Monthly Article Archives: November 2009

The Importance of “People” Skills in the World of ScienceRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

In the early 1980s I spoke with a group of parents about raising children to be more confident and resilient. As I always do when I discuss resilience I emphasized such concepts as empathy, empathic communication, and problem-solving skills. The audience was especially responsive to the themes I addressed and a lively discussion followed my formal presentation. A great deal of good-natured laughter accompanied several of the questions. One mother talked about her son who was in middle school. She described her disappointment in his not “reaching his full potential” in terms of his grades. She referred to my discussion of “negative scripts” in which I highlighted the phenomenon of repeatedly saying or doing the same things even if our actions have proven ineffective. This mother observed, “I have told my son he could do better in school if he applied himself more. I have taken away TV and other privileges, but his grades have not improved. How do you motivate kids to apply themselves?” Given her description I assumed her son was barely achieving passing grades. I asked, “What are your son’s grades?” She smiled, but instead of answering my question she replied, “He should be able to do

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