Reality Check: The Caring Habit of Listening

We have many kinds of relationships. Some we choose, such as with our friends. Others are created through work, volunteering, or other connections. All of our relationships may not be chosen, but they can still be cooperative and functional.
In recent columns, I’ve referred to Dr. Glasser’s list of seven habits to improve relationships. The habits are useful for any relationship, regardless of whether it’s one we’ve chosen or one that we just can’t avoid.
Those habits listed in, “Take Charge of Your Life” are: supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences. I’ve been going through them one at a time; this column, it’s time for “listening.”
Listening can be difficult. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Encouragement as a Caring Habit

In a world where it can feel that we have little control over so much, it’s helpful to recognize what we can control—especially when it has a significant effect on our quality of life.
The care and nurturing of relationships is something we can control. We may not be able to have every relationship exactly as we’d like it to be—the other person does have some say in the matter, after all. But we have control over what we do, and that’s not to be sneezed at.
In “Take Charge of Your Life,” Dr. Glasser list seven specific habits to improve relationships. These caring habits are: supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences. This new year, I’m choosing to look at each habit individually. Last week’s topic was supporting; this week we’ll take a look at encouraging. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Caring Habit of Support

Unsatisfying relationships are at the heart of many unsatisfied lives. Good relationships are essential, but how do we get them? Is it luck? Accident? We see plenty of appeals to “be kind.” Will that do the trick?
In “Take Charge of Your Life,” Dr. Glasser lists seven specific habits that improve relationships. These “caring habits” are: supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences. Reading that list, it’s easy to nod and sigh, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone practised those?” Yes, it would. However, we can only control ourselves, right? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Starting with Goodwill

Have you ever had a conversation that somehow went awry? You believe that you spoke clearly and reasonably, but the other person either couldn’t or wouldn’t understand. Frustrating, isn’t it?
When we speak, we want to be heard and understood. We might not expect perfect agreement (though that would be nice) but we’d at least like to know that we’ve communicated.
You’d think that communication would be easy. But even in the simplest conversations, there are opportunities for misunderstandings. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Make Something Good Happen

The transition from one year to the next often motivates us to make a change, preferably for the better. Maybe you want to set out on a new adventure or improve a relationship.
Holidays often include opportunities to get together. We talk about what we’ve done and discuss hopes and plans for the year ahead.
If you are struggling, it can be really difficult to hear those conversations, even with people you love. You might be inclined to isolate yourself and think, “No one wants to hear about my miserable life.”
Whether you’ve heard it here or elsewhere, you likely know that the only person you can control is yourself. And while we can provide information to others, ultimately, they too are in charge of themselves.
This is both a freeing and a frightening concept. Continue reading

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Reality Check: When You Need To Say No

Somewhere, sometime, someone is going to ask you for something. They may ask for your time, your help, your money. You want to say “No.”
There are many valid reasons to decline. Maybe you feel stretched too thin. Maybe you think someone is taking advantage of you. Maybe you just don’t feel like being agreeable right now. The bottom line is, you want to say “No.”
However, you know—possibly based on experience—that saying “No” can be difficult. Your “no” is not always heard or respected. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Reality of Tradeoffs

Choices often require tradeoffs—we give up one thing to have another. We do this so frequently that we’re often not aware of it.
For example, if you’ve driven around today, then you made a tradeoff. You traded off the safety of staying off the road for the benefit of getting where you wanted to go. Most of the time, we don’t think about it—if we need to go somewhere, we just do it. However, when a wild blizzard is blowing over icy roads, the tradeoff is more likely to pop up. “Do I need to go out in this? Is it worth it?” Continue reading

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Reality Check: And the Word of the Year is…

Each year, Merriam-Webster—the dictionary people—declare a “Word of the Year” based on data about how frequently words were looked up. For 2022, the word is “gaslighting.”
If you’re not familiar with gaslighting, Merriam-Webster defines it as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”
I know the word from the old “Gaslight” movie—the story of a woman who is manipulated by her husband into believing that she is losing her mind. How? Continue reading

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Reality Check: Your Unknown Impact

Do you know the impact of your life on others? Some people get direct feedback on their actions. For example, if you are in a workplace, you know what happens if you don’t show up for work. If you perform a service such as raising children or caregiving, you likely get very direct feedback from your “customers.” It may not always be complimentary, but you can be quite sure that your actions have an effect.
But our lives may touch people in ways that would never occur to us. If we are fortunate, we may be granted an opportunity to see that. Continue reading

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Reality Check: So What If I’m Rejected?

Self-evaluation in choice theory encourages us to honestly ask, “Is what I’m doing working well for me?” If things are going well, we would likely choose to continue. If they’re not, we might make a change. Does that seem like common sense?
It might sound straight-forward, but I imagine that you can think of cases where someone refuses to change what they’re doing even when things are going very badly. We can always find an excuse, and one compelling excuse is fear. We sometimes have a legitimate fear of being embarrassed or rejected, as in the following situation. Continue reading

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