Archive for June, 2012

Is Your Communication Style Crippling You?

June 28th, 2012 • by Laura Scott •

woman talking with hand 
Often when I work with clients to repair a relationship, whether it’s business or personal, we uncover a skill gap – the skill to communicate.

Effective communication is a large part of what builds successful relationships and well-being. Unfortunately communication skills are not taught in high school or even in college so most of us go through life learning our communication skills through trial and error, or from the influencers in our lives. Unfortunately those influencers have no clue how to communicate either. Sitcom and screen writers have a heyday showing us how bad communication can create loads of drama.

When you look at where people fail at communicating it typically falls into two categories–judging and sending solutions, according to Robert Bolton’s groundbreaking book People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts.

This book was written in 1979, but I still see evidence of these blocks in modern communication. Judging can be as simple as offering your “two-bits worth” of advice, or it can be more stinging like criticism or labeling. Sometimes we feel we must be critical in order to help people change for the better but instead we diminish them, or we label them a “nag” or an “idiot” and they are suddenly reduced to a type instead of a person. Rarely is our advice constructive because it communicates that we know better than the other person. To that other person advice feels like a form of judgment, or an affront to their intelligence.

Judging and sending solutions typically means you’re doing most of the talking. You’re likely not listening in a constructive way. One cool trick to improve listening is to invite the other person to speak by saying “Tell me more?” or “What’s on your mind?” and then to resist the impulse to interrupt and just remain silent giving the other person the time and space to formulate a meaningful response. If we give in to the urge to interrupt, comment, or editorialize we are in fact wallpapering over what they are saying with our own judgments and opinions or comments. And in doing so we have failed to listen in a constructive way.

Bolton says effective communication always shows respect, empathy, non-possessive love, and genuineness. Think back on one incident where you felt your communication was lacking. Which one of the above was missing in that communication?

Flickr photo by Art Freak

Finding value in infertility

June 22nd, 2012 • by Laura Scott •

People often ask me about my work with individuals and couples dealing with infertility. I respond in general terms because I am committed confidentiality so I can’t share the details.

However, it’s difficult to talk in general terms because each client comes with a different challenge, and different goals. The situations tend to be very complex.

Recently I came across an article that reflects the complexity of infertility and offers a glimpse of the range of choices available even when there appears to be few options.

Written by a single woman in her early 40s who was 32 months into IVF treatments, this article, titled My Fertility Crisis, gives us an accurate picture of the feelings experienced and the nature of the decision-making that goes into navigating infertility. This article also explores the challenges of navigating infertility in a society that holds parenthood as the ideal for all.

As a coach, I noted that this writer had identified a very strong limiting belief that so many hold, whether we care to admit it or not —the belief that we have less value as human beings if we don’t reproduce. Below is the quote that made me take notice: In the end, infertility can make you feel less human. As cultivated as we are, we hold on to a deep-rooted belief that our worth is tied to how well, and how much, we reproduce.

If this is true for us and we continue to hold on to the belief that a person is less human or has less value in the world if they don’t reproduce, then we will continue to set ourselves up for failure and for unhappiness. The real risk of failing to conceive is the risk that our limiting beliefs around our value in the world as childless persons will cause us to be stuck with the idea that we can’t be human, happy or fulfilled without biological children. The writer of this article seems to think that will be true for her.

And, sadly, it will be true for her if she continues to hold onto that belief.

So how do we find value in infertility? Like any “crisis” infertility presents us the opportunity to take stock of what we really value in the world, and who we really want to be in the world, and what we want and what we are willing to sacrifice for what we want.
But if this process of discernment and discovery is colored by the very limiting belief that happiness and fulfillment is achieved only through conceiving and/or bearing a biological child then many people are destined for disappointment and unhappiness. In fact, if we hold this belief to be true, then one in five women in the United States who are in their 40s and remain childless are at risk of having that less-than human experience.

Sad. And totally untrue. And totally unnecessary.

Photo credit: Flickr photo by Amandabhslater

Top 5 regrets at the end of life

June 22nd, 2012 • by Laura Scott •

What would it be like to know now what you were likely to regret at the end of your life?

Interested? Well click here to read an article written by a nurse who cared care for dying patients. In this article she lists the top five regrets people make on their deathbed and I summarize and list them here because I think you will be surprised at the types of things people actually regret:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content.

How does this list differ from what you expected? What is not on this list that you expected to be here? How will this reading this list change the way you are living your life right now?

Photo credit: Flickr Photo by Flatbush Gardener