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March 20, 1987 - Image 91

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-03-20

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Barbara Halpern says mistakes

and failures can be turned
into positive experiences


Local News Editor

Barbara Halpern: Learn communications skills in order to "connect."

ife is a series of choices,
and if along the way
some of them turn out to
be negative experiences,
don't be disheartened.
They're really steps towards per-
sonal growth.
That's a message that Barbara
Halpern knows well and imparts to
persons she counsels in workshops.
Divorced and remarried, Halpern
had to make her own choices to
survive the end of her first mar-
riage and to get her life back on
An interpersonal communica-
tions specialist associated with
Macomb County Community Col-
lege and the Continuum Center at
Oakland University, and a lecturer
on communications skills to local
community groups, Halpern re-
cently talked about problems ex-
perienced by singles and offered
advice on how they could overcome
them. -
The facilitator of a workshop
on "Positive Aspects of Being on
Your Own" at the Birmingham
Temple's recent singles weekend,
Halpern said because singles are
looking to "connect" with someone,
they are prone to "jarring" experi-


ences — dealing with a wide range
of other people's feelings and expos-
ing themselves to possible rejection.
Singles view these experiences as
negative, but, Halpern said, these
negative experiences, in the end
are beneficial. "Those experiences
provide the leaps and bounds of
personal growth."
Proficiency in communications
skills also is beneficial to the
growth process, Halpern added, but
it's a process at which one has to
work. You must recognize it's like
going for a job. You must put forth
the effort. It's not something magi-
cal. It's something that requires ef-
fort, training, practice."
She said that by learning and
using these skills, singles can de-
velop successful relationships.
"Make sure you develop communi-
cation skills in terms of being as-
sertive so that you understand how
to be clear and express yourself
with dignity, so that when you are
relating, you relate from a position
of being a winner and treat
everyone else as if they are a win-
In order to have a successful
relationship, singles have to learn
to listen to their partners, express

and compromise. "It's being able to
say I need this, what do you need?
Let's see if we can both become
winners.' That's what we need to
learn to do. Both need to be win-
The sad part, according to Hal-
pern, is that adults were never
trained to communicate what they
want. Halpern said that both men
and women need to develop this
skill in order to enhance relation-
A former speech pathologist,
Halpern came to teach others how
to communicate when she found
she didn't know how to "connect"
after her divorce. She attended
workshops at the Oakland Univer-
sity Continuum Center and became
so adept, she was asked to lead the
sessions. She said she turned a
negative experience — the divorce
— into something positive — an
"It was like a Renaissance for
me because in the (post-divorce)
struggle I got in touch with the
real me ... Learning the process of
discovery and helping and healing
myself I realized that a lot of
people don't have these skills and

In order to have a
relationship, singles
have to learn to listen
to their partners,
express and

Continued on next page


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