Have ADHD? How are things going for you at work? What about relationships?

If you have ADHD or think you might – or if you live with someone who does – you know ADHD can impact just about all areas of your life! These can include: school, career, communicating, relationships, emotional regulation, money management, prioritizing, decision-making, planning, being on time, starting (vs procrastinating) and following through with tasks or projects. It can feel overwhelming!

ADHD can affect some or all of our brain’s executive functions. These functions are referred to as ‘executive’ because they organize, direct, and manage many processes needed to function effectively, as an executive does for a company.

If you have ADHD and feel like you’re stuck at a crossroads in your life, you could benefit from ADHD Coaching.

5 Tips for successful ADHD coaching:

  • Be willing to learn and use new ways of thinking and doing things.
  • Use scheduling and/or reminder tools. These are different for each person, so you’ll need to use ‘trial and error’ to see which works best for you.
  • Decrease distractions by removing clutter and reducing noise in rooms where you spend most of your time.
  • Reduce procrastination by breaking down larger tasks/projects into bite-size individual steps.
  • Educate yourself on the strengths of ADHD (yes, these DO exist!) and the fact that it has NO relationship to intelligence. Although, some think those with ADHD are more inventive and creative. I’ll leave that up to you to decide!

Since each person with ADHD can experience it somewhat differently, I provide customized ADHD coaching – focusing first on areas that are most critical for you.And with my flexible step-by-step process and practical strategies, you can begin to use techniques immediately – to help you make positive changes and gain control of your life.

I look forward to working with you on a customized coaching plan to help you define your priorities, set clear goals, and develop a plan to achieve them.


P.S. Want to know which celebrities have ADHD? 

Take a look: https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/celebrities#3.

How to Set Goals for 2021

The new year is right around the corner, and you know what that means . . . time to give 2020 the boot for good. And after you tell it “don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” get ready to welcome 2021 with open arms.

People love the whole “fresh start” that a new year brings. That’s no secret. But this year—more than ever—we’re all ready to embrace the fresh, new year with hope of what could be. And a huge part of that is goal setting.

We know you’re probably thinking: Goal setting? Ha! My goals went out the window in 2020. I was just trying to survive, and now you want me to think about goals? Yeah, right.

Whoa there, Negative Nancy. We get it. We really do. But having goals in life is essential—especially when things look chaotic. So this year, take some time to really think about those goals.  And remember, just having good intentions alone changes nothing. Nada. Zilch. You can make resolutions all you want—but a resolution without a plan is just plain old wishful thinking. It’s time to rethink how you see goal setting.

5 Essential Guidelines for Your Goals

Be Specific

What do you want to achieve? Get down to the nitty-gritty. Just saying you want to lose weight won’t cut it. Instead try, “I’d like to drop 20 pounds and be able to do at least 20 sit-ups in a row without passing out.” Watch for any roadblocks that could keep you from reaching your goal, and make a plan to get around them. 

Get a FREE customized plan for your money in 3 minutes! 

Questions to ask yourself: Who does my goal involve? What am I trying to accomplish here? When and why do I want to make this goal happen?

Make Goals Measurable

If you know your ultimate goal is to pay off $24,000 of debt in the next year, that means you have to pay $2,000 a month to reach that goal (or about $460 a week). Break your goal into bite-sized chunks. Give yourself daily, weekly and monthly steps. Focus on those. When you accomplish one, tackle the next one.

Questions to ask yourself: How long will it take to reach my goal? How do I know when I’ve reached my goal?

Give Goals a Time Limit

Set a time limit—because you need a finish line. Take that goal of yours, create a plan, and break it all the way down to daily activities. Then, give yourself a deadline. Hint: Planners like the Christy Wright 2021 Goal Planner are perfect for this. They’ll help you manage your schedule, grow as a person, and crush your goals—no matter what they are.

For example, you might say, “I want to lose 20 pounds by December 31.” To lose 20 pounds, calculate things like how many times you need to work out each week and how many calories you need to eat in a day. Then do what you can to hit that goal by your target date.

Questions to ask yourself: Do I have a deadline for reaching my goal? When will I hit this goal? How many times will I achieve this goal?

Goals Need to Be Yours

Let’s be honest—trying to accomplish someone else’s goals for your life never works out. Sure, your mom may want you to take classes and switch careers. But it won’t happen unless it’s your desire too. Why? Because striving to win isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s tough. And you won’t have the drive to stick with it if you’re working toward a goal you’re not even passionate about.

Just because your spouse wants you to get out of debt doesn’t mean you will either. You have to want it too. The goals you set have to be your goals. When push comes to shove, you’re the one who has to fight to make them a reality. So, get in there and start swinging!

Questions to ask yourself: Is this my goal? Or is it someone else’s desire for me?

Put It in Writing

Something special happens when you write down specific goals. Get them down on paper along with all the steps it’ll take for you to get there. Our Goal Tracker Worksheet is a handy tool for this. Seeing your goals in black and white will help you hold yourself accountable and track your progress along the way. 

Questions to ask yourself: Do I know the steps to reach my goal? Have I laid out a blueprint for how to get there?

Seven Areas of Life for Smart Goals

We recommend you set goals for these seven meaningful areas of life:

  • Spiritual Goals: Pick up a new devotional, start a daily journal, or plug in to a group at your church.
  • Fitness Goals: Hit the gym more often, take the stairs, and remember to eat your veggies.
  • Educational Goals: Go back to finish your degree, get your MBA, or read a good book every month.
  • Family Goals: Plan one-on-one dates with your kids, have a standing date night with your spouse, or make it a point to call your mom and dad on Sunday nights.
  • Career Goals: Work toward a promotion or raise, learn something new about your line of work, or polish up and send out resumés if you’re looking for a new career path.
  • Social Goals: Look for new ways to connect with others. Say yes when someone invites you out to lunch—or, for some of us, say no more often.
  • Financial Goals: Start saving for retirement, get out of debt, or use a monthly zero-based budget.

When it comes to that last one on the list—your money goals—you might not even know where to start. That’s why we made a super simple assessment that will tell you exactly where you’re at and what your next steps should be. Take our free three-minute assessment and get started knocking out your money goals when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s (or today, that’s fine too).

