I got some sort of ruthless feedback from an exasperated friend. She said I always ask questions that "corner" people, and don't "give them an out," and that I make them really uncomfortable and obligated (and guilty). I was so taken aback I pretended to know what she meant, though I'm a little confused. Can you shed some light on what this means? I'm so embarrassed that I might make people feel this way. -Phillipe
Posing a question while giving someone an "out" lets them have a way to say "no" to you without feeling bad. Here are a few examples, maybe a bit exaggerated, but see if they give you the idea: Go from: What are you doing Friday? Let's do something, I'm free all night. What about Saturday? To: I know you might have plans, but if you don't, maybe we can do something Saturday. Go from: You guys are going out for lunch, hang on, I'll go get my coat. To: I'm guessing you're going to be talking about your project over lunch, right? If not, would you mind if I came along? In both cases, you give other people a chance to use the excuse you offer them.
Dear Dr. Belisa,
My husband has gotten more and more irritable over the last year. When I pointed it out to him, he said he needed to be angry to do well at work (he works on the Stock Exchange floor). I had read that men who are depressed can be irritable rather than sad, but he said that taking anti-depressants would take off the "edge" that he needed at work, and he'd get all spineless and "wussy." Anything you tell your male patients to help them try medication? - Anna
I interviewed Terry Bradshaw a few years ago when I was working for "Sly," Sylvester Stallone's magazine. No wusses here. He had no problem talking about his taking antidepressants, and how they helped him sleep better and organize his thoughts. And he made sure that I knew it hadn't changed his personality-- as he said "I feel better, but I'm still a dick." That thought might comfort your grouchy man.
Dear Dr. Belisa,
My mother-in-law keeps forcing food down my throat now that I am pregnant, saying that I need to eat for two. I know she got huge when she was pregnant and she brags about her son weighing almost ten pounds at birth. - JoAnn
Actually, you are not eating for two; you are eating for one adult and one fetus - so you need 300-500 more calories a day. Gaining a lot of weight can mean a more difficult birth, and a ten-pound baby is not necessarily healthier than a 6.5-pound baby.