Category Archives: Love, Limits and Learning

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October 9, 2014

Some Listening Guidelines

By Margaret Rappaport

Martin Buber, a twentieth-century existential philosopher and theologian said that” he could never hold a significant conversation with another person until he had heard the other person’s life story.” The reason behind his statement is that trust and understanding of others requires listening as a way to make meaningful connections. Listening needs to come first and immediately among people who are interacting. We need the experience of listening to know that we are not alone in the world. Listening allows us to form relationships and communities that challenge and support us as individuals.

Think about the radical nature of this view of the importance of listening! It changes much of the behavior we bring to situations we encounter in our lives. What happens when we meet others and we set ourselves the task of listening before we start to talk? After introductions and pleasantries what occurs if we ask a question of welcome and forego a statement about ourselves. Likely our interactions take on a different character that structures the time together around sharing.

It may seem a bit daunting at first. It’s not, however, a way of “psychologizing” interactions and relationships. It is a way of finding your freedom to “be yourself” by encouraging another to talk while you listen with attention, respect and lively curiosity.

Approaching interactions as a mutual invitation to experience the opportunity to listen and to speak clears the way for each person to respond and to ask clarifying questions. Time for conversation whether long or short happens naturally and easily, but, it starts with listening.

October 2, 2014

The Importance of Listening for Love, Limits, and Learning

By Margaret Rappaport

Listening is one of the greatest gifts we give to ourselves and to each other. Skillful listening involves attention, gestures and a willingness to engage and focus. All of the questionnaires and “tests” I’ve shared in this blog require listening for understanding and sharing. Listening is the basis for love; listening is the way we experience boundaries or limits; listening is how we learn about others and how we grow ourselves.

There is a distinction between “hearing” and “listening” that is deeply embedded in our English language. “Listen” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “hlystan” which means “hearing” and the word “hlosnian” which means to “wait in suspense”. When we listen, hearing what is said is combined with an intense psychological involvement between us and others.

Listening involves hearing several things in any interaction:

  • What is described? (Facts, events, situations, information conveyed)
  • How does another person feel? How do you feel?
  • Where is the energy? Where is the emphasis?
  • What are the bodies saying? Both the speaker’s body and the hearer’s body have actions and reactions that are important for listening.

Effective listening develops from a desire to acquire a skill that brings out the best in yourself and at the same time respects the dignity of other people. Common sense tells us that listening well improves our relationships. Steady practice in listening better is a habit that enhances meaningfulness among us. Listening leads to happiness.

Dr. Margaret Rappaport

September 18, 2014

The Q-sort as a measure of self-concept

By Margaret Rappaport

The following example developed by Dymond has sixty-six items containing positive and negative self statements. Try to determine which are positive and which are negative.

1. I put on a false front 34. I am shy
2. I make strong demands on myself 35. I am no one
3. I often feel humiliated 36. I am impulsive
4. I have a feeling of hopelessness 37. I am a rational person
5. I have a warm emotional relationship 38. I despise myself
6. I have values of my own 39. I am tolerant
7. It is difficult to control aggression 40. I shrink away from difficulty
8. I am responsible for my troubles 41. I have an attractive personality
9. I feel like giving up 42. I just don’t respect myself
10. I am a responsible person 43. I am ambitious
11. I can accept most social values 44. I am afraid of disagreements
12. I am on guard with people 45. I have initiative
13. Self-control is no problem 46. I have a positive attitude
14. I usually like people 47. I can’t make up my mind
15. I often feel driven 48. I am assertive
16. I express my emotions freely 49. I am confused
17. I feel helpless 50. I am satisfied with myself
18. I have a comfortable life 51. I am a failure
19. My decisions are not my own 52. I am likeable
20. I am a hostile person 53. I’m attractive to the opposite sex
21. I battle with myself 54. I fear accomplishment
22. I am disorganized 55. I am relaxed about most things
23. I feel apathetic 56. I am a hard worker
24. I am optimistic 57. I always give in
25. I don’t trust my emotions 58. I feel emotionally mature
26. I’m liked by most people 59. I am intelligent
27. I often kick myself for things 60. I am self-reliant
28. Its pretty tough to be me 61. I have to protect myself with excuses
29. I’m not facing things 62. I am different from others
30. I make up my mind and stick to it 63. I understand myself
31. I don’t think about my problems 64. I am a good mixer
32. I am contented 65. I feel adequate
33. I am reliable 66. I am poised

September 11, 2014


By Margaret Rappaport

An important part of people’s interactions is the way they communicate with others. The impact individuals have on one another depends upon what they are willing to share about themselves and their impression management in a variety of social situations. Often, however, are unaware of their disclosing style and, therefore, are either surprised or disconcerted at the reactions of others to them. The Self-Disclosure Questionnaire by Sidney Jouard encourages people to reveal their feelings about disclosure and assess their interpersonal impact.

