Hello Everyone! I hope this Newsletter finds you a little closer to BETTER this month!


This Month’s Issue:

For Everyone: Becoming Approachable

Getting to Better™ Kindness Partners and Friends

MYRIAD Update: Amazing Training Opportunities for Leaders and Frontline Social Service Workers

Exciting Announcement: We are honoured to feature an Interview with G2B friend and colleague Dr. Michael Ungar, in the November Newsletter Issue. Michael shares his insights, gained from more than 25 years of practice experience and research, on the Importance of Resilience and our Children.



Becoming Approachable


“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing
one can be sure of changing is oneself”

Aldous Huxley


Continuing with the main objective of making the lives of as many people as possible BETTER, this Getting to Better newsletter builds on last month’s article on Trust.

In my travels, I talk with numerous people who are frustrated, concerned, saddened or dissatisfied with some (sometimes many) of their acquaintances and/or close relationships. Among the issues that have led to these experiences is a consistent and persistent theme; that is, Approachability. Many tell me that some people in their lives are “Not Approachable”. With acquaintances this may not be a big deal, but for those closer co-worker or co-life persons, lack of approachability can become a formidable barrier to meaningful, satisfying and/or productive relationships.

Being approachable may look different for different people; however generally speaking, approachability is one of the most critical components for honest and straightforward communication. Approachability in a nutshell, is about safety, comfort and trust. When these concepts are operating in relationships, the pathway (APPROACH) to communication is more likely to be effortless and open. When communication is open and clear, when trust and safety are in action, relationships flourish! When relationships flourish, those who are fortunate to be in them find validation, affirmation, significance and meaning. When this happens, for most, everything is BETTER! In this light, we can all understand why it is so important for most people to wish for or prefer that the important people in their lives and at work be more approachable.

Here’s a thought…what if we are the ones that others wish were approachable? What if you or I are the people that others are wishing were easier, more comfortable, or safer to talk to? Hmmmm. Me? No, not me! Maybe we don’t know this, because we have not received the feedback, because we are not as approachable as others may prefer? Now these are just thoughts, ponderings if you will allow this concept for a moment; even if it might seem a little threatening and/or evoke some defensiveness. What if?

Now this may not be the case for some of us, however; imagine for a moment, if we placed our energy into ourselves, rather than trying to change other people. Maybe, just maybe if we worked on us, WE ALL MAY VERY WELL BECOME APPROACHABLE! Imagine that!

So, how do we become approachable? Because most people are unique in the way they communicate and experience relationships and the world overall, approachability may look different for different people. However, generally speaking, there are some things that we can do to increase the likelihood that others will feel BETTER about approaching us in relationships.

The following are some TIPS that have been tried, tested and true by many, many, many people, for becoming more approachable in life and at work. These TIPS, according to me, Steve de Groot, will indeed enhance the quality of ALL relationships in life and work.  They are: 


Try to maintain a positive attitude – people are more likely to approach those who seem to have a generally positive attitude (if you can’t be positive, fake it until you make it! Remember that faking it to make it only works if the goal is to make it…if you’re just faking it, you’re just faking it – not good).

  • Smile. Smile when you say “please” and “thank you”. If someone smiles at you, smile back.
  • Laugh
  • Approach and make contact first. This tells people that you are open to communication.
  • Say yes more than no.
  • Open your body language. Open your posture, raise your head, and make eye contact. These behaviours convey that you are open to being approached.
  • People generally like to be around people who make them happy and are fun. Misery does not always love company!


Be respectful and care take the trust in relationships – people are much more likely to approach others that they trust and respect. Also, others are more likely to be open to hearing what someone, they respect and trust, has to say.

  • Be present – give your full attention.
  • Be honest and straightforward.
  • Be genuine.
  • Be consistent and predictable. If people know what to expect when they come to you (that you are a good listener, that you can keep confidentiality etc.) they will be more willing to seek you out. If you are unpredictable in mood or your ability to listen people will be less likely to seek you for support.
  • Be reliable and follow through with what you say and with what you will do. If you do not follow through you lose trust. Once trust is lost, people will be less likely to come to you when they need help or support.
  • Treat all information that is shared with you with respect. People are not likely to trust a person known to “gossip”.
  • Mean what you say.
  • Talk with people, not at them


Consistently comment on peoples’ strengths (affirm, validate and compliment) – others are more open to approaching and/or hearing feedback from someone who appreciates or affirms their strengths. If the feedback you provide is consistently critical, evaluative or negative those that you are working with, living with, spending time with will be less likely to approach you or take what you say seriously.


Listen more than talk – try not to give a quick response, advice, or share your own concerns too quickly. Often people just want to be heard and understood. Responding too quickly or talking before a person feels heard and understood may decrease the likelihood that they will come back to you.

  • Listen, Listen, Listen and when you are done that…Listen some more. This is an issue in many relationships and a seemingly simple task that we all struggle with at times. Listening does not require staying quiet! Paraphrase to show understanding. Reflect feelings to indicate you are really trying to “get” the other person’s experience. Ask questions to get more information if needed, but be cautious with questions. Some questions, such as “How does that make you feel?” can come across as insincere and, can even lead to annoyance if used too often.
  • Do not “do” anything else while someone is talking with you (e.g. check your phone, check your email, read, fidget etc).
  • Allow someone to share his or her story first.
  • Allow for silences.
  • Avoid saying “I know how you feel”. No matter how close our experiences may be, we can never fully know how another person is feeling.
  • Listen to the other person’s perspectives. Life is not always concrete, clear or “right and wrong”. Sometimes if we take the time to hear someone else’s point of view we can see that maybe ours is not always “correct”.


