Archive for Relationships

Apr
01

The Marriage Myth – Why do so many couples divorce?

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An interesting article from the Washington Post about marriage education:

As a punishing rain lashed across the narrow peninsula of Ocean City, Heidi and Kirk Noll stood facing each other in a windowless conference room of the aging Carousel Resort Hotel.

Amid stackable chairs and retractable walls, they and a half-dozen other bleary-eyed couples clasped hands and pledged their lives to each other. Heidi’s hair was still damp for the 9 a.m. ceremony, which took only 15 minutes, despite multiple interruptions from hotel staffers opening heavy doors that led to an atrium where the hum of a Zamboni on an indoor ice rink mingled with the smell of maple syrup from breakfast.

Vows successfully exchanged, and blessed by an Army chaplain, the couples clambered back onto the chartered bus that had brought them here, and made the wearing slog home to Washington.

It was an experience, the Nolls insist, that saved their marriage.

What’s more: Had they gone through something similar years before, both say they might still be married to their first spouses.

The Nolls were on a marriage education retreat — in this case, a free, two-day event that was part of an Army-wide initiative called Strong Bonds.

What it meant for Kirk and Heidi was 36 hours away from their daily routine, time they spent thinking critically about their relationship. Together with their group… (click here to read entire article about The Marriage Myth)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Jan
21

Video – Lost in a Moment of What He Needs

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So much in therapy is about what someone needs, and about how those needs impact our decisions and  relationships.  Our needs can be as fundamental as the basic need or safety and survival.  We also have needs for belonging and love.  Esteem needs include achievement, confidence and respect.  Actualization needs top the list, pulling us to fulfill our potential and be the best people we can be.

Often one person’s needs conflict with another’s, and actions meant to satisfy one need may create another need, perhaps in people one doesn’t even know.

This song by Edie Brickell has always stood out to me, because it identifies several specific moments of need.  It presents a tragic example of how one person’s need can create a cascade of moments of need in others.  It is a sad song that captures just how painful and overwhelming needs can be.

If you are receiving this post in an e-mail, you may need to click on the title to view the video on my website.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Nov
18

Reflections on my Trip to Latvia

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Riga

I recently returned from spending a few weeks in Latvia, the country where I was born.  I went with my mom, and it was a beautiful trip.  I used to spend my summers in Latvia until I was 7 years old, and I had only been there once before as an adult, so this was a very special trip.

One of the things I love about travel is that it fosters perspective, appreciation and understanding.  So I wanted to write a little about the insights and reminders this trip offered me.  Also, as a counselor, I naturally see things from a psychological perspective, so I will make note when what I’m discussing relates to useful psychological principles or to my work as a counselor.

Culture and Beauty

Architectural Detail in Riga

I wanted to see Latvia more clearly than ever before.  I wanted to have my eyes and ears, and heart open to a deeper understanding of my place of origin.  I was especially interested in getting to know my birth-city, Riga, the capital of Latvia.  And I also longed to refresh my sweet childhood memories of Latvia’s pine forests and seashore.

I couldn’t have done this near as well without assistance from my mom and her friend Valda, with whom we spent many days and who kindly drove us to places outside Riga.  My mom grew up in Riga, and was able to tell me about the meaning, history, legends and traditions that related to what we saw.  We explored the historic district, the parks and monuments, and museums.  We attended performances at theaters, the opera and ballet.  We paused to look at the art nouveau architecture and cathedrals… and we traveled outside of Riga, to castle ruins, forests, villages, historic sites and (my favorite) the seashore.  I took so many pictures, I still haven’t sorted through them all!

Creating Positive and Meaningful Experiences

River Scape

As a counselor, these activities remind me of the importance of creating positive and meaningful experiences for oneself.  Such things don’t just happen automatically.  You have to seek them out.

For example, in Chicago, near where I live, there are countless opportunities to learn about history, see performances and culture, and go to museums.  And being on a budget is no excuse for opting out.  If you plan ahead, there are free activities in the city, and free days at museums.  It’s just a matter of deciding what you’re interested in, and making it a point to seek that out.  It is especially important for people struggling with depression to engage in such life-enriching activities.  We in Chicagoland are lucky that we don’t have to travel far for the perks of city life.

