Saturday, June 11, 2016

Engaging People

One night when I sat at dinner with a group of friends, the discussion turned to the characteristics of likeable people. I listened, evaluating myself to see how many of their criteria I could see myself meeting.

Likeable people don’t push themselves forward. They are interested in others and focus on what’s going on with the person they’re engaged with. In other words, they listen. They can talk about themselves, but don’t make an issue of spilling all their problems at the beginning of a conversation.

Amiable people can be counted on to help out if there are problems. Dependable people are usually consistent in their behaviors as well as their actions. They aren’t really moody, and won’t ‘fly off the handle’ at the drop of a hat.’ You know they will be even tempered.

Engaging people don’t judge others. They don’t go in for fault-finding. They consistently look for the positives in their friends and acquaintances, and others around them. I personally like this characteristic because I know these people are positive about others so they’ll also be positive about me. These people feel ‘safe’ to talk to.

Open people are willing to share what’s happening in their lives. This gives them a genuineness that I can relate to. If others don’t share with me, then I’m suspect to share with them. I wonder what they are hiding.

Work and Play
It’s always great to find a happy mix of work and play in life. Engaging people can connect with others through work and play.

How do you stack up to this unscientific list according to my dinner group? What would you add to their list?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cherish Each Moment

Terror and natural disasters happen all around us. Whether they are airport shootings in Brussels, or an earthquake in the far east, or shooting of a congress woman, they teach me that life is precious, and I want to look for the blessings in my life and the lives of those around me.

I enjoy, with extra relish, our grandson’s antics on the trampoline.

Watch the kids enjoy a dress-up day at the museum,

Our oldest daughter works with youth in inner city Philadelphia and has spent hours collecting books and warm clothing for their Christmas. “I’m grateful to be associated with these children and share my love with them.”

While I filled my tutoring assignment at the neighborhood grade school, I looked at each one of the energetic boys I read with each week, and I treasured my time with them—a little more than I have in the past.

As I reflected on my reaction to the tragedies, I thought of a truism given us by Betty Smith who wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:
Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first or last time, and thus is your time on earth filled with glory.

The gift I take away from world turmoil is a remembrance to cherish life. Whether it’s the beauty of newly frosted snow clinging to the trees, sticky little finger prints on my patio door, or a hug from a precious grandchild, I will value each moment as if I were seeing it for the first or last time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Teach Children to Believe in Themselves

A young girl, Jane, came in for therapy because she felt victimized in the neighborhood at school. Her dominant father showed her how to fight back physically, and berated her because she couldn’t do that. Her mother fretted and worried but had no solutions. Jane knew what she wanted but was afraid to share her ideas for fear they were no good. Her self confidence was severely lacking.

The four of us worked together to empower this child, using the following ideas. Both parents were willing to listen and learn and change their behavior.

Listen to your child
This was an especially difficult task for both parents. The father was used to discounting what Jane said. When he began to listen, Jane didn’t know what to say at first. Mother was used to telling Jane her solutions were no good.

Ask for his or her opinion
It took some time for this family to open their communication and discuss their issues. But therapy gave them a time of accounting, and they were successful.

Come up with solutions together
The three of them found it fun to come up with answers together. Although the father found it hard not to impose his ‘law’ in the discussions, he did learn to keep his mouth shut and listen.

Work together to unravel a problem
Mother had the most difficult time being solution-focused. She was not used to following through resolve a problem. Over the years she had kept herself in a constant state of drama, and it was hard to let that go.

Discuss your success
When this family had a victory in solving a problem, they were able to talk about the things that worked and the things they would do differently next time.

Ask the child how he or she feels about the victory
Both parents were delighted with their success, and praised Jane. I suggested that they asked Jane how she felt about her triumph.

Over the months, Jane’s relationship with her family and friends changed. She no longer felt victimized by those around her. Her mother watched Jane share her ideas when she had play dates. She could lead and follow in the activities.