Don’t get discouraged if you get off track. Life happens. Remember 2020 and all the “surprises” it had? We all hit speed bumps and roadblocks along the way—pandemic or not. And honestly, that’s okay! That’s real life. As long as you stay focused on the end goal and keep taking small steps toward getting there, you’ll be on your way to big life-change.

Now go take 2021 by storm!

How Can You Look Ahead During Chaotic Times?

As we begin to wrap up 2020, we are left scratching our heads! We may be thinking, ‘what’s just happened’?

  • We may not be where we had imagined we’d be, when the year began. Whether it’s your location, career, or relationship, it’s safe to say this year has been unexpected for everyone.
  • BUT we are still standing…even if we’re a bit wobbly! And many of us have decided that it’s time to reassess our lives and take back control.
  • What will your ‘new normal’ be, and what will provide meaning and purpose in your life?

How do you achieve meaning and purpose in the New Year with so many unknowns?   

  • Rearview mirror. Acknowledge the changes in your life. Try not to dwell on them but, rather, take inventory of how your life has changed this year. What have lessons you learned? Now, apply the wisdom of those lessons moving forward.
  • Remain hopeful. One of my favorite quotes is ‘Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” – Christopher Reeve. It is still possible for you to create meaningful and purposeful goals in your life.

Here are 3 ways to keep plugging forward during chaotic times, despite how challenging it may feel to stay positive and motivated:

  1. Track the good. There is a lot of negativity out there BUT there is also a lot of good! If you feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of doom, write down 5 great things in your life every day and they are bound to add up!
  2. Make your circle positive. Misery loves company and this is so very true this year. Acknowledge your friends who bring negativity and try to encourage them to see the silver lining. If they are stuck to negatively, choose to build connections with supportive positive people.
  3. Do what you love! Well…maybe not international travel quite yet but you can still do the things that make you feel like ‘you.’ Get outside and explore new trails, exercise, read, meditate, draw, journal, learn something new, and enjoy the company of friends (socially distanced of course).

Put pen to paper and choose SMART goals going into 2021. Be on the lookout for next month’s article on goal setting.

I look forward to working with you on a customized Life and/or Career Coaching plan to help you define your priorities, set clear goals, and develop a plan to achieve them.


7 Ways to Improve Communication in Relationships

We love connecting with other people because it makes us happy—good communication is the key when it comes to positive social interaction.

But what does a healthy conversation look like? How can you avoid over-communicating? And how can you improve communication in a romantic relationship?

Read on for a summary of some important models and theories in the field of communication.

If you wish to learn more, our Positive Relationships Masterclass© is a complete, science-based training template for practitioners and coaches that contains all the materials you’ll need to help your clients improve their communication in relationships, ultimately enhancing their mental wellbeing.

The Importance of Communication

We all have a strong need for connectivity and belonging. This is why positive social interactions increase our subjective well-being and provide greater life satisfaction (Lyubomirsky, 2008).

“It is the encounters with people that make life worth living.” Guy de Maupassant

Nursing social relationships enhance happiness because spending time with friends or colleagues builds positive emotions—a key component of happiness (Fredrickson & Joiner, 2002).

Interactions with people can be verbal or nonverbal—we can even connect with each other through a smile. A vital element of positive social interaction, however, is good communication. But what does that signify?

What Is Healthy Communication?

A communication model usually involves a sender, a receiver, and a (verbal or nonverbal) message which is encoded by the sender and decoded by the receiver. It also includes feedback, the response of the receiver to the message, as well as noise, which is anything that can disrupt communication.

Encoding refers to the sender transforming thoughts into communicable messages. The receiver interprets what they receive as the message—both verbal and nonverbal parts. Although this seems simple in theory, as you can imagine a lot happens in between and no message is ever decoded without bias.

Communication is a Vital Part of any Social Dynamic.

The way we decode a message is never the objective reality. We all have our own filters and explanatory styles which create the picture of the world as we see it.

What makes the process of communication even more complex is the fact that the message of the sender is hardly ever just factual information.

“We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.” Oliver Sacks

In his Four-Sides model of communication, Friedemann Schulz von Thun (1981) points out that every message has four facets to it:

  1. Fact: What I inform about (data, facts, statements);
  2. Self-revealing: What I reveal about myself (information about the sender);
  3. Relationship: What I think about you (information about how we get along);
  4. Appeal: What I want to make you do (an attempt to influence the receiver).

There is never the same emphasis put on each of the four facets, and the emphasis can be meant and understood differently. For instance, a wife saying “the sugar jar is empty” may be less about the fact that there is no sugar left in the jar and more a prompt for her husband to go and fill the jar.

To make it even more complex, as a receiver we tend to have one of the four “ears” particularly well trained (factual ear, relationship ear, self-revelation ear or appeal ear). So if the husband has a well-trained relationship ear, he may decode the sentence to be something like “you are unreliable since you have forgotten to refill the sugar jar,” and he might retort with something like, “Well you are not very reliable, you still haven’t fixed the light in the kitchen!”

Do you recognize this type of conversation? Things unravel quickly when we are not hearing each other.

The underlying emphasis of both the sender and the receiver on the four facets can create a barrier to healthy communication. It is important to understand that what we hear may not be what the other person was trying to get across.

Think about it: which one is your best developed “ear”? For instance, do you tend to hear an appeal in every sentence? Or do you often feel questioned (hence you are listening with your relationship “ear”)?

In order to engage in healthy communication, we need to be aware of the four facets. So the next time you feel questioned, go back to the original statement and think about the four facets. How else could you have interpreted the message? Focus on the actual facts of the message and use questions to clarify whether you understood what the other person was trying to tell you.

What to Do If There’s No Communication in a Relationship

One of the most important communication skills is listening. Deep, positive relationships can only be developed by listening to each other (Weger, Castle, & Emmett, 2010). If there is no communication in your relationship, maybe neither party is truly listening; instead, are both people just trying to prove they are right, or maybe listen while “doing something else” too?

“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” M. Scott Peck

Here are the most common listening mistakes:

  • Daydreaming or thinking of something else (even something as simple as your list of groceries) while another person is speaking;
  • Thinking of what to say next;
  • Judging what the other person is saying;
  • Listening with a specific goal/outcome in mind.

