Today we talk with Terry Turner of Redding about her newly published book, “Better Relationships, Happier Lives: 12 Keys to Getting There” – a guide for all kinds of relationships.
Terry, congratulations on the publication of your book. Before we get to the book, can you tell a bit about yourself?
I’m a teacher, a proud military brat, a mom and grandmother, and the “mom” of my Sheltie, Alex, who’s with me in the photograph (by Diana Vader photography). I chuckle as I mention Alex, since when I talk to people at my publishing company, first they comment about what a beautiful dog I have, and then they talk about how much they liked my book.
Well, either way that must make you feel proud to know your publisher likes your book, and your dog.
So, about that book. It sounds like you’re already pretty busy, so how in the world did you make time to write this book?
It was a matter of inspiration. Students repeatedly tell me that these tools have changed their lives for the better, or, to be technical, “This stuff really works!” Because I wanted to share these keys, and as a teacher, I have summers free, everything else went on the back burner as I finished the book.
You must be pretty disciplined to do that, but that leads me to the obvious question: What was it about this topic that motivated you to write it?
Well, this is all the stuff I wish I’d known in my 20s and 30s and 40s! Our relationships are the most important things we have. So wouldn’t it be great to have some keys to make them better? And that’s what this book gives you; everything I’ve learned and discovered over the last 20 years that you can do to build happy and lasting relationships.
That’s a lofty goal in one book, and I have to say, although I think some people might assume this is a “couple’s” book, as I read it I realized that your suggestions could actually apply to all kinds of relationships, whether it’s parents, grandchildren, neighbors or colleagues. Even so, if you had to pick one of your relationship keys that’s especially helpful for couples, what would that be?
You are very insightful, Doni. These suggestions work well in every kind of relationship.
My favorite key for couples is to “Abandon Automatic Assumptions”. For example, if we “assume” our spouse is trying to make us angry, or tell us what to do, we’ll be in “react and attack back” mode before we know it. And it goes downhill from there. If we “assume” they are trying their best, and they love us dearly (assuming you’re in a marriage with a functional person, of course), My goodness! The dynamic of every discussion changes to the positive. “Together we can solve anything.” was a wonderful saying from my late husband, and that positive assumption set the stage for success.
OK, so watch those assumptions. Good idea. I confess that one of your keys – about eliminating the word “but” from our conversations – has even changed how I write these questions to you. It’s so hard not to say the word “but”!
For me, that was one of the most powerful keys. Can you expound on that particular relationship key, for those who’ve not read your book?
It’s great to eliminate “but” from our dialogue. “But” says “get ready for the smack-down.” Here’s an example: “Thanks for cleaning the dishes, but the counters are dirty.”
Can you feel it? The first part lifts you up, the second “but” part smacks you down. It’s easy for the person who took time to clean the dishes to think, “Why do I even try?!”
Substitute “and” instead of the “but” and use actions, and notice the change. Depending on the other person’s age, and your relationship to them, it could be: “Thanks for cleaning the dishes. I really appreciate that. Would you wipe the counters with the Lysol wipes, too? Thanks again for such a great job on the dishes!” As I like to say, which one would you rather hear? Yep. Me, too.
You’re right. That makes all the difference.
Although all your keys are helpful, do you have some heavy-hitters that are especially vital for a healthy relationship?
It’s important to know that the fairy tales lie. They say, “They got married and they lived…” You know it! As if we are guaranteed a “happily ever after” just because we are married. I wish! What really happens is that problems happen. The secret is all in how we deal with those problems.
The heavy hitters that are especially vital are not to “push” on the other person, show them you’ve really heard them, and describe what is happening rather than assigning blame, or making the other person wrong. These three keys alone have made dramatic changes for the better.
All good points, Terry. Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
This book is short, with big print on cream paper, and fun to read – on purpose. I deliberately wrote it to be “user-friendly” and easy to carry around, and it’s stuffed with useful keys. My 8-year-old granddaughter calls this book: “How to Be Kinder and Happier by Treating Other People Better,” and well, that pretty much sums it up. If you’re looking for ways to improve your relationships and enjoy each day more, this is the book for you!
If you would like to read more of my writing on Communication tips, as well as fun stories of children and humor, do visit my website at alighterwaytolive.com.
You’ll be signing copies of your book at Barnes and Noble Booksellers on Churn Creek Rd. in Redding on Sat. Jan. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m., correct? In addition to your book being available for sale there, how else can people find it?
This book is available online at Balboa Press Bookstore, the publishing company, as well as through Barnes and Noble online. Even more exciting than that, it’s on Amazon, where if you click on my name, you’ll go to my Amazon author page. The Amazon author page links to my website alighterwaytolive.com.
Thank you, Doni! This has been fun. I hope to see you at Barnes and Noble if you’re free. 🙂
Thanks, Terry. Best of luck with your book.
More about Terry Turner: As a military brat, she spent her early years traveling the globe. After graduating with her Masters Degree in Speech Communication Education from the University of South Florida, she taught in a variety of schools and universities. Then the traveling bug bit, and she moved across the country to Southern California, and moved from education into corporate America, teaching computers and communication/management skills in an international aerospace corporation. The last move came in 1992, when she, her husband, and son moved to northern California where she settled happily back into education. She has been teaching communication skills at a local college ever since.