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Today's social media tools are great for business building, provided that the small business owner and their employees know how to use them for the company's ultimate benefit. Therefore, the small business owner needs to determine why their company is using social media sites and then let that purpose be known throughout the entire company. Additionally, they need to implement clear social media guidelines that small company employees can follow in order to further their company's mission.

As a result, many marketing, media, technology, and advertising experts use social media forums as a way to champion the use of social media. They suggest a company, especially a small business on main street with a modest marketing budget, become better known, extend their reach, and improve their company's sales using social media.

Here is an example of a teaser message recently transmitted in an email campaign to small and medium sized businesses... the message says, "Social Media is the most explosively growing media of all-time and growing faster with each passing day with no slow-down in sight. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users. It took TV 13 years to reach 50 million users. Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months. And iPhone applications hit 1 BILLION in 9 months."

Social Media

Based on this message, it is easy for entrepreneurs to get seduced into thinking that by using Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, big sales are just around the corner.

However, social media should work in conjunction with traditional marketing and selling techniques such as relationship marketing within "old" social networks, cold calling, vertical marketing, and other effective prospecting activities.

Small business owners should take the time to learn how to maximize their use of social media but they should not rely on it to make their sales. Business owners need to learn how to use social media to engage their prospects and customers and how to get their prospects and customers talking about something that is important to them and the small business. This type of engagement is necessary and will ultimately get prospects and customers to take the action the business owner wants them to take... leading to a sale. 

In order to make the best business use of social media, the small business owner needs to prepare a simple strategy with several guidelines to follow in the use of social media. The strategy and guidelines need to pinpoint the specific message to be communicated so that all employees using social media for the business know what direction their messages should take and how they should focus their posts. For example, is the company's focus to improve customer service? Is it to enhance awareness of their products or services? Or, is it to boost their brand recognition? Each of these things would have a different yet consistent message for the employees of the business to follow.

For example, one insuránce company uses Twitter and Facebook to let people know about all the philanthropic things they are doing for the community. All the posts are about events they are sponsoring and contributions they're making. Employees know that they should post information about personal things they're doing for the community, such as volunteering at the local animal shelter or helping out with Habitat for Humanity. With a clear guideline that the social media effort is to elevate philanthropic awareness it is easy for employees to know the kinds of things they should be doing on social media sites. They have a clear focus and a unified purpose. 

Another company in the retail industry uses social media to improve customer service. All their posts highlight things they are doing internally to improve the customer experience, what they are doing online to make shopping easier and how they are handling phone inquires to deliver a memorable shopping experience. They also regularly ask customers how they would like the company to improve customer service. With that as the key message, all of the company's employees are focused on problem solving and on making the customers happy.

Therefore, a good social media strategy, with employee guidelines, is far more than a list of good and bad words or topics. Instead, the strategy with guidelines needs to focus on the core message the small business wants to portray along with the best ways to spread that core message.

The guidelines should cover the following topics.

Building Trust
The business employees should use their posts to build a reputation of trust among clients, media, and the public. When they are reaching out to others on social media sites, they should take every opportunity to build a reputation of trust and to establish themselves as a credible and transparent representative of the company.
Being Transparent
When participating in any online community, the small business employees should disclose their identities and affiliations with the organization, clients, and their professional and / or personal interest.
Being Direct
When creating posts and content, the business employees should be direct, informative, and brief.
Giving Due Credít
If the business employees post copyrighted materials, they should identify the original sources.
Self-Editing
The small business employees should always evaluate each posting's accuracy and truthfulness. Before posting any online material, they need to ensure that the material is accurate, truthful, and without factual error. This includes doing a spell and grammar check on everything.
Responsibility
Make sure the business employees know that they are responsible for what they post. Negative or questionable posts should not be tolerated.
Being Professional
When posting comments, the business employees should refrain from writing about controversial or potentially inflammatory subjects, including politics, sex, religion, or any other non-business related subjects. The tone of their comments should be respectful and informative and not ever condescending or "loud."
Privacy
The business employees shouldn't ever disclose proprietary or confidential information. This includes product releases, service updates, and employee information not made public yet.
Obeying the Rules
All business employees should follow local, state, or federal laws and regulations. Ultimately, their online activities will be a reflection on the company.
Ultimately, when small businesses know how they are supposed to use today's social media tools, they can do so with focus and purpose, leading the small company confidently into the communication age.

