Empathy. It’s a soft, fuzzy word you’re more likely to associate with social workers than the high stakes world of international hostage negotiation. But for Chris Voss, the former head of the FBI’s international kidnap and hostage negotiation team, ‘tactical empathy’ was his number one tool.
It’s a wintry Tuesday night in Melbourne and you’d like to be home watching TV. Instead, you’re sitting in a circle with a dozen guys, trying not to get called on during your first session at a men’s behaviour change program.
There’s one other new guy who, like you, has been ‘directed to attend’ by the courts. But unlike you, he has an attitude problem, interrupting and cracking bad jokes. The facilitator is blunt. He can’t guarantee the man’s partner will take him back, he says, but if he keeps attending he might get to see his kids again.
It’s 6.30pm. The kids are in their high chairs and you’re trying to coax them to eat while keeping an eye on the stove. Your partner comes home, dumps his bag on the floor, pats the baby on the head, and tells you about his day. “That’s great,” you reply, “can you feed the cats?” Two minutes later, “that’s great, can you put this stuff back into the fridge?” “That’s great, can you give the baby something to eat?” “Awesome, can you set the table?”
Reddit recently asked men what they would do if they weren’t afraid of appearing ‘feminine’. ‘I’d knit so hard, bro,’ was one response. ‘Drape myself in velvet’ was another. ‘Wax my butt crack’ was unexpected, but it did get me wondering what I’d do if the question was reversed.
So here are the things I’d do if I wasn’t afraid of appearing masculine. (Ladies and transgender ladies, add yours in the comments!)
Don’t say I don’t write about the important things. We’re very sad that this is the first year the Kardashians MAY NOT continue their spectacle/tradition of dressing up as the credits on Friends for their annual Christmas card. But dry those tears – let’s take a fond look back at their Kards of Yore (and Merry, Merry Christmas to YOU dear reader)
When I was eight, my best friend’s aunt converted to Mormonism and ran off to Utah, and after ten long years of silence she finally sent them a Christmas card of her new family. My friend showed it to me, and we gawped at this family with their, all seven of them in matching white t-shirts tucked into high-waisted jeans, each person was holding a gun.
We love a fairy tale wedding, and judging by our reality TV (Married at First Sight), we take marriage seriously. (Sure, we won’t have marriage equality on the grounds that it disrespects the tradition of marriage, but we’re happy to watch shows where brides score other brides’ weddings out of ten (Four Weddings) and two couples duke it out as their marriage deteriorate before our very eyes (The Seven Year Switch).
As impartial, unsentimental observers, they can spot the telltale signs of conscious uncoupling from the get-go.
Here are the warning signs wedding staff notice:
While Sex and The City claimed to reveal the truth about women’s sex lives – that despite a few awkward encounters, we were all having amazing, free for all sex.
Yet secretly, so many women weren’t. Aren’t. And think there’s something wrong with them.
Do all new parents have that ‘better do this perfectly so they don’t complain about me to their shrink’ paranoia? Though I’m gradually learning to accept that I’ll mess this stuff up, here’s my interview with a few people with more wisdom than I on what all parents can do to raise emotionally stable and happy kids. (and if you have any other tips, let’s hear ’em!)
The well-meaning naysayer is here to help. They are here to ensure you don’t put off having a baby (‘If you leave it too late they’ll come out deformed or not at all!’), or a wedding (‘I know he’s not perfect, but you don’t want to be left on the shelf, do you?’), and don’t even think about upgrading or switching careers (‘be realistic, competition will be tough, there’s no security!’). “I’m just saying it because I care,” is their motto and heaping fear is their method.
As a writer, you don’t always finish a piece and think ‘Jeez, I’m glad I did that one’. But was fascinating and humbling to talk to these three lovely people about their experience, and I hope some readers get something out of it:
WHAT comes to mind when you think of sex addicts in recovery?
Sleazy men in trench coats trying to have sex with nymphomaniac Girls Gone Wild? Platoons of strippers who love their jobs more than is healthy? Or perhaps it’s the image of yet another celebrity caught in a cheating scandal, vowing to “get help”?