Tuesday, May 12, 2009

[Essay] How To Make A Shy, Introverted Person Talk

Just a few hours ago, someone was asking me advice on what to do with his girlfriend who’s so shy and quiet, he’s running out of topics to talk to her about and he’s beginning to think and feel that his girlfriend is playing a game and he has no idea what the rules are and her usual response of either “Nothing” or “I don’t know” is beginning to get on his nerves. He definitely loves her but the effort of conversing with her is too much for him and he’s wondering if he should just move on or if there is a way to draw her out and get her to talk?

Well, my take on this is maybe it’s not really being shy as you both obviously know each other for quite some time now. She’s probably more introverted than shy and the topics you open for discussion is not exactly her idea of a conversation. Here are a few tips on breaking dead air:

Know where their interest lies.
To successfully draw a shy or introverted person into a conversation, you must first learn what their interests are before sharing your own. The trick to getting the information you want out of introverted people without making them run away is by the clothes they wear, the gadgets they have (if any) and by listening to their comments. I’m sure they’d be dropping insightful words here and there and the clue lies in those barely whispered words. Another trick to getting to know their interests is through emails and chats. Most introverted people I know, including yours truly, have more to say when either writing or typing than when talking. So send out that email or try chatting online instead of calling. You might be surprised at how long their replies are.

Be a good listener.
It is quite irritating to be cut off in the middle of explaining your point and you find the conversation going somewhere completely irrelevant. And being irritated, the introverted person would just sit there quietly and finish their one-sided conversation in their head. Being introverted or not, we should respect and listen to the person who’s talking until they finish whatever it is they wanted to say unless, they’re beginning to sound like a broken record. In that case, we all can gently ease the conversation away from that person’s ranting.

Encourage them to explain their point.
Most often than not, many introverted people, including me, would just answer a question with a simple answer and without further prodding or encouragement, we won’t be explaining the why’s of our answer. So why do we do that? It’s not that we don’t have anything to say, we do have a lot to say it’s just that it’s more tiring for introverted people to talk out loud than think and observe the people around us. It’s like we can only talk for a certain number of words an hour or something. So when introverted people do speak up, encourage them to explain their point of view by asking additional questions like “why do you say/think/believe/feel that/that way/like that?” or by prodding them on with a nod of your head and using encouraging phrases like “and?” or “what happened next?” When asking additional questions refrain from adding your own point of view as it will steer the conversation away from the other person. You can add your own two cents later on when the other person has finished talking.

Sometimes it’s good to let them decide what to talk about.
While it is indeed very hard to start a conversation with introverted people especially when it’s their turn to think of a topic to talk about, sometimes it is good to let them take control of the conversation. But do this only if the introverted person has already warmed up and is already quite talkative around the group. If not, keep conversations under your control with their interests in mind not yours. If you need to share something important that you think is not interesting to the introverted person you’re with, keep it light and simple and steer the conversation back to their field of interests. You’ll see that once we, introverted people, start warming up, we can pretty much talk about everything under the sun with great passion, conviction, and a lot of insight. When that happens, you can sit back, relax and hand the reins over to us.

Play a game: online or otherwise.
While it is very intellectually stimulating to talk to introverted people, we can’t keep talking forever like extroverted people can. We need to recharge our batteries as it is quite draining to talk so profoundly. The solution: play games! There are a variety of online and offline games you both can enjoy like board games, strategy games, arcade games, word games, card games and puzzle games. There are lots of games to choose from so find something that you both can enjoy. If it is chess you’re both good at then so be it. If it’s monopoly or checkers, then do it. The object of playing a game together is to take a breather from talking and to enjoy each other’s company without having to think of what to talk about. During game play however, bear in mind to encourage each other and pay each other compliments whether it be a good move or a bad move. No name calling or cursing even in the spirit of camaraderie. Keep in mind that it’s never a good thing to call your playmate names and cursing them. Doing so will only shut them up and shut you out of their lives.

Introverted people need their comfort zones before they’re able to share themselves. So for people dealing with us, it’s just a matter of us warming up until we get comfortable enough to start and keep the conversation going. Once we get chatty, you know that you’re in for a very enlightening conversation. So in the meantime be encouraging and patient. It will pay off I promise!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

[Essay] More In Love After A Fight

Fights are a normal part in any relationship… especially in any romantic relationship. Fights can also make or break a relationship and they say it’s how you handle conflicts that will save or doom your relationship.

Well, how exactly do you handle conflicts that will definitely save your relationship? Is there a proven strategy to be more in love after fighting with each other?

Never fear… I’ve been in this situation a lot of times with my beau and we end up more and more in love after each and every fight. Read on and enjoy being and feeling more in love after a fight. Works every time!