Also in rural areas there are positive and meaningful things to do, historic places to visit, natural beauty to enjoy, and ways to be involved in the community or in the arts.  But you’ve got to make it happen.  It usually requires a deliberate decision.

The Sun and the Song

Speaking of being positive… On my trip, I was reminded that Latvians uphold the sun as their cultural symbol (since ancient times), and that they assert the identity of their nation through song.  What wonderfully bright and positive symbols they have!  Very uplifting.  This is a great example of affirmation, not just on an individual level, but on a national level.

Here’s a lovely example of Latvian folk music about the sun (with beautiful photos to boot.)

Latvia’s annual song festival is an expression of one small nation’s uncrushable perseverance, endurance and optimism.  The beauty of the human spirit has prevailed there against all odds.

Occupation, Oppression and Trauma

Historic Fortification Wall in Riga

Against all odds?  This brings me to the ever-present undercurrent in almost any news event you hear about while in Latvia, in almost any political debate, and in the lives of almost anyone you meet.  The occupation.  Actually, there have been many occupations in Latvia over the last 800 years… by Germans, Swedes, Poles… but most recently and most significantly, by the Russians.

As a therapist I sometimes work with posttraumatic stress disorder, so I’m familiar with the impact trauma can have on individuals and families.  But this is trauma on a much larger scale.  The whole country (and more) was traumatized, and the scars are still there.

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

I learned about mass killings, mass deportations, horrifically cruel mistreatment and torture, tyrannical rule, and cultural oppression.  The thing that struck me while at the Museum of Occupation, was hearing a couple people around me whispering about their own families’ stories.  One even pointed to a photograph in the display, saying that was her father.  The stories were horrible.

Former KGB Headquarters in Riga

Many Americans don’t know much about the conditions in countries that were occupied by the Soviets after WWII.  Latvia was behind the iron curtain, inaccessible to Western journalists.  I have much appreciation for the resistance and the revolutionaries, many of whom suffered greatly and lost their lives, in an effort to regain Latvia’s freedom from tyrannical communist rule.

Many thousands were deported by railroad.

Understanding Oppression

As a counselor, I feel that Latvia’s oppression helps me to understand a little more about what oppressed people anywhere must suffer.  Luckily, I was too young to understand the political situation while living in Communist Poland and Latvia.  Also, I know that each situation is unique.  But I think I can say that I understand the gravity of oppression more than I would have if my family had not experienced it.  Therefore, I am more mindful of the oppression suffered, for example, by minority groups and the indigenous people of America.  This sometimes proves relevant in my work.

Personal Accounts

The Museum of Occupation included many personal accounts of how things were during WWII and the occupation.  I also heard stories about my mom’s family, and the bags they kept packed and ready by the back door, in case the Soviets suddenly came to deport them, as they did to meet their quotas, often randomly.  I also heard some stories from my mom’s friends, and saw artistic representations of oppression.

Rather than trying to convey the full weight of what I learned, I will let this poem sum it up for you.  This is a poem, on display at the Museum of Occupation, that conveys the thoughts of a Latvian coming back from Siberian exile, still during the years of the occupation.

My feet no longer know how to walk free.
How many years have yet to pass
for signs of shame to be erased from soul and face?
How many years have yet to pass
until the fear will disappear
in breezes through the fields of rye
and in the tristar light of native night?
How to approach you, Latvia, who’s still in chains?
As yet my heart does not suspect its fall
into the thistles and the nettle fields
around my father’s farm.
Free from banishment, my heart is rejoicing –
Not yet suspecting coming harm.

(translated from the Latvian by Valters Nollendorfs)

But the story did not end there.

Freedom Monument

In 1991, Latvia finally regained its independence, and the Freedom Monument in the center of Riga stands once again in a free country.

The country showed its resilience through enormous economic growth for almost two decades after regaining its sovereignty.  It joined the European Union.  And then it suffered in the economic collapse of 2008, along with much of the rest of the world.

The current economic pressures are immense.  One fifth of the country’s population has left Latvia in the last couple years, to seek jobs elsewhere.  I wondered whether I would see extreme poverty in Riga on my trip, but somehow the city endures, beautiful and full of life.  It is as vibrant with its many shops, galleries and cafes as my neighbor, Chicago.  However, I knew that Riga’s poverty was just under the surface (as it is in many cities today).

