Friday, March 15, 2013

Relationship advice from a retiring psychologist

Emory's Quadrangle Magazine asked Stephen Nowicki, above, who recently retired as Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology at Emory, for his advice on "endings." Following is an excerpt from his response:

"As you value your relationships, pay special attention to their endings. While beginning and deepening relationships are important, it is the endings that provide the richest source of learning. It is only then that you can look back to find out what you did well and what you did poorly, so that you can apply that knowledge to your next relationships.

"Think about how you ended your time at Emory. Remember the people to whom you were going to say special things before you ended. Evaluate how you did. If you are like most of us, you didn't end very well. You didn't tell many of the people that meant something to you during your time at Emory that they were important and appreciated. You got busy and maybe irritated as you ended, the two major ways that we soften the pain of ending, especially when we are ending something good.

"But it is not too late.

"Many of those people are still around, be they former peers or professors. You have time to contact them and tell them they meant something to you. You have no idea how important that might be, to them and to you.

"So, a take home message? Give your relationships the attention they deserve, and especially how you have ended them. Beginning and ending relationships are the rhythm track of our lives, but we get no formal education about how to do it well. So you are going to have to do some home schooling."

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