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The SEO companies making guaranteed ranking claims aren't stupid. In addition to counting on your naivety, gullibility and laziness, they're also pretty astute marketers - well aware of the power of a strong "guarantee." Like all smart marketers, they read books and articles about ways to boost their sales

No SEO company can guarantee you a first page or top 10 ranking. I repeat: NO SEO company can guarantee you a first page or top 10 ranking. Here's why: There are far too many variables involved in the ranking of a website - not the least of which are the age of the domain, relevancy and quantity of content, number and quality of inbound links, competition, and of course Google's ever-changing algorithms. That's why legitimate SEO companies don't make those kinds of outlandish promises.

In other words, it's impossible to promise something which you have no control over. But don't take my word for it... this is what Google itself has to say about the matter: "Beware of SEO's that claim to guarantee rankings." (Source: Google Webmaster Tools)

In his article, prominent SEO expert, Rand Fishkin writes: 

Beware of SEO's that claim to guarantee rankings
"From 1996 through to today, SEO scams have used 'guaranteed rankings and traffic' as a slimy catchphrase to lure in gullible buyers with too-good-to-be-true promises. That association has stained the entire industry. SEO's cannot control the search results the way FedEx can control shipping packages or Coca Cola can guarantee the taste of their beverage. The search engines alone are responsible for, and privy to the rankings' methodologies.
There are times when I would be willing to gamble a large amount of money on the fact that we could achieve a certain ranking for a given keyword. However, that's not the same as a guarantee. A guarantee is a promise - a basic contract that necessarily creates an assumption of certainty by the deliverer to the recipient. Anytime you cheat on that logic and make a promise outside your sphere of direct control, you're walking on shaky ethical and business ground."
Now think about that for a minute. If one of the most reputable and prominent SEO experts on the planet isn't willing to guarantee rankings, what does that tell you about the validity of guaranteed search rankings claims?

Are There Any Exceptions?

Yes, there are always exceptions. For example, Dental SEO, The Visible Dentist is one of those companies that guarantees first page rankings. Their guarantee states:
"The dentist does not pay for SEO services until their website is favorably positioned in a major search engine. Major search engines include Google, Yahoo, MSN's Bing and Ask. Our exclusive promise specifically guarantees that the client's dental website will have high visibility in one or more of these popular search engines. Further, a minimum of twenty (20) positions on Google's 1st page results will be attained before payment is required.
This warranty is made without absolute assurances to search engine positioning. The reason positions cannot be absolutely guaranteed is because no one has control of a search engine's algorithms, nor control over the many websites coming online every day. However, all work on the client's site will be performed according to specs and to the best of our ability. If desired ranking is not achieved, no payment will be due from the client."
Personally, I don't have a problem with that type of promise. The company is basically putting their money where their mouth is. They're willing to prove their competency and assure results before the client pays a dime. This eliminates any and all risk for the client. If more SEO companies did business that way, the industry as a whole wouldn't have such a bad reputation.

All that being said, even if no money is required upfront, you still need to do your due diligence and check things out carefully.

SEO Scam Artists

If all SEO companies competently applied their craft and performed the service they were paid to perform, articles like this one wouldn't be necessary. But as long as there are incompetent SEO scam artists who intentionally take people's hard-earned money without doing what they promised... I will continue to warn people about the problem.

Unscrupulous SEO companies that promise first page rankings aren't stupid, but they think you are. In fact, they're counting on your naivety, gullibility and yes... laziness. Because the truth of the matter is there are millions of people out there who would much rather put their faith and trust in leprechauns, magic pills and guaranteed rankings, than put in the time and hard work necessary to achieve the desired results. That's the way it is, and that's the way it's always been - even before the advent of the Internet.