Self Reliance and Direct Living

One of my mom’s friends, and her family, who live on very limited income, impressed me with their resourcefulness.  Not only do they eat almost entirely the yields of their own garden, and the meat their nephew hunts, but they had built their own beautiful house out in the country… by hand!  Amazing.

I believe many of us have lost such skills (or even such ambitions) through the luxury of being able to pay others to grow our food and build our houses for us.  I, for one, am far removed from such direct living.  This has its advantages, because it gives me plenty of time to focus on my work, and it gives me leisure time.  But there is certainly something I admire about self-reliance and living in direct contact with the earth, the seasons, and nature.

Direct Living and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Grapevines

If you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you might think that a family such as the one I just described is stuck at the fundamental level of providing for their biological needs.  However, it appeared to me that knowing where their food would come from freed them up to attend to their higher order needs.  Working together in this way enriched their relationships with each other, added to their self-esteem and self-confidence, was a continual learning experience and a way to actively engage in life, still allowed time to socialize, read or play music, and allowed more money toward travel and cultural experiences (rather than just food).  Gardening also provides them the aesthetic of nature and good food.  So all the needs on Maslow’s hierarchy are addressed in this way.

Country Scene

Just imagine sitting on the steps of the home you built after a productive day of gardening… sipping your own blend of tea, looking over your garden and the country landscape beyond.  Perhaps someday I can have a similar scene in my life.

I believe that this sort of direct living (despite the financial stress that sometimes makes it necessary), is very much in line with Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.  Self-actualization is the motivation and effort toward realizing one’s potentials.  I talk about the importance of moving toward your personal potential on my homepage.  Not only is this a source of purpose and meaning in life, but a great source of joy and satisfaction.

Self-actualization includes what Maslow called “peak experiences… peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, possibly the awareness of an ‘ultimate truth’ and the unity of all things… the experience fills the individual with wonder and awe… he  feels at one with the world, and is pleased with it… They are moments when you feel more at one with yourself and the world, more integrated.  You feel happy, even ecstatic, interconnected and in harmony.”

You may want to ask yourself, “What in my life has triggered such feelings?”  Or, what could?  I encourage you to pursue the image that comes to mind.

City-gardens in the US

Along the theme of how gardening can enrich one’s life, I have heard of some economically devastated cities in the US, which are starting city-gardens for people to grow their own vegetables and fruit.  I think this is a wonderful idea.  Not only would it enrich the nutrition of the people who participate in it, but it would be a way for families to spend time together, it would make the cities more beautiful, it would be a learning experience in self-reliance, and it would bring participants a sense of self-esteem and achievement.

The Value of Loving-Kindness

“A Gift” Architectural Detail

Coming back to my trip to Latvia… taking such a trip with my mom also reminded me of the value of loving-kindness.  I can’t remember where I read this, but I recently read that the love between family members is not there automatically, as a guaranteed by-product of being related; but rather, it is the outcome of the quality of the experiences that they have shared.  This immediately made sense to me.

If you have had primarily negative experiences with certain family members, then you would be less likely to feel love, despite years spent together.  If, on the other hand, you feel cared for, encouraged, appreciated, supported, respected, important, and loved; and have replied in kind, then you would be more likely to feel love for the family members with whom you share these feelings and experiences.

In other words, love is something that needs to be nurtured, actively cultivated, and communicated through interactions.  And both people in any relationship play a role (except young children or individuals who are too disabled to be mindful of others or to love deliberately).  Here again (as with creating positive experiences) we see the power of intention and deliberate action.

Gottman’s Fondness and Admiration

I agree with Dr. John Gottman that this culture of fondness and admiration is mostly cultivated in the little moments of life… through paying attention to each other, staying connected about what’s going on in each other’s lives, being interested and curious, and also through being mindful and supportive in little day-to-day ways.  Even when living hundreds of miles apart, like me and my mom, this is possible through regular contact by phone, e-mail, Skype, mail, and occasional visits.  (By the way, if you have family or friends who live far away, and you still haven’t tried Skype, why not click this link and give it a try?  It’s not hard, the basic software is free, and even if you don’t have a camera, you could connect for free by voice and possibly see the other person if they have a camera.)

