Friday, June 12, 2009

My sexy interview

I just posted something on Facebook that had some of my friends scratching their heads - and was one of the most enjoyable interviews I've done in a long time.

This afternoon I had an hour-long interview with noted Canadian sex educator Kim Switnicki, one of the regulars on Vancouver's Breakfast TV, about how to use good communications skills in the bedroom. It was a wide-ranging (and PG-rated) discussion about how to discuss your preferences, your turn-ons and turn-offs, and how to get your partner to open up to you, which will be used as part of one of her upcoming educational programs. Kim and I met earlier this year taking media training together on our respective new books, and she is an incredibly knowledgeable and articulate interviewer.

The head-scratching part came from people who know me solely from my customer service training, which in turn is one of the joys of being a "mutt." In reality, much of my training nowadays is about communications skills in general, and talking about sexuality and communications isn't as strange for me as you might think - I am now also a practicing family therapist who works with couples and families, and was in fact trained in sex therapy as part of my MFT graduate work.

Which brings us to today's interview. The thing I find fascinating as a therapist is that intimate communication skills share a great deal in common with those in the workplace - and these, in turn, often borrow from techniques that people like hostage negotiators, crisis counselors, and psychologists use in their own specific situations. Some key points we covered:

-Acknowledgement is like sex. Most people think they already know how to do it, but few know how to do it well. Most of us simply talk past each other, instead of using techniques like observation ("I can see you don't like that"), validation ("lots of people feel that way"), or identification ("I could imagine feeling the same way"). Acknowledging and validating your partner makes it safe to talk about things, and in my view is a big part of the "electricity" people feel when they really connect with each other.

-Sensitive subjects - especially in the bedroom - are best attacked with a pencil and paper, to workshop a neutral opening, good questions, good acknowledgements - and above all, a neutral, factual discussion of what you want.

-When you feel your partner is ignoring your needs and wants, check your own language. Confrontational words almost never work, no matter how softly or politely you utter them, and it's hard to negotiate changes without drawing out the interests of both parties.

Some of the specific examples we discussed went beyond the usual business blog fare - for example, one of them gave a new meaning to the phrase "I'm tied up at the moment" - but I was struck by how universal good communications skills are in all walks of life, and how they can bring you love and intimacy as well as success. And as someone who has been madly in love with the same person for 36 years and counting, I can certainly vouch for them personally.

To learn more about Kim's books, products, and coaching services, visit her website at - she really is incredible at what she does. And it was a real honor to be a small part of one of her upcoming programs.