The audience cracked up each time Randy Chatelain, Weber State Universtiy associate professor of family relations, pointed out side effects that often accompany many desirable qualities people possess.
“If your partner is very intelligent, sometimes it’s confusing when they talk to you, like how you feel in a 1010 math class,” Chatelain said.
Chatelain spoke to a group of WSU students at the Davis campus Thursday night for the kickoff of a series of workshops empowering women through effective communication. The WSU Davis Student Council Committee for Women Students sponsored the workshop. Tiara Collins, director of women students, and Preston Surrage, assistant director of women students, initiated the workshop series and selected Chatelain to speak about relationship communication.
“We narrowed down the topics we wanted and then we tried to find someone who could best teach about it,” Collins said. “We all go to Weber State, so we wanted to pick a person who’s from Weber or the community and could relate to us and what we go through as students.”
Chatelain asked members of the audience to shout out qualities they would want in a partner and listed them on the board. Then one by one, he discussed side effects that people can develop along with those good qualities.
“When I was a Boy Scout, I learned to be honest, loyal, trustworthy, helpful, friendly, obedient and all those things,” Chatelain said. “No one ever warned me, though, that these traits often have negative side effects.”
For example, Chatelain explained that someone who is very hardworking can also be a workaholic. That hardworking person may develop a better relationship with coworkers than family. An organized person may be unable to enjoy spontaneity or may feel frazzled when others are not organized in the same way.
“My wife likes to get all done up,” Chatelain said, “but there’s a side effect to that. It’s okay for me to go to the grocery store in sweats, but not Pam! But somehow it’s more okay if the sweats say ‘Love PINK’ on the back.”
Chatelain said the more each person develops traits, the more he or she develops the side effect of that trait and that everyone should learn to manage the side effects. In addition, the more each person develops traits, the more he or she develops a hatred for the opposite of the trait. For example, he brought up how honest people often don’t like liars, and organized people often can’t stand messes.
In a relationship, Chatelain said, people want to enjoy the good qualities of their partner without having to deal with the side effects.
“In relationships, we are often attracted to a person’s good traits, but later become irritated with the side effects of their good traits,” Chatelain said. “Your partner may be thrifty and able to save money but struggles with spending money on you or vacations.”
On the other hand, Chatelain said that people who are initially attracted to someone’s good traits may now criticize that person for the side effects of the same traits.
“I am a spontaneous person who is criticized for not being organized enough,” Chateliain said.
The solution to this predicament, Chatelain said, is to let the good qualities just be good.
“My wife is such a good person that anything that bugs me about her is probably a side effect of her good traits,” Chatelain said.
Chatelain created a handout that summarized his presentation. In the handout, he gave advice for the audience to manage the side effects of their own good traits in situations where the side effects might interfere with the situation.
He advised all to be aware that good qualities have side effects, recognize where their good trait is “not working,” manage the side effects, select more effective traits for certain situations and accept the inherent side effects.
Collins and Surrage agreed that they selected effective communication for the topic of the workshops because everyone who comes can learn something.
“Learning how to work well with people, regardless of what relationship you have with them, you need to know how to interact with them,” Surrage said. “If you’re very intelligent but can be condescending, you can push people away.”
The next workshop for effective communication will focus on different love languages and will be held at the WSU Davis campus, Thursday, Jan. 26 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.