are a collection of individuals who come with their own personal worldviews, mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors regarding diversity and inclusion. On a continuum, employees are all over the line on their self-awareness to their biases. How will organizations help their employees expand their self-awareness on this issue?
  • Measuring performance: Companies prefer to measure performance using objective criteria. How much? How many? Hitting it out of the ballpark on diversity doesn’t necessarily guarantee a more inclusive culture. Companies can meet their diversity numbers and still have cultural silos and employees who feel alienated. How will companies measure inclusion—the ultimate goal—as opposed to diversity?

If you were sitting in the CDO position, what steps might you take? I’d consider:  

  • Open the conversation up to your entire organization and welcome their feedback on what diversity and inclusion means to them.
  • People learn through story telling. Let people tell their stories of exclusion and inclusion so others can learn.You might get some surprising answers through their stories.
  • Define inclusive behaviors and then recognize and reward them, so employees make those behaviors a priority. There’s truth in the statement: you get what you reward.
  • Ask people what they are comfortable committing to that helps advance inclusion. The more people talk and intentionally act upon on issue, the more their self-awareness expands
  • Refrain from defining metrics solely on hard objective numbers. When people are asked to share their stories of D&I, they’re more likely to share of exclusion, because of the pain they felt. Develop metrics that measure improvement on how people feel.

Personally speaking, I believe organizations will have greater success if they treat diversity and inclusion not as a program, process, or statistic. I believe the most successful companies will embrace D&I as a verb. For those who’ve read The 5 Love Languages, the message is that love is not a noun but a verb. Love is action, and diversity and inclusion should also be if we’re to move the needle.

About the Author:Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Thank You for Practicing Social Gratitude


COVID-19 has given some of us a gift—a gift we’ve been asking for—and now that we have it, we don’t know what to do with it. What gift is that? The gift of time. Although this gift comes with some limitations—keep your seat-belt fastened and refrain from walking freely about the cabin—nevertheless, it’s a gift. We’ve gained hours back in our day, because we no longer commute to work, the gym, or after-hour activities. We don’t have to taxi our kids around to school and their extra-circular activities. Some of us, unfortunately, have no productive work, because we’ve been furloughed, laid off, and executive orders have closed most small businesses.

How are you going to enjoy or use your time, or better asked, how are you going to enjoy using it? Will you call and connect with old friends? Play board games with your family? Take an online course to improve a skill? Or try out some new recipes in the kitchen?


While you’re practicing physical distancing, don’t waste this valuable time. What’s on your “enjoy” list? Hopefully there are a few things that focus on serving others. One of my favorites is handwriting [or printing in the case of the younger generations] a letter to friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, charities, and ministry partners to express your gratitude for them and what they do. Share what you value most in them, their contributions, and their friendship.

Physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing. In fact, I suggest we practice social gratitude. Although you can call and tell them over the phone how you feel, there’s nothing more heart-warming than to receive a handwritten letter you can re-read again and again. Written words have sustaining affirmation.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Teamwork: Know, Share, and Leverage the Power of Personality

you-x-ventures-Oalh2MojUuk-unsplashHave you ever wondered why someone did, decide, or say something you won’t have? Personality has a tremendous influence on how we take in data, process it, draw conclusions and interact with our world. When you understand the power of personality, you will have greater insights into how you and others think, decide, and do.

campaign-creators-gMsnXqILjp4-unsplashI encourage everyone to explore their natural tendencies through the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment and find out which personality type best describes him or her. There are 16 primary types that explain why people tend to think and behave the way they do.

ESFP: Enthusiastic Improviser

ISFJ: Practical Helper

ESTP: Energetic Problem-solver

INFJ: Insightful Visionary

ENTP: Enterprising Explorer

ISTJ: Responsible Realist

ESFJ: Supporter Contributor

ISFP: Versatile Supporter

ENFJ: Compassionate Facilitator

INTP: Objective Analyst

ENFP: Imaginative Motivator

INTJ: Conceptual Planner

ESTJ: Efficient Organizer

INFP: Thoughtful Idealist

ENTJ: Decisive Strategist

ISTP: Logical Pragmatist

Regardless of your personality preferences, you have a choice to act in ways you believe will help you succeed in any relationship and environment. Yet, without stress or external influences, we all have a natural way of expressing ourselves.

nesa-by-makers-kwzWjTnDPLk-unsplashNo personality type is better or worse, because they all bring value to solving problems and growing a business. If each team member understands who they are and others on their team, they can intentionally leverage the power of personality to win. If you want to bring the power of Myers-Briggs to your office, let’s discuss a workshop that can unleash the power of personality among your teams.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

Healthy Marriages Make for Good Business

annie-spratt-wgivdx9dBdQ-unsplashThere’s an old saying: if momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy. If you applied this concept in the workplace, you might say if a spouse isn’t happy, their boss and colleagues may not be happy. Would you agree? If you’re married or ever been in a serious relationship, think about how productive you were the day after a fight or disagreement? Have you ever suffered from chronic marriage fatigue and realized how it sapped your energy at work? Now think about the times when your marriage or relationships were on cloud nine. I bet you did some of your best work: fast, efficient, and high quality. You probably even got more praise and positive feedback from your boss and colleagues.

