Category Archives: communication


When I had surgery recently, the assistant to the anesthesiologist came into the room to ask me questions.  We finished, and then she wheeled me into the operating room.  When we entered, the anesthesiologist introduced herself.  I commented on my pleasure that both were women.  They did not respond.

I appreciate that these women achieved what they did.  I hope they do too.


My friend Robin and I met in San Francisco yesterday.  We decided to spend the day together having lunch and going to MOMA.   I took BART in and Robin drove from Napa.

I suggested we have lunch where I had gone with my daughter once near MOMA.  I was informed by Robin that this was her treat to celebrate my birthday.  She also gave me a lovely gift.

There was one exhibit I wanted to see, and Robin was interested in exploring the museum in general.  She loved the wall of green, being the expert gardener she is.  We walked through the photographs of Walker Evans and then went to see the Robert Rauschenberg exhibit.  I had seen the Evans one before and I thoroughly enjoyed the evolution of Rauschenberg’s works which was new to me.

I turned to Robin, who always eludes a lot of energy, and told her I was ready to end our journey.  I favor doing museums a little at a time.  Robin responded by saying she was ready to stop walking too.

I do verbalize my endings.  It turned out well again.

Speaking Engagements

Periodically, I do a free speaking engagement.  I am fortunate to be able to use the Alameda Chamber of Commerce office.  I decide topics that may be of current interest to people in the community and I balance them between adult topics and family concerns.

I am intrigued how the attendees often are there because the topic is interesting, but not often correlate to their current life.  Adults who have grown children will sometimes attend a topic relating to children.  During the discussion, they recall their own parenting times or may talk about grandchildren.

I always encourage discussion and questions as I speak, and I continue to find the participation intriguing and educational.

I favor interaction with people.  We often do not do this anymore.  As I have said before, we tend to communicate through messages, over the phone or on the computer.  The opportunity to discuss and hear diversified opinions is a true learning gift.

I hope people continue to get together, talk, and listen.

Meaningful Interaction

I went to a birthday party for my daughter.  It was held at a friend’s home and there were about 25 people there.  Two of the guests have been friends of Julie’s since they were very young.  Others have been in her life for quite a few years and there were a couple of newer ones.

I do not favor parties.  I am a one-to-one person and prefer more engaging conversations.  At this event, I was able to do that.  I spent the evening talking to one person at a time.  I learned about the ones I did not know before, and I had rather profound interaction with the ones I have known longer.

I enjoyed everyone and walked away with a warm reminder that Julie has wonderful connections in her life.

I hope others are able to form relationships the way she is.  It is so rewarding.

Meeting New People

I am a person who could speak to an audience of hundreds of people and feel almost no anxiety.  Public speaking, the most common fear people have, is not mine.  But I do not like initiating conversation with a person I do not know.

This has been a major challenge for me since I moved to California five years ago and I knew no one in Alameda where I chose to live and open a private practice.  It was necessary to meet people as a way of marketing my work.

A couple of business groups were recommended to me.  Each sat in a circle and each person took a moment to introduce him/herself.  I could do that.  But when I went to a mixer or not organized event, I was apprehensive about beginning a conversation.  If someone came up to me and began talking, I was fine.  It was beginning the conversation for me that was the problem.

Eventually I discovered a couple of lines that worked for me, i.e, “What brings you here today?”  Over the five years, I am much more comfortable.

What intrigues me is the number of people I have met socially or professionally who take a while before they admit they are anxious in situations where they do not know people and they avoid these settings.

It is a very common fear.

What We Don’t Say

A client told me that she had a painful experience with a very long term friend.  They were at a museum viewing a show that was very significant to both of them.  It was political and it represented the views they had taken historically.  The friend viewed the show in ten minutes and indicated she would be in the gift shop.  My client was surprised that her friend had spent so little time at the show.

When she was done, she met her friend and asked her opinion of the show.  The friend responded, “It was alright.”  My client was troubled by the brevity of her answer.

When she related this to me, she explained that she was distressed because she believes her friend may not want to be her friend anymore since she discloses very little in terms of her thoughts and feelings.  I asked her if she has spoken to her about this.  She said, “I have asked her innumerable times to tell me more, and she does not.  I know where she will go with this so I have not.”