But active listening is so much more than not talking. It is an art which requires a genuine interest in the other person, a curiosity rather than an anticipative mind. Active listening involves:

  • Nonverbal involvement (show your attention)
  • Paying attention to your vis-à-vis, not your own thoughts
  • No judgment
  • Tolerating silence

To revive communication in a relationship try the following exercise: Person A gets 10 minutes to talk about their day, while person B is listening actively and with a genuine interest. Person B is allowed to ask clarifying questions but should not interrupt person A.

If there is a silence that’s fine. Relax.

After person A’s 10 minutes are up (all of the allotted time needs to be used), person B gets to talk for ten minutes as well, while the same listening rules apply to person A. You will find that 10 minutes is a very long time to listen.

You may be amazed at how much you learn about each other, and how this exercise adds value to the quality of your relationship and your communication. It could be something you try once a week, as an intentional way to practice active listening together.

Here are some additional techniques to improve communication in personal and intimate relationships.

How to Better Communicate in Personal Relationships

A great technique to improve communication in any personal relationship is Marshall B. Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication. It is based on the willingness and the ability to approach and perceive issues in a non-judgmental way. This is important because whenever you want to change someone, you will create resistance.

This technique is great to discuss an issue that is on your mind. For instance, your partner arrives late for your date and you feel angry and disappointed.

For a positive outcome of the conversation follow these four steps:

How to Better Communicate in Personal Relationships

1. Observation ≠ Interpretation/Evaluation

Firstly, try to communicate your observations without labeling or interpreting them. In the case of your date arriving late, it is just that: he is late.

Your interpretation may be that the date (or you) doesn’t mean a great deal to him or that something else was more important.

So rather than buying into your interpretation, you could simply say “I realize you were late for our date”. This is a factual observation without any evaluation.

2. Feelings ≠ Thoughts

Secondly, it is important that you communicate your feelings. An argument often develops from hidden emotions. Make sure you understand your emotions and express them in a non-judgmental way.

In the case of a late arrival of your date, you could say “I am feeling annoyed”, or “I am bothered by this because it makes me wonder whether you are looking forward to spending time with me”.

3. Need ≠ Strategy

Thirdly, you need to understand and express your needs. In doing so, you give your partner the chance to decide whether they can and want to meet them. For instance, you could say: “I would like to be treated with consideration and I would like to feel important to you“.

4. Request ≠ Demand

The fourth step is to make a clear request. What does your partner have to do for you to feel that your needs have been met? You could simply say: “That is why I ask you to arrive at the agreed time”.

The four-step process is, as Rosenberg (2003) puts it, “simple but not easy” and it will take some time to get your head around it. It may feel clunky at first, but you will find that with practice your communication will become clearer. You are accepting your partner with all their flaws and asking them in a nonviolent way for what you need in order to be happy.

Active Constructive Responding Model

While nonviolent communication is a great way to improve personal communication, there are also ways you can improve the way you respond as a receiver. Barbara Fredrickson (2003) has shown the benefit of positive emotions for wellbeing. Conversations provide great opportunities to increase positive emotions.

Appreciative feedback in its nature needs to be supportive, inspiring and focused on the strengths of the situation. A common model used is the Active Constructive Responding Model (Gable, Reis, Impett, & Asher, 2004).

According to the model, messages can be active or passive, and constructive or destructive. For instance, if your friend tells you that a presentation he gave went well, here are different ways you can respond to him.

The way you react falls in one of four response types:

  • Nurturing (active constructive) “That is great! I’m so happy for you! Tell me more about it!”
  • Cold (passive constructive) “Oh, that is good;”
  • Ignorant (passive destructive) “Sorry I don’t have time to listen to you right now;”
  • Hurtful (active destructive) “That’s surprising, you’re usually pretty bad at delivering presentations.”

For more examples, visit the following article: Active constructive responding.

If you aim to improve communication, make sure you respond in an active constructive way. Be enthusiastic and show genuine interest. If you were truly happy for him, offer feedback like, “That is great! Well done! I’m so happy for you, I know how hard you worked on the powerpoint slides and preparing for the speech.”

Also, you could ask your friend what it was that went so well or to share the positive comments they received. By asking more questions you will allow the other person to relive the positive experience—encouraging all the positive emotions to resurface.

Let them feel the upward spiral of positive emotions and float on the wave of happiness. For more information on this theory watch the following video:

How to Improve Communication in Romantic Relationships

Unhealthy verbal communication often starts with negative thoughts or difficult emotions rather than words. If you are in a long-term romantic relationship, you have spent enough time with your partner to feel like you know them inside-out. You anticipate how they react in certain situations, however, your idea of who they are may lead to missing an opportunity to re-discover them.

This often has a negative impact on how we communicate in a romantic relationship—relationships are all about remaining curious about who the other person really is and how they see the world. But, after so many years, how can you see your partner in a different light?

Marva Collins, an American educator known for her tough but respectful teaching methods, has worked with impoverished and troubled students who have a challenging time succeeding in school. Her teaching methods helped them to succeed. Her approach is valuable in any relationship.

At the beginning of each semester, Collins would make a point to tell students they had already received their grades for the school year ahead. She told them that they had all received top marks and their job during the semester was to make sure they did everything not to lose this standing.

So rather than having the students prove to her that they were able to get top grades, she showed them that she believed in them—that they were worthy of the best education. This proved to be highly motivating and inspiring (Collins & Tamarkin, 1990).

Collins’ approach was based on creating the right perception for herself and others. She would treat students as if they were top Harvard graduates, as long as they did not prove her otherwise. Students began with her full trust, encouragement, and appreciation.

Applied to a romantic relationship, this can greatly improve communication. Try the following experiment and see where it takes you.

Assume only the best for your partner. Put them on a pedestal for being so great and then talk to them in an appropriate way. Wouldn’t you like to be spoken to as if you were valued, appreciated, respected, and loved no matter what? In response, how would you react to someone who thought so highly of you? What comes around goes around. You will see your communication improve drastically.

Communication in Long-Distance Relationships

Communication can be difficult even when we are standing right next to each other, let alone when we are in a relationship with someone in a different part of the world. In long-distance relationships, effective maintenance strategies are crucial. Being optimistic is important.

Studies also found that openly discussing the relationship and assuring commitment to the relationship are also important strategies (Dainton & Aylor, 2002). Access to technology has made communicating in long-distance relationships much easier, faster, and cheaper. But technology also leaves room for plenty of miscommunications.

