Communication 201

Posted by on Oct 12, 2019

Hmm, just how DO I communicate? This was the last paragraph from last week’s blog: This is Part I because there is a lot to talk about here. So, my suggestion for you is to examine your communication this week. Homework is my favorite part of therapy and where most of the work gets done. You can talk with your therapist for an hour a week or read this blog for a few minutes a week, but then what do you do the rest of the time? You don’t have to work on it every minute of every day, but if you touched on it daily, imagine the growth that would be possible. See if you can tune into your thoughts during those important conversations or relationships. What do you think? Is it rational or reactive? Is it supportive or defensive? What are you looking for from your other, goodness or badness? How do you frame your view of them? What evidence are you using to come to your conclusion? I don’t know about you, but I have never had an important conversation where I didn’t learn something I absolutely didn’t know about that person. When I take the time to ask and listen, Mette will say something of value, something that reveals a thought or feeling I wasn’t seeing or hearing, and it softens me immediately. We fight out of reflex. Communication is the salve. See what you can see and hear this week and we’ll talk about it more next week. If you were a client and we had ended our last session as I ended the blog, I would ask, “So, how did it go? What did you notice about your communication?” And then, I would wait. Sometimes there will be a long pause and sometimes there will be so much to say, it will flow right out. Usually, spending a week in observation or self-awareness doesn’t come together until you talk about it. I love the saying, “thinking out loud,” because so many insights don’t become visible until you start to talk about it. I guess it is a stream of consciousness exercise of sorts, allowing thoughts to come to the surface and hear what they sound like out loud. There is a lot to manage during a conversation. If we think a thought each second, then we have a lot of thoughts when we...

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Communication, 101 (part I)

Posted by on Oct 5, 2019

How do you communicate? Who taught you to communicate? Not talk, which was most likely your parents, but communicate. There is a difference between the two, an enormous difference, and I think it is under-estimated, under-appreciated, and under-taught. I read an aphorism once that said, “Anything can be resolved in communication.” I must have been twelve. It was a small, green booklet that had dozens of aphorisms from Werner Erhard but that is the only one I remember. It has stuck with me all these years and I have said it more times than I could count when trying to help people find resolution. As a psychologist, helping people communicate is most of my job. We just don’t know how; we were never taught how to communicate in a productive or powerful way, and so we struggle along, talking, but not communicating. I have a wonderful client (I say that about all of my clients), and she is struggling with communication in an important relationship. She is smart, funny, clever, college educated, travelled, insightful, talented, successful, and a good person. She is the kind of person you would want in your tribe or at the very least, your office. Let’s call her Joan. Joan is in her early forties, Caucasian, an amateur equestrian, and divorced. She has sort of embarked on a new relationship, the first one after her divorce, and in an effort to do things better the second time around, is trying to figure out how to have better communication. As I watch her struggle, my own struggles become more and more obvious. I wonder if other shrinks feel this way, a short step ahead of the client, enough to help but requiring work to stay out in front. I love the way the people I work with push me to work on myself constantly. With each moment I help, I learn. I always feel a little funny taking their money… Joan needed to ask a difficult question with a potentially deal-breaking answer. On the surface, it was possible to wonder if she had been betrayed. But the surface rarely tells the whole story and sometimes even confuses us even more. Asking the difficult question had become unavoidable because now that it had become a question, it would fester until it was either answered or it ultimately wrecked the relationship. You can only sweep so much under...

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