Friday, December 28, 2012

How We Communicate

With practice, most anyone can learn to communicate with ease and confidence, as well as convey his/her true feelings. 

There are two parts to communication: verbal and non-verbal

Non-verbal clues can include: hand gestures, tics (voluntary or involuntary), stance and posture, facial expressions, breathing (noticeably heavy or shallow), attire, grooming (or lack of), and focus (i.e. wandering eyes). 

Your verbal message includes more than the spoken word. The delivery is quite important, too. Consider your answers to the following questions.

1. Are you fluid in your speech pattern and do your words roll off your tongue?  

2. Are you hesitant with your words or halting in your speech pattern? This could show a lack of confidence about what you’re trying to convey or it can even be indicative of how you feel about your own worthiness.

3. Does the tone of your voice go up at the end of each sentence so that it sounds like a question rather than a statement? This could indicate that you are unsure of what you’re saying or are afraid to state your opinion. If it is framed as a question, you can always backpedal on the issue. 

4. Are you enunciating each word vs. speaking rapidly and slurring your words? 

5. Are you modulating the volume of your voice, as well as its pitch and tone? Emphasis on different words in a statement can also change its meaning drastically. Here's an example. If the question "What are you doing?" is asked nonchalantly and posed in a non-threatening manner, it is regarded as benign. However, if the WHAT is emphasized (WHAT are you doing?) it could be indicative of disgust/surprise/horror upon espying someone completing an act. Or, if the YOU is emphasized (What are YOU doing?), it could certainly sound accusatory. 

A great many of us have stopped listening to ourselves as we speak, so we’re not aware of all the nuances we communicate. Try taking a step back to become an objective observer of your conversations. Listen for your tone; watch your focus; and pay attention to small/quiet non-verbal nuances which can convey loud messages. It’s imperative to say what you mean and mean what you say, and back it up with non-verbal cues. In other words, let your actions and words be in sync. For example, don’t say “I’m fine” with evident tears in your eyes and a frown upon your face. In truth, you're telling a "little white lie."

These “little white lies” may be uttered for various reasons that seem “okay” in the moment. For example: (1) supposedly sparing another’s feelings; (2) to agree in order to be liked or be part of the “in crowd”; (3) to avoid conflict or (4) to not burden another. 

These types of "lies" are so prevalent in society that it seems as if they are an accepted mode of communication. In fact, a recent article in the AARP magazine quoted an alarming statistic: "If you're like most Americans, you tell 11 lies a week." White lies were included in the total.

Putting aside the the moral issue on lying and the fact that it is simply too hard to remember anything but the truth, researchers have also shown that lying affects your mental and physical health. In a 10-week study, participants who told fewer lies experienced less anxiety and back pain and also had better social interactions. The conclusion was that people feel better when their relationships are going well. No matter how you look at it, lying (no matter the size or the reason behind it) is NOT a component of a healthy relationship that is going well.

Remember that it is very possible to tell the truth and be kind in your delivery. For example, it’s not necessary to say “That outfit makes you look fat.” Instead, you could say, “I’ve seen you wear more flattering outfits. How about the one you wore ….” 

The mode of delivery of a message is of utmost importance in all your relationships. Hard and necessary truths conveyed with an undertone of love and acceptance are heard more easily than harsh/cruel words that communicate blame and criticism.

Heed the words of James M. Barrie, who said: "Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than necessary."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Six Tips for Successful Relationships

I love what Kevin Anderson had to say about blogging:

"The bottom line is that blogging is like sex.
You can't fake it. You can't fake passion. 
You can't fake wanting to engage with the public. 
If you do, it will ultimately be an unsatisfying experience
for the blogger and their readers."

Today, I'm passionate about sharing my thoughts on love, dating and relationships. Here are six for your consideration.

1. The caption divulges the key to success in any endeavor you might undertake. You, too, can fly as free as a bird who has the ability to lift himself from undesirable circumstances and migrate to a place where the sun is always shining.

2. The following is an important key to building successful relationships, both personal and professional. You were given two ears and one mouth. Accordingly, listen twice as much as you talk.

3. No relationship is strife-free, but, as Robert H. Schuller said, "Problems are not stop signs; they are guidelines."

Don't let roadblocks stop you in your tracks. Find a "curvy" way (like the street sign captioned below) around issues that confront you. This new way, which veers off the straight road from A to B that you might be used to taking, might present interesting solutions and also allow you to connect with those you would not have normally met in your regular walk of life.

4. A bad attitude is like a blown light bulb that plunges you into darkness. You can’t even see what is right in front of you until you change it.  Check to see if your "light bulbs" are becoming dim, if not already blown out. If they are, make the change today!

Extrapolating that thought to dating ... if you think you are going to have a negative experience with dating or will never find anyone else to love and someone who will love you back, there's a good chance you will make that into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Changing your attitude towards any circumstance that confronts you is one of the first steps for moving through it with grace to reach eventual success. 

5. Henry David Thoreau said, "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them."

Accordingly, if you want to be partnered, visualize yourself in that situation. Be assured, this doesn't negate your capabilities to live fully as a single person. However, envisioning that there is room and an important place for a partner in your life opens up the space for him/her to walk in. Visualize your dreams first and then pull them into your everyday reality to bring them to fruition.

6. As you start to think about what you want to accomplish in the new year, remember that life is about participating. Don't sit on the sidelines or act like a wallflower. And if no one is asking you to dance at the moment, create your own opportunities to "dance." Your joy will shine through, making you attractive, and it will draw people to you.