Productivity Stats

Marital and relationship problems divide employees’ attention, because it’s hard to focus on work when your marriage isn’t well (Patrick, 2019). Bowcott (2015) found that 9% of employees left their job because of a divorce or separation, and 15% of survey respondents said separation and divorce negatively impacted productivity. On the other hand, studies show that increased happiness on the job translates into upwards of 20% higher productivity (Addady, 2015), and strong marriages do just that—contribute to employees’ happiness.

The Missing Piece: Social Wellness Program

Employers commonly provide for their employees’ well-being by offering them health insurance, so they can get the treatment they need and get back to work quickly. Companies also encourage employees to take advantage of preventative health initiatives, and some even offer free or discounted gym memberships as part of promoting wellness. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are more common for those employees who need support for a personal crisis. Why do companies offer these services? Because it makes good business sense. Get employees the help they need, so they can be more productive.

Perhaps it’s been you or someone you know who’s been physically present in the office but mentally checked out or at best distracted. What’s got the employee mentally consumed? Troubles with a partner relationship? If companies are financially motivated to help employees be more productive, what’s missing from the equation? I propose a social wellness program (SWP). Companies could improve their bottom line by offering their employees coaching services to strengthen specific areas of life. A SWP could act like an EAP plan, where employees get a maximum number of coaching sessions per year.

“It’s just good business for a company to offer marriage or relationship coaching for its employees.” — Sandra Dillon

The Case for Coaching

Happier marriages mean more productive employees. How do I support this claim? By the research and my own client stories. As a business coach, I’ve worked with a number of clients on work-related performance goals, which later led into marriage coaching with the coachee and his or her spouse. Having coached these couples on marriage visioning, missioning, personality and gender preferences, financial stewardship, love/respect, communication, and conflict resolution, I’ve seen firsthand how a stronger and happier marriage has translated into higher job performance and career development.

Let’s be clear—coaching isn’t counseling. Counseling is covered by your health insurance or EAP. Coaching on the other hand allows people to help themselves and their marriages.

Next Steps

If you have the responsibility and accountability to help your employees, will you offer marriage coaching to your team? If you’re a small business owner, will you pay for a few marriage coaching sessions, so your employees can be more productive? It’s just makes good business sense!

If you’re an individual who doesn’t have employee access to coaching, will you find a coach who can help you strengthen your marriage? Ultimately, we are all 100% responsible for 50% of any relationship, and the responsibility to do better resides within each one of us.


Addady, M. (2015). Study: Being happy at work really makes you more productive. Retrieved from

Bowcott, O. (2014). Relationship breakdowns have negative impact on business. productivity. Retrieved from

Patrick, M. (2019). Top problems that affect employee productivity. Retrieved from

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, business consulting, and marriage coaching. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting


Self-Confidence: Its Source And How To Grow It

While facilitating one of my Building Better Relationships workshops, an attendee asked me, “How can I give my girlfriend the self-confidence she needs?” Depression or mental illness was not a factor—just low self-confidence, which had supposedly manifested in her not expressing what she wanted, arguments, silent treatment when she didn’t get her way, a general feeling of discontent, and lack of action toward going for what she wanted in life. My reply was, “You can’t give your girlfriend self-confidence. She has to earn it for herself.” (1)Self Confidence

What is Self-Confidence?

Self-confidence is the realistic, positive belief that you can influence your world—that you have the abilities, personal power, and judgment to overcome obstacles and get what you want in life. You’re not immune to occasional fears, doubts, and failure, but overall you trust yourself and what you can do!

Self-confidence can only be developed and sourced from within. No amount of participation trophies, positive words, or kind gestures can build self-confidence, because these are only externally applied props. These supports can be cheerleading tools and enjoyable rewards, but are not substitutes for hard work and sacrifice.

You can’t ask, beg, or pay any one any amount of money to do the hard work that it takes to build your self-confidence. What spouses, partners, friends, and family can do is be supportive by providing encouragement, brainstorming, and feedback which is akin to helping a person help himself. You’ve likely heard the expression—do with and not for.