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We have all heard stories of teenagers informing the world via Facebook of a planned party, with disastrous results! But it points to a truth: no sensible music event, festival or gig would dream of setting up without a Facebook presence. Bands and performers use social media to build a fan base and keep it informed of their plans and movements. It is fair to say that in these cases, social media leads the way, with the web site complementing its more 'buzzy', up-to-the-minute feel.

Not Just Teenagers Any More...

Still for those who haven't invested time in creating a Twitter profile and presence, the overriding view is likely to be that it's a waste of time. Why should we be worried about what someone had for breakfast? Who cares about what people are tweeting during the 'X Factor'? Isn't social media dominated by yóung people who use it to exchange the minutiae of their lives?

In fact, the most significant growth in recent years among social media sites has been from users aged 50+. This has steadily driven up the average age of users. The average age of a Facebook user had reportedly risen to 38, with 61% of users older than 38. The average Twitter user was 39, with 64% of tweeters older than 35.

Twitter and Facebook

No wonder, then, that businesses are now seeing social media as a significant force for business. Many major corporations acknowledge this by seeking to build a social media strategy to communicate and engage with their customers. At a more human level, Twitter and Facebook can be used to drive viewers to a web site. Have you made an interesting post on your blog, an important update to your Facebook site, launched a product on your web site? Then why not alert your followers on Twitter?

Facebook as a Complement to a Business Web Site

Making the most effective use of social media for business purposes is a subject in itself, and heavyweight businesses and brands team up with expensive agencies to try to figure it out. For now, therefore, I shall limit myself to the observation that people like to engage with other people. It's realistic for businesses with a social aspect (after all, it's called 'social media') to hope to make an impact via social media without such an expensive approach.

In developing web sites , We was very much aware of the need to achieve a balance between appealing to the new visitor, probably interested mainly in the food offering and amenities, and the regular crowd, more interested in the social gossip and upcoming events. The former is very likely to be put off by pictures of the pub bore leering into the lens, or the guy who specializes in falling off his bar stool! For the latter, a feeling of real involvement is probably hard to achieve on a conventional web site, even with regular updates and the easiest content management system.

But here's the rub: it's not enough to just set up a profile on Facebook or Twitter, integrate them with your web site, and expect amazíng results. You need to do the work, in building up a base of followers, and in presenting content. More than anything else, to be consistent. This doesn't mean tweeting or posting about every little thing. In fact, that may be the worst thing you can do. On the other hand, even if your message is a serious one, you must remember to ENTERTAIN your followers now and again. Just like life, it's about balance. 

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Often we are one of the biggest contributors to the calamity and chaos we experience in our lives. Stress management is the recognition that life is all about the choices we make. Starting today, choose to take control and follow these simple tips to help you lead a stress-less lifestyle.

Choose To Be Short on Complaints, Long on Praise

Far too often, we are quick as a whip to complain when we feel we have been wronged, yet we are not as quick to lavish praise. Complaining about every little thing is very stressful and draining.

Instead of complaining, why not contribute. Starting today, make a point to praise those who have had a positive impact on your life – from the cashier who didn’t pack your bread on the bottom of the bag, to the mechanic who didn’t scare you into an unnecessary repair, to the neighbor who is willing to baby sit on ten minutes notice.

Doing so will not only make you feel good, but will make a difference in a positive way and make someone else feel great.

Free Stress

Choose To Love The Skin You’re In

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, known for her acting talents and physical beauty, recently took a bold step many of us would shutter at the thought of – she posed for a magazine minus make-up in a crop top and shorts. She posed for all the world to see the “real” beauty she is – a confident women who doesn’t define herself by other people’s standards.

Chasing after beauty defined by others (media, family, friends, spouse, co-workers and others) is detrimental to your peace of mind. Be bold and love the skin you’re in right now – crooked nose, warts, corns, receding hairline, wrinkles, sags, bulges and all. Appreciate your natural beauty and love yourself just the way you are.

