Learn the art of listening and improve your communication skills

As a psychologist, I talk to most of my clients about their communication skills. Why is that? Communication is an art and rarely comes naturally. It is a complex never-ending process that requires your attention. If you assume because you are in the same family or because you work in the same industry that understanding each other is simple, you’ll create confusion over and over again.

One way to become a better communicator is to develop the art of listening. Here are a few simple tips you can begin practicing immediately to clear up communication problems you are having with your loved ones, employees, friends and business associates:

1. Listen for what the other person means not just what they are saying. This will help you to identify the true meaning behind the words.

2. Ask yourself “Why is he or she telling me this?” When people communicate they unconsciously or consciously identify a certain person to talk with. The person is chosen because the speaker needs a certain kind of feedback that they hope they will get from that particular person.

3. Assume that the person has a very good reason for telling you their story. It is often easy to dismiss another person when they don’t make sense to you or perhaps are talking about something uninteresting. Often the only reason for talking is to connect with another person.

By following these simple tips, your communication effectiveness will grow and your relationships will improve too. Doesn’t it feel good to be understood? Try giving that understanding to others by mastering the art of listening.

Get more tips by reading my article Master the art of listening to overcome your communication problems.

New Study Links 27 Genes to Asperger Syndrome, Autism, and Empathy

Scientists from the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge have identified 27 genes that are associated with either Asperger Syndrome, autistic traits, and/or empathy. The research is published July 16, 2009 issue of the Journal Autism Research. Asperger Syndrome (AS) is considered a subgroup on the autistic spectrum. Autism Spectrum Conditions occur in about 1% of the population. They are diagnosed on the basis of difficulties in social relationships, communication, and adjusting to change, alongside unusually narrow interests.

The team looked at these genes in 349 adults in the general population, all of whom had filled in the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) as a measure of autistic traits, and the Empathy Quotient (EQ) as a measure of empathy. Then, they looked at 174 adults with a formal diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome only and compared them to controls.

The resulting research found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 27 out of the 68 genes were nominally associated with either AS and/or with autistic traits/empathy. According to the researchers, 5 of the genes found have been previously reported in autism, but the other 22 have never before been reported in association with AS, autistic traits or empathy. Click here to learn more about this fascinating research.

Self-Care Vital When You Live with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome

My new book will be available soon! We’re brainstorming different titles that make it clear that the focus of the book is how to care for yourself when you live with a partner that has Asperger Syndrome (AS). This type of relationship can be extremely taxing and lonely. Here are a few tips that I recommend that can help you deal with a spouse or child with AS:
1. Education
Educating yourself about this form of autism is crucial. It will help you to better understand the disorder and find ways to cope with it rather than resent it. New research and information is constantly coming out, so stay up-to-date.
2. Find local support groups
Finding others who understand and are dealing with a similar situation can prove to be a vital support system. It will provide you with more resources, education, and also comfort.

3. Take time for yourself
It can be very easy to focus all of your attention on your loved one and leave nothing left over for yourself. Be sure to take time to recharge. In order to give to others, you must give back to yourself. Be involved in activities that you enjoy and keep up your other relationships and friendships. You need solace too!

4. Seek professional help
Your loved one may already be meeting with someone regarding their disorder, but you may also need additional support as a loved one. If you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed, contact a health care professional.


For more information on my books or to set up an appointment with me, please check my Contact page.

People with AS aren’t as influenced by emotional information

Asperger Syndrome is referred to as a high functioning form of Autism. Asperger Syndrome (AS) is demonstrated by deficits in communication, social skills and reciprocity of feelings. People with AS aren’t as influenced by emotional information which is both good and bad. It can help in decision making when you don’t want to be swayed by emotionality, but it can be a hardship in a relationship when your partner wants you to understand how they feel.

Researchers in Professor Ray Dolan’s group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at the University College London have recently spent time studying the types of decision-making skills of those with Autism. I found the results very intriguing. Those with Autism are not as likely to make irrational decisions or be influenced by “a gut feeling”. “People with autism tended to be more consistent in their pattern of choices, their greater attention to detail perhaps helping them avoid being swayed by their emotions,” says Dr Neil Harrison. He continues, “Less reliance on gut instincts by people with autism may underlie their difficulties in social situations, but also enable them to avoid potentially irrelevant emotional information and make more consistent choices.”

I am committed to helping those with Asperger Syndrome and their family members cope with the challenges. My new book on this topic will be released soon. For more information on my book, click on the link.

Tips to help achieve harmony in the family business

When family members work together, it often turns into all work and no play. The personal side of the family/business relationship is taken for granted. How can these things be prevented? Remember that if you work in a family firm, most of your interactions with your family involve work. You need to give at least equal time to the personal side to keep communication, trust, love and respect healthy. Here are some tips to help achieve the perfect balance:

1. Take time away from work every day to talk with your family/business partners about something other than work. You might start the morning with coffee and sharing the crossword puzzle.

2. At least quarterly, arrange a retreat for the family firm that involves playing, such as a trip to the mountains to ski.

3. Discuss all problems no matter how small, whether they are work issues or not.

4. Allow for individual differences. Allow members to speak up in disagreement. Just because you are family and work together, does not mean you are all joined at the hip. So make room for new and different opinions and ways of doing things.

5. Hang in there when there is a problem. Don’t give up until you have a solution to the problem that is a winning one for everyone.

6. If things get out of hand, ask for professional help.

For more information about family business, please click on the link.

Tackle the New Year with new priorities and a new attitude

With the New Year right around the corner, January is a wonderful time to build a foundation for the goals you want to accomplish this year. Many throw themselves into new projects come January 1st, but then find that it is difficult to accomplish them. Here are a few tips to help you gain a better understanding of how to make New Year’s Resolutions that actually stick this year.

1. Let the New Year bring self-acceptance.
If you can appreciate who you are, that each and every day you are making a valuable contribution to your community by just doing your everyday thing (not overachieving), then you will have a much more prosperous new year. You will notice your talents more and strengthen them. You will notice your flaws more too, but you can build a plan to correct them.

2. Change your paradigm.
Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in your life, pay attention to what is right. Accept that you can’t change the past, but you can learn from it. Trust that you have the resources within yourself to make the changes you need and want to make.

3. Self-acceptance turns crisis into opportunity.
If you recognize that life is a complex and problem-filled arena designed to assist you on your quest toward wisdom and maturity (just as it is for everyone else), then when you have a problem you’ll face it squarely with full self-acceptance. You’ll dig in, assess, diagnose and search out the meaning. You will use all the strengths at your disposal to create workable solutions. At the end you’ll be a little smarter, a little wiser, a little stronger, a little saner.

I wish you a Happy New Year!