Women In Wellness: Gail Rudolph of Gail Rudolph Collaborative On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Be kind to yourself, laugh at and learn from your mistakes. Society tells us mistakes and failures are unacceptable, but both are part of being human. Other people will see our mistakes and that’s okay because they make us stronger and better.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gail Rudolph.
Internationally sought-after Power Expert Gail Rudolph is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Power Up Power Down. The go-to expert on how to harness personal power and create win/win outcomes, Gail teaches overlooked and under-estimated women how to step into their power and thrive in their careers and in life.
Gail is one of 13 people globally — one of two women, and the only woman in the United States — credentialed to teach the six universal Principles of Persuasion based on the research of the “Godfather of Influence,” Dr. Robert Cialdini. She is CEO and founder of Gail Rudolph Collaborative.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I grew up in the Midwest as the youngest of four children. My brother, who was the oldest, was 18 years my senior.
As the “baby” of the family, I often felt overlooked. Unfortunately, this lead me down a chronic people pleasing path, only to discover years later that I suffered for it, both physically and emotionally.
Ultimately, I realized other women were likely encountering the same obstacles. As a result, I wrote Power Up, Power Down: How to Reclaim Control and Make Every Situation a Win/Win as a guide to offer others effective “power tools” they could implement both personally and professionally.
Being the youngest also impacted my ability to set and stand by personal boundaries. Even as I became an adult, my brothers and sisters continually disregarded any limits I attempted to set. They each viewed me as both the problem and the problem-solver.
Once I discovered that boundaries are the “Secret Sauce” to personal power, that’s when my relationship with my siblings and those around me changed for the better.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Fred, a good friend of mine, worked for Samantha, a very successful businesswoman. Samantha was smart, determined, and hardworking. But while she was an adamant protector of her own boundaries, she was a notorious boundary buster to others.
Samantha and Fred became acquainted through their sons, and a few years after their initial association, Samantha recruited Fred to work for her- AtT the outset of their professional relationship, she began calling and texting Fred at all hours, including early mornings, evenings, and weekends, with “urgent” work requests.
One Monday morning, Fred was dropping his son off at her house so their boys could walk to school together. He had been working on another high-priority project Samantha had given him and had some questions about how to proceed. After a few minutes of conversation, he asked her for some clarification on the urgent work-related issue.
Immediately, her eyes narrowed, and her lips thinned into a hard line. “How DARE you come to my home and encroach upon my personal time by asking me about work outside of the workday?” Samantha snapped.
Fred was shocked and speechless. He had falsely assumed that since Samantha felt comfortable sending business his way during non-work hours, he was also free to make an “after-hours” inquiry. Fred was taken aback from this unexpected comment and her strong reaction to his question. After some consideration he stated, “I am so sorry, Samantha. I know that this project is important, and thought since I was here, I’d ask you about it so I could hit the ground running once I got into the office.”
“Well, you thought wrong. Don’t you ever do that again,” Samantha firmly stated. Not knowing how to respond, he said he would see her later at the office and left.
As he drove away, he Fred mentally replayed all of the times she had encroached on his boundaries around non-work hours and responded to her request without fail.
Samantha had a habit of creating crises by promising clients’ unreasonable deadlines and offloading meeting those deadlines to Fred and the team during off-hours. As time went on, Fred became more and more stressed, angry, and even resentful. And, not surprisingly, so did his family. He made every attempt to communicate boundaries, but Samantha seemed to refuse to hear and/or accept them.
Realizing that her behavior was never going to change, Fred submitted a letter of resignation. Even after receiving the letter, Samantha continued her boundary-busting behavior. She left numerous desperate voicemails and sent multiple text messages saying how much Fred had upset her.
She even tried to play the victim with Fred, saying that he was leaving her “high and dry” by not bringing the project to completion. Luckily, Fred had finally learned the importance of holding true to his personal boundaries and was not swayed by her tactics.