Communication Devices while Long-Distance Dating.

While being in touch can be tricky in a normal relationship, in a long-distance relationship the real challenge is the time in between.

The fact that your partner hasn’t replied to your Whatsapp or Voxer message even though she has been online several times since you sent it causes your mind to run free, jumping from one assumption to the next.

The distance between you exacerbates these feelings since you can’t drive over to talk in person. Sound familiar?

If you are caught in a downward spiral like this, you may stuck in one of the main four types of thought distortions.

1. Awfulizing/Catastrophizing

We exaggerate the negative consequences. For instance, if your partner does not respond to a message immediately or fails to call you at the agreed time, you jump to the conclusion that it must be because they have fallen head over heels in love with someone else and have eloped to Vegas.

This thinking trap is particularly dangerous as our mind has a tendency to “close the gap”. We look for information to feed our story and once you have decided that your partner is unfaithful, you are likely to see evidence in every corner.

2. Black & White Thinking

You have finally agreed to meet again in a few months’ time, but then your partner tells you that May is actually not a good time. Therefore you decide that if he is not willing to make May work, you do not want to catch up with him this year at all.

It is either black or white for you, with no room for gradients of truth.

3. Emotional Reasoning

You feel misunderstood after you hang up the phone. The conversation was not flowing and you feel anxious and low. You reason that because you feel that way, it must be true. This is a thinking trap and will not be helpful in creating positive relationships.

The first step to getting out of a thinking trap is recognizing it. Once you have realized what is happening you are ready to pull yourself out of the downward spiral of negative thoughts.

Next, remind yourself that most events are neutral. It is the way you decide to look at them which categorizes them as good or bad. Your partner may be on Facebook after you hung up the phone, but this is just a fact—no need to interpret or judge it. Allow yourself to adjust your lens and focus on yourself. What have you got planned for the rest of the evening?

Remember, what you focus on grows, so invest your thoughts wisely.

So thirdly, change your focus. A great way to do this is mindfulness—a non-judgemental presence at the moment. Mindfulness can help tame those wild running thoughts and studies also show that meditation can reduce emotional and cognitive bias (Hanley et al., 2015).

Some apps, such as Buddhify, provide guided meditations and offer episodes specifically designed for those dealing with difficult emotions. Here are the top 20 mindfulness apps. It is a great way to label thought distortions, and bring the mind back into the living and breathing body.

How to Spot Defensive Communication (And Non-Verbal Signs)

What we say and how we say it creates a communication climate (the emotional tone of the conversation). A destructive communication climate can have a negative impact on the conversation.

If people feel comfortable talking to you, they will be more inclined to speak openly and share information. However, when they are feeling uneasy during the conversation they may shut down. This stems from the fact that humans behave much like all other animals when we are stressed: we either attack (fight) or run away (flight).

There are certain communication patterns which tend to increase or decrease defensiveness between people. Jack Gibb identified six behaviors which are likely to trigger an instinctive defensive reaction. Among them are judgmental language, hidden motives, or lack of concern.

If we spot any of those behaviors, we can react defensively without even realizing. Our body freezes and muscles tense up, arms may be crossed in front of the body. We can no longer accurately perceive the motives, values, and emotions as we devote a considerable amount of mental energy on defending ourselves—the actual message in the conversation gets lost.

A defensive communication climate creates a barrier to open, clear, and genuine communication (Forward, Czech, & Lee, 2011).

How to Spot Defensive Communication (And Non-Verbal Signs)

Gibb also identified six contrasting behaviors which can help maintain a supportive climate— a genuine desire to understand, respect, and openness to finding a solution.

The following table shows the 12 behavioral characteristics divided by either supportive or defensive communication climates:

1. Defensive Climates

  • Evaluation (judgmental and accusatory language);
  • Control (manipulative lead);
  • Superiority (perceived power, intellectual ability);
  • Neutrality (lack of concern);
  • Certainty (unwillingness to compromise);
  • Strategy (hidden motives and deceit).

2. Supportive Climates

  • Description (genuine desire to understand);
  • Problem Orientation (open to finding a solution);
  • Equality (respect and politeness for everyone);
  • Empathy (worthy of affection);
  • Provisionalism (willingness to investigate);
  • Spontaneity (straightforwardness, directness).

Source: Forward, Czech & Lee (2011)

A defensive climate will never provide a good basis for a constructive conversation. So it is important you identify defensive communication patterns and turn them into supportive ones. Ask yourself if what you are planning to say may trigger defensiveness and actively try to create or maintain a supportive emotional tone in a conversation.

Avoiding Over-Communication

We tend to not communicate enough, rather than too much. However, there can be too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to smartphone habits. Some couples are in touch via social media throughout the day even when they see each other every day, while others do not feel that need.

There is no rule as to how much communication is healthy—if a couple finds something that works for them, there is no need to change it.

However, if you do feel that you are over communicating and you would like to change, ask yourself why you need to be in touch? What is it that makes you want to reach out and connect? What is your motivation behind the message you send or the call you make? What are you hoping to get out of it?

Positive Psychology is all about flourishing in life—finding solutions rather than trying to understand problems. It is a human need to connect with others but we can’t forget the importance of connecting to ourselves. Are you communicating with yourself as much as you are with others? What are the conversations you have with yourself? Is your inner voice your best friend or your worst critic?

Remember that what we focus on grows. What would happen if we try to meet our own needs rather than hoping for other people to do so for us? What if we communicated kindly when we were upset, rather than suffered or acted in ways that caused further pain?

It is crucial, especially in intimate relationships, to communicate in a way that feels good for both partners.

Books on Communication in Relationships

Here is are our three picks on improving communication in relationships:

  1. Nonviolent Communication (Marshall B. Rosenberg);
  2. Reden 1 (Friedemann Schulz von Thun), this book is not available in English;
  3. Games People Play (Eric Berne).

Quotes on Communication in Relationships

Roy T. Bennett:

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words” 

Shannon L. Alder:

“When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret” 

Douglas Adams:

“Having not said anything the first time, it was somehow even more difficult to broach the subject the second time around” 

Zeno of Citium:

“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say” 

William Shakespeare:

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” 

A Take-Home Message

Like painting or singing, communication in relationships is a skill that requires practice. If you would like to improve communication in your relationships, remember the following three things.

