Those who know me well know that I am a huge fan of healthy boundaries. So when I came across these tips on Finding Your Voice to say No by psychologist Judith Sills, Ph.D., I just had to share. If you are new to saying no and setting boundaries, give these tips a try– you will be empowered!

Finding Your Voice

1. Replace your automatic Yes with “I’ll think about it.” This puts you in control, softens the ground for a NO and gives you time to think things through to make a healthy choice.

2. Soften your language. Try “I’m not comfortable with that”, or “I’d rather not”, or “let’s agree to disagree”. You are still delivering a clear “no”, but softening your language may make it go down better.

3. Contain your feelings. Even though you may not feel like it, No is best delivered pleasantly with an air of calm. Outward calm quiets your inner turmoil and reduces the negative impact of your No on your audience.

4. Refer to your commitment to others. Say No without appearing selfish by stating how you would love to help, but must keep your prior commitment to your mother, child, etc., and you can’t let them down.

5. Realize you represent others. When you realize it is not just your own interest at stake, but that of your family’s, you will feel more assertive in giving a No to a low-ball offer or intrusion on your time.

6. Rehearse. This strategy is best for ongoing situations such as a demanding boss or recurring relational conflict with a spouse, friend, or family member. By rehearsing, you are prepared to respond with a calm, respectful No.

With some regular practice finding your voice, you just may get to the place where you can respond to any inappropriate, uncomfortable, excessive request with a firm one-word, no explanation verdict–No.

I wish you well in setting and maintaining healthy boundaries!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Email:


Boundaries For Leaders was written by Dr. Henry Cloud, best known as the coauthor of the bestselling book Boundaries. I am a huge fan of Boundaries and really believe that it should be required reading for every human being. As a counselor it has been my observation that many problems experienced by individuals and families are often related to boundary issues.

So it was with great anticipation that I read Dr. Cloud’s new book Boundaries For Leaders, subtitled Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge.

This book was intended for, and marketed towards, executives and leaders who want to create successful organizations with satisfied employees and customers. However, I believe the principles taught by Dr. Cloud, based on his years of experience as a psychologist, life coach, and business consultant, can apply to anyone who has influence over others including parents, community leaders, and church leaders.

Boundaries for Leaders is full of tried and tested tools and techniques that leaders can use to inspire maximum performance from those they lead, as well create a mentally healthy organization.

According to Dr. Cloud a leader must, “accept that you are ridiculously in charge and that you are responsible for establishing the climate for success, setting the terms and expectations for performance with your people, for your organization, and for yourself.” (p. 235)

Some of Dr. Cloud’s suggestions for leaders include:

  • Create an emotional environment that is free of the wrong kinds of stress.
  • Build teams that are deeply connected.
  • Help people to think optimistically and root out pessimism.

The bottom line: leaders get what they create and what they allow! (Side-note–so do parents!)

I highly recommend this book for everyone as I believe we all have the potential to be leaders wherever we are. Add it to your summer reading list and watch yourself become ridiculously in charge!

I would love to hear your thoughts!
Websites: or

The Circle Maker

The Circle Maker is the latest book by author and pastor Mark Batterson. The book debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list last year and has found quite a following as one can see from a quick internet search of the title.

The book proved to be both easy to read, and hard to put down. In part due to Batterson’s writing style, and in part due to the intriguing, inspirational content.

The premise of the book is all about praying big and dreaming big. That we are to do this by “praying circles” around our hopes, needs, and dreams.

According to Pastor Mark Batterson, “Drawing prayer circles around our dreams isn’t just a mechanism whereby we accomplish great things for God. It’s a mechanism whereby God accomplishes great things in us.”

I found this book to be very inspirational and motivational. It encouraged me to take a look at how intentional and focused I was in my personal prayer life.

The last part of the book focuses on goal setting and the legacy we will leave. As a life coach,  I was truly very excited about this section and trust that it will benefit everyone, regardless of their belief system.

This book is motivational and a call to action. As I read it I was inspired to pray more often and pray more intentionally. I was motivated to really be thoughtful about my goals and the legacy I will leave to others.

One measure of a good book is whether it motivates readers to take action. Well The Circle Maker has certainly inspired this reader. I highly recommend this book!

I would love to hear your thoughts! Email
Websites: or


Four Cores of Character–Leadership Wired Blog Review

John Maxwell Company’s “Leadership Wired Blog” is a good source of info and inspiration for leaders and future leaders. (<

The most recent blog post, which covers material from Maxwell’s book Beyond Talent, begins with the question, “Are you a person of character?” As a huge fan of periodic self-examination I believe this is a great question to ponder.

