Austin Guru Advice Column


An advice column for help with your relationships and other issues

Dear Guru,

When I'm in social situations with friends, co-workers and family, I notice that many people don't know how to have a 2-way conversation. They may talk a lot about themselves, but rarely ask a question about you. This kind of 1-way talking is boring and puts me to sleep. To me it is rude and selfish. What do you think ?. Lisa

You have pin-pointed what I think is a common, but huge problem that many people have. You are describing people with poor interpersonal skills. Many people never learned this life skill or don't undersand the value of a 2-way conversation. Since it is a skill, it can be learned, but it is amazing how many people haven't learned it and don't know they are boring others to tears. I think that most poople don't want to be this way, but keep doing it, because most people on the receiving end don't do or say anyting so the problem is reinforced. A good conversation (where both parties are enjoying themselves) has to involve many questions back and forth. Asking questions show that you care about the other person and value their experiences. A good conversation can turn you on to new ideas, resoures and expand your horizons. What can you do ? I suggest something like..."Would you like to know what I think about that?" It might help them gain a little insight that they're talking too much.

Dear Guru ,

Visiting my parents can be difficult, because my father has personal problems--he is controlling, thinks he is always right and is mean to my mother right in from of me and my wife. I have tried ignoring him and getting angry at him by telling him to stop, but neither works. What do you suggest ? Paul

Visiting a dysfunctional family can be very stressful. You have to decide what is best for you and what you can and can't tolerate. Since speaking up hasn't been helpful (he doesn't want his power challenged), I suggest you could tell your father that if this contunues you are going to leave (which means leaving the room or going home). You could, also, try an empathic approach (not challenging his power, but expressing love) by going to him and putting your hand on his shoulder and saying something like : "It's OK, Dad or Please stop". An insecure person (low-self-esteem) uses controlling behavior to feel good about him or herself. Controlling others feels powerful to a person like this. Confronting his power probably won't work, but comnpassion may. I highly recommend you see a counselor if you feel you have been emotionally damaged by your family of if you need more ideas on how to deal with your father.

This column is advice and not meant to be a substitute for therapy. Seek help if needed from a licensed counselor.

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