Choose To Pass On Perfection

Think of how many things don’t get done because someone is waiting for the perfect time, place and circumstance.

Working with perfection as your standard is both a mental and physical drain. Lose the need to get everything done “perfect.”

Know that it’s far better to accomplish a task at 85% perfection than to procrastinate and wait for 100% perfection.
Remember that a stress-less life is all about choice
What are you going to choose today?

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That depends on the symptoms you see. Of course, the most common sign of a possible skin problem in your dog is constant, excessive itching. Other symptoms include fur loss, either localized in a certain location or spread across the dog’s entire body. More severe cases may involve redness in the skin, changes in skin pigmentation or even open sores that your dog constantly licks.

No particular symptom necessarily proves your four-footed friend has a certain type of skin disorder, and you’ll need to investigate other areas before you draw conclusions. While it’s common and helpful for veterinarians to diagnose skin problems, it’s also essential for dog owners like you to familiarize yourself with typical canine skin problems, so you can react quickly and keep his discomfort to a minimum.

Fleas, Lice and Ticks

One of the most common problems in dogs is the presence of fleas, lice and ticks, which are parasites that live on the surface of the skin and feed on the dog’s blood. These parasites’ saliva causes skin irritation and results in intense scratching.

Lice and ticks can be detected visually when you check your dog’s fur, while fleas are hard to spot with the naked eye. However, fleas cause red pimple marks on the skin and also can be spotted through the black, gritty trail of “dirt” they leave on a dog’s belly.

Does your dog have a skin problem, and if so, how do you fix it?

While you can remove ticks and lice with tweezers -- applying alcohol to relax the tick’s grip before doing so -- you can also adopt more general methods. For instance, you can give your dog a dip with special tick shampoo to eliminate ticks. Flea sprays or flea powder can also be applied to the dog to kill parasites. But all these require persistence and it may be a while before you see results.

One of the best methods to keep your dog comfortable is to prevent ticks from living off your dog in the first place through the use of a spot-on product, such as FrontLine or BioSpot. To apply these chemicals, you drip a small amount onto the back of your dog’s neck once a month. The chemical spreads throughout the dog’s skin and kills parasites -- including the eggs and larvae. When regularly treated, your dog becomes an unattractive host.

Mange

Mange is a skin problem caused by mites that burrow underneath the dog’s skin, causing intense and even agonizing itching. Bald spots or inflamed red skin are common symptoms of mange. Two types of mange exist in dogs: sarcoptic mange and demodectic mange, depending on the kind of mite involved.

Most dogs carry the mites involved in demodectic mange or demodex. However, these mites usually do not cause itching except when they suddenly multiply into huge numbers. This may happen in young puppies, or in dogs with decreased natural body defenses, sometimes from stress.

On the other hand, Sacroptic mange or scabies causes intense itching in the dog as the mites burrow under the skin and even lay their eggs there. This causes large red spots on the dog’s skin, and sometimes fur loss on the ears and elbows. Scabies can infect humans as well and cause itchiness, although infection in humans usually disappears by itself after a while. However, it is still important for people to seek treatment if they get infected.

Treatment for mange requires patience and time, as eliminating them or lowering the mite population takes a while to take effect. The best way to kill the mites is to soak your dog in a lime and sulfur medicated dip for 10 to 15 minutes a few times in a week. The dip should not be washed off, but left to dry on your dog’s skin and fur. During this time, it’s best to watch your dog closely and prevent him from licking himself dry. As a further precaution, you can feed him a raw egg to line his stomach before dipping him in the solution. This way, even if he does lick himself, the solution won’t be absorbed on an empty stomach.

When fighting mange, it’s also important to support your dog with the highest quality diet you can find, to improve his immune system. Healing from mange will take a lot of his internal resources. You might consider looking into the raw diet for dogs and avoiding any corn or rice-based products for the time being.

