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Getting Through To People

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I have just read a book called "Getting through to people" by Jesse S. Nirenberg, which was a recommend on Dr. Ellen Kenner's website. I am not going to quote much of it, as I think it is in your best moral interest to buy it, but here is a little excerpt to give you an idea: from the chapter "Encouraging Cooperativeness":

"No matter how brilliant or witty or logical your comments are their power is lost if they fall on a resistant mind. And one reliable way to induce resistance is to show disrespect.

As an example let's listen in for a moment on a nurse arousing antagonism in a patient.

NURSE: Good morning, Mr. Mason. How're you feeling today? Say, you hardly touched your breakfast.

PATIENT: I'm not hungry.

NURSE: Not hungry! Mr. Mason, you'll never get well if you don't eat. Now let's try some of this cereal. It'll give you energy.

(She ignores his feeling of not being hungry as though it didn't exist.)

PATIENT: I don't want any cereal. I have a headache.

NURSE: Am I going to have to coax you to eat? Here, I'll feed you this first spoonful and then you eat the rest yourself, like a good little boy.

(Here she treats him as though he were a child.)

PATIENT: I'll just have a little tea.

NURSE: Just take one spoonful of this cereal. Come on, Mr. Mason, I've got lots of patients to take care of.

(Here she implies that he is selfishly demanding all her attention.)

Although the nurse did not explicitly insult or attack the patient she implicitly told him that what he said wasn't important, that he is like a child, and that he is selfish. How could she possible expect this patient to cooperate?

Let's look at how she might have handled it to secure his cooperation. Suppose that the nurse has just commented to the patient that he hadn't hardly touched his breakfast.

PATIENT: I'm not hungry.

NURSE: Tell me how you feel.

PATIENT: I have a headache.

NURSE: I'm sorry to hear that. I'll give you some aspirin for it and it'll go away soon. Meanwhile, I think it would do you some good to eat some cereal even if you're not hungry. How about it?"

If anyone has read this book, I'd be very keen to discuss it with them (either on this thread, or via private messages) - as to everyone else, I'd recommend it to anyone; so that includes you. :D

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