The blog’s angle is the relationship between character and talent. However, I believe the points made in the post go beyond protecting and assessing one’s talent and really speak to having a strong foundation of
character in every area of our lives.

In Beyond Talent Maxwell states, “Character creates a foundation upon which the structure of your talent and your life can build. If there are cracks in that foundation, you cannot build much.” Well said, Mr. Maxwell.

Here are the four cores of character from Beyond Talent:

1. Self-Discipline—“The ability to do what is right even when you do not feel like doing it.”

2. Core Values—“Give order and structure to an individual’s inner life, and when that inner life is in order, a  person can navigate almost anything the world throws at him.”

3. A Sense of Identity—“No matter how hard you try, you cannot consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with how you see yourself.”

4. Integrity—“When values, thoughts, feelings, and actions are in alignment, a person becomes focused and his character is strengthened.”

A person with strong character walks with integrity by consistently sticking to their values. Unfortunately, many are raised in families where they were not taught healthy values.

Fear not, it is never too late to start learning healthy values and making the decision to live by them so that you can become a person of strong character. If you aren’t sure of your core values, start making a
list of what you do value. Then fine tune and complete the list using trusted sources such as the Bible.

Thank you John Maxwell and Leadership Wired for your blog and your book. Both are well worth reading.

I would love to hear your thoughts on character.You can email me at

Websites:, and

Couple arguing

By Randy Moraitis MA, BCPC, CPC

Hard conversations are no fun, but they are a reality of life. Sooner or later you will have to have a hard conversation—with a friend, family member, coworker, customer, or client.

Since hard conversations are inevitable, and avoiding them usually only compounds the problem, the smart move is to prepare for the conversation so you can have the best possible outcome.

Here is a great tool to use whenever faced with a difficult conversation. Using this tool you will result in you responding mindfully to the conversation instead of getting sucked in and responding emotionally or reactively.

The tool is an acronym called DEAR MAN and is used as a script to prepare before having that hard conversation. Here is how it works:

Describe the situation/facts as you would to the person.

Express how you feel about the situation/facts.

Assert by directly stating what you want or don’t want.

Reinforce by sharing how your request will help you and the other person.

Mindful—stay focused and mindful of the issues at hand. Don’t get sidetracked.

Appear Confident—even if you don’t feel confident! Maintain eye contact, be calm and speak confidently.

Negotiate—explore other options for a solution.

The next time you are faced with a hard conversation, set yourself up for success by taking a few moments to go through the DEAR MAN exercise in advance. You’ll be glad you did.

I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on this. You can email me at or visit my websites or

DEAR MAN exercise is adapted from Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training Manual (1993)

Leadership is essentially about influence. Most everyone leads in some fashion. We may not all lead large organizations, but most people have influence in various areas of their lives—work, home, social life.

Great leaders have both character and competence. Competence is necessary, but, according to noted organizational psychologist and author of Derailed, Dr. Tim Irwin, “character trumps competence”.

According to Dr. Irwin, character failures are why so many leaders derail.  He cites leaders such as Tiger Woods, Tony Heyward, CEO of BP, Mark Hurd, CEO of HP, and Robert Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot. All of whom had high levels of competence and incredible influence over others, but through character flaws were derailed from their leadership positions.

According to Dr. Irwin’ book Derailed, there are Five Stages of Derailment:

1. Lack of self-awareness.
Leaders start to derail when they lack the ability to monitor their own behavior. They are unable to sense their own motives, thoughts, and feelings. They are not self-aware.

2. Arrogance.
Robert Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot, took a nine car parking space and had an elevator programmed to go directly to his personal office space on the top floor. He was selfish, arrogant, and dismissive of others.

3. Ignoring Warning Signals.
When leaders do not accept feedback, it is just a matter of time until they derail. Healthy leaders are coach-able and know how to benefit from the insight and feedback of others.

4. Rationalization.
This is where people lie to themselves. They tell themselves that they can never fail, that they are above the rules or above the law. They rationalize that they are so important they can do whatever they want.

5. Derailment.
This is where the leader loses their standing in some vital way.

To avoid derailment Dr. Irwin encourages leaders to continually develop and nurture the habits of being self-aware, being aware of others, and the habit of paying attention and listening to feedback.

Great advice whether you lead a family or a corporation.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Feel free to email me or visit my website.

By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC

I received a great lesson on how to save a life earlier this week.