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Las Vegas is an extremely busy place. The last thing you want is to plan your dream vacation only to find out everything is sold-out when you get there. Las Vegas Hotels, Las Vegas Shows and Las Vegas Tours are the reason people go to Las Vegas.

Choosing Your Las Vegas Hotel

The main Las Vegas strip is approx. 5 miles from end to end and the most economical way of getting around is to walk. You can take the new monorail or a taxi but these can add up and take away from your fun money. Also, if you are there to sight-see the vast hotel properties you will miss out by taking alternate transportation.

TIP:
Book a hotel in the middle of the Las Vegas strip. These hotels vary from very economical (Imperial Palace) to very posh (Caesar’s Palace).

Flying Into Las Vegas McCarran Airport

You finally made it. Your hotel is booked, your shows are booked and your tours are booked. Now you just want to get to your hotel and relax for a bit. Simple, right? Wrong. Depending on when you get in you will be faced with a wait for a taxi cab and if it is during the day in the summer the heat will almost kill you and if it is late at night the cold will also get to you.

Las Vegas

TIP:
If your travel plans do not include hotel transfers and you are traveling with a partner or a group, send someone outside to stand in line for a taxi cab while the others wait to pick up the luggage. At peak times, waits can be as long as an hour for a taxi cab. Also, do not be afraid to ask the attendant if there are any hotel shuttles you may take, as a lot of times these shuttles leave with many empty seats available.

Getting to Your Hotel by Taxi Cab

TIP:
Do not ask your driver to take the strip. It will cost you as you sit in long lines of traffic that seem to move backwards. Taking the #15 will reduce your cab ride substantially as it bypasses the strip and has many exits that will get you to your hotel much faster. Why waste your money?

Checking Into Your Hotel

When checking in to your hotel, don’t be afraid to ask the Front Desk if there are any free upgrades available. Depending on the time of the year some hotels are not always booked to capacity and will gladly give you perks when asked politely. Why stay in a standard room if a deluxe room is available at no extra cost. You will appreciate a Jacuzzi tub after walking the strip all day.

TIP:
Unless your room has a view, try to stay in the lower floors where you can access the main floor by taking the stairs. At peak times you can wait 5 - 10 minutes every time you want to catch an elevator. It can wear on your patience after awhile.

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We all have goals and changes we want that go unresolved, but how often does anyone really do anything about changing? In fact, after a while you’ll start hearing the wants turn to complaints. Then the complaints turn into reasons why success is not possible. “I don’t have the time or money or ability.” There are an endless number of reasons.

The people are always telling, why they are stuck and why they can’t do certain things. “I don’t like to workout.” or “I’m too forgetful.” And basically what they’re telling me is, “I have no control over my own behavior.” Here’s one we have all heard from someone, “I’m not a morning person.”

What if I offered a “non-morning person” a million dollars to be a morning person tomorrow morning? Most people would say, “Well, for a million dollars I could be.” So in truth, it’s not that you are not a morning person, or that you don’t have the time or any of the other reasons you give that prevent you from the changes you want, you simply haven’t found the motivation.

We all have the power to redefine ourselves and create the lives we want

With the right motivation, and it doesn’t have to be money, you can change and create winning actions in your life. You are not locked into any behavior. Stop placing limits on yourself and talking about the changes you want and the reasons you can’t achieve them. There is no definition of you other than the definition you give yourself.

We all have the power to redefine ourselves and create the lives we want. Let me show you how powerful you are. Take a sip of your coffee or tea and let me ask you this: Right now, could anything stop you from taking that sip? Oh, you don’t have a coffee or tea? Then get one or imagine you have one. Barring a sudden, catastrophic natural disaster, the answer is no, nothing can. The only thing that could stop you from taking a sip is…you!

In fact, nothing can stop you from going to the gym, eating right, getting an education, looking for a better job, paying attention to your relationships, not spending money on your credit cards or doing the things you should to make your life better. Nothing can stop you from anything you want to improve in your life except you. You are the only obstacle in your life.