I like the sentiment Lee Ann Womack expresses, and I echo it as my wish for you. She said, "When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance."


Don't forget to check out my Holiday Sale on a selection of my books on both relationships and coping with grief. Click HERE to find out more.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lighten Up and Smile!

Times are tough these days, so most everyone can use a little light in their lives. Smiling, both to yourself and at the world, is a simple and inexpensive way to experience a change in perspective so that light can stream into your life once again. With an adjusted stance at how the world is viewed, pro-active thoughts and subsequent positive changes can be experienced. In fact, "smiling makes you feel better about yourself, even if you don't feel like it. And it always makes other people think better of you." 

Furthermore, as Joseph Addison said, “What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure, but scattered along life’s pathways, the good they do is inconceivable.” 

Smiling is also a wonderful way to attract others to you. Even Mother Teresa agrees. She said, "Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love." 

I believe that smiling, and the positive thoughts it sparks, is so important that I wrote a book about it! The book offers 33 ways to change your perspective and suggests ways on how to incorporate smiling into everyday life. 

I’m allowing FREE downloads of the book for the next five days, December 14th through December 18th. Here is how you can access your free copy. 

Please spread the word about it, so everyone you know can begin to practice the art of smiling!

1. Starting at 12:01 A.M. on Friday, December 14th go to this Amazon link.

2. You will notice the price is set at $0.00 and will remain so until midnight of December 18th.

3. Lighten Up and Smile: The Power of Smiling and Positive Thought is a Kindle book. However, you DON’T need a Kindle to read it. Just download a free reading app from Amazon. This will allow you to read it on your computer, tablet, phone.

Here's what one reviewer, Celeste Castillo, said about the book:
"I really liked this little book. It shows the power of a smile. I put it in practice as soon as I started reading and the results were amazing. I got a great response from the people around me. It made me more approachable and welcoming. This book is great and everyone should read it!!" 

In addition to what you'll read in the book, here are some extra "smiley" thoughts for you today.

And here's a fun game to play.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Building Healthy Relationships: Choose The Life Your Want

It’s Your Choice 

Choice Therapy: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom (published 1998) by Dr. William Glasser, an internationally recognized psychiatrist, presents the theory that we all choose how we behave and that our control is limited to our own behavior vs. trying to control the behavior of another. 

As man’s most important need is love and belonging, he wants to do everything in his power to further closeness and connectedness in his relationships. When this goal is not attained, and, thus, he feels alone or rejected, he becomes dissatisfied by his relationships. Quite often, rather than looking inside himself and recognizing that his own choice of behaviors may have caused the deterioration of the relationship, he looks externally to place blame on another or makes himself a victim by blaming the circumstances in which he finds himself. 

Glasser’s theory goes on to state that there are seven caring habits that will foster good relationships and seven deadly habits, which are detrimental to relationships. The deadly habits are aptly named, for their usage will eventually lead to the destruction of a relationship. 

As a result of falling prey to the seven deadly habits of criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and bribing, and generally trying to get your partner to do what you want him/her to do, individuals push each other further apart, which results in a disconnection. 

This disconnection is at the root of many of the emotional problems we encounter during our lifetime. As we become more disconnected, our basic need for love and connectedness moves further away from us, and we become unhappy, depressed, mad, sad – a whirlpool of negativity from which it is difficult to extricate oneself. This leads to more external blame, for people have a hard time seeing it is their choice to feel a certain way. 

A person can just as easily choose to be positive about a situation, rather than negative. It is all in one’s perspective. 

The bottom line is that we each have a CHOICE on how we respond to our circumstances and a choice on how we behave towards our partner. It is greatly influenced by our perspective, for it is possible to consider the same situation good or bad. It is the individual who places the emotional tag on the circumstance. 

Glasser contends that having at least one close and satisfying relationship is imperative to our mental, physical and emotional health. It is when we are unable to get along with the important people in our lives that our ability to cope in other areas of our life deteriorates too. 

When we are frustrated by a relationship, we may tend to revert to anger. In this anger, we might lash out and emotionally hurt a partner. In a continuous downward cycle, this anger saddens and depresses us – actually immobilizing us so we cannot act on our feelings (good or bad ones). Now, we do not have enough energy  even to be angry  because the depression is zapping our strength. We then blame our depression (and our partner) for our inaction. We are looking outside of ourselves to find an external reason for the predicament in which we find ourselves. In truth, we have chosen to act in this fashion and created our own mess. 

Moreover, when we are sad, or suffering, we are, in essence, “asking” our friends and family to reach out to us – without really having to come out and beg for attention. The result is the same, though. We have chosen to cut ourselves off from the most important love relationship in our life, and, in our need for connectedness, we search for some other way to get love, which is calling attention to oneself by exhibiting a suffering attitude.

We could just as easily choose not to suffer and decide to act in ways to repair the relationship. We could take responsibility, as well as step out of the fear of rejection by reaching out to a partner. In other words, we could use the seven caring habits of supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences. 

Suffering or situational depression is sometimes chosen as an easier route because it gets one off the hook to do the hard work necessary to have a healthy and successful relationship. This hard work includes being courageous; being emotionally honest; not playing games; realizing and accepting one can only be in control of oneself and not his/her partner; discontinuing the jockeying for position with a partner in a power struggle; and subordinating some individual wants and desires for the greater good of the relationship. 

These are not easy feats to accomplish, although doable if both partners agree to work towards the goal of having a great relationship. The choice is yours.

Interested in learning more about healthy relationship principles? 
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