How to Grow Self-Confidence

The only times I’ve seen self-confidence grow in adults is when they attacked challenges head-on, worked hard, worked smart, and never gave up on improving themselves and their situations. When they hit a wall, instead of turning around and giving up, they instead figured out a plan of approach to get to the other side. They found a way of either digging under it, blasting through it, crawling over it, or stepping around it.

When you get to the other side of the wall, look over your shoulder, and can honestly say to yourself, “I did that,” that is the point when your self-confidence climbs another rung on the ladder. Self-confidence increases when you put your heart, mind, and soul towards something and accomplish it, proving to yourself you can get to the other side of the wall.

Role of Family and Friends in Building Self-Confidence

When spouses, parents, and friends do for you what you should be doing for yourself, they are robbing you of the opportunity to grow your self-confidence. When they rescue you from the consequences of your decisions or actions, they’re again robbing you of a teaching opportunity that can grow you. They may not be stealing a piece of you, but they are starving you of what it means to be a fully functioning, resilient, and ultimately happy individual.

The next time someone wants to bail you out or do something you know you should be doing, I would suggest you say, “No thanks. I can do it, but I sure wish you’d keep checking in on me. I may need your support, and this is what support looks like…”

(1) Men as well suffer from poor self-confidence.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, life, and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her at

Business Trust: Its Importance, Value, and How to Build It

Trust 1In leadership circles, it’s well known that to move people from where they stand today to a better place of tomorrow, a leader not only has to paint a compelling vision of the future but must also convince them that standing in their current comfort zone is unacceptable. If you agree with this concept, you may be asking how does this apply in building organizational trust. I’ve heard managers and functional leadership agree they “want more trust,” then make decisions and act in ways that show their employees they don’t value trust. They’re not uncomfortable enough with the level of distrust operating under their leadership. Why? Perhaps, they haven’t suffered from or come to appreciate the magnitude that distrust has in undermining their business’s vision, mission, and goals.

Why Trust Is So Important

Without trust, you can’t build anything of sustainable value. Since trust is the foundation on which business relationships are set, creating trust should be a business’s number one priority. Without trust operating throughout its culture, a business is vulnerable to silo-ed decision-making, information hoarding, and higher employee and customer turnover to name a few. These behaviors directly increase costs and slow down response time. Employees, customers, and suppliers come to realize that for someone to win, another must lose, so everyone makes decisions to protect their position.

After food, water, clothing, and shelter, Maslow’s second hierarchy of human need is safety (security). In business, colleagues, customers, and suppliers first seek to answer the question, “Can I trust you?” If someone can’t affirmatively respond, a healthy relationship won’t develop.

When enough people on a team feel they can’t trust one another, the culture becomes distrustful and then toxic. Interactions become finely crafted dances to ensure that neither is hurt in the process. The energy of the organization goes into managing distrust as opposed to creating value and meeting goals.

Why Trust Is So Valuable

In a trusting business culture, people feel connected. They know that for someone to win, somebody else doesn’t have to lose. They’re a team working collaboratively with transparency and driving on their individual strengths. When people feel respected and appreciated, they go the extra mile. They don’t hoard information like a distrusting culture where information is power. A collaborative culture achieves increased creativity and problem-solving, resulting in more satisfied customers and profits to the bottom line.

How To Build Trust

Some think building trust is treating people well, forgiving mistakes, and giving lots of praise. Not exactly. Although these behaviors exist in cultures of trust, Brown (2017) describes specific elements that must be consistently practiced and reciprocated over time to build trust.

  • Boundaries: Communicating and honoring clear expectations
  • Reliability: Doing what you say you will do again and again [Note: It’s important to understand your limitations and not over-commit]
  • Accountability: Making a mistake, owning it, apologizing, and making amends
  • Confidence: Not sharing with others what is shared in confidence
  • Integrity: Practicing, and not just professing values, in which you may have to choose courage over your comfort or right over fun, fast, and easy
  • Non-judgment: Helping when another falters and being vulnerable to ask for help when needed [Note: One-sided help sets the giver up to feel superior over time]
  • Generosity: Believing in good intentions when the behavior is a mistake

Do People Trust Me?

This is one of the most difficult questions in which to get an honest answer, because if you have trust, people will say yes, and if you don’t have trust, people will still say yes for fear of repercussions. Because of anonymity with individual finger-pointing, it’s easier to get an honest answer by asking the question, “On a scale of 1-10, how much does trust operate within this company?”