The lesson came in the form of a handwritten letter I found on my desk Tuesday morning.

The letter was left by someone who will remain anonymous. The letter told of how this person had been struggling with pain and addiction and depression and had lost all hope.

The letter stated that this person was seeking financial assistance and when there was none immediately available, she decided to take her life.

The letter told of the plan, the method, and the location of how and where she would end her life.

The letter shared that she was leaving our offices to go directly to end her life.

The letter stated that as she was leaving, walking out, I was walking in. She shared in the letter how I recognized her, said her name, said hello, then gave her a hug and a smile. I, of course, had absolutely no idea what was going on in her mind.

The letter shared that after the hug she continued walking towards the destination where she planned to take her life. While walking she reflected on the hug and the smile and that I remembered her name. She suddenly realized that she mattered to someone and that she mattered to God.

So she changed her mind. She chose to live.

The letter ended with the good news that she was doing much better and feeling very grateful. She wanted me to know all this so she took the time to write the letter.

Several days later she stopped by and dropped off a donation to help the homeless in our community.

So how do you save a life? With sincere love and caring for those you encounter throughout the day. You just never know what pain or trouble someone may be experiencing.

I think I’ll hold on to that letter.

Couple arguing
By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC

Most people hate conflict and would rather avoid conflict altogether than work towards a solution. Here is a five step plan for you to use next time you have a conflict with a friend, family member, or significant other.

1. Check Your Anger.
Be sure your anger is under control. Thomas Jefferson once said, “When angry count to ten before speaking. When very angry count to 100.” This is great advice. If you cannot share your thoughts or feelings in a safe and loving way, take some time to cool down!

2. Check The Timing.
Is this an appropriate time to deal with this conflict? Are you in public or in front of children? Find a safe and appropriate time for both parties to work towards a solution.

3. Practice Intentional Listening and Forgiveness.
Decide who will share first and who will intentionally listen first. Practice empathy and humility, and try to stay as positive as possible while sharing. Then reverse roles of listener and sharer. Thank each other for listening and ask each other how you feel about what was shared. After sharing and listening, ask for forgiveness and apologize.

4. Brainstorm Solutions.
Work together with an open mind to come up with as many solutions as possible for the conflict.

5. Choose A Solution.

Decide which solution from the brainstorming session you each are willing to try. Do your best to agree on a win-win and be open to some compromise. Clearly communicate the plan to each other. Give it a try and then give it some time. If the solution does not work out, then do another brainstorming session and choose a new solution. You can do this!

Learn this plan and you can have confidence in yourself knowing you can handle any conflict!

Special thanks to Dr. Roger Tirabassi for teaching me these techniques.

I would love to hear your input on this topic. Email:

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I have heard said that the number one greatest human fear is public speaking, and the number two human fear is death. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, this means that more people would rather be the deceased at a funeral than the person giving the eulogy.

As someone who has gone from a deathly fear of public speaking, to acceptance and even enjoyment of public speaking, I would like to share some tips I have learned along the way.

1. Practice Makes Perfect—Well probably not perfect, but my point is to follow the Boy Scout’s motto and “Be Prepared”. Practice your talk multiple times. Practice in front of a mirror or a trusted friend who will give you honest feedback. Practice with a timer so you know you will not go long.

Practice using your voice and body language to strengthen your message. Practice making eye contact with your audience. And practice smiling—if you look like you are enjoying your talk, eventually you will and so will your audience.

2. Be Yourself—Audiences today are often well informed and well educated. They can detect falseness and insincerity. So be yourself and be real. Do not shy away from admitting your weaknesses and failures. Be sure to make a personal connection with your audience at the start of your talk then be sure to speak to your audience plainly and never speak down to them.

3. Tell a Story—The power of story is an amazing thing. We usually remember stories much better than lists of dry facts. If you really want to connect with your audience and have them remember your talk, then use stories and narratives so your message is easy to follow, and much more memorable.

4. Use the Power of Three—When putting your talk together, build it in three parts:introduction, body, and conclusion. Then, during your talk, you can create a rhythm by putting examples or parallel sentences in groups of three. And include in your talk short sequences of words or phrases in threes—these are easy to remember. Couple of quick examples: stop, drop, and roll; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; government of the people, by the people, for the people.

5. Call to Action—Think through what next step you would like your audience to take as a result of your speech, then make the ask! During your talk create empathy between you and your listeners, and then close by making a specific ask of them to take positive action.

I would love to hear any tips you have on public speaking. You can send them to
Twitter: @RMoraitis.