We need to stop blaming outside factors for our behavior. There is no boogeyman keeping you from creating the life you want. We also have to stop looking for shortcuts. We tend to fall into the trap of wanting instant gratification and there are plenty of folks trying to sell this junk. I hate to be the one to tell you this but there are no magic pills that will make you thin, cure your life in seven days, get rich over night or have great abs in two weeks.

There is only one sure way to success and that’s doing the work. This means we must get into action. Get motivated to change right now! Motivation is power and we have established here that being powerful is as simple as taking a sip of coffee or tea.

So enjoy the rest of your coffee or tea and smile while you take that sip, because right now you are powerful and right now you’ve decided to get into action to achieve the changes you want.

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We need to grow where we are planted, by improving upon our unique gifts, by growing spiritually, by growing physically, and by growing mentally. We can complain and cry out in anger about where we are in life, unethical practices in our workplaces and the injustice of it all.

However, where will that take you – bitterness, anger or depression? And more importantly - is that where you really you want to go? No, it will take you nowhere unless, you put to gather a plan that will help you grow despite where you are now in life and  you realize that you are not the only one to have gone through what you have encountered in life.

Let's go back in time and look at some Israelite youths in the book of Daniel, who where taken from their homes as captives to Babylon. Not only where they taken against their will, but they where now in an environment that ran in opposition to their moral and ethical beliefs.

Complaining would not have gotten Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego very far. So how did these Jewish youths handle their situation? Well, they stuck to their moral and ethical teachings. They put God first in all they did and grew spiritually. They followed God’s directives and grew physically. They grew mentally by putting together a plan of action to master all the literature and science of the time. Each became very competent as they mastered these skills.

under the sun

At the end of three years, the King called all the young men in the palace to him, including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and gave each one an oral examination. The king was so impressed with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that he put them on his regular staff of advisors. (Dan 1:20) "And in all matters requiring information and balanced judgment, the king found these young men's advice ten times better..." than any other advisor. Daniel was appointed as the king's counselor.

These young men where not limited by where they where planted. Ethics, growth, and competence took these young men far.

Even though some of our present situations leave a lot to be desired for, you have to admit it was not as bad as these guys situation. However, they grew spiritually, physically, and mentally where they where planted - despite life's injustices and the unethical environment. They grew and developed despite where they where planted. You too can grow and develop right where you are.

So, what are you doing to grow spiritually in your everyday life? What are your goals for physical growth? What are you doing now to feed and promote your growth mentally? What are the gifts that make you special and what are you doing with them? These are serious questions that each of us need to answer for ourselves.

Not only do we need answers for them, but we need to set goals in place and the action steps to accomplish those goals.

So maintain your moral values and ethics; seek ways to grow spiritually, physically, and mentally; and become highly competent where you are planted. By growing and improving upon your unique gifts you will be ready for life's opportunities. And when opportunity comes - you shall rise above where you are now.

I have shown you that there is nothing new under the sun, as far as, not being where you want to be in life, dealing with unethical practices in the work place, and the injustices that come about as a result of such things.

I trust that I have left you with a sound foundation of hope that you can grow and improve upon your gifts despite where you are now- just like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Remember each of them where human just like you and I with the same human weaknesses as you and I. They rose above where they where planted and you can too.

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Work associates are people that have come together for one common purpose; work. These working relationships are more surfaced than relationships with relatives or close friends; and the levels of authority and status found in business can inhibit communications and relationships.

As a recent employee to your job, you are becoming familiar with the work environment and your work associates. You have met the boss on two occasions; your interview and one time when he or she demanded that you finish a client’s report. Your boss’s unapproachable nature makes you feel uneasy if not a bit fearful.

As the boss, you don’t have a clue that your workers are intimidated by you. You are basically just concerned that they do their jobs well and produce profit for the company. Your impression of your co-workers is that if they don’t confront you about a problem, then everything is right on target.