As this situation shows, setting and sticking to boundaries is not always easy. For Fred it was a slippery slope, and he should have never let it go as long as he did. He confessed to me later that it was fear that stood in the way of him standing up for himself. His experience caused me to take good long look at my own boundaries because I was headed down the same path. That is why I had to asked mayself and we all should ask ourselves, “Are our my limiting beliefs or fears causing us me to resist setting boundaries? This question is one that most people can benefit from answering.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I started my career in philanthropy, raising money for a variety of nonprofit organizations. One of my first positions was at a community foundation where I was the only full-time employee and my boss, who was gone more often than he was in the office, was part-time. I did most of the work while he took the majority of the credit.
I worked hard and completed goals that should’ve taken three years in a little over one year.
So, I thought it was the perfect time to ask for a raise.
To this day, I remember my boss shaking his head no and saying, “You get child support, don’t you?”
I was shocked. I didn’t know how to respond or what to do. I tried asking what that had to do with my accomplishments for the foundation, but that didn’t change his view about giving me a pay increase. Every time I brought up the subject of a pay increase, I got the same response.
I discovered later that the foundation board approved a salary increase — for my boss. I felt utterly devalued, frustrated, and powerless.
Finally, I resigned and moved on. I learned an important lesson thanks to that experience: I realized that I had been unknowingly giving my power away.
It took me years to understand that my lack of boundaries, mindset, and self-talk were part of what was holding me back. Setting and sticking to boundaries also played a role in my inability to properly hold my power position.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Chronic people pleasing — needing others to like and approve of us — can lead to serious wellness issues.
Boundaries are an essential aspect of our wellbeing. In fact, they are the “special sauce” of interpersonal power. By holding firm to our personal limits, we are defining and establishing our true empowerment. It is through maintaining and holding our boundaries that we show the world where we will and will not be moved.
Today, I’m an expert in the dynamics of power, helping others learn how to be happier and healthier by understanding how to harness their personal power effectively. But, that wasn’t always the case. I am also a recovering people pleaser.
People pleasing by default hands control of our value, worth, and personal power over to others. We will never succeed when we try to be all things to all people and ultimately, we end up failing everyone, including ourselves. For example, research from the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology dated February 2012* predicts people pleasers eat more in response to perceived social pressure than the general population.
People pleasers, whether chronic or occasional, fear and avoid conflict. Not only do people pleasers pretend to agree with everyone, but they also take on responsibility for the feelings of others, morphing who they are to make other people more comfortable at the expense of their own needs, morals, and values.
Those who strive to please others forego authentic relationships because they don’t feel safe admitting when they’re sad, angry, resentful, burdened, or disappointed. The energy spent on attempting to make others happy can lead to loneliness and isolation.
Ironically, we often think of people pleasers as powerless, but in truth they’re using a form of power to fit in and belong. I call this “Powering Down,” which, when used inappropriately, can be expressed by going along with the desires of others, apologizing, allowing ourselves to be interrupted, and taking up as little space as possible. What is gained in likability is lost in influence and, for people pleasers, their self-respect and in turn, their overall wellbeing.
By employing subtle yet impactful “Powering Up” behaviors — such as speaking up, making direct eye contact, standing up for others, and taking up more space — people pleasers can step into a new type of power while remaining kind and loving, without being a doormat.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
Not sure what else to include….
Five lessons that helped me overcome my people pleasing tendency and maximize my health and wellbeing.
- Examine the symptom. Are you saying yes to something that you truly want to say no to? I had to take a deep, hard look at the root cause of my tendency to people please. I asked myself things like: How am I feeling? What in my past or childhood taught me to accept something that was someone else’s responsibility? Do I have limiting beliefs that I am not worthy to set boundaries?
- Identify the need. What was happening on an emotional level that caused me to seek pleasing others while denying what I need. Fear of abandonment? Guilt? I What specifically was causing me to allow people to push past my boundaries and give my power away?
- Clearly define and communicate my boundaries. Understand that boundaries are simply limits we put around our time, energy and money. I sat down and determined ahead of time what I was willing and felt comfortable doing and where I’d draw the line. I communicated those limits to others and if they attempted to push passed those limits, I set consequences. For example, if I said I was not going to work after 6pm. I didn’t answer work calls, texts, or emails after that time and waited to respond until the next morning. Don’t get me wrong — this was very hard at first but with practice it became easier.
