Here is the text, what I said in the longer Jan.27 YouTube . . .
We are here tonight to prepare for MIT’s Charm School. You may think that MIT and charm don’t quite fit in the same sentence, but as a long time employee I can tell you that some engineers and even some theoretical physicists are quite charming. But some may need a little help and that’s why we are here.
I want to introduce a small part of the Parents Forum curriculum called:
How To Tell Somebody Something They’d Rather Not Hear
Then I will give you a bit of background of Parents Forum.
So, how do you tell somebody something they’d rather not hear? The short answer: you try to do this both honestly and respectfully.
In the course of our days and weeks people do things that annoy or trouble us. Someone whom I don’t know cuts in front of me in line at the deli. A labmate or a roommate, someone I know, leaves a mess in a common space. A relative or close friend, someone I care about, seems to be getting into serious trouble, perhaps with drinking or diet or showing signs of mental health issues. What to do?
First I need to figure out how I feel: maybe frustrated in the first case, annoyed or angry in the second case, or really sad and fearful in the last case.
Then, either on the fly, at the moment, or after speaking with a friend or advisor, I use this conversational formula:
I feel ___ about ___ because ___.
I try to become aware of my own emotions, say how I feel, then describe the incident – something specific that happened – and finally I state a value or principle relevant to the situation.
I’ll take just the example from the deli. I would say, “Excuse me, I feel confused about your going ahead of me here, because people are supposed to be served in order and I was here before you.” Often the other person will acknowledge what I say and, since I have been both honest and respectful, may step back and let me go ahead. Maybe not. Anyway…
We will come back to How To Tell Somebody Something They’d Rather Not Hear very soon. Let me take a couple of minutes now to describe where this mini-workshop fits into the larger Parents Forum picture:
The program arose out of some serious difficulties I experienced as a parent when one of my sons was a teenager. Part of the way through and beyond that challenging time was for me, as a parent, to develop greater emotional awareness. In the course of getting help for him and for myself, I realized that, since I had trained as a teacher, I could probably help other parents.
I wrote a curriculum consisting of eight questions and with the help of a friend, another long-time MIT staffperson, designed the Parents Forum workshop. That was nearly 20 years ago! Since that time I wrote a handbook Where the Heart Listens for the program and we have given workshops for MIT parents, in local communities, around the country and outside the U.S. as well.
Everything we do relates to helping people develop emotional awareness and Charm School is one of my favorite activities. So I will close this introduction and we will get on the workshop training. Thank you very much!