Behind the Voices is a snapshot Q&A featuring the hosts and guests of MHPN’s six-part podcast, ‘Book Club’
. The rules of engagement are simple: MHPN asks five questions, and our hosts and guests provide their answers. What’s the point? To get a sense of the voices behind each episode… How they think, what they’re currently reading, what they’ve learnt through or since their initial conversation together, and what book they’d want to discuss next on Book Club.
Read on to hear from Dr Monica Moore and Dr Paul Grinzi of Book Club Episode 3: “Walking the Talk: Lessons from ‘How To Talk So Kids Will Listen’”.
Book Club is essentially a conversation between two mental health practitioners. Monica and Paul, as episode 3’s host and guest respectively, was there a moment or comment during your conversation with one another that sparked a new perspective on: the book - How To Talk So Kids Will Listen; the broader topic of motivational interviewing and general practice?
There was a moment when Paul mentioned that some of the language was a bit confronting; he was referring to the authors’ comment that parental criticism does violence to (children’s) self-esteem. My reaction was different, as I agreed with the authors, based on my understanding of developmental psychology.
It reminded me that any point of view, when strongly expressed, can generate pushback because of the language used, rather than the idea represented. Motivational Interviewing recognises this dynamic, and clinicians aim to offer advice and information using neutral language.
Paul’s comment helped me realise that the book could arouse the same reaction in others and that being forewarned about the authors’ language would be useful.
During this conversation, Monica reminded me that the book focuses a lot on developing ‘deep listening’ skills and how this aligned with a motivational interviewing. Whilst the book targets conversations with children, I was able to reflect that really, these are universal communication skills applicable to the young and not-so-young alike.
If you found yourself in the same room with Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, the authors of How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, what would you like to say to them, or perhaps ask of them?
I would say how much I learnt that was practical, and how I enjoyed [Faber’s and Mazlish’s] ability to use humour to acknowledge that letting go of the ‘fix-it’, ‘expert’ mentality is hard!
Given Paul’s comment regarding a lack of research evidence, I would ask that they add a section [to the book] mentioning some of the research underpinning their work.
I would be very curious about their own experience with their writing. Perhaps, “Tell me Adele and Elaine, what did you learn about yourselves through the process of writing this book and its subsequent updated versions?”. I know that the act of writing for others places me in a very self-reflective position, and I wonder whether they experienced the same...
And… if Faber and Mazlish were to listen to your episode, how do you think they would respond?
I think they might be pleased to know that their work is, as Paul described, ‘evergreen’, and useful in settings other than parenting.
Oh, probably something like “We’re glad the workbook nature of this book got acknowledged. We put a lot of work into ensuring the structure of our book could translate into practice, and to have the ‘task-oriented sections’ acknowledged is great.”
To give our readers a sense of the person behind the voice of Book Club episode 3, can you tell us what you last read for pleasure and / or what you last read for work, and sum each up in three words?
For pleasure: Our Mutual Friend (Charles Dickens) - funny, compassionate, psychologically astute.
For work: How Emotions are Made (Lisa Feldman Barrett) - innovative, helpful, insightful
Fiction - I’m almost finished reading the entire Hobbit/Lords of the Rings series as bedtime reading for my two boys: Future. Lockdown. Memories
Non-fiction - Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Happiness Project’: Varied. Timely. Creative
If you had a chance to talk about another book / text of your choosing on Book Club, what would it be and why?
Rachel Remen’s Kitchen Table Wisdom.
I love the way she describes the gifts of living and working amidst illness and death, via deceptively simple short stories. I find her soothing and inspiring.
: I would love to talk about the practical applications of James Clear’s Atomic Habits
. It is a great summary of what we know about behavioural habit change, in a very readable style with lots of practical examples that apply both personally and within my clinical context as a GP.
We’ve talked a lot about words, and we’ve had a chance to hear your voice in the podcast. Could you show us your bookshelf, favourite reading spot, last book you read, or something else?
PAUL GRINZI: Brian Thacker’s Naked Man Festival, in situ with a few other books etc. It’s a book of travel short stories, and with travelling out of the equation with COVID19 at the moment, it was a nice escapism type of book.
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