If you’re a leader challenged with growing trust within your business culture, I suggest two approaches:

  • Honestly answer for yourself how much capacity you have to trust others. You can’t give what you don’t have. Work on improving your own insecurities and behaviors regarding trust.
  • Know what behaviors garnish trust and hold yourself and others accountable to make the right decisions and lead with those behaviors.

Changing culture is possible, and it takes time, patience, and thoughtful words and actions. You must trust the process that will take you from where you stand today to a more trustworthy culture of the future.


Brown, B. (2017). Super Soul Sessions Video: The Anatomy of Trust. Retrieved from

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

Leadership: How to Influence People and Outcomes

leadership is influenceThere’s a reason why Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People has been in print for over 80 years. Its longevity owes itself to the timeless understanding of what drives human behavior. With leadership synonymous with influence, leaders should embrace Carnegie’s (1964) principles in how to (1) handle people, (2) make people like you, and (3) win people to your way of thinking.

In my experience, 20% of business success can be attributed to knowledge with the balance to a person’s skill in implementing Carnegie’s techniques—meaning 80% of business success comes from how you lead yourself and engage with others. Many of these learnings come from Carnegie asking himself three questions after every encounter:

  1. What mistakes did I make?
  2. What did I do that was right, and in what way could I have improved?
  3. What lessons can I learn and apply in the future?

If you’re able to master Carnegie’s key principles, you’ll likely find yourself in the top 5% of those who can influence people and their circumstances. Below is my winning summary of Carnegie’s best.

Techniques in How to Handle People

  1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Instead try to understand people and why they do what they do. Humans naturally have prejudices and are motivated by pride and occasionally vanity in their words and actions. Criticism only puts a person on the defensive, incurs resentment, and causes him* to justify himself.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation. A strong human need is the desire to feel important which is why people crave appreciation, especially from their superiors and those whom they respect. Be careful with flattery—otherwise known as counterfeit appreciation—which comes across as insincere.
  3. Focus on what the other person wants and show him how to get it. Unselfishly serving others brings enormous advantages to the relationship.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people as opposed to trying to get people interested in you. Help others in ways that require your time, energy, unselfishness, and thoughtfulness.
  2. Smile, smile, and smile. Your smile is a messenger of what’s inside you, and it has the power to brighten someone’s life by conveying “I like you” or “I’m glad to see you.”
  3. Remember a person’s name. A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound to him. Use it generously, and spell it correctly.
  4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. Ask people a lot of questions and validate the stories and words they share in conversation.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Talk about the things the other person treasures most.
  6. Make the other person feel important. When people believe you sincerely think of them as important and appreciate them, they will respond positively to you. Reflect on something you can genuinely admire and then recognize them for it.

Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. Avoid an argument. You can’t win an argument, because if you lose it, you lost it, and if you win it, you lost it. Why? Because someone who has lost an argument feels inferior, has his pride hurt, and will ultimately resent the triumph. The only successful way to change someone’s mind is to help him come to that conclusion himself. It’s better to manage a disagreement by trying to see the other person’s viewpoint, look for areas of agreement, and encourage him to think over your ideas.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions and never tell them, “You’re wrong. You cannot change opinions when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings.  When you hurt someone, they’re not receptive in listening to anything you have to say.
  3. If you’re wrong, admit it clearly and quickly. Stating those words clears the air of defensiveness and helps solve problems.
  4. Begin any controversial conversation in a friendly way. As the old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
  5. Get the other person saying, “yes, yes” immediately. Begin a conversation by emphasizing the things in which you agree. Several initial “yes” responses keep the listener moving in an affirmative direction.
  6. Let the other person do most of the talking. Think the 80/20 rule—the other person talks 80% of the time and you only 20%. Let them talk themselves into what you want them to do. [Note: This one is difficult for the extrovert.]
  7. Let others feel that the idea is theirs. Suggest, suggest, and suggest. Then let the other person think about it so much that he thinks it’s his idea.
  8. Try to see things from the other person’s point of view even if the other person is wrong and doesn’t think so. By validating the other person’s viewpoint, he will likely have a open mind to hear your ideas. [Note: Validating is not agreeing.]
  9. Be sympathetic to the other person’s desires. Validating someone even if you don’t agree will go a long way in keeping emotions in check and leaving them with a positive feeling towards you.
  10. Assume the other person operates with noble motives. People will react favorably toward you when they believe you consider them honest, upright and fair.
  11. Dramatize your ideas. Stating the simple truth may not be good enough. You may have to make the truth vivid, interesting, and dramatic in order to get the other person’s attention.
  12. Throw down a challenge. People have a competitive spirit. If you want to get things done, stimulate some competition and tap into to people’s desire to excel and prove their worth.