If fondness is not present, then taking a vacation together might not be especially enjoyable (though you could use the time to work through whatever is keeping you apart).  But if fondness is present, then taking a vacation can be a wonderful way to add even more meaningful, positive, and loving memories to the relationship.  I realize that Gottman primarily talks about these dynamics in the context of marital therapy, but I believe the same dynamics apply to other relationships as well.

Thank you, mom.

With mom at Jurmala seashore

I want to thank my mom for inviting me on this beautiful trip to the country we both came from.  I also want to thank her for her loving heart, for always trying to do what is best for her kids, for continually reaching out to me (even through the difficult times), for her patience and forgiveness, and for the fun times we’ve shared.  I love you!

Encouragement for Strained Relationships

I hope that this part of my story can serve as encouragement to those who are currently working through difficulties in their relationships.  Relationships aren’t always easy, but if you both honestly keep working at it, you could uncover a precious gem that lights up your life.

Perspective on my Roots

Our old neighborhood

Taking this trip with my mom gave me the opportunity not only to connect with my past, but also with her past.  Seeing the neighborhood where she grew up, the schools she went to, the parks where she played as a kid, meeting some of her friends, and talking about my ancestors; all gave me more perspective on our lives, an understanding of the forces that shaped her life (and thus mine), and an ability to relate on a deeper level.

I believe it is important and meaningful to try to understand the forces that shape our own lives, the lives of our loved ones, or the lives of others whom we want to understand.  Thus, it is also important and meaningful to pass along your stories (and your family’s stories) to younger generations, along with the wisdom that was acquired along the way.

For me, this was especially helpful because it also provided me a sense of continuity… much needed in a life of repeatedly moving; from one country to another, one state to another, and one city to another.

Fun, Pastries and the Seashore

Historic District in Riga

One very important 😉 thing I got some perspective on is the quality of pastries and cakes.  What a joy to sample the great variety of delicacies in Riga!  It is one of life’s mysteries why Americans, in our world of plenty, would chose to limit ourselves to such a small variety of sweet concoctions.  The combinations of subtle and intense flavors, the unique textures, the natural ingredients, the variations on classical themes, and our appreciation of the not-always-overly-sweet kept me and my mom busy popping into one café or bakery after another.  This, of course, was in addition to the old-fashioned Latvian cuisine we sought out every day, and the amazingly abundant farmers’ markets, with fresh food not just from Latvia, but from all over the

Farmers’ Market

world.  By the way, I wasn’t too worried about the calories since we walked many miles each day, and since I’m back to my normal routines now that I’m home.

We had fun checking out tourist shops, amber jewelry stores, book stores, antique stores, and the wonderful scenery in Riga’s historic district.  We enjoyed spending time with my mom’s friends, and I had lots of fun taking pictures everywhere we went.

Some of mom’s friends

And true to my memories, I enjoyed taking a nice long walk at the seashore.  It was too cold to swim in October, but there’s something special about the sea.  It is the place I remember best from my childhood, and it is one of the simple pleasures in my life to look out over a vast expanse of water, and at the clouds above.  It brought back memories of playing in the sand as a kid, and reminded me of funny stories from long ago.  The image of the tall pine trees and cute cottages at Latvia’s beaches will always be one that makes me smile.

Coming Home

After a couple weeks in Latvia, I was ready to come home to Tinley Park, IL.  If I had stayed any longer I would have shifted into simple living mode (rather than tourist mode)… something I was looking forward to doing back home.

Getting back into my usual routines, reconnecting with my husband, feeling productive at work, and reflecting on my experiences in Latvia has been a joy.  Here is my place in the world now, and it is a comfortable and satisfying one.  Latvia is a part of my past that I was glad to see again.  It puts my present in perspective, and it helps me appreciate what I have, while also clarifying some dreams that I have for my future (a garden perhaps?).

Why Did I Share This?

I decided to share this experience with my readers because it was meaningful to me, because it helps my readers to get to know me a little better, and because it illustrates how psychology applies and relates to real life situations.

