I just took the Autism Quotient Quiz as posted on MSNBC – www.msnbc.com/modules/newsweek/autism_quotient/default.asp. While nothing is disguised—so the quiz is easy to fake—the simple questions asked do address the basics of Autism Spectrum Disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome. Take the quiz for yourself or a loved one and see how you measure up. Many of the questions in the quiz are addressed in my book “Sliver in My Mind.” The book is due out in January 2009. Oh and by the way, I scored 13 on the quiz, which is about average for NT women.
I’ve just returned from my annual extended summer vacation. As a long-time resident of the Northwest—with an office in Vancouver, Washington and the other in Portland, Oregon—I’ve learned to take advantage of our short but beautiful summers for some rest and relaxation. As a therapist with a very full caseload, I always make sure that I have colleagues that can take care of any unseen emergencies that may arise with my clients. My goal is to—as much as possible—leave work behind me so I come back to it truly refreshed.
Working as a coach with family businesses, I’ve noticed how difficult it can be for entrepreneurs to let go of work when they’re on vacation. Entrepreneurial workaholics often never learn how to leave work and you’ll see them toting their laptops, Blackberries and I Phones at Disneyland and the beach. There are times when combining work and play is the best alternative. However, you also need to plan vacations without work in mind at all.
Oh, I know, pure vacations aren’t “write-offs”, but they may do more good than reduced taxes. So take my advice and plan at least one two week vacation a year that has nothing to do with work. Throw in two to three long weekends that are purely family fun too. Trust me you, your family and your business will benefit.
Here are some tips for effective communication:
• LOOK FOR THE MEANING BEHIND THE WORDS
The first place to start if you want to be heard is to listen yourself. This is easier said than done. However, once you become good at listening, half the current misunderstandings will disappear. One simple way to begin your education at becoming a better listener is to ask yourself “Why is he or she telling me this?” In other words, you are looking for the meaning behind the words. People have good intentions. But often their words don’t reflect the inner meaning. To be able to respond to this inner meaning, you must put yourself in his or her shoes and ask yourself what is the meaning behind these words or behavior?
• INTERPRETING THE HIDDEN MESSAGE
Another step in becoming a good listener is to realize that people cannot not communicate with you. That is, they are always sending you meaningful (meaningful to them) messages if you can only learn to interpret them. So even if you think you are getting resistance from someone, realize that this individual is telling you something that is important to them. After practicing nothing but listening for a few weeks, you should be getting pretty good at figuring out the other person’s reality.
• UNDERSTANDING THEIR “MAP OF REALITY”
Remember, we all live in our “maps” of reality. Your interpretation of reality is not necessarily superior to any other person’s. Maps are just a convenient way to structure our lives. In figuring out another person’s map of reality and responding to it, you begin to let the other person feel respected, appreciated, even loved. In order to respond to another person, it is necessary to put your own ego aside and look at things the way they do.
• SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
Listen, observe and learn the “language” of the other person. Once you begin to speak their language, you will be surprised how much they want to learn yours. In other words, the real key to learning to talk so that others will listen is to learn the art of drawing people to you. By developing your creative listening skills, others will want to talk with and listen to you too!
Take a look at the Marriage Counseling section of my website for more advice on communicating.
As a therapist I’ve observed firsthand how much better my clients feel when they’ve had the opportunity to talk about their concerns. It’s interesting that scientific research is backing that up. According to a study from the University of California, describing emotions like grief and disappointment can put the brakes on brain activity that generates those feelings. By using MRI scans researchers saw changes in the brain when participants described the scary or sad faces they saw.
Sometimes talking to a sympathetic friend or family member does the trick. However, there are times when you could really benefit most from professional guidance. So, how do you know if you need counseling or psychotherapy? The short answer is when your emotional problems are overwhelming you to the point of spending several hours a day thinking about them, you should consider seeking professional help. I encourage you to read more about this in an article I wrote – When to Seek Professional Help for Personal Problems.
I’ve decided to add my blog to my website. It now blends in with the rest of my site and hopefully makes it more accessible to my readers.
It’s been hard to find time to update my blog since I’m putting the finishing touches on my latest book – A Sliver in My Mind: Loving Those With Asperger Syndrome. I found a fantastic book publisher that believes in me and my story. The editor also knows that Asperger’s Syndrome is a hot topic. So stay tuned for the latest book news!
I’m so pleased that this project is moving forward because I’ve received hundreds of emails from people who are desperate for some help. I have also received interest from the media . . . take a look at the USA Today article – www.kmarshack.com/news/media/USATodayJuly232007.pdf. This tells me that people are desperately in need of guidance in this area. If you’re in a relationship with someone who has Asperger Syndrome go to the Asperger & Marriage section on this website for more information.
The entrepreneurial couples I talked to love their lifestyle but sometimes they wish they had better tools to address the challenges of working with loved ones. I was happy to share with them what I’ve learned by coaching hundreds of entrepreneurs. I must say that Niagara University’s Family Business Center is definitely committed to strengthening family owned businesses through the exchange of knowledge.
If you’re looking for more tools check out my website designed specifically for entrepreneurs – www.entrepreneurialcouplescom.