How to Communicate Better with People You Care About – Part 1

Recently I was asked to give a talk about how people can communicate better with one another.  I was searching my files and found a handout that I have used in my practice for years.  It is called The Ten Commandments of Clean Communication.  It was given to me by a former mentor, and it has no attribution on it, so I don’t know if she wrote it herself, or if it came from a book she read many years ago.  As I looked it over, I thought it was the best set of communication guidelines I have seen, … [Read more...]

Empathy vs Sympathy

There are many times when we don’t know what to say. A friend’s spouse is ill, someone doesn’t get the promotion they really wanted, or someone is just having a really down day. We feel stumped and either say nothing or end up saying something we later think is stupid or wrong. In my job teaching medical residents, I work with them on empathy and how to use empathic words. Often, however, what comes out is just “I’m sorry.” When we talk about empathy, we really mean trying to stand … [Read more...]

Are You Obsessing About Your Spouse’s Affair?

Many people who have struggled with a spouse’s infidelity, find themselves still thinking about it years, even decades after it happened.  I had one person call me from South Africa and tell me that even though she and her husband had worked things through and were still together many years later, she still found herself thinking about his affair.   Conventional wisdom would have you say to her “Let it go, already!”   But why do people obsess and is there any value in keeping that betrayal … [Read more...]

Ten Commandments for Better Relationships

I am often asked how to fix or improve or start relationships. People who are shy often have trouble with small talk and have trouble starting relationships when they are in a new situation. People who have conflictual family or friend relationships will sometimes seek my advice on how to change a negative interaction to a positive one, or how to avoid a similar pitfall in the future. Sometimes there is a boss who is hard to work with and, of course, there are always those clients who have … [Read more...]

When Someone You Love Is Disabled

    I confess. I was one of those people who never thought much about disabilities. Although I have had health problems through the years, none has left me unable to do the things I wanted to do. So my focus on disabilities was more about placards on cars and signs in parking lots. Then 16 months ago my husband had a stroke. It left him unable to use his left arm or leg, but we were lucky that his mind was fine and his speech, initially a little garbled, recovered quickly. Suddenly, things … [Read more...]