Our lives are built on a number of relationships – relationships at home, at work, with friends and family, and the people we do business with. You can’t survive without people – and as we rely more and more on technology to communicate, it seems our social skills are waning.
People experience difficulties in relating to others – and it’s always someone else’s fault! You will have heard people saying things like “I never know what to say to Ed, he’s just so touchy,” or “I don’t know what’s the matter with Tracy, she seems to go out of her way to make life difficult.”
Then there’s the personal relationship that seems to be so difficult. The problem is that we often don’t know where to start. Enter the relationship doctor – Dr Jackie Black.
“Relationships are one of those areas that we are all ‘supposed’ to be naturally good at,” says Dr Jackie, “but, it’s a bit like parenting, nobody gives you a handbook or teaches you the skills that are essential so many of us struggle – often in vain – to make relationships successful. Look at all the broken relationships, rifts in families, and friendships that have been destroyed by something someone has said or done, or hasn’t said or hasn’t done.”
Dr Jackie Black is a relationship expert who has worked on a one-to-one basis as a coach to lots of people who have relationship problems. “People don’t need to be in a bad relationship to need help; we all have problem areas that seem to keep reoccurring. All I do is help people learn how to use tools and strategies to deal with issues proactively rather than react emotionally.”
So who uses a relationship coach? That’s a bit like asking ‘how long is a piece