Usually disagreements come from normal, everyday conversations, comments, or things your partner said or unconsciously do. And usually, you just shrug off the first couple times s/he did or said it but eventually the irritation piles up and now you’re faced with an issue that you can’t shrug off anymore and it’s really bothering you.

The first thing you want to do is to hunt your partner down in any way you can - be it email, text message, or a phone call – to let him/her know how upset you are at your partner, right? STOP! It will only cause more harm than good because with your emotions clouding everything else, when you confront your partner with your issues, you won’t be that clear to them and being surprised like that, your partner won’t be able to respond properly to the issue and earn more anger from you. INSTEAD, when you feel upset at your partner, back up a little bit, do some thinking and think about what exactly is the cause of this anger. You’ve already identified who you’re angry at, so now, identify what they did that ticked you off. You can write it down in short phrases to help you be more organized and on topic when you present the issue to your partner. NEXT, as much as you want to throw breakables over their head for being slow (or for testing your patience), strive to be calm. Believe me, when I say it’s hard to stay calm when you’re fighting, it is hard but it’s doable. Not only is it doable, staying calm is also a relationship saver in the sense that when you are calm, you think more rationally and you don’t say hurtful things you don’t really mean that you’ll later regret having said.

After presenting the issue to your partner, your fight now progresses to the part where you explain your side and how you feel about the issue. Your partner on the other hand, explains their side, tells you how they feel when you’re done with the talking.

Common reaction is to dig up past grievances, drive home your point through their thick skull no matter how many times you have to repeat yourself and name-calling at this point could be so tempting. If you find yourself doing just that, STOP! Digging up past grievances only serves to confuse what the real issue is about and repeating the point over and over that you’re beginning to sound like a broken record will not help at all because it will only irritate your partner and in turn, they will automatically tune you out because they feel that they’ve heard your spiel already and thus all the more forget about the point you’ve been trying to make. And name-calling is not only low but also a sign of immaturity. INSTEAD, focus only on the issue at hand because past grievances are well, left in the past as they are for sure, resolved already and therefore, a close case never to be re-opened again. When opening up the issue, instead of whining and blaming your partner for what they did or did not do, open up the issue by telling your partner how their words or actions makes you feel and ask them what’s on their mind with regards to what you just said. Opening up using the phrase, “Because of what you said or did” would only make matters worse because the accusatory tone associated with the phrase puts your partner’s back up and thus activates the need to defend himself at all cost. Instead, use the phrase – and feel free to use terms of endearment before saying – “I feel” because the endearing and cautious tone you use leaves more room for your partner to be equally calm, and rational, and it activates their need to comfort a distressed loved one. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in a calm manner as to the when, where, how, and why your partner had been feeling distressed. Asking relevant questions in order to understand where your partner is coming from makes them feel respected, important to you, and it shows that you truly are listening and interested to make things right again. When you’re about to lose all patience with your partner during this stage of a fight, instead of name calling, step back, take a couple of deep breaths, and suggest you both continue the discussion after you’ve both calmed down – it could be thirty minutes to an hour, a day, after a calming down session/activity, whatever. Take a walk, a breath of fresh air in your garden or listen to a song, do anything that would help you calm down. If it means writing down everything that just happened so be it as long as it works. Then when you’re both calm enough go back to where you left off and patch things up.

After all the discussions and debates, you guys are now at the stage where you’re both suggesting solutions to patch things up and make your world all bright and sunny again. But the thing is no two people have the same ideas in resolving issues.

You feel his suggestions are not acceptable and because you feel it’s your partner’s fault for making you feel distressed in the first place, you’re waiting for an apology that would win the grandest apology in the world award. STOP if you’re feeling utterly stubborn like this. Continually disregarding your partner’s suggestions and efforts to resolve the conflict will not only drive you both insane but it will start another fight between the two of you. INSTEAD, listen to what your partner has to say and really think about it if you think you can do what they’re suggesting or you can suggest a few of your own and see what your partner thinks about it. It’s about listening and being heard one after the other not simultaneously. At some point in this stage, you’ll find something to agree on and that you both think will work nicely. In way of apologies, is there really a need for your partner to suffer and beg for forgiveness? Having seen so many TV drama soaps where this is the prevalent theme, let me just remind you that this is real life not TV so keep it simple and keep it real. Won’t you rather have a heartfelt “Honey, I’m sorry… can you ever forgive me?” than your partner, directly quoting a dialogue from a TV or movie scene without meaning a word they uttered? I thought so. Keeping it simple, real and heartfelt increases the feeling of respect, importance and love.

Having solved the issue and forgiving your partner means it’s the end of the fight. But not all people feel the same about the resolved issue. For some, it takes them a minute to completely move on and feel at peace while for others it takes more than a minute to feel the same way. So before you completely wipe off the satisfied grin on your partner’s face (and vice versa) with a snide remark because you still feel wronged, STOP! This will only start another fight and it’s a petty indulgent on your part. INSTEAD, move on by asking each other if there are still any other concerns left to be addressed and if not, declare to each other that the matter as discussed has been resolved and that you both agree on its resolution and you both are on the same page.

