Friday, September 30, 2011

What Rude People Won't Tell You

When someone is rude to me I sometimes wonder what I've done to provoke the rude behavior. Then I think, "Why am I feeling bad? THEY were rude to ME - and not vice-versa."

Last week I experienced rudeness from a radio host who invited to be interviewed on his show. The show found me because they saw me on FOX 4 Nightly News discussing the recent "SpongeBob SquarePants " research study. By the way, I want to clarify that everyone at FOX 4 is wonderful and is always extremely respectful and great to work with! If you missed the FOX 4 segment, here's the footage:

The radio personality (a nationally known talk radio host that I won't reveal - but if you are on my Facebook page you saw me mention him) was planning to discuss the study on his show and learned that I had appeared on TV discussing it. He invited me for a radio interview and then proceeded to ask me questions and mute my responses. He was rude throughout the interview both on and off the air.

At first I thought I may have been partially responsible. Later I found out he was trying to get a whole different message across using his own children on the air. Then I learned that his staff of 15 has been reduced to 3, which is why I was provided with so little information ahead of time.

It seems like it might be "in" to be rude. Reality TV is full of rude people and people find it entertaining. (Oh, but I do love Survivor!). And some TV sit-coms use funny/rude humor. In reality, being rude means you lack emotional intelligence in the areas of self-awareness and empathy.

Here's what rude people are really telling you:

  • I have a problem that I don't know how to solve. To deal with a rude person, acknowledging his/her problem or point of view is sometimes all that needs to be done. Whether or not you solve the problem, just showing concern and making a goodwill effort to make things better does some good emotionally.
  • I'm not confident in my abilities. This is what we see in bullies. People with high self-awareness are naturally confident. They exude charisma, are likeable and often inspire confidence in those around them. On the flip side, extreme lack of self-confidence can show up as arrogance and rudeness. 
  • I'm depressed. When a person is clinically depressed they have an intense inner focus that can cause them to appear selfish. When you see someone being rude because they've "had a bad day" or are "really tired" you may be seeing depression. Depressed people are so focused on how they feel that they are unaware of how their emotions affect others. Watch for warning signs of suicide.
  • I've disengaged from people. It's easier to be rude in an email or on Facebook than face-to-face. When people are rude to you in these mediums hold them accountable for their actions by communicating with them on a higher level. For example, if you receive a rude email pick up the phone and call the person. I just had a patient today tell me how her recently divorced daughter found out that the ex-husband posted atrocious, untrue stuff about her on his Facebook page. Yikes. Some people don't mind being so rude in such a public arena. I say: "DEFRIEND IMMEDIATELY". It's true, Facebook can make you sick.
  • I'm uninformed. Talking loudly on your cell phone around others, strong cologne, disturbing someone who is concentrating at work, and allowing your children to continually misbehave in public are all ways people show rudeness. Many times people are unaware of how their actions are perceived and, quite frankly, they don't know better. When you know better, you do better.
Stay in the Smart Zone by taking the focus off yourself. Acknowledge rude behavior for what the rude person isn't telling you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Suicide: Warning Signs & How to be Helpful

A suicide is horrible for everyone.  When we lose a youth to suicide it can be even harder to cope with. When I heard about the recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer it brought to mind how it can be difficult to identify warning signs of suicide.  Here are a few warning signs:

  1. Threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself.
  2. Looking for ways to kill him/herself.
  3. Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.
  4. Increased substance use (alcohol and/or drugs).
  5. No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life.
  6. Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
  7. Feeling trapped – like there is no way out.
  8. Hopelessness.
  9. Withdrawing from family, friends, and society.
  10. Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge.
  11. Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities,seemingly without thinking.
  12. Dramatic mood changes.
On my website I have a suicide article that discusses the facts and how to be helpful.

Watch to see if your child is participating in online forums like that allow kids to make comments anonymously.  I was interviewed on FOX 4 News about this website.  Watch the segment here.

Also, if you'd like a few tips about how to bullyproof your children here is another FOX 4 segment on the topic.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Watching SpongeBob SquarePants Doesn't Mean You Aren't in the Smart Zone

"Fast-paced, fantastical television shows such as 'SpongeBob SquarePants' may harm children's ability to pay attention, solve problems and moderate behavior, according to a US study published Monday," was what prompted FOX 4 to invite me to their station last night to comment on the study.  Click here for the full study on

Personally, I'm more concerned with the content of TV programming versus the pace of the screen changes.  But I do believe that good sleep hygiene dictates that fast-paced TV programs or even video games shouldn't be watched/played at bedtime because the brain then has a hard time resting.  Here's the video of what I had to say about it last night on FOX 4.

I'd even make the argument that TV isn't good for kids to watch at bedtime regardless of the program.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Do You Remember What You Were Doing on September 11, 2001?

I remember what I was doing on September 11, 2001 and I bet you do, too.

I was getting my kids ready for school. They were still pretty young so only one was in elementary school. I remember being glued to the TV and feeling incredible fear about what would happen next. I stayed home that day and held my kids tighter than normal. My neighbor was at her daughter's dance class after school and a man got angry at her over a parking spot. He chewed her out and later keyed her car. The world seemed unsafe, unpredictable, and angry. It was an unsettling feeling.

Just like my parents used to tell me the story of where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, the story of where I was on 9/11 is one I will tell my children. Retelling the story is a coping mechanism that enables us to be more resilient.

Staying in the Smart Zone is NOT about the crisis you are facing, it's about how you think and respond to the crisis.

People in the Smart Zone are resilient. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back, to get up after you're knocked down, and to improve yourself after a tragic incident. Let September 11, 2011 give you a sense of renewal and resiliency in your personal and professional life using these Smart Moves:

  • Reframing. This is the process of shifting from the cup half empty to the cup half full. Some call it serendipity. We have all had bad experiences in our life. When something goes wrong look carefully at your reaction, learn from the experience and do things differently the next time.
  • Make Work a Calling. In his book, The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People, David Niven, Ph.D. says "If you see your work as only a job, then it's dragging you away from what you really want to be doing. If you see it as a calling, then it is no longer a toiling sacrifice. Instead, it becomes an expression, a part of you." What can you do to find meaning in your work? How can it become an expression of who you are?
  • Be a Little Organized. A recent study showed that people who claim to have "very neat" desks reported spending 36% more time looking for things than people claiming to have "fairly messy" desks. This implies that there is a productivity cost to neatness. While it isn't realistic for everything in your life to be completely organized, it is imperative that you develop structured approaches to manage the unknown. Be focused on your life goals to head off potential barriers.
  • "Expect Things to Work Out Well," says resiliency expert Al Siebert, Ph.D. Worrying about failing increases the likelihood of failure. For example, a salesman who is so concerned about his falling sales that he can't bring himself to pick up the phone guarantees that his sales will fall even further. When optimists interpret events, 8 out of 10 times they see the positive aspects. Last week a reporter interviewed me about my "Meredith experience" on my first day working for Dr. Phil and how I expected things to work out well.
  • Express the Right Emotions Openly. The shift in our culture to becoming more compassionate can be tricky at work. Since 9/11 I think we all feel more compassionate and are able to share emotions more outwardly. Click here to read what this reporter has to say about crying at work. Keep in mind the same emotion that causes crying can also cause yelling. Sometimes it takes more courage to cry than to yell. If you tend to be a "yeller" watch my video on how to handle anger instead of hiding from it.
Just for fun take this Resiliency Quiz to find out how resilient you are.

If you let a crisis define you, then it will be in control of you and affect almost everything you have in your life. If you manage the crisis and don't let it define you then you will have an opportunity to grow because of it. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.