Who Knows You?


People differ in the extent to which they let people know them. Naturally, the things that are true about your personality, your feelings, your problems, hopes, and actions will change over your life time. Therefore, the idea that others have about you will be out of date from time to time. What was true about you last week or last year may no longer be true. When you see people after a lapse of time, and you want them to know you as you are now, you tell them about yourself so that they have a more up to date picture of you. If you don’t want them to know, you don’t tell them, even if they ask you personal questions.

Some of the things about yourself you will regard as more personal and private than others; people differ widely in what they consider appropriate to let others know, and what they consider is nobody’s business but their own.


Below there is a list of topics that pertain to you. You have a reasonably good idea of how much about yourself you have let the people in your life know about you. Choose one as a reference and follow the directions for answering the questionnaire. This will yield an accurate picture of you as you are now.

Use the scale to indicate your answers:
0: The other person doesn’t know me in this respect because I haven’t disclosed this.
1: The other person has a general idea of me but I haven’t updated or completed it
2: The other person fully knows me because we have talked about it recently.
X: This is something I wouldn’t confide even if asked.

1. What you dislike about your overall appearance.
2. The things about your appearance that you like most, or are proudest of.
3. Your chief health concern, worry, or problem at the present time.
4. Your favorite spare time hobbies or interests.
5. Your food dislikes at present.
6. Your religious activity at present.
7. Your personal religious views.
8. What do you like to read?
9. What annoys you about your closest friend?
10. If any, what problems do you have with sex?
11. Your perspective on your love life.
12. Things about your own personality that worry or annoy you.
13. The chief pressures and strains in your daily work.
14. Things about the future that worry you.
15. What are you most sensitive about?
16. What you feel guilty about or ashamed of in the present.
17. Your views about what is morally acceptable.
18. The kinds of music you enjoy listening to the most.
19. The subjects you didn’t like in school.
20. The things you do to maintain or improve your appearance.
21. The kind of behaviors in others that make you furious.
22. The characteristics of your father that are/were unlikeable.
23. The unattractive characteristics of your mother.
24. Your most frequent daydream.
25. The feelings you have the most trouble controlling.
26. The biggest disappointment you have had in your life.
27. How you feel about your choice of life work.
28. What you regard as your handicaps in doing good work.
29. Your views on race in America.
30. Your views on race in America.
31. Your thoughts and feelings about religious groups not your own.
32. Whether or not you have planned some major decision soon.
33. The kind of jokes you like to hear.
34. Your savings amount or that you have none.
35. The possessions you are most proud of and take care with most often.
36. How you usually sleep.
37. Your favorite TV programs.
38. Your favorite comics.
39. The groups or clubs or organizations you belong to.
40. The beverages you don’t like to drink and your preferred beverages.

September 4, 2014

Internal Control – External Control: A Sampler

By Margaret Rappaport

Julian B. Rotter is the developer of a forced-choice 20 item scale for measuring an individual’s degree if internal control and external control. This I – E test is widely used. The following are sample items taken from an earlier version of the test, but not, of course, in use in the final version. The reader can readily find for himself/herself whether he/she is inclined toward internal control or toward external control, simply by adding up the choices he makes on each side.


