Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development
Most couples who come for marriage counseling initially report experiencing very low levels of marital satisfaction. One couple I worked with told me at their first session that they had already planned to divorce, but thought they owed it to their children to try counseling.
The couple admitted that the majority of their conversations were filled with sarcasm, criticism, and other negative forms of communication and neither one could stand the hurt and anger any longer.
I suggested a challenge: Refrain from all negative comments and interactions for two weeks. The plan was that if they started to argue or fight, one or both needed to call a time, respectfully step out of the conflict, and focus on cooling down emotionally.
Two weeks later both reported they had reduced their negative comments and conflict by at least 75 percent. They were pleased with the change – especially for their children – but they didn’t really feel...
By far, the number one problem identified by married couples is that they can't communicate effectively. It's actually somewhat hard to believe that this problem is so pervasive in homes today when you consider that these same couples often claim to not have difficulty communicating with friends and co-workers. What's up with this?
One of the main reasons couples have such a difficult time communicating at home is because their conversations involve "high stake" relationships along with "high stake" issues that are often highly emotionally charged.
I have found that one of the best ways to guarantee better communication when engaged in these difficult conversations is to learn how to be a skilled listener. I'm confident that if you consistently practice the tips below for the next thirty days you will see the quality of your communication improve significantly. Start putting these tips to work for your relationships today!
1. Listen twice as much as you talk
"It is far better...
I frequently hear women express concerns about their husbands not communicating affection or what they think and feel about many topics – especially about them, personally, and their marriage. The husband usually responds with comments like, “You know I’m not a talker” or “I can’t communicate as well as you can.”
Although most men do have the ability to effectively communicate with their wives they often don’t, and there are many different reasons that we won’t go into now.
Before we go farther, let me clarify that there are some couples in which it’s the wife who has the greater challenge with communication, but since the majority of “non-talkers” are men, we will assume this in order to keep it simple. If you are/have a quiet wife, feel free to apply the information as it suits your situation.
When I’m working with couples who are frustrated about one-sided communication, I often recommend a...
Q: What do you think is one of the most common complaints expressed in the workplace today?
A: The habit of NOT LISTENING. (Perhaps the title was a good clue!) Poor listening is considered one of the rudest of all office behaviors. After all, the messages you send, whether intended or not, come across loud and clear when you don’t listen or pay attention:
• I don’t care about you.
• I don’t understand you.
• You’re wrong.
• What you have to say isn’t important.
• You’re wasting my time.
Most people don’t realize just how powerful listening can be, and they often miss out on its valuable benefits.
What about you? When someone talks to you at work, are you really attentive? I’m not talking about merely hearing the sound of their words, but truly paying close attention to body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Real listening, the type that produces accurate understanding and empathy, often...
“Mom, Oliver pulled my doll's head off again!” “I know you are, but what am I?” “Dad, Emily looked at me!” Sound familiar? It does if you have more than one child in your home. Sibling rivalry: A common pattern of negative interaction between children of the same family that dates as far back as the Old Testament and the story of Cain and Abel.
Even though it can make you want to scream and pull your hair out, sibling rivalry is normal and can even be constructive if handled properly. Day to day interactions between siblings and parents help children learn important skills such as problem solving and negotiating and how to develop self-control and an attitude of cooperation.
Sibling rivalry is typically an outgrowth of a child’s immature attempts to gain their parent’s love, attention, acceptance, and approval. When emotions such as jealousy, envy, and frustration are combined with impulsivity and underdeveloped social...
Is your life perfect just the way it is? If so, you can stop reading now. However, if you’re normal there’s probably something that could be better. Can you put your finger on what you don’t like or are unhappy with? You see, if you can identify what you wish were different, there’s a simple solution – either add or subtract.
The wisdom of the Principle of Addition and Subtraction is revealed in the following statement: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got. In other words, if there are things in your life causing you recurrent pain, whatever you’re doing about them apparently isn’t working. You have to introduce something new or different in order to experience relief. If you are struggling with your children, marriage, finances, career, communication, health, friendships, etc., something must either be added to or subtracted from your life in order to...
Do you want to experience fewer “problems” in your life? Great, keep reading.
I was talking with a couple recently, and they consistently used the word “problem” to describe many of the things happening around them. This situation was a problem, that person is a problem, etc. Their words sounded as though life was heavy and frustrating and they felt helpless and hopeless. As I listened, I was reminded of how the words we choose have such a powerful impact on how we think, feel, and respond to things that happen in our lives – especially things we perceive to be negative or difficult.
I said to the couple, “I want you to consider for a moment that what you have been describing are not really problems, but rather challenges. No one can avoid life’s challenges, but it is possible to keep them from becoming problems.” I believe the problems many people experience are in reality challenges that were...
As a parent, you want to help your child if he’s being harassed at school, but what if it’s your child who’s pushing others around? First, understand that even good parents who do many things right can have a child who’s a bully. If you do, it’s important to learn what influences are at work.
Researchers at the University of Arizona surveyed 6th to 8th graders. Those who reported bullying most had experienced more forceful, physical discipline from their parents, viewed more TV violence and misbehaved more at home. In that group, 32% lived with a stepparent and 36% were in single-parent households. They generally had fewer adult role models, more exposure to gang activity and easier access to guns. Researchers concluded that bullies learn much of their behavior by example, and consequently need as much help as their victims.
Other predisposing factors include a strong desire for attention, immaturity, a lack of popularity among peers and a dislike...
As an American I am mindful of the value of being free. When our nation’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were focused on freedom from political and religious tyranny, and I am grateful for their vision and sacrifice. But even though we live in the Land of the Free, we can be held captive by our own tyrants – and sometimes we volunteer for bondage. It may be time to declare independence from one or more of these common captors:
Fear of Rejection – Humans have an inherent need to be accepted and loved. Yes, some are extroverts, and some are introverts so appearances can be deceiving. Extroverts often seem to interact easily with others and their fear of rejection may show up as neediness. Introverts are more likely to withdraw if they’re experiencing fear of rejection, feeling as though it’s safer to avoid contact than to risk it. Free yourself from this fear by remembering that you have intrinsic value that is not based on any...
In last week's blog post, I discussed the importance of the father’s role in the lives of his children, but what does that mean to you in practical terms? Really, the question is, “What does it take to be a great dad?” Based on my work with hundreds of couples and families, I have found that great dads consistently practice five key principles.
Raising children is a little bit like building a home. I’m not an expert in construction, but I know that if you want to build a quality home, you need to pay close attention to the details – just as a father seeking to raise “quality” kids will find it helpful to keep these five key principles in mind.
1. A great dad LOVES his children. Just as the foundation of a new home has to be poured before the building can be framed, a father’s love for his family is the foundation that supports and sustains everything else he does. When your actions and decisions are motivated by love, your...
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