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Recently, I asked a family friend, a financial advisor, to share with me his perspective on the importance of rapport in the world of sales. In a general way, I knew that successful salespeople maintain good rapport with their clients. And so I was curious. Was the need for developing rapport in business any different than doing so in a parent-child relationship? To that end, I posed the following questions: "How do you establish rapport with a new client? And what do you believe is a key issue to creating rapport?
A political figure refuses to comment on a current news story in which he is involved.. In the hope of avoiding a scuffle with her parents, a teenager, who has broken curfew, quietly opens up the front door. As she makes a mad dash to her room, she tries to avoid being noticed and questioned. In both situations, a lack of communication may be perceived as failure on the part of the individual to take responsibility for his/her actions, and/or an admission of guilt. In such cases when the person does not say yes, the message being conveyed to others can be perceived as noby default, and vice versa.
In most homes, as women prepare to join the Seder (hopefully, somewhat rested), the anticipatory anxiety associated with the "P" word (pre-Pesach angst) is no longer. The cleaning, preparations, shopping and cooking are now a thing of the past. And finally, the Hagaddah's legacy of yetzias Mitzrayim (exodus from Egypt) takes front stage.
In the first two parts of this four-part series, we discussed the need to validate someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one. Utilizing a Rabbinic illustration, we presented the story of Rav Yochanan ben Zakai when he sat shivah for his son. The focus was on his receiving consolation: why he received comfort from his one student, Rav Elazer ben Aruch, and not from his other four students. Now let us move to a Biblical backdrop as we continue.
Her tone of voice was no different than usual: demure; calm; in-control. And then she shared with me a couple of ill-conceived statement expressed to her by some "loving" individuals: "Don't think of her suffering as something bad." If she suffers now then at least she won't suffer in The Next World." And the next one, well, that just went over the top (mind you, this communication took place a couple of months after the High Holidays): "It looks like you didn't daven too well this past Yom Kippur."
Have you ever experienced a scenario similar to the following? "My son, Ari (fictitious name) had been making an effort to study so he could get good grades. We arranged for twice a week tutoring in the evening, and that was after a long day at school. He wants to succeed. All children want to succeed. He'd like to see comments such as "great job" at the top of his homework. He'd also prefer having test sheets with fewer red X's and "F's" at the top of his papers (circled for emphasis in the event the "F" goes unnoticed).
There are theories to help explain how change occurs. The Stages of Change Model (SCM), which was introduced in the late 1970s by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente*, has been used to help us understand the mind/body stages we go through when we change. The model also provides us with the sense as to the complexity and chaos involved in the process. With this awareness, there is greater potential for us to generate more patience, understanding and compassion - towards others and towards ourselves - as we navigate the struggles within each stage.
The pictures had been removed from the wall a while back. Carefully and methodically, they had been placed in the back of her desk drawer, a spot that could be reached only if one were looking for something intentionally. Other pictures were inconspicuously hanging in the corner, situated on a wall blocked by a large, mismatched piece of furniture. There were also loose photographs, neatly stacked in their original envelope, discreetly placed in an unmarked folder located in the back of her filing cabinet.
"What do you mean, 'controlling'? This is called parenting! I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. I'm being responsible. I'm parenting my children the same way my parents parented me. If it worked then, there's nothing to question; it'll work now. Besides, look at me; I turned out okay!"
There is something to be said about hearing a story with a yiddishe ta'am (taste). However, when the context changes, and the cultural inflection and accent are omitted, the panache wanes. Such was my recent experience after having heard a well-known tale modified to suit the eclectic assemblage of the audience. For you, my dear readership, though, I offer the original version as I heard it many years ago (for a deeper experience, as you read the text imagine how these characters would sound and look).
In Part I, a distinction was made between two relationship methodologies, both of which are discussed in Dr. William Glasser's book, Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom. Glasser compares the use of External Control Psychology (i.e., manipulate, punish, criticize, blame, nag, and even reward) to Choice Theory, an empowering model based on an internal system of values, upgrading one's character traits and allowing natural consequences to "police" behaviors.
Thinking back to my childhood years, I recall a "dare" expression one child would bark to another: "Make me; bet'ya can't make me!" I didn't think much about the term back then, other than my associating it with bullying. Today, though, I view it on a more profound level, especially in regard to the parent populace.
Does the following script resonate with you? Father to mother: "How do you expect him to be frum when you let him to go to the mall? You don't stop him from hanging around with those 'bad' kids." Mother to father: "You're always blaming me! When have you ever learned with him without yelling or putting him down?" "When was the last time you said something positive to him − anything, anything at all?"
When verbalized in connection with parenting, the idiomatic expression, on the same page, at times, is misunderstood. Some people believe the term implies total agreement where one of the spouses gives up his/her right to disagree on an opinion, decision or direction s/he wishes to follow. In truth, while "agreement" is definitely implied, the undercurrent is one of a supportive nature.