- Respond, don’t react. Take a deep breath to “collect yourself.” I prepared responses in advance to common situationssituations, so I did not have to think on the spot. This comes in handy especially if you find yourself giving in to the same people or the same requests. An example might sound something like “It sounds like you had a tough week with that unexpected problem. I understand you are in a tight spot, but I won’t be able to help you on such short notice. I’d be happy to help next time if you ask at least two weekdays in advance.”
- Prepare for Boundary Busters. Accept the fact that there will always be those that will put pressure on you to cross or relinquish an established boundary. I had to accept responsibility for holding my boundaries. One thing that helped was to identify those who continually tried to break through my boundaries and put distance between myself and that person when possible.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
The movement I would ignite is one in which we are allowed to say “no” to the requests and/or expectations of others on our time, money, and energy.
“No” is a seemingly simple word. As young children, no was a word we used frequently. Toddlers often defiantly say no to their parents but quickly discover that word is not acceptable.
As we get older, it seems that many of us carry that toddler interaction into our belief system: Saying no is inappropriate and impolite. This internalized belief is why many people struggle with saying no and setting proper personal boundaries.
Boundaries are an essential aspect of our wellbeing. By holding firm to our personal limits — by feeling empowered to say “no” — we are defining and establishing our true empowerment. It is through maintaining and holding our boundaries that we show the world where we will and will not be moved and as such, we protect our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Healthy, defined boundaries give us confidence. They provide us with the freedom to allow ourselves and others to have a voice, be heard, and cultivate trust in relationships. When we can stand in our power, others are given the ability to do the same.
In the past, I didn’t not hold my boundaries at the expense of their my own physical and emotional well-being.
My dream ultimate goal would be that no person ever relinquishes their personal power though lack of boundaries ever again. Which is why I have dedicated my life to teach and coach others to harness their personal power.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
(These were the same we provided in the previous Q&A. Should we rephrase, or change a few? Or, should these be listed as the 5 top lifestyle tweaks?)
- Positive Self Talk. As successful as I was in the corporate world, I found myself having to work at keeping negative thoughts from invading me. They slip in so easily and before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself that there is no way you can succeed. I’ve learned that you can’t stop negative thoughts from entering your mind however, you can decided how much energy to give them. Never let negative thoughts take the power of your vision away.
- Clearly Defined and Communicated Boundaries. I am a recovering people pleaser. I say recovering because if you default to wanting to please others, you must know your boundaries and make a conscious choice to hold them. if I had clearly defined and held my boundaries, I could have avoided toxic situations both in my professional and personal relationships.
- Use the Proper “Power Tools” There are two ways to step into power. Powering Up and Powering Down both use verbal and nonverbal communication and are different sides of the same coin. We have a choice in every situation whether we want to Power Up or Power Down. They are both equally effective but choosing the correct “Power Tool” for the situation opens your influence and advances relationships.
- See things as opportunities instead of barriers. Every road leads to where we need to be. If we must take a detour, remember it’s there for a reason. We give our power away when we tell ourselves that something or someone can keep us from achieving our dream. Instead, we can harness our power by embracing everything along our path as a necessary part of preparing for the great things ahead. View obstacles as learning opportunities and move on with increased motivation.
- Be kind to yourself, laugh at and learn from your mistakes. Society tells us mistakes and failures are unacceptable, but both are part of being human. Other people will see our mistakes and that’s okay because they make us stronger and better.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Having worked in the healthcare system, I saw daily how physical health issues received considerable treatment. The examinations, tests, procedures….all done to bring a person back to a healthy physical state. But the same level of dedication wasn’t afforded to mentalto mental and emotional wellbeing. Over the past 21 months of the pandemic, it’s become even more apparent and vitally important to address this widespread epidemic.
As a global community, we each need to change our mindset on mental and emotional health. Instead of a stigma that struggling only afflicts “the weak,” we should view it for what it is — a health issue that requires compassionate treatment.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin. My website is also a great resource. All links are below.
Thank you for these fantastic insights!