I hope that through this article, as through all my other posts, I might encourage you to reflect on your own life, and to think about your relationships, about psychology, and about ways to enrich your life and seek your own potentials and dreams.

I will leave you with one of my favorite photos from the seashore:

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Aug
29

Why Parents of Girls Divorce More | Psychology Today

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Yes, it’s true. In generation after generation across many countries, parents of girls divorce more than do parents of boys.

As Steven E. Landsburg put it in his Oct 2003 article for Slate magazine, “All over the world, boys hold marriages together, and girls break them up.”

Economists Gordon Dahl (at the University of Rochester) and Enrico Moretti (at UCLA) discovered the following facts in 2003: In the United States, the parents of a girl are nearly 5 percent more likely to divorce than the parents of a boy. The parents of three girls are close to 10 percent more likely to divorce than the parents of three boys.

via Why Parents of Girls Divorce More | Psychology Today.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Jun
13

The Effect of Family Roles on Life’s Choices

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With hardly any thought at all, you can probably say whether, in your family of origin, you played the role of the responsible one or the rebel, the people pleaser or the mascot. Roles serve an organizing function. In a family, roles sort out each person’s relationship to the group. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with roles, they become a problem when they’re rigid and shape poor choices as a teenager or adult.

Roles are especially harmful in families where abuse and/or addiction occurs. They become a vain attempt to control a situation

via Psychology.com Articles » Blog Archive » The Effect of Family Roles on Life’s Choices.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Therapeutic Talk

When I ask people what they found helpful in therapy, they often say that just talking about things made a big difference for them.  Talking about the substantial things in life can help you to gain insight, learn about your difficulties, identify needed changes, have a sense of direction, and feel supported in your efforts.

Social Support

However, therapy is not the only place where you could talk about topics of substance.  I recommend that people think of their social support system as a foundation of a structure.  The smallest number of supports needed to have a stable structure is three, like a tripod.  Who can you talk to about your concerns, dreams, struggles and achievements?  Do you have at least three points of support?  Points of support could include friends, family, a spiritual community or pastor, a support group or therapy group, and/or a counselor.  You could also consider sources of information as points of support, if they help you to reflect on important topics.  So books and certain websites, especially interactive ones, could count too.

Happy People Talk More, and With More Substance

Of course talking about issues of substance need not be limited to your personal joys and challenges.  There are many philosophical, spiritual, social, political, scientific, and technological topics that are very meaningful.  Interestingly, recent research has found that happy people tend to spend more time talking about topics of substance.

Happy people tend to talk more than unhappy people, but when they do, it tends to be less small talk and more substance, a new study finds.

A group of psychologists from the University of Arizona and Washington University in St. Louis set out to find whether happy and unhappy people differ in the types of conversations they tend to have.

(Click to continue reading Happy People Talk More, and With More Substance)  By the way, if you follow this link, you will find several additional interesting links to more information about the science of happiness.

So next time you talk to someone, don’t limit yourself to just small talk.  Let them know what you’ve really been thinking about and why its meaningful to you.  And find out what’s really going on for them too.  Or, why not investigate a meaningful topic and share what you’ve learned?  Taking your conversations to a deeper level can help you not just to reflect on topics of substance, but also to connect with others in more meaningful ways.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Nov
21

Are You Socially Intelligent? – Video

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Social Intelligence

Daniel Goleman is a well known author and researcher who previously taught us about emotional intelligence.   More recently he has written a book on social intelligence, which is based on recent groundbreaking research in social neuroscience.

This video is a quick introduction to a very important concept and why it matters.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Sep
14

Playful Communication in Relationships

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The Importance of Small Day-To-Day Connections

One of the key principles I learned from Dr. John Gottman (a renowned marriage specialist), is the importance of connecting with one’s spouse in small ways but consistently.

A common mistake that couples make is thinking that it’s the special events that will bring them closer… the big vacation, the special date, or the celebrated holiday.  Although such events can meaningfully add to the couple’s shared memories, they are usually not the key to feeling close.

Staying Tuned In

The key to feeling close is much simpler (and perhaps harder).  It is staying tuned in.