Firstly, unhealthy communication starts with negative thoughts or difficult emotions. Words are only the result of those thoughts and emotions. So be mindful of what is going through your mind when you talk with someone. Try to understand and communicate your emotions.

Secondly, be aware of your inner lens which is responsible for how you decode a message. Paraphrasing is a great tool when you are unsure whether what you have understood is what the other person was trying to say. Simply use your own words to summarize how you understood the message.

And thirdly, listening is the better skill to practice than talking. Focus on your friend’s facial expression as they tell a story. Try to listen without thinking of what to say next and try not to judge what you hear.

You will see your relationships improve with these three simple steps. Why? Because good communication is a sign of appreciation. Easy examples of showing appreciation are: I am curious what you have to say, I enjoy speaking with you, or  I value our time together.

You don’t have much time? I understand! Here are the 7 essentials communication in relationships skills in a nutshell, but make sure you read the article for better use of the tools and models.

What are some of the ways that have helped you communicate positively with a partner or friend? Leave a comment below.

Original Article can be found here: https://positivepsychology.com/communication-in-relationships/

Life as We Know It Has Changed – But What About Your Basic Needs? Which Things Do You Still Need in Your Life – to ‘Live’?

2020 has altered everyone’s life in one way or another. Maybe you’ve been laid off or furloughed from work, or you’ve had to relocate, or maybe it’s just been a time of quiet reflection. In spite of all this change, the one constant is that our basic needs as humans haven’t changed. Some of these needs include:

  • A sense of well-being
  • Meaning and purpose
  • A sense of belonging
  • Positive relationships and connections to family and friends
  • A close loving relationship with a companion, partner, or significant other

Maintaining relationships and creating new ones – such as with dating – can prove to be one of the tougher challenges, particularly now, when human interaction is discouraged.

  • You may notice a feeling of loneliness taking over, especially if dating was interrupted by the pandemic, and now you’re wondering how you can begin a new relationship under today’s conditions.
  • Your relationship with your partner or significant other can feel strained, as the effects of this record stressful year have created increased tension for most people.
  • Without going into an office, the connection with your co-workers can dwindle and communication can get lost in a barrage of emails.
  • You may experience a loss of connection to friends and family, as shared moments going out to eat, or to concerts, ballgames, or picnics, can all seem like distant memories. 

It can all feel so heavy. BUT it doesn’t have to!

  • It’s possible to have close relationships and feel connected to the people who are important to you, even during a pandemic.
  • Sure, you may need to pivot and adjust, but with a little extra effort and creativity you can increase your connections, regain purpose and meaning, forge new relationships – and even date!
    • Take time to calm your mind, using mindfulness, meditation, or other healthy techniques.
    • With a calm mind, you achieve a more positive mindset.
    • When you’re more positive, it’s easier to create strategies to improve your sense of well-being, strengthen your connections, build relationships, and satisfy your basic needs.

Want to rediscover the things you need in your life to ‘live’? Then it’s time to contact Marilyn. She specializes in helping people create more satisfaction and fulfillment in their life and career.

Now is the time to make a positive change in your life.

I look forward to working with you on a customized Life and/or Career Coaching Plan to help you define your priorities and set clear goals, with a plan to achieve them.


Stay Safe But Stop Obsessing: How to Prevent Coronavirus From Taking Over Your Life

For a small percentage of people, coronavirus is life-threatening. But even if you’re not infected, the COVID-19 pandemic can have a serious psychological impact on the ability to stay calm, focused, and innovative at work.

The reason? All these breaking news updates, stock market alerts, and panicked public health announcements have exploited three basic characteristics of the human mind, leaving us scattered, distracted, and, well, miserable.

The first is “mind wandering,” our tendency to get lost in thoughts about the past or future. Watching a CNN update on the coronavirus is like mind wandering on steroids. It’s full of all sorts of future doomsday scenarios designed to hijack our attention away from what’s actually happening right here, right now, in the present moment.

The second is what neuroscientists call the “negativity bias” of the brain. This is our evolved tendency to fixate on potential threats to our survival. It’s the force, deep in the recesses of your brain, that creates all those horrifying simulations of a future where everything that could go wrong does go wrong.

The third is what behavioral economists call “uncertainty aversion.” We’re drawn to things we know and understand. And that’s why, when faced with the radical uncertainty of a spreading virus and declining markets, we feel such extreme discomfort.


Combine these three characteristics of the human brain with news about the markets tumbling and the coronavirus spreading, and you might just have the perfect formula for destroying productivity and innovation.

Mind wandering leaves us mentally time traveling into an imaginary future throughout the day. The negativity bias of the brain ensures that we’re not ruminating on some inspiring or optimistic future state. We’re time traveling into a mental dystopia, a world where we’re all quarantined in our homes, lathering ourselves with hand sanitizer. And uncertainty aversion leaves us addicted to what might just be the root cause of all this suffering: the steady diet of breaking news that triggers our fear and scatters our attention.


There are all sorts of ways to stay focused and productive in the midst of this kind of public hysteria. You could meditate. You could question all these stressful thoughts about the future. You could even move to a remote island in South America. And yet the simplest tool for staying focused in this chaotic time is to stay willfully uninformed.

I realize that sounds like a strange aspiration. “Isn’t it good to be well informed?” you might be thinking. “Don’t successful and productive people stay on top of public events?”

The short answer is “no.” Unless you’re a day trader on Wall Street or a pandemic specialist at the CDC, you don’t need to know about each new case of the coronavirus or each new ominous sign for the health of the global economy.

Staying on top of all this news might give you the illusion of satisfying your uncertainty aversion–the illusion that you’re somehow in control of the chaotic flow of global events. But it’s just that. It’s an illusion. The truth is that your following these events closely does nothing to make you safer or change the trajectory of the coronavirus.

Attending to this deluge of information does, however, have a couple of tangible effects. It does take precious time out of your already busy day. But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that this continuous flow of information devours your headspace and attention. It exploits the three forces mentioned above, pushing aside important thoughts about your priorities and strategic objectives, occupying precious mindshare that could otherwise be used to come up with your next big creative idea.