Often we fail to disclose what we are truly thinking and feeling.  To say to her friend, “I am concerned that our relationship is changing and I would like to discuss this,” addresses the problem directly instead of adding her own interpretation of her friend’s behavior.

We are not encouraged or taught how to express who we are.  It is unfortunate.

Maintaining The Intimate Connection

When people think of intimate connections, they typically are referring to couple relationships: lovers, partners, mates.   I certainly understand that.

I am aware that I also have intimate connections with my children.  When they were young, I used to have a “date” with each one of them.  We went for a walk, or out to eat, or to a movie, or shopping, or on a trip.  It was important to me to maintain a very personal one to one relationship with each one of them.  They have shared the value of that for them also.

This weekend I visited my daughter in Los Angeles.  I do this twice a year.  We do have certain rituals during my time there.  However, the conversation is always disclosing about who we are in the moment.  We truly keep up with who we are at all times.  I had the opportunity to share meals with a few of her friends who I continue to enjoy over the years.  The same openness exists with them.

Next weekend I spend a good part of Sunday with my other daughter.  We do this whenever we can.  We will begin by going to my grandson’s soccer game, then she and I will have lunch and attend a concert together.  In between the activities, we will exchange thoughts and feelings on a deeper level.

I need to set up a “date” with my son.  I find that the nights my grandson’s sleep over, we have the same opportunity.

Moving to California has gratified my primary desire to spend more time with these precious people.

Giving Positive Feedback

A teenage client walked into my office with crutches.  She normally walks to the office, but I noticed her mother had driven her.  She told me the following story.

Her band class had been told to meet at a certain time in the band room.  When they got there, they discovered that the teacher had erred and they were meeting a half hour later.  They had that time to waste.  The room was dark and they started to play.  They were running around the room and another student crashed into my client.  She fell, felt pain in her knee, and discovered later that she passed out for a moment.  When she opened her eyes, students were around her and pointed out that she had hit her head and was bleeding.  The boy who ran into her was very apologetic.

One student took her cell phone and called 911 and my client’s mother.  They put a covering on her head, which turned out to be a small wound.  When the ambulance arrived, the attendees commended the students on how they had handled the situation.  They pointed out the appropriate calls they had made,  covering the wound, and staying with her.

The teacher, once apprised of what happened, yelled at the students for running around the room.  She did not acknowledge how they had handled the situation.

Education can miss the point at times.  It would have been a better learning experience to point out what they had done right.  I suspect they discovered their mistake on their own.

Learning About Discrimination

A father of a nine year old client of mine pointed out to me his concern because his children have always lived in Alameda and have not been faced with discrimination of race, religion, or ethnicity because of the diversity of the city.  He asked me whether I thought it was wise for him to discuss it with them.  I found his question to be very reflective and encouraged him to do so.

Another client who is Caucasian visited an African-American potential partner in a southern State. His reluctance to show affection in public angered her.  The fact that people in two restaurants changed tables when they sat down did not irritate her because she did not see this as a reaction to their presence.  She and he talked and she felt he should ignore the reaction of other people and do what he wanted to do.

She does not understand, nor experience, discrimination the way this man has.  She said she does not understand his fears and believes he should behave the way he wants to no matter how others react.

The father of my client has a significant concern about the outcome of naivety.

Talking To Each Other

While at exercise today, I was aware of what appeared to be an intense conversation between the manager and a woman.  Another person came up to me and began to describe an exchange that had occurred before I had arrived.  The woman was very upset about conversations occurring between a few people exercising.  She said they were so loud she could not hear the music.  The manager turned up the music.  The woman asked that the people be asked to stop talking because she still found herself unable to hear the music adequately.

I am aware that I am focused on interpersonal verbal communication.  I understand a person’s interest in hearing music while exercising.  During my time there I did not find the conversation overriding my ability to hear the music. I am dismayed by an attempt to discourage conversation.

In my time at exercise, we formed a group to meet for lunch once a month because some of the people we had formed relationships with at exercise no longer attended and we wanted to maintain contact.  It is a nice feeling to form relationships and to nurture them periodically.  We had gotten to know each other through conversation,

The music was the background.