I more strongly believe that: OR
1a) Promotions are earned through hard work and persistence b) Making a lot of money is largely a matter of getting the right breaks
2a) In my experience I have noticed that there is usually a direct connection between how hard I work and the results I get b) Many times the reactions of others seem haphazard to me
3a) The number of divorces indicates that more and more people are not trying to make their marriages work b) Marriage is largely a gamble
4a) When I am right I can convince others b) It is silly to think that one can change another person’s basic attitudes
5a) In our society a person’s future earning power is dependent upon ability b) Getting promoted is really a matter of being a little luckier than the next guy
6a) If one knows how to deal with people, they are easily led b) I have little influence over the way other people behave
7a) In my case the rewards I get are the results of my efforts b) Sometimes I feel my efforts don’t matter
8a) People like me can change the course of events if we speak out b) Wishful thinking makes people think they can influence society
9a) I am the master of my fate b) What happens to me is a matter of chance
10a) Getting along with people has to be practiced b) It is almost impossible to figure out how to please some people
11a) Getting involved in political and social movements is good b) Ordinary people are powerless to make their convictions felt
12a) Through determination and will power, people can change b) Early experiences determine us and attempts to change will fail
13a) Most auto accidents are the result of careless driving b) Weather conditions and poorly made vehicles causes most accidents
14a) People who commit crimes are usually the products of poverty and emotional deprivation b) People become criminals because they would rather profit at the expense of others rather than work
15a) Friendships are founded on “chemistry”, if it is wrong you  can’t make it right b) When I behave in a friendly and   interested way, people will probably like me
16a) Most people would like to support themselves but are unable to do so sometimes b) Dependent people are often sick or lazy and cannot or won’t  work
17a) I believe that I can achieve my goals if I clearly define them and direct my energy toward achieving them  b) It is best to resign yourself to the fact that the future is largely determined by the circumstances into which you were born
18a) Passing from childhood to old age is like travelling in a canoe without a paddle; one can only hold tightly to the sides and hope not to be dashed against rocks   b) I feel that my life is like a sailing vessel, and I am its Captain firmly in command at the helm
19a) Inequality has existed for all of history so we must accept it as inevitable and part of the human condition b) Inequality can be overcome through the concerted efforts of political groups and governments
20a) Certain people are “meant” for each other, if they are lucky enough to encounter one another b) An enduring relationship between two individuals is largely the result of empathy, consideration, commitment


August 28, 2014

Nonverbal Communication of Love, Limits and Learning

By Dr. Margaret Rappaport

Spoken language is not the only way people communicate. Some of the most meaningful acts of communication occur soundlessly. By using facial expressions, gestures, posture, and movement, we make a wide variety of communications. Kisses, a smile, a wave, “say” something in body language.

There are ten different forms of nonverbal communication using body language:

Body contact. Some forms of body contact are aggressive, some are not. Aggressive behaviors include hitting, shoving, and pushing. People differ greatly in what is acceptable as nonaggressive body contact but it is most often experienced in greetings and farewells. Getting along with other people requires an understanding and appreciation of body contact behaviors.

Proximity. How close people stand to one another is easy to spot but not easy to interpret. People tend to stand closer to individuals they like and farther away from those they dislike if only by a few inches. Generally speaking, maladjusted individuals stand farther from others than do well-adjusted people.

Orientation. The angle at which people stand or sit in relation to others is another aspect of nonverbal communication. If people want to engage one another they tend to stand opposite each other. The friendliest and most cooperative encounters tend to occur in side-by-side positions.

Appearance. Clothes, grooming, and other aspects of appearance communicate information about social status, occupation, social group and so forth. Gender and age have extraordinary impact on the power of appearance to communicate.

Posture. The different ways in which people sit, stand, or recline may communicate friendly or hostile, or superior, or inferior messages. People may more easily control their facial expressions but posture can’t be rigidly controlled under ordinary circumstances, at least not for very long.

Head Nods. Head nods serve many functions. By nodding each time another person uses a specific word or gesture it become possible to get the person to increase the frequency of that word or gesture, for example. A head nod during a conversation may indicate when each person can speak. Rapid head nods signals that the “nodder” wants to speak.

Facial Expressions. Human facial expressions are similar across cultures and apparently are not learned. The eyebrow flash, when the eyebrows are raised very rapidly and kept maximally raised for about a sixth of a second, is a sign of greeting, recognition, and welcome. People tend to be able to control their expressions quite well and accompany their spoken words with appropriate expressions. Pupil size in eyes is not under people’s control and often provides clues to the impact of verbal communication.

Gestures. Gestures are very helpful in communicating. Hands, head, feet can be used expressively. Some gestures indicate general emotional arousal, whereas others convey more specific messages. Closely allied with speech, gestures may either emphasize a point or replace speech altogether.

Eye Contact. People look at each other about 25 to 75 percent of the time during conversation. Eye contact, when both people look at each other’s eyes, occurs less often than does looking at the other person’s face without meeting his or her eyes. Looking at another person indicates interest in what is being said, and people end to look at other people they like.

Nonverbal aspects of speech. Inflection and pitch are on the borderline between verbal and nonverbal communication. The way we say something, such as our tone of voice, and how loudly we speak, can alter the meaning of words. For example, take the words, “well done”, and think about what they can mean – spoken sincerely they indicate approval; spoken sarcastically, they indicate quite a different response. How we say something indicates whether we like or dislike the person we are speaking to.