So the strange goal in this strange time is to become willfully uninformed. But you don’t want to take this too far. You don’t want to become totally ignorant of all things happening outside the small sphere of your work and life. What you want is a middle-way solution that gives you more control over the information you consume.

Here are a few tips:

  • Turn off all breaking news notifications and alerts.
  • Treat your brain like an 8-year-old child. You wouldn’t give an 8-year-old unfettered access to a smartphone. Nor should you afford yourself this kind of daily temptation. Instead, set clear limits such as, “I’ll allow myself to check the news once each day at 5 p.m.” or, if you want to get more radical, “I’ll allow myself to check the news once each week on Friday at lunch.”
  • Never watch your news on TV. There’s no need to traumatize yourself through witnessing the gory images of sick patients being wheeled into a hospital or frantic traders screaming on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Better just to read about it instead.

We live in a chaotic time. And for those of us interested in maximizing focus and productivity, this means employing radical measures to ensure that we stay focused on what matters most, our highest priority work, right here, right now.

Original article from Fast Company here: https://www.fastcompany.com/90475248/this-is-how-to-protect-your-mind-from-panic-about-coronavirus

Three Ways to Get ‘Unstuck’ in Your Career

With the state of the world, everything can feel heavy right now — like a bad dream we can’t wake up from.

  • There’s no doubt that our lives and careers will look different from this point forward.
  • But this time is also the perfect opportunity to make life changes that you’ve been holding back on or were unsure about how/where to start.

If you’re unhappy in your career, now is the time to make a change.

Feeling ‘stuck’ in your career? Here are key indicators that it’s time for you to make a change:

  • You lack motivation even with the tasks you mastered a long time ago.
  • You believe a career should be more fulfilling.
  • You feel depressed toward the end of the weekend – and Sunday nights are the worst.
  • Your career frustrations bleed into your personal life, negatively affecting relationships and your quality of life, as a whole.

Here are 3 tips to get ‘unstuck’ and start on the path to a more fulfilling career and healthy personal life:

  1. There are GREAT jobs out there right now. Many companies are hiring. Here is a resource from LinkedIn that is updated daily. Be sure to check out their full list for all job levels including career paths – not only hourly or temp jobs.
  2. Positivity. Change won’t happen overnight – when you start taking steps in a forward direction, you can be confident you’re on the right track. In the meantime, you need to maintain your current career. To help you get through the transition period, make a list of items you like about your job (or don’t hate) and focus on those.
  3. Invest in YOU – work with Marilyn Fettner. Career and Life Coaching gives you support in uncertain times, helping you to recalibrate and providing practical strategies to stay focused on your priorities.
    • Marilyn is a Certified Career Counselor and also certified in many career tests, including the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB).
    • The HAB objectively measures your abilities, so you know what you’re naturally good at. You also get a list of careers that match your results. Report versions include: Student, Adult, Leadership, and Lawyer.
    • The HAB and career and life coaching tools, such as the Myers-Briggs and Strong Interest Inventory, give you clarity for career direction and grounding for your life, in these uncertain times. 

I look forward to working with you on a customized Life and/or Career Coaching plan to help you define your priorities and set clear goals with a plan to achieve them.


What Will Work-Life Balance Look Like After the Pandemic?

As if being a working parent didn’t already include enough moving pieces to manage, even toddlers are now having standing teleconferences. For the two of us, our daughters’ virtual morning preschool meeting is one more item to be juggled as we attempt to work full-time from home without childcare. Our own conference calls are scheduled for naptime and occasionally interrupted by a request for potty. We attempt to wedge the rest of the workday into the early mornings and post-bedtime.

The Covid-19 crisis has shoved work and home lives under the same roof for many families like ours, and the struggle to manage it all is now visible to peers and bosses. As people postulate how the country may be forever changed by the pandemic, we can hope that one major shift will be a move away from the harmful assumption that a 24/7 work culture is working well for anyone.

For decades, scholars have described how organizations were built upon the implicit model of an “ideal worker”: one who is wholly devoted to their job and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, every year of their career. This was always an unrealistic archetype, one that presumed a full-time caretaker in the background. Yet today, over two-thirds of American families are headed by single parents or two working parents. With schools and daycares closed, work cannot continue as normal simply because working remotely is technologically possible.

Employees are disproportionally well-compensated for being ideal workers. “Time greedy” professions like finance, consulting, and law — where 80- or 100-hour weeks may be typical — compensate their workers per hour more than professions with a regular 40-hour week. Flexible-work arrangements come with severe penalties; many who leave the workforce for a period or shift to part-time never recover their professional standing or compensation. When individuals push back — asking for less travel or requesting part-time or flexible hours — their performance reviews suffer and they are less likely to be promoted, studies find. Simply asking for workplace flexibility engenders professional stigma.

The “ideal worker” expectation is particularly punitive for working mothers, who also typically put in more hours of caregiving work at home than their spouses. Furthermore, men are more likely to “fake it” and pass as ideal workers, while women make clear that they cannot meet these expectations, including by negotiating flexible-work arrangements. Many organizations are not amenable to adjustments, leading to the perception that women are opting out of the workforce — although research suggests women are actually “pushed out.”

In our world of laptops, cellphones, and teleconferences, the intellectual and analytical tasks of “knowledge workers” can continue at home. But low-wage workers increasingly are subject to similar expectations of responsiveness, even as they have less job security and even less flexibility than higher paid workers. In the midst of this pandemic, store clerks, delivery drivers, and warehouse workers are now forced to be “ideal workers” too, risking exposure to the virus in public with little support for the families they leave to go to work.

There have been many calls for restructuring how work is done, including making more room for our families and questioning the real value of the eight-hour (or more) workday. Now is a time for companies to step back and reexamine which traditional ways of working exist because of convention, not necessity.

Executives and managers have the opportunity to choose quality work over quantity of work. They can value the creative ideas that emerge after a midday hike or meditation session, rather than putting in face time at the office. They can stop rewarding the faster response over the better response, or the longer workday over a more productive workday. They can rethink highly competitive career tracks where you make it or wash out — such as giving tenure-track scholars and partner-track lawyers the choice of a longer clock before their evaluation.