Having shared with you my conflict handling strategy, here comes the part that I love the most and sometimes the reason why I’m looking forward to our next couple fight, not solely because of this last part but because I know and I’m confident that we’ll emerge from a fight all the more in love with each other than ever before.

And this is how we do it: first off, thank your partner for listening, talking to you and helping solve the issue with you and not avoiding it by making excuses or denying its existence. Secondly, sending an “I’m sorry” card or note with or without a small token attach goes a long way of increasing that love feeling in your heart. And lastly, lots of hugs and kisses!

If it works for us, it will probably work for you too. Enjoy life!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

[Book Review] Sisters by Danielle Steel

SistersSisters by Danielle Steel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Four sisters, a Manhattan brownstone, and a tumultuous year of loss and courage are at the heart of Danielle Steel's new novel about a remarkable family, a stunning tragedy--and what happens when four very different young women come together under one very lively roof.
Candy-it's the only name she needs--is blazing her way through Paris, New York, and Tokyo as fashion's latest international supermodel. . . .

Her sister Tammy has a job producing the most successful hit show on TV, and a home she loves in L.A.'s Hollywood Hills. . . . In New York, oldest sister Sabrina is an ambitious young lawyer, while Annie is an American artist in Florence, living for her art. . . . On one Fourth of July weekend, as they do every year, the four sisters come home to Connecticut for their family's annual gathering. But before the holiday is over, tragedy strikes and their world is utterly changed.

Suddenly, four sisters who have been fervently pursuing success and their own lives--on opposite sides of the world--reunite to share one New York brownstone, to support each other and their father, and to pick up the pieces while one sister struggles to heal her shattered body and soul. Thus begins an unscripted chapter of their lives, as a bustling house is soon filled with eccentric dogs, laughter, tears, friends, men . . . and the kind of honesty and unconditional love only sisters can provide. But as the four women settle in, they are forced to confront the direction of their respective lives. As the year passes and another July Fourth approaches, a season of grief and change gives way to new beginnings--as a family comes together to share its blessings and a future filled with surprises and, ultimately, hope.

With unerring insight and compassion, Danielle Steel tells a compelling story of four sisters who love and laugh, struggle and triumph . . . and are irrevocably woven into the fabric of each other's lives. Brilliantly blending humor and heartbreak, she delivers a powerful message about the fragility--and the wonder--of life.

Part 2: Recommendation

If you’re not familiar with Danielle Steel’s writing style, you’d look at the cover and read Sisters in a nice red script and four females walking side by side in a straight line across the cover on top of the scrawled title and the first thing that comes to mind is sibling rivalry. Actually, it’s not at all about sibling rivalry. It’s about friendship, loss, courage, and what family means.

Four sisters, four different lives yet closely linked to each other’s. Meet the sisters: Sabrina, the oldest at thirty-four, is a New York based lawyer, followed by Tammy, twenty-nine, a TV producer in L.A., then Annie, twenty-six, an artist living her art in Florence and the youngest, international supermodel, twenty-one year old, Candy.

One would immediately think that having an international supermodel for a sister is enough to cause cat fights but these four amazingly beautiful and talented women dared to think and feel differently. They’re not only sisters who share the same blood they’re also the best of friends. Despite their age and personality differences, they all came together to help a sister until she can manage on her own again. And living again in one roof, after years of living on their own, can be really hard as the sisters will need all their patience, and understanding to make their present living conditions a more harmonious, organized one.

In Sisters, the adage ‘Doing the right thing is not always easy’ pulled Tammy in both directions: to continue working in L.A. or to go to New York and be where your family needs you? The daily struggle Tammy had over this kept her awake most nights out of guilt at not being there for her sisters but family always comes first and Tammy couldn’t have said it any better when she said to her boss, “I came here to resign… and I’ll never have another job I love this much. But I can’t let my family down.”

And some sisters simply have no sense of responsibility but are caring enough to offer, “Do you want me to book you a massage too?” when the stress of moving into a new apartment, taking care of, looking out for and basically being solely responsible for two younger sisters gets a wee bit more overwhelming than anticipated.

And some sisters have a more take charge attitude than the others and “that’s why she doesn’t learn. You give her too much slack,” as Chris, Sabrina’s boyfriend, points out when Candy sailed out of the apartment on move day to party out with friends.

In Sisters, Danielle Steel shows readers that getting involved in any life-changing accident does not mean it’s the end of the world. And in all instances it proved that giving something up means gaining a lot more in return… like finding true love.

So if, after a life-changing event, you think you’re less of a person now as compared to who you were before, pick up this book and think again. You’re still the person you are if not more.

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