Skip to main content

John M. Gottman, PhD

As mentioned recently, I dislike vague questions. And I feel affirmed in this, as I've been reading The Relationship Cure. In a chapter on emotional communication skills, he writes:

Avoid questions that are too open-ended - questions like "What's new?" or "How's it going?" Too often, people give pat responses to such queries, perhaps because they're not sure you really want to now. But if you can ask the same type of question in a more tailored way, you're sure to get meatier answers.

There you have it, from an expert. And I recommend the whole book. It's an interesting study of human interaction and relationship-building.


Daniel Ray said…
Interesting. But it begs the question, "what if you don't want meatier answers?" It seems like questions like "how's it going" are effective ways to express interest in a person generally, but when you don't have time to get into the details of what's happening to them specifically...
Beth said…
but does it express personal interest, or a culturally obliged curiousity?

for me, the difference between, "hey, what's up?" and "hey, how was your sister's wedding?" is immense. it doesn't mean i'm invited to give a ten minute diatribe on the merits of her dress - but that you/the asker actually know and care about my life.
Daniel Ray said…
On the flip side,

one could come to naturally ask such questions, and just as easily be uninterested in whichever answers they produced as one would when asking a simple question, "how are you?"

Whereas I know that sometimes asking "how are you" with presence and an intention to listen can, in fact, invite as much of a diatribe as is necessary for the person being questioned to feel cared for.

I'll read the book and we can discuss it when you get back.

- dan
Beth said…
This is also true.

Do you have this book/are you really going to read it?? I'd definitely be interested in discussion.

Popular posts from this blog

What About Travis!?

I just watched Hope Floats, the second movie in my I-really-need-to-vegetate night. Now that we have more than three channels, there are so many quality programs on TV! Like movies in the middle of the week. I enjoyed many of the lines in this movie, including:

"I went home and told my mama you had a seizure in my mouth."
(referring to her first french-kissing experience)

"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
(the conversation in our living room then went,
Girl 1: Only Harry Connick Jr. could say that line without it being incredibly cheezy.
Boy: Without it being cheezy? That's all I heard. Cheez, cheez, cheez.
Girl 2: Yeah, but it was sexy, sexy cheez...sigh.)
"Better do what she says, Travis. Grandma stuffs little dogs."

Bernice: At home we had a pet skunk. Mama used to call it Justin Matisse. Do you think that's just a coincidence? All day long she would scream, "You stink Justin Matisse!" Then one day she just…

Fostering FAQ: What's Her (Mom's) Story?

This is probably the second most common question I hear about the baby currently in our care, right after, "Will you keep her?"

It comes in many forms:

"So, what's her story?"
"Is her mom in the picture?"
"How did she end up in your home?
"Is her mom a drug addict?"
"How could a mom not love such a cute baby!"

I get it. It's natural curiousity, and I know I've asked similar questions of my friends who are adoptive parents.

But here's what I'm learning: a child's story is their own. And equally as important, the parent's story is their own.

Imagine how it might feel to hear that for the foreseeable future, you are not allowed to care for your child. On top of whatever difficult circumstances you are already in - perhaps poverty, social isolation, lack of adequate housing, domestic violence, intergenerational trauma, drug or alcohol dependency, low cognitive functioning, or a myriad of other complex strug…

Simone Weil: On "Forms of the Implicit Love of God"

Simone Weil time again! One of the essays in Waiting for God is entitled "Forms of the Implicit Love of God." Her main argument is that before a soul has "direct contact" with God, there are three types of love that are implicitly the love of God, though they seem to have a different explicit object. That is, in loving X, you are really loving Y. (in this case, Y = God). As for the X of the equation, she lists:

Love of neighbor Love of the beauty of the world Love of religious practices and a special sidebar to Friendship
“Each has the virtue of a sacrament,” she writes. Each of these loves is something to be respected, honoured, and understood both symbolically and concretely. On each page of this essay, I found myself underlining profound, challenging, and thought-provoking words. There's so much to consider that I've gone back several times, mulling it over and wondering how my life would look if I truly believed even half of these things...

Here are a few …