During this pandemic, employers are seeing that workers can’t function well without accommodation for their family responsibilities. Will that lesson last after the crisis is over? American families want greater choices in determining how their work and their families fit together. Post-pandemic, can we create a system that fits real workers, not just idealized ones? If so, we have the opportunity to emerge from this crisis with both healthier employees and better performing organizations.

For original article from Harvard Business Review, please click here: https://hbr.org/2020/04/what-will-work-life-balance-look-like-after-the-pandemic

Is Your College Student Home Unexpectedly?

Parenting right now is hard, really hard.

  • Do you have a college student who is home now, due to the stay-at-home situation, and seems to have little direction or motivation, since their world has been turned upside down? 
  • Don’t lose hope!

Sometimes it’s easier said than done to stay positive when we don’t know what the future holds.

  • You, yourself, may be feeling anything but positive. So how can you help your son or daughter use this time effectively – for his/her future? 
  • This is a great time for your student to figure out their next steps for their college major and career – for when they go back to college, or for their first job out of college.

Here are four tips to keep you and your college student optimistic while at home:

  • Jobs DO exist right now. There are many companies that are hiring – right now. Here is a resource from LinkedIn that is updated daily. Check out their full list for all job levels!
  • Career vs Major. If your student is heading back to school in the Fall, they’ll want to make sure they choose a career – not just a major. They’ll want to assess jobs that are in demand – and identify majors that will prepare them for their select jobs and career paths.
  • Have fun! This will pass and soon enough your college student may be living in a different state. You won’t get this time back! While it can be stressful, try to have fun together; play board games, watch movies together, ride bikes, cook, and garden.
  • Engage in Coaching with Marilyn. Coaching provides support in uncertain times, help to recalibrate, and strategies to stay focused on your priorities.
    • The HAB objectively measures your natural abilities and provides a list of careers that match your results. Report versions include: Student, Adult, Leadership, and Lawyer.
    • This, and other career tools, provide clarity for your career decision-making in these uncertain times. 

While this time can feel overwhelming, it’s temporary. Commit to using this time now to help your student plan for their future.

I look forward to working with your college student on a customized coaching plan to help them discover what it is they really want to and can do, based on their strengths and the current economic environment.  


A Psychologist’s Guide to Online Dating

Edward Royzman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, asks me to list four qualities on a piece of paper: physical attractiveness, income, kindness, and fidelity. Then he gives me 200 virtual “date points” that I’m to distribute among the four traits. The more I allocate to each attribute, the more highly I supposedly value that quality in a mate.

This experiment, which Royzman sometimes runs with his college classes, is meant to inject scarcity into hypothetical dating decisions in order to force people to prioritize.

I think for a second, and then I write equal amounts (70) next to both hotness and kindness, then 40 next to income and 20 next to fidelity.

“Oh wow,” he says.


“Your response is somewhat atypical for a female. Usually women allocate more to fidelity and less to physical attractiveness. Maybe you think fidelity is something people can cultivate over time?”

(Sure, but I mean, who would want an ugly, broke jerk sticking faithfully by their side?)

Royzman said that among his students (not in a clinical condition), men tend to spend much more on physical attractiveness, and women spend more on social attractiveness traits like kindness and intelligence.

This trait game, along with Royzman’s review of the literature on attraction, hints at some of the endless quirks of the online dating marketplace. You might like someone online, but they put 100 on income, and unfortunately you’re about a 10.

Men and women make mating decisions very differently, he speculates. Men tend to act like single-issue voters: If a prospect is not attractive enough, he or she usually doesn’t qualify for a first date, period.

For women, however, “It’s a more complex choice,” he said. “What tends to matter for females is that the overall package is good,” meaning that women might accept a less-attractive mate if he was outstanding in some other way. “Online, this might result in males restricting their potential mates.”

Match.com is two decades old, but new, fast-growing apps such as Tinder have shifted the online-matching emphasis back to looks. Tinder dispenses with the idea that it takes a mutual love of pho or Fleet Foxes to create a spark; instead, users of the phone app swipe through the photos of potential mates and message the ones they like. As one columnist who used the service put it, “There’s a short bio, age, and mutual friends listed, but who’s really paying attention to that stuff when your Tinder flame is wearing next to nothing on the beach?”

Then there’s Hinge, which uses a similar interface, but is backed by recommendations from the user’s “social graph,” such as their school or career field. Grindr serves up a mosaic of gay bachelors’ head and body shots. There are also a raft of appearance-based spin-off sites, such as Facemate, a service that aims to match people who look physically similar and thus, the company’s founder claims, are more likely to have chemistry.

This more superficial breed of dating sites is capitalizing on a clear trend. Only 36 percent of adults say marriage is one of the most important things in life, according to a 2010 Pew study, and only 28 percent say there is one true love for every person (men are more likely to say so than women). Rather than attempting to hitch people for life based on a complex array of intrinsic qualities, why not just offer daters a gaggle of visually appealing admirers?

Recent research has examined what makes people desire each other digitally, as well as whether our first impressions of online photos ultimately matter. Here, then, is how to date online like a social scientist.

Does the photo matter?

Tinder offers a one-sentence tagline and a selection of five photos, including the all-important first photo, or “calling card,” as the writer Amanda Lewis put it. She points out a few other tips in her “Tinder glossary:” “Most players reflexively swipe left [reject] at the sight of a toddler or baby,” but posing with your adorable Lab can be an “effective misdirection.” And then there’s the iron law that “95 percent of players who choose a calling card that does not include a clear shot of their face are unattractive.”

It’s not the first time in history that a face plays such an important role in one’s fate. Physiognomy, or the bogus theory that we can predict a person’s character from their features, was once a widespread doctrine. Charles Darwin first began to develop his theory of natural selection while journeying on the HMS Beagle as a “gentleman companion” to its captain, Robert Fitzroy, but only after nearly being turned down from the job because Fitzroy thought “no man with such a nose could have the energy” required for an arduous voyage.

There has been some evidence that strangers can accurately predict qualities like extraversion, emotional stability, and self-esteem based on photos. Hockey players with wider faces, considered a sign of aggression, spend more time in the penalty box.

It takes longer, more meaningful interactions, however, to pinpoint other traits, like if the prospective mate is open, agreeable, or neurotic. It seems people might only be able to determine the extremes of a personality from a photo, rather than its nuances. (One study found that the owner of an “honest” face is not any more likely to be trustworthy, for example.)