Nonverbal communication may sound very complicated, and to an extent it is. Yet each one of us engages in it rather naturally. Perhaps if we agree to think about it and learn more about ourselves as nonverbal “speakers” we will communicate more accurately with each other.

Dr. Margaret Rappaport


August 20, 2014

Abundance of Love, Limits, and Learning

By Margaret Rappaport

There is a game of questions through which you identify yourself to other people, who in turn may or may not identify themselves to you. The game may be played at many levels that are more or less intimate. No matter when it is played, however, the goal is to disclose who you are as a person. It may be played with a perfect stranger, with a close friend or an acquaintance, with a spouse, or any family member. The set of rules by which it is played probably varies with each relationship. Basically it is a game of “invitations” that involves the process of making ourselves known to other people and in turn getting to know who they are.


Both you and another person have a list of 40 questions varying in their degree of personal intimacy. When the game begins, both you and your partner will have selected 5 questions to ask each other from a list. The only firm rule in playing the game is that you may not ask your partner a question which you, yourself, are not willing to answer. Otherwise, you are on your own and may explore the questions at any level of intimacy you choose, until one of the players declines the invitation to answer the question. At this point you should move on to another question.


For each question on the questionnaire, indicate how much information you, yourself, would be willing to tell the other person. Mark each question on your score sheet as follows:

  • Mark a 0 for each question you would be unwilling to talk about with your partner.
  • Mark a 1 if you would be willing to talk about that question in general terms with your partner, but would not be willing to reveal any extremely personal information about yourself.
  • Mark a 2 only on those questions which you would be willing to confide completely and very personally to your partner.

Score Sheet

Name_______________   Partner’s Name______________

My Willingness To Disclose
1_____ 9_____ 17_____ 25_____ 33_____
2_____ 10_____ 18_____ 26_____ 34_____
3_____ 11_____ 19_____ 27_____ 35_____
4_____ 12_____ 20_____ 28_____ 36_____
5_____ 13_____ 21_____ 29_____ 37_____
6_____ 14_____ 22_____ 30_____ 38_____
7_____ 15_____ 23_____ 31_____ 39_____
8_____ 16_____ 24_____ 32_____ 40_____
Questions I Intend To Ask My Invitation Refused
1_____________ ___________
2_____________ ___________
3_____________ ___________
4_____________ ___________
5_____________ ___________

How to accept or decline an “invitation” to answer a question

In playing the game you should try to feel comfortable and unembarrassed. If you do not wish to answer a question your partner may ask, simply say “I decline” and you both move on to another question. Remember there are only five questions to ask the other person and you must also be willing to answer them yourself.


1. If someone sent you a bouquet of flowers what kind would you like?
2. What do you dislike the most about having a complete physical examination?
3. How do you feel about engaging in sexual activities prior to or outside of marriage?
4. With whom have you discussed your dental health?
5. What are your favorite spare-time hobbies or interests?
6. What do feel the guiltiest about, or most ashamed of in your past?
7. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
8. What movies have you seen lately?
9. What were your favorite subjects in school?
10. What questions would you ask a potential date?
11. What are your favorite colors?
12. How many people have you been attracted to in the past year?
13. How can you tell when you are falling in love?
14. How often do you kiss someone?
15. What age do you think a President of the United States should be?
16. What type of foods do you enjoy/
17. What thoughts have you had that repulse you?
18. What techniques do you use to attract people?
19. What do you like to read?
20. What are your feelings about your friends?
21. What foods are best for your health?
22. In what ways do you think various members of your family may be “maladjusted”?
23. Where would you like to go on a trip?
24. What kind of furniture would you like to have?
25. How many colds do you usually have per year?
26. What are your favorite sports?
27. How do you feel about your love life?
28. Would you like to travel to some part of this country?
29. What kind of group activities do you usually enjoy?
30. How tall do you like men to be?
31. What is your favorite look in a woman?
32. What schools have you attended?
33. What are the persons like whom you have loved?
34. How important do you feel education is to a person?
35. What do you think about fitness?
36. How do you feel about people of the opposite sex touching you as they talk?
37. How do you feel about same sex people touching you as they talk?
38. Which celebrities do you like the most?
39. Which of your family members do you resemble?
40. What do you think makes a book a bestseller?