When the boss doesn’t make time to communicate with workers, employees can misinterpret actions or lack of actions as negative feedback. They can become afraid to communicate with their boss. However, with the right management coaching, beneficial communication lines can be established between the manager and his or her co-workers.

They are quick to point out faults in others but fail to see the same faults in themselves

The following problems discuss potential management issues in the workplace and offer coaching recommendations in more detail.

1. Workers think the best way to build strong relationships with their managers is by keeping quiet and looking the other way, even when there is a problem.

Although it may be the easy way out to avoid confrontation, you may never get to the bottom of a disagreement if you don’t address your arguments. Continuing to look the other way will only cause you to build resentment towards the manager.

You don’t have to go to the extreme and boldly confront the manager. Just make sure that you have presented the issue to your manager so that he or she is aware of the problem.

After you and the manager understand the issue from the other’s perspective, you can come to a fair resolution. Conversely, you will have better respect for each other because you shared a concern.

2. Some managers find opportunities to coach but they put it low on priority.

A manager who gives feedback a backseat will never have the chance to communicate with employees.

By nature, we procrastinate because of the complexity of or fear to deal with a sticky issue. Instead, we will fill up our time with other tasks to help justify our delays.

A manager may feel uncomfortable to confront, or inadequate to advise employees, but the ability to use management coaching with co-workers will produce a healthy, open communication network in the workplace.

3. Managers are blind to their own faults while seeing imperfections of others.

Managers are expected to be experts in the work place. They have the authority to rectify a situation if change or improvement is needed. Yet, because they are so focused on the issues, managers may favor their judgment due to a broader knowledge or longer experience than the workers under them.

This nature of self-bias is not limited to managers but to all people in general. People are naturally inclined to prefer their own judgment over those of others. They are quick to point out faults in others but fail to see the same faults in themselves.

Constructive criticism is a popular, professional approach to correct employees. Yet, mutual feedback given in an objective and honest manner that doesn’t attack, improves character and respect between both parties.

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No vacation is perfect. Inevitably something will go wrong. Aside from real tragedies (which, fortunately, are rare) most vacation hassles are about inconvenience, bad weather and minor mishaps -- all temporary, none life-changing. 

Predicaments such as delayed flights, sold-out attractions, small injuries and unexpected downpours can ruin your vacation if you allow your inner brat to gripe and grumble over every annoyance.

Meanwhile, back on earth, your actual vacation may look something like this:

vacation is perfect

1. You've been driving for several hours, when you notice that the "check engine" light on your dashboard is illuminated. You get off the highway at the next exit and find a garage that can fix the car, but it won't be finished till the next day. And it's going to cost a small fortune.

2. You're on a camping trip. It's been raining for 2 days straight. The campground is one big mud puddle. And your matches are wet.

3. You splurge for a resort hotel, but when you get there they can't find your reservation, and the hotel is fully booked. You produce your travel agent's confirmation, but the reservations clerk merely says, "I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do."

4. Everything is crowded. You have to wait in line for food, for transportation, even for the bathroom. Other people are loud, pushy and rude.

You'll never see situations like these in a travel brochure. But I'll bet you've experienced at least one of them on your own trips. I know I have. And in retrospect I realize that my inner brat made things seem a lot worse than they were. It blamed and complained, making not only me miserable, but my family as well.

I recall a sweltering summer day many years ago, when we ran out of gas on the highway because my husband was sure we had enough to bypass one rest stop and get to the next. He was right - almost. We made it just past the sign that said, "Fuel, Food: 2 miles." Instead of yelling at him with a thousand I-told-you-sos, I wish I had taken a picture of him standing in front of that sign, apologetically holding an empty gas can. It would have been the perfect souvenir from our trip.

If you happen to encounter frustrations on your upcoming vacation, get out your camera and take a picture. Looking through the lens will give you a less emotional, more objective view of the situation. Plus, you’ll have a souvenir that will later remind you that crises have a way of working themselves out. They may turn out to be your most precious and amusing memories.

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