Tag Archives: Communication

Professional communications by counselors: What do they reveal?

What we say and how we say it can tell someone quite a bit about our character. We counselors earn our keep with words. And yet, it is our words that may do the most harm to others. As a result, I encourage us to take stock of our words. What do they reveal about us? Oh, and don’t just consider the words you use in a session. How you talk to a colleague, about a colleague, to another professional may reveal your character more than you think. Consider the following communication issues:

1. Client put-downs. In agencies where counselors share clients with other professionals (e.g., psychiatrists, social workers, community workers, etc.), it is common for conversation to descend into put-downs. No doubt these professionals care about their clients. But if they are frustrated with the client, does it result in blaming the client? Making fun of their idiosyncracies? “He’s such a narcissist; She’s so Borderline”. These kind of comments reveal more about the speaker than the one spoken about.

2. Professional Lingo. Every guild has its lingo. Read a psychiatric or psychological evaluation and you will likely come across a number of words that only make sense if you are on the inside. The client probably wouldn’t really know what is being said about them with translation help. What do your progress notes communicate? Who are you writing for? How might our lingo hinder our work. I highly suggest that use the client as a standard to evaluate all our written communications. If the client couldn’t understand or could possibly be harmed by what we write, the think better of it.

3. Professional Territorialness. We communicate with other professionals about our clients. Does our communication reveal any condescending attitudes? Any unnecessary hierarchy? How do you talk about another professional to clients? To other colleagues? Do we withhold data for power reasons? For fear of mis-use by the other. If so, we have serious issues to address. Leaving them unaddressed will only injure the client.

4. Unprepared staffings. Staff communications regarding shared clients often include off-the-cuff comments about clients. These kind of statements can sound as if they are well supported by data. Sadly, we can offer up anecdotes about a client and they are weighted as heavily as objective test data. Can we support our comments and insights with data? Are there other data that might challenge our offered hypotheses?

5. General coarseness. I once had a supervisor who used the “F” word in every sentence (and in every form of speech possible). He relished the power he got from using that word. I’m not opposed to ever using curse words but they usually reveal more about the user than the situation. More recently, I’ve noticed how frequently we use genital imagery to talk about important character traits. “Do you have the stones to do that?” I heard this question asked in prime-time television. Why couldn’t they just talk about the trait of courage? I do think that language has a way of devolving in the heat of battle. Counselors work in the trenches and so it stands to reason that they might slip here some.

6. General grumbling. It is easy to slip into the habit of grumbling. I am tempted to revel (yes revel since I think I enjoy it some) in pointing out the failures of other people. I feel better when I can see their mistakes that I would never commit. We grumble against people, against institutions, against policies; against pretty much anything that irritates us.

Let us be diligent to explore what our communication reveals about our hearts and character and let us resolve, with God’s help, to love others even when they are not watching–and to model that love in our speech.


Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling skills, deception, ethics, Psychology, Uncategorized

Why texting is hazardous to your life

We already know that texting while driving endangers lives. No surprise there. But have you considered the danger of texting while angry? Texting while avoiding?

Consider the following situation. You have a set-to with a loved one while each are at work. Finding yourself hurt and angry, the thought crosses your mind to text that person to say something mature like,

“fine. u go rite ahed and do it. c if i care.”

Of course, you don’t really mean “fine.” Nor do you  want them to “go ahead”. You do care, otherwise you wouldn’t be texting while angry.

Notice the dangers here:

1. Texting give us the illusion of connection. We can send a message to communicate with another but don’t really call it a connection.
2. Texting provides an opportunity to jab each other when angry but avoid (for a few moments anyway) seeing the impact of that jab. Sure, we could say these silly and immature things to the other’s face, but with the advent of texting we don’t have to admit to ourselves that our words have impact.
3. Texting allows another to keep a record of our wrongs; to read it again and again and maintain the hurts. Yes, we can remember words spoken in anger, but keeping a copy would be tempting and very dangerous.

For those of you who text, maybe a few rules should apply.

  • If you are tempted to text someone so you can avoid them, don’t.
  • Don’t text or email when angry.
  • Ask yourself about impact: Does it truly meet the constructive requirement of Ephesians? And if it does, why not say it face to face?


Filed under anger, christian psychology, Christianity, conflicts, Relationships

Faking politeness

We all do it now and again. We say, “that’s okay” when we are burning up inside. We leave a voice mail and say we were sorry to miss them but we really weren’t all that sorry and we are glad they didn’t pick up when we called them back. Sometimes we fake politeness because we know what it in our heart is not good and so we are act into politeness. Other times we merely want to avoid more problems and so wish to make them go away by faking peace.

Apparently there are some advances in technology now that can help you be better fakers. There are ways to call someone and get into their voice mail without the phone ringing–designed to make it seem like we were sorry we only got their voice mail but in actuality that is all was wanted. NPR ran a story on this topic. They also described some ways to either pre-arrange a computer to call your cell to get out of a meeting or using pre-recorded sounds (baby crying, dog barking, doorbell, etc.) to end phone conversations you want to get out of.

So, is it wrong to fake politeness? what is the difference between being nice to someone who is a pain or who causes you problems and being polite but not meaning it. I would suggest that when we make it seem we were caring but weren’t (either in our heart or to others) then that counts as faking and isn’t good for the soul.


Filed under Communication, conflicts, Relationships

Marriage and falling in love with the front end of the puppy

Today in staff meeting, we listened to a CD by Scott Stanley, a researcher and co-author of “Fighting for your Marriage.” I came in late and so missed the full context but he was talking about the fact that we fall in love with the “front end of the puppy” but never the back end. But, every puppy has a back end. Dealing with the back end, he says, isn’t rocket science, but if it isn’t regulated, it will be a problem.

Like every dog, every marriage has a back end. Our challenge is to accept this fact and not try to make our marriages not have a back end. Communication skills are the primary way, for Stanley, to manage the back end of the puppy. If you don’t take turns talking and listening and validating, pretty soon, there’s a lot of poop all over the place and no one feels responsible to clean it up.

Like the image?


Filed under marriage