It’s true that attractive people generally are treated more nicely by others, and they might have better-adjusted personalities as a result. But Royzman said looks can deceive. In relationships, personality eventually overtakes attractiveness—or at the very least, we tend to find people more attractive when we think they have good personalities. So perhaps you should make that Tinder tagline all about how you volunteer at an animal shelter every weekend.

Swiping through endless Tinder photos in search of the most alluring possible one might not be fruitful, either. Most people end up with someone who’s about as good-looking as they are.

“People might prefer attractive people, but they often end up pairing off with people who are similar in attractiveness,” Leslie Zebrowitz, a psychology professor at Brandeis University and an expert on face perception, said. “You might shoot for the moon, but you take what you can get.”

Should I date someone who looks like me?

Twenty years ago, Christina Bloom was in a committed relationship when she met someone who “knocked me off my heels.” The two embarked on a fiery romance, during which she noticed that friends and strangers were always telling them they looked alike.

She launched FaceMate in 2011, drawing on her opinion that people in happy relationships tend to resemble each other. The site matches the photos of its users based on their faces’ bone structure using face-scanning techniques and a computer algorithm. The service is free, for now, and currently has 100,000 users.

“It all starts with the face,” she said. “People say, ‘From the first time I met him, I knew.’ There’s a sense of recognition. That’s what they’re seeing, is their own image. That’s what we call chemistry.”

Psychologists tend to disagree with that theory. In another experimental mock speed-dating event, subjects who thought they were similar to one another were more likely to be attracted to each other, but that wasn’t the case for those who were actually similar to one another.

“People are not romantically attracted to people who look like them,” Zebrowitz said. “That has to do with the disadvantages of mating with your brother, for example.”

Indeed, Lisa DeBruine, a psychologist at the University of Glasgow in the U.K., has found that people find self-resembling, opposite-sex faces to be trustworthy, but not sexy, and they can even be repulsive for a short-term relationship.

But George Michael and Maeby might be relieved to know that while excessive genetic overlap between two people results in poor reproductive prospects, a small amount can be acceptable. That might be why 20 young Norwegian couples rated their partner’s photograph as more attractive when it was digitally “morphed” to look ever so slightly more like themselves. The magic number was a 22 percent resemblance—any more similar was deemed gross.

And, by the way, you really should call the whole thing off if one of you says potato and the other “po-tah-to” (because after all, who says it like that?). Couples with similar speech styles were more likely to stay together than those who speak differently.

DeBruine points out that though we’re programmed to avoid dating our relatives, we also have a certain, subconscious affinity for our own parents.

“The scientific evidence reflects complexity and suggests that there may be a ‘happy medium,’” DeBruine told me. “But, ultimately, other factors are much more important in successful relationships.”

Will my online dating attempts lead to a relationship?

We may have more options for potential mates than ever before, but unfortunately people have trouble determining what they really want in their lovers. One 2008 study by Eli Finkel and Paul Eastwick at Northwestern University found, for example, that though men and women tend to say they prioritize different things in their mates (men are more likely to emphasize looks and women money), there’s no difference in the types of mates the two sexes actually choose in a real-life setting—which the authors gauged using a speed-dating exercise.

What’s more, there was little association between the traits participants said they wanted in a partner on paper and what they actually liked about the mates at the speed dating event. In other words, you may flaunt your Rolex in your Tinder photo, but that might not stop your date from heading home with a scruffy artist once you’re at the bar.

This is in part because the way people pair with one another on dating sites is different from the way they will then later evaluate the relationship, according to Finkel and Eastwick. People browse online profiles in what’s known as “joint evaluation mode,” comparing multiple suitors against one another on the basis of attractiveness, income, and other factors. But they make relationship decisions in what’s called “separate evaluation mode,” judging just that person and thinking, “Is this person right for me?” Even if you pick out the prospect with the most striking jawline, and you may overlook the one who will willingly spend hours watching Cake Boss with you, sans judgement.

“The joint evaluation model … is likely to cause users to focus on certain qualities they think are important in a potential partner, perhaps to the neglect of qualities that actually are important,” Finkel wrote in a paper published last year in the journal Psychological Science.

“Certain qualities are easy to focus on in a joint evaluation mode (e.g., height, income, physical appearance),” Finkel later told me in an email. “But the truth is that those qualities aren’t the important ones that predict relationship well-being. What we really want is information about rapport, compatibility of sense of humor, sexual compatibility” and the like.

And computers simply aren’t able to convey information about people the way people can about themselves, Finkel says.

“There is something that people must assess face-to-face before a romantic relationship can begin—the myriad factors such as sense of humor, rapport, interaction style, holistic impressions, and nonconscious mimicry that determine how comfortably two people interact. You can assess compatibility better in 10 minutes of face-to-face time than in 100 hours of profile browsing.”

Finkel and Eastwick wrote that while online dating services greatly expand the dating pool for their users, they don’t necessarily foster better relationships: The sites “do not always improve romantic outcomes; indeed, they sometimes undermine such outcomes.”

At the same time, though, apps like Tinder remain remarkably popular. A little over a year after its launch, two million Tinder “matches” happen each day.

I asked Finkel which online dating site he’d use, if he had to use one. He said it depended on what he was looking for.

“If I were an Evangelical Christian looking for marriage, I might start with eHarmony. If I were looking for an extramarital affair, I might start with AshleyMadison. If I were in my 20s and looking for fun, casual dating, I might start with Tinder,” he said. “The whole point is that you can’t tell much from a profile, anyway, so using some complex algorithm to assess whether the partner is as kind as Mother Teresa or as smart as Einstein is a fool’s errand. Find somebody who seems cute or sexy, and then get face-to-face to assess whether there’s actual compatibility there.”

I also asked him if he’d use online dating at all, as opposed to some other matchmaking mechanism, knowing what he knows about it academically.

“Hell yes,” he said. “It’s probably a bit worse than meeting people organically through one’s existing social network, but, outside of that option, it’s probably as good an approach as any. But it’s important to realize what online dating can and can’t do. It can expand the pool of potential partners, making available a whole slew of people who otherwise would have been unavailable. That’s a huge, huge benefit. But, at least thus far, it can’t figure out who’s compatible with you. That’s your job.”

Original article here