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Archive for December, 2011

Most people think they’re nice guys, but many are not.

A friend said he had volunteered to direct traffic for a religious function, and he was appalled at the behavior of the people driving into the parking lot.

“Mind you,” he said, “I was just a pawn doing what I was told to do by the people in charge of the traffic committee. My job was to hold up a sign that told people that the lot was full and they had to park farther away and take a shuttle bus.”

“One driver stopped and said, ‘I’m only going to be here for a few minutes.’ This was his excuse to be able to park in the nearer lot.

“Another said, ‘I have a fourth-grader.’ A lot of people had their children. Somehow having a fourth-grader was supposed to get the woman in the closer lot.

“One particularly nasty guy said, ‘Isn’t there room for just one small car?’ He was driving a sports car. I felt like saying, ‘Maybe for the car, but not your big mouth.’

“And I couldn’t believe the people who wanted to park in the handicapped spaces and volunteer spaces. It was amazing how obnoxious some of them were.

“When 7 or 8 cars would leave the closer lot, I was told to go ahead and let people park in the lot. I was really in hot water then. If someone who had parked in the far lot saw that people were being admitted into the closer lot, they walked up to me and demanded to know why they had to park in the far lot, like I had individually picked them out to persecute them. I kept thinking, ‘Who do these people think they are?'”

* * *

I recall a similar experience from my own parking attendant days when my daughter was in grade school. I was overseeing the high-schoolers who were directing the parking. A number of parents were determined to park in the fire lanes and bulldoze their way into a certain lot. I continually was telling the parents that these students were following instructions. It was a nightmare.

Several weeks ago I had this same experience in the doctor’s office. I had taken an aging relative for a second medical opinion. When the doctor walked in, he started telling the relative what she had and how she should treat it. Then he patted her on the knee and told her of course she didn’t have cancer.

She kept trying to interrupt to tell him why she had come, and he kept talking over her. He did not want to hear her symptoms, and he was not going to listen. I finally stepped in and asked if he had seen the woman’s medical record or had talked with her doctor. He said no one had sent him anything. Then I explained why we were there and why we wanted a second opinion. He somewhat backed down after I pushed him to listen to her symptoms, but his arrogance was noted throughout the entire visit. Despite his reputation, he ruined it by not being responsive to his patient.

If asked the question, “Who do you think you are?” what would your answer be? If it’s, “I’m a nice person,” I suggest you act that way in all circumstances.

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Parents: Stop the arguing, lecturing and explaining yourself over and over. Such behaviors on your part are non-helpful and non-productive.

If your child is a preschooler, avoid eye contact. In other words, don’t look at her. Instead, give her a nice pat on the shoulder or back. If you’re sitting, you can even lay her over your lap and give her a backrub. This gives attention without interrupting your telephone conversation.

If your child is older and keeps interrupting, simply turn your back. Don’t stop your conversation and have a conversation with her. Children need to learn to wait, be patient, and to respect others.

Suppose your child is having a “bad hair” day. You can hear her in the bathroom stamping and whining and saying she hates her hair. In this instance, do nothing. Don’t go in and suggest that her hair looks fine, or how she might wear it differently. It’s her problem; do not make it yours.

What if you ask your child to do something, such as carry in the groceries, and he refuses? If you don’t have anything that needs refrigerating, let the groceries sit. Tell him you expect him to bring them in before he eats, goes out to play or watches television. Then let it drop. It won’t be long before he brings in the groceries. Once they’re in the house, thank him and inform him that the next time he refuses to do something, there will be a consequence. Don’t get into a lecture, simply lay it out matter-of-factly.

It’s rare to find a child who doesn’t shout, “I hate you” when he’s not getting his way. When he delivers this message, don’t tell him, “You’ll be sorry,” or “I don’t like you so much either.” Simply walk away. Disengage. When he calms down, he’ll most likely backpedal and tell you he’s sorry. If he doesn’t, you should bring the issue up by saying, “The next time you don’t get your way or you’re upset with me, I except you to control yourself and not yell that you hate me.”

If your child asks you to drive her to the mall, and you don’t want her to go to the mall, or it doesn’t fit with your time schedule, tell her, “No, not today.” If she presses, and she probably will, tell her no again. If she tries to engage you in a discussion regarding why not, you might choose to give her your reasons, but don’t get into a long discussion or a shouting match. Repeat firmly your original stance, “I’m not willing to drive you to the mall.” Then walk away.