Try to be non-judgmental – being open to others’ ideas and perspectives without being judgmental will increase the likelihood that they may seek you out for feedback or support

  • Avoid “why” questions, these often imply judgment.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Check in on behavior or actions to clarify meaning and intent.
  • Look at things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Use respectful language in all situations. If you are judgmental of people around you behind their backs, the person you are talking to may wonder what you say behind THEIR back.
  • Accept people for who they are.


Be open to feedback and criticism yourself – If you are able to demonstrate that you are open to feedback or criticism it will be more likely that someone will be open to what you may have to say. However, if you are defensive and reactive to feedback it is unlikely that you will be perceived as open and/or approachable.

  • Be willing to be wrong. This is a hard one for a lot of folks. Admitting we made a mistake means showing a weakness. Most people do not want to be seen as “weak”. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in relationships then allows others to be vulnerable with you. Showing vulnerability can be a strength!
  • Be willing to apologize and own up to mistakes when they happen.
  • Be flexible and adaptive.
  • Be accountable.
  • Remember, you don’t always have to be “right”.


When talking or sharing feedback make attempts to be more positive than negative – people are less likely to approach the person who is negative, pessimistic, or overly critical

  • Focus on positives first in conversations. See the good in people (it is there!!!).
  • Give compliments.
  • Reinforce positives.
  • People will come to you when they believe that you’ll respond to news (both good and bad) in helpful and supportive ways. If they believe that if they come to you with a problem and will be blamed or shamed, they’ll simply stop talking to you.


If feedback is critical or evaluative of someone’s performance/behaviour:

a)    Focus on the behavior and not the person

  • Instead of “I don’t like you right now” try “I don’t like what you just did
  • Focus on now, not what has happened in the past.


b)   Own your own feelings and use “I” statements:

“When ___situation/behaviour___ I feel ___feeling__ because ___consequences of situation/behaviour    .


c)    Provide more positive feedback than negative/critical – sometimes it’s helpful to couch your feedback in positives – some rules are: 3 positives per 1 negative; 1 positive – the negative – followed by another positive.

  • Talk about when things went well.
  • Tell the person things you admire about them.
  • Use strengths to talk about how to overcome difficulties.
  • Look for positive intentions in behaviour.


d)   Try to eliminate the word “BUT” – this magical word has the tendency to erase all the words and meaning that have come before it – try to substitute the word “and” or just pause before continuing with what you have to say – you may have to be creative with this one.


e)    Try to eliminate the words “always” and “never” from your vocabulary – these words tend to make things “bigger” or smaller than they actually are. Also, they tend to devalue or delegitimize situations, experiences or people. These words should be replaced with OFTEN (for always) and SELDOM or RARELY (for never).

  • Never and always are concepts that rarely happen in real life.


While the above TIPS are general guidelines that can be helpful for becoming more approachable, they are indeed general. This means that some may work better than others or, some people may prefer or respond better to some of the tips over others.

The absolute best way for learning how to become approachable is to ask those important people in your life, “How can I be more approachable?” or “What can I do so that I may be more approachable?”

We at Getting to Better are wishing you all  the best on the road to becoming more approachable and, your journey to BETTER! 


Getting to Better™  Kindness Partners and Friends


Life Vest Inside™

The new Life Vest Inside™  website has been launched and the Crowd Funding Campaign is over.  We reached our goal and raised $75, 000!

Thanks to all of the Beautiful People who have made contributions to the LVI movement.  Check out the Wall of Fame to see the smiling faces of so many wonderful contributors! It can be found HERE!

Remember that Getting to Better™ and Life Vest Inside™ are partners in making the lives of many people and the world overall BETTER. Please take a moment to check out the amazing projects we are working on HERE.

See Beautiful™

Another one of our Amazing World Enhancing Partners is See Beautiful™. We have partnered on an unbelievable children’s book, written by See Beautiful™  CEO and Founder, Lydia Criss Mays.  It will be featured in next month’s G2B™ Newsletter.

See Beautiful™  has a great product line; all profits raised are used to support many world enhancing causes.

See Beautiful™ has just released a new See Beautiful™ Vegan Handmade Soap which is superb. Now we can See Beautiful™ and Smell More Beautiful too!  You can check out the Soap and the great product line HERE.

Dr. Jean Clinton

Jean and Steve will be presenting their first in a series of workshops in Winnipeg Manitoba on November 15, 2013 entitled Engaging Kids Involved in Systems: The Brain, The Environment and the Whole Child.  Please see the MYRIAD Events Page HERE for more information.

Dr. Michael Ungar

Friend and colleague Dr. Michael Ungar continues to work at making the lives of children, youth, families and communities BETTER. Check out one of his latest works from the Nurturing Resilience Blog at Psychology Today.

We are honored to have an interview with Michael as the feature on Resilience in the upcoming November G2B Newsletter. You will not want to miss it!


MYRIAD Update: Amazing Training Opportunities for Leaders and Frontline Social Service Workers


Friday November 15, 2013 -Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Engaging Kids Involved in Systems: The Brain, The Environment, The Whole Child with Dr. Jean Clinton and Stephen de Groot

For more information and registration details please CLICK HERE.