Practice Makes Perfect

A leader’s job often includes setting people up for success by helping them change their attitudes and behaviors. Carnegie’s (1964) suggestions to accomplish this are simply stated:

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  5. Let the other person save face
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement
  7. Compliment the very trait in a person that you want him to live up to
  8. Use encouragement and make any fault seems easy to correct
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

With over 30 recommended behaviors, a person may feel overwhelmed on where to start. I would suggest rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how well you perform on each behavior. Select three behaviors that you are committed to improve upon and brainstorm specific approaches or words that will produce a more favorable outcome. Changing behaviors can be difficult at first, but repetitiveness turns new behaviors into old habits.

In my opinion one of the most impactful behavioral changes you can make is to remove one word from your vocabulary. What word? The word “but.” “But” negates everything that was said before it and closes down the conversation. If you replace “but” with the word “and,” you’ll see a dramatic difference in where the conversation goes. Don’t be discouraged when you realize how difficult it can be to remove that conjunction from your sentence structure. New habits are right around the corner.


Carnegie, D. (1964). How to Win Friends & Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success. New York, NY: Gallery Books.

*He and him also refers to she and her. He is used as opposed to he or she to make it easier for the reader.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

The Immeasurable Gift of a Simple Thank-You Letter

As we get into the swing of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, people rack their brains, scour the web, and sometimes agonize over what gifts to buy for their family, friends, colleagues, and business associates. Although I’d wager you’ll not completely eliminate certain aspects of this pre-holiday preparation, I can suggest a new tradition that may make it easier for you to “buy” for at least three people on your list.pen and paper 2

How many descriptively, meaningful hand-written thank you notes have you received? Most people’s answers range from never to less than a handful. This year I hope to change that by suggesting a tradition I started in 2011 while on a Thanksgiving road trip.

That year I thought how memorable it would be if I started mailing handwritten thank-you notes to a few people who had the greatest impact on my life that year. These friends, family, associates, authors, or public figures could have performed a service, shifted a paradigm in my thinking, changed my life path, showed a kindness, or did something worthy of thoughtful recognition.

During a time when electronics rule, cursive is akin to hieroglyphics, and the depth of relationships is being sacrificed to accommodate width, the arrival of a handwritten thank-you note that describes the impact you had on someone’s life is guaranteed to be one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive. Why not start this tradition and make someone feel appreciated?

If this concept sounds intriguing, I would suggest this perfect gift is no further than the pen and paper sitting in your desk drawer. Spend some time reviewing the conversations and interactions you’ve had this past year and select 2-3 people that are worthy of a shout out of praise. Get into the details as you write those letters. Surprisingly, you may find that as you think of those people of influence, the gift you receive in return is one of gratitude.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

Will You Live Your Legend?

liveyourlegendAs Hurricane Harvey cleanup continues, Houstonians are left with the task of restoring their lives.  Many survivors are asking themselves, “What does my life look like post-Harvey?”  With a potential paradigm shift, I hope people are asking the important question: “What is the purpose of my life?” Is the answer pre-hurricane status or something different?

Harvey challenged people to exercise their survival muscle and care for the needs of their friends and community.  Whether or not directly impacted by rising floodwaters, I bet most would agree Harvey had a blessing—a catalyst for change to strengthen spiritually, build greater confidence, and live out purpose as well as to restore community during times when the country has been in civil and political divide.  During Harvey’s punch, people were blinded to any labels of religion, race, and politics as people helped people.  Harvey enabled everyone to focus on what was important—people.

The aftermath of Harvey can also provide the opportunity for a new life versus one of the past—perhaps a life richer in purpose, work, community, and relationships.  Some may question how can they rebuild a life without following the old blueprint.  I would start by exploring and identifying the core values which reflect the essence of oneself.  Values reflect what one is willing to struggle for and the pain one is willing to endure to achieve an outcome.  A reconstructed life may also reflect answers to the following questions:

  1. What do I want more of in my life?
  2. What do I want less of in my life?
  3. What will I regret if I don’t try or do it?
  4. What one thing can I change that would have a positive impact my life?

Everyone is the author of his/her life.  What will you choose to do with your one life?  If you are a parent, are you allowing your children to live in their purpose, or are your fears and desires manifesting themselves in how you design their lives?

When you find your purpose, your energy will continue to feed that passion.  Be encouraged through adversity, because anything worth achieving requires struggle.  Do not give up hope, but be hopeful.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey some people are finally questioning their purpose and taking steps that will allow them to Live Their Legend.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at