073: David Answers Your Five Secrets Questions

Relationship Problems–We’ve all got ’em!

In today’s podcast, David and Fabrice address five questions submitted by listeners who listened to the recent series of podcasts on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication:

  • Elie: I kept disarming my wife who was criticizing me, and it didn’t work. She just got angry! What am I doing wrong?
  • Joli: Dr. Burns, all of your examples of relationship problems in involve errors the women are making. This is chauvinistic! Why are you always blaming women? I think you must have had problems with women in the past!
  • Tamara: The five podcasts on the Five Secrets were at a very introductory level. Can you do some more teaching at a more advanced level?
  • Rajesh: I was in a conflict with a very demanding friend and I said, “I understand how you feel.” My friend just got more annoyed. Why? What am I doing wrong? Also, what should you do if the person who’s criticizing you is just saying a lot of things that are distorted, things that aren’t really true?
  • Jonathan: A friend said, “You’re so damn cheap!” This was my response: “Yeah I mean sometimes I do get a little upset and annoyed when I’m judged by you like that. To be quite honest, I don’t like it when you say stuff like that.” How did I do? Does my response need to be improved?

David and Fabrice love your questions so keep them coming! At the next session, we are going to begin a new episode series on Five Secrets of Happiness.

Fabrice and I hope you enjoy our Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and some five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!


At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.


6 thoughts on “073: David Answers Your Five Secrets Questions

  1. Thanks for all your interesting conversations about the 5 secrets! I’d like to share a thought that came up in reference to Elie’s frustration with the poor response to their attempts at the disarming technique. In the homework it was said to try this 5 times with strangers for a reason. It seems the best reason would be that these people don’t have a reference to how you would respond otherwise… they are virtual blank slates. This is a great way to practice the technique and learn what you do well and what you could do better. With family and spouses and friends, however, a sudden shift between a common response of denial to a constant stream of agreement would seem confusing and ridiculous. It generally comes across as disingenuous. This can be frustrating because you actually do mean it, and they just don’t believe you! But baby steps are key… build that trust over time and they will realize that you’re not just putting on a front, but that you actually intend to get closer to them. Good luck!

    • Thanks Shantel, this is good thinking, too. The assignment was to use each technique (in this case the Disarming Technique) in a trivial way not involving conflict, with strangers, just to get a feel for each technique. When you are dealing with a real conflict with loved ones, friends, or even strangers, you have to integrate all of the Five Secrets in a genuine, non-formulaic way. This takes just as much practice and effort, in my opinion, as learning to play a musical instrument. It does not happen over night! And getting good at it can be the project of a lifetime, really, continually improving and reaping the rewards along the way! david

  2. Re: Jonathan’s “I feel” statements…

    I can relate to Jonathan’s example above, because whenever I try an “I feel” statement, I often turn it in to “I feel like you…”, which isn’t a feeling statement at all, it’s actually a criticism of the other person.

    I really appreciate the “Feeling Words” list linked in podcast 69 show notes. It is a very good reference for me to learn how to express the emotion I feel.

    Big thank-you to those risk-takers for writing in. Not only are we learning from David and Fabrice, we are learning from all of you too!

    (PS. Did I use some elements of 5 secrets in this comment?)

    • Thanks Jess for you kind and thoughtful comments! Appreciated! And yes, you may have used a little Stroking in your note, always a good idea! And done really well, too! d

  3. Dear Dr Burns and Fabrice

    After listening to the podcast ‘Confront a fear’ I decided to take action. I spoke to my friend with all the empathy, respect and ‘I feel’ statements I genuinely could. Kudos to my friend who was also gentle and genuine. It helped us get past the blockage of hurt. Whether we will or can or need to talk about underlying values one day remains to be seen. I felt so good afterwards.

    Its a journey. Thank you for showing me some of the steps.

    I noticed my previous comment is still awaiting moderaton. On balance, feel free to not publish my comments at all – they are probably apt to be misunderstood in these charged times.

    • Thanks, AE! Actually, we answered your very important question, I’m pretty sure, on yesterday’s David and Jill Show at 3 PM Pacific on my public FB page. You can listen to it any time, and let us know what you think! david

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