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Monday, September 21, 2015

Thank You, Elisabeth Stitt

Thank you to Elisabeth Stitt for her series of posts on communication. If you enjoyed them, you might like to check out her other parenting blogs here:"

Monday, September 14, 2015


Guest blogger
Elizabeth Stitt
 Joyful Parenting Coaching
TIP 3: Using "yes, and" to Move the Conversation Along Positively
In the world of Improvisational Acting, one of the rules is to keep the action moving forward, so not blocking a person's story is key to success. Improv actors do this by saying in response to whatever their partner says. "Yes, (that's true! you're right!) and ....."
Listen to how a couple might use this technique to build a warm connection between them:
Bob: I want to go to Hawaii so we can hang out under an umbrella.
Barbara: Yes, and we can drink pina coladas with little umbrellas in them. Those are so festive!
Bob: Yes, and I read a review of a restaurant right by the water that has festive colored lights.
Barbara: Yes, and I could try the Mahi Mahi fish and we could walk on the beach after dinner.
Bob: That sounds nice. I love the sound of the waves.
Suppose that Barbara doesn't really want to go to Hawaii. She knows how expensive it is and is worried that such a trip will badly eat into their savings. Going to Hawaii just to make Bob happy does not serve the family in the long run. Barbara is likely to get tense and tight lipped about every expense on the trip thereby ruining Bob's pleasure. The family might need that money later. This is where the variation of "yes and" comes unto play.
By using "Yes and" Barbara has allowed herself to imagine what she might enjoy about Hawaii and has built up a lot of warm feeling between her and Bob. Now it is time to introduce her concerns. Let's see how this goes:
Barbara: I love the waves, too, and AT THE SAME TIME I am worried that Hawaii will be too expensive.
Bob: Yes, that's true, and AT THE SAME TIME, we saved by not going away at Christmas.
Babara: I'm glad we put some money away, and AT THE SAME TIME I would like to avoid the cost of a long plane flight.
Bob: Yeah, I checked prices and it will be peak season, and AT THE SAME TIME I get so much benefit from being near the water. It is worth it to me.
Bob and Barbara are getting close to moving into the brainstorming phase to find a win-win solution. Notice that now when Barbara brings up the issue of cost, Bob slips in that he has considered cost.  He already checked the price of tickets, so it is not that he is insensitive to their budget. His last statement also reveals how it is being near the water that provides so much benefit to him. This would be a great place for them to begin to generate alternate ideas that meet Bob's need to relax near the water and Barbara's need to not go over budget. Tahoe? Santa Cruz? Lake Shasta? It is easy to imagine that this warm, lively conversation will continue to move along toward a solution that works for them both. They will end up with a good plan, but more importantly, the process of coming up with that plan will leave them feeling more loving and connected. Talk about WIN! WIN!

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Guest blogger Elisabeth Stitt
Joyful Parenting Coaching
Expressing Emotions with I-Statements--Tip 2
Often times we make negative assumptions about what our partner is thinking or feeling without doing a reality check. Here's an example: Barbara is washing the dishes while Bob sits on the couch reading. As she furiously scrubs, she mght be seething thinking, "It's not fair that I'm working  and he's just sitting there relaxing." She might go on to tell herself, "he's okay letting me wash the dishes because I'm home all day and he thinks I don't do anthing all day." In reality, Bob might not be aware of her at all. He might just be enjoying his good book. Or he might have his own internal dialogue going. He might be thinking, "I am so stressed from work. I just need 30 minutes to veg out. I wish she'd stop doing the dishes and relax for a bit!" Fear of an argument can make it hard to reasonably ask our partner's motivations.
An I-Statement is a technique for introducing a difficult topic in a gentle way. Here is an I-Statement Barbara migt have used to express her negative emotions. Addressing Bob, she would say, "When you sit on the couch reading while I am doing dishes, I feel resentful because I am working and you have leisure time."
Let's look at each part. The I-Statement starts by identifying one concrete situation. It goes on to express a feeling (in this case resentment) and the underlying cause of the emotion (Barbara would like to be resting, too. but feels she cannot until the dishes are done). Notice what the I-Statement does not say. It is not used for broad general character defamations (like You're so inconsiderate!) and it does not go over past history (as in "You always let me do dishes and never help).
What should Bob's response be? this would be an excellent time for Active Listening.He might say something like "You are frustrated that you are doing dishes alone. It doesn't feel fair." By not defending himself Bob gives Barbara a chance to off load her emotions and tell her whole story. At the end of the Active Listening he might ask Barbara, "What would you like me to do?" On the other hand, let's say Bob gets defensive in response to Barbara's I-Statement and says something like, "You're always criticizung me."
Now it's Barbara's turn to do some Active Listening. Yes, this might seem counterintuitive: She has introduced her feelings gently with the intent of introducing a constructive conversation. Why is she the one then to open her heart to Bob's feelings and motivations? Because eventually it works. That is why. Do enough Active Listening and eventually Bob will be ready to hear Babara's concerns and even honor her requests.When enough good will has been built up --and Bob feels seen and heard and respected--then when Barbara says, "It would make a difference to me if you would help with the dishes," Bob is likely to jump up and grab a dishtowel.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Guest bolgger Elisabeth Stitt
Joyful Parenting Coaching
Active listening, a difficult skill to learn, gives the talker an opportunity to be heard without judgment. The listener gets not just the facts, but also the speaker's feelings.
Here's how to do it
*     Listen: Don't comment, disagree or evaluate
*     Use your body: Eye contact, head nods, brief comments like "yes" or "uh-huh"
*     Prompt information: "Tell me more."  "What else?"
*     Repeat back: Recap the gist said and guess at emotions
Practice first with topics that are not controversial. For example, you might ask your partner about a happy childhood memory or a person he admires. Your main purpose is to open up space in the relationship. By listening to your partner's feelings and motivation first you activate your own empathy and secondly you gather a lot of information about what is important to your partner. This provides useful data when you are looking for solutions that will work for both of you. It feels good to be heard. Chances are, you felt listened to early in your relationship.
Once you have mastered active listening with noncontroversial topics, try a more touchy topic like "What is a lesson you would really like our kids to learn?" This can be scary. Your parner might say something that really throws you for a loop like "I'd really like the kids to learn to hang glide." Your comfort levels might go into high alert. What?! What kind of a parent lets his kids go up into the sky attached to a giant kite?! If you can take a deep breath and settle down into some active listening, you may learn something really interesting. Perhaps your partner did it as a young man. It was the most alive he has ever felt and he wants the kids to experience that intense feeling of being alive. Perhaps he felt closer to God. Perhaps he was terrified and he wants his kids to face their fears. Listening to your partner share such a meaningful experience would change how you feel about what he wants for the children. You would be in a better position to negotiate something you can both live with.
For more on relationship skills ; talking and listening  scan back to March12, 2014 (Own Your Feelings)  ;  Nov. 19, 2013 (Good Listeners are Hard to Find) ;   Nov. ll,2013 (Listening is Active Not Passive)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

When Parents Disagree about Parenting

Learn How to Co-Parent
Guest blogger Elisabeth Stitt
Do you love your spouse but find it hard to parent together? You are not alone. Because we care about parenting it is hard to be reasonable when it comes to our kids. When our parenting partner has a different idea about what is appropriate, yes, it is hard. Very few people are good listeners. Learning skills to resolve this problem can lead to better relationship between parents and children.
Tomorrow I will introduce you to a skill that will make you one of those few. It will help you learn more about your spouse and it will open communication with your children.
(from Elva--these posts were written by Elisabeth for my parenting blog. The skills work in communication between partners as well.)