Talk to any parents and you’ll hear them moan and groan about their child’s messy room. Some parents have dealt with this issue by stating, “As long as the mess stays on her side of the door, I can live with it.” Other parents believe it is their right and responsibility to expect some semblance of order.

If you’re part of the latter group, you do have leverage. Such statements as “no television or computer until you clean your room,” “no rollerblading with your friends until you clean your room,” and “no car until you clean your room ” do bring results.

When your child hits you with that famous moan, “But, it’s not fair,” meaning it’s not fair that he has to empty the dishwasher instead of his sister, or that he has a curfew, don’t get into a debate about who does what or what his friends’ parents think. Say nothing. Or say, “We’re not talking fairness. Empty the dishwasher, Bobby.” Or, “We still expect you home by 11:30.”

Arguing or lecturing or explaining is not necessary with these issues. Be firm, keep your responses short and simple, and keep your temper out of it.

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Avoid eating when stressed.

“Stress management is not eating a bag of potato chips!”

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Many factors determine who actually gets a raise.
So You Want a Raise? Ah, But Do You Deserve It?

If you think you’re deserving of a raise, prepare a history of your work in the past year. List the contributions you’ve made to the company. Ask yourself how these contributions have improved the company or the bottom line. If you have trouble listing contributions, this is the time to rethink why you should get a raise.

Employers do not look favorably on those who consider themselves entitled to more money just because they’ve been working for the company for a certain number of years. Nor can you justify asking for a raise because you’ve moved to a bigger house and you need more money.

Second, research the going rate for someone who is in a similar position in your company or industry. Having this knowledge will allow you to assess more accurately where your salary should fall. A career counselor or the U.S. Department of Labor can provide you with information about what jobs pay in your area. Don’t forget to add in the benefits you are receiving in addition to your salary. A human resource person can help in this area.

Third, role play the various scenarios that could take place when you ask for a raise. Look in the mirror and practice. Play yourself and then play your boss. If you can’t convince yourself, it’s unlikely you’ll convince a boss.

Ask a friend to role play with you. Tell the friend to throw you some curve balls and see if you have the ability to handle them.

Another good exercise — go over all the reasons your boss may use to discourage a raise. Then come up with a counterproposal. For example, if your boss says, “Well, you know profits have been down this year,” you might counter with, “That’s true. But my performance has been very good. For example….” Here’s where you roll out those contributions.

If your boss says, “We just can’t afford it now,” ask when the company will be able to afford it. Try to tack down a date for review.

Also ask, “What can I do differently to convince you that I should have a raise?” Make sure you take notes as he or she answers.

Sometimes a person truly does not deserve a raise. Sometimes a raise is not in the company’s budget. And sometimes people don’t do their homework before asking for a raise. As a result they present themselves poorly and muff their chances. Don’t let this be you.

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How two friends put their bad feelings aside and grew in love.

I lost my friend Mark to cancer a couple of months ago.

I liked a lot of things about Mark — his soft-spoken manner, his easy laugh, his sense of adventure, his willingness to try new things, his zest for life. But above all, the thing I admired most was Mark’s ability to let go of a hurt and move on.

Mark had a friend named Bill, and every so often the two of them would get together for lunch. One day when they were to meet, Bill never showed. So Mark had lunch alone.

The sad thing was that when Bill realized he had missed lunch, he failed to call his friend and apologize. So Mark was a bit miffed.

When Mark saw Bill, he said, “Say, Bill, what happened to our lunch?”

Bill shrugged and said he had forgotten.

Mark said, “But you didn’t call.”

Bill replied, “Yeah, I know, but I got busy.”

With that brush-off, Mark said, “Well, I’m angry about that. You should have called.”

Again Bill defended his actions.

At this point I could see things weren’t headed in a happy direction, so I jokingly said, “Okay, you two. You guys know you love each other. So Bill, tell Mark, ‘I love you, Mark.'”

Bill looked at me a little askance (men don’t say “I love you” to their friends). Then he got this big childlike grin on his face and said, “I love you, Mark.”

Without hesitation, Mark smiled and said, “I love you, Bill.” And the incident was over. From that moment on, I believe Mark never looked back on that missed engagement.

Addendum: Over the next year as Mark was struggling with his illness, Bill would frequently say, “I love you, Mark.” Mark would get a grin on his face and respond, “I love you, Bill.”

Doris Wild Helmering, The Blog Counselor

Topic Tags:  blog counseling, CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, Doris, Doris Wild Helmering, forgiveness, how to move on after someone hurts you, letting go of a hurt or disappointment, love, loving act of frogiveness, problem, psychotherapist, self-help, solution, St. Louis, the blog counselor

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