  • Do you pay attention and respond when your spouse points out something interesting or funny?
  • Do you take some time to check in after a day apart?
  • Do you know what is going on in your spouses work life, their friendships, and their home life?
  • Are you aware of their current joys and stressors?
  • Do you respond to affection?
  • Do you express appreciation?
  • Can you enjoy their corny jokes?
  • Can you be playful with each other?
  • Are you aware of your partner’s dreams, and do you encourage them?

These are all things that happen in spontaneous day-to-day interactions… interactions that might sometimes only take a few seconds.  These are ways of staying tuned in, so that you feel you are making life’s journey together.

Playfulness in Day-To-Day Interactions

Life can be stressful.  Humor and playfulness can make things more manageable for individuals, so why not for couples?  Here is a very thorough article about playfulness, and how it can be helpful in communication and relationships.  It gives several good tips, and discusses the connection between playful communication and emotional intelligence:

The Power of Laughter, Humor, and Play

Laughter has a powerful effect on your health and well-being. A good laugh relieves tension and stress, elevates mood, enhances creativity and problem-solving ability, and provides a quick energy boost. But even more importantly, laughter brings people together. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships— as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

Using laughter and play to improve your relationships

Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships exciting, fresh, and vital. Humor and playful communication strengthens our relationships by… (click here to read entire article)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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Jun
09

Giving and Receiving Feedback

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It can be difficult to give and receive feedback, whether with loved ones, or with people at work.  Here are some guidelines that may help.  You’ve probably heard some of these things before, but we could all use a reminder now and then.

Giving Feedback

  1. Pick your battles, make sure it’s relevant, and stay focused on one issue at a time.
  2. Timing is key.  Feedback does not necessarily have to be given on the spot – but as soon as possible.  You may want to wait until the person is not busy or in a receptive mood.
  3. Feedback should be given directly, not hinted at or filtered through a third party.
  4. Give the feedback caringly, and share positive feedback (not just negative).
  5. Explain how you feel as a result of the other person’s behavior.  Try starting with the word, “I.”  For example, “I feel like ______ when you _____.”  This allows you to own your emotions, and allows for the possibility that your reaction is the issue, rather than the other person’s behavior.
  6. Avoid giving advice.  Try to stay away from, “you should…,” or, “you need to…”  Instead you can share what has worked for you in similar situations, or help the person explore their options.
  7. Give the other person a chance to explain, and validate what you can in their explanation.
  8. Feedback is not feedback when it’s meant to hurt – then it’s just an attack.  Avoid sarcasm or condescending manner when giving feedback.
  9. Avoid being judgmental.  Don’t label the person with derogatory terms like “stupid” or use curse words.  Talk about a specific behavior you can see, rather than judging the whole person.
  10. Don’t nag or hound a person about their behavior unless they have told you that they want your help.  If you’ve talked about it clearly several times and they aren’t changing, then try to accept.

Receiving Feedback

  1. Ask for feedback and receive it openly.  If you feel yourself getting defensive, give yourself some time to calm down and think things through before responding.  “Let me think about it.”
  2. Do not make excuses, try to avoid getting mad, don’t seek revenge, and don’t ignore what’s being said or the person who’s saying it.  If you need time before responding, ask for it.
  3. Acknowledge whatever you can agree with in the feedback, and how it can be valuable to you.
  4. Express appreciation that they cared enough to give you feedback.
  5. Discuss it.  Don’t just say “thank you,” and let it drop.  (If you’re feeling too defensive, then you can plan to discuss it later, after having a chance to think about it.)
  6. View feedback as a continuing exploration.  Think about it and try to build upon it.  Let the other person know how you plan to work on yourself in light of what they said.
  7. Don’t look for motives or hidden meanings.
  8. Seek clarification if you’re not sure what the other person is telling you.
  9. Resist the temptation to point out how they have the same problem, or the temptation to fire back “tit for tat.”  When receiving feedback it’s time to focus on your own issues and how you could work on them.
  10. Negotiate or compromise to the degree that you feel comfortable.  But don’t forget, you grow most when you step slightly outside your comfort zone.
  11. Keep your core values in mind, and think about the feedback you got in that context.  If you find that after careful consideration, the feedback contradicts your core values, then be clear about your boundaries.   But if it fits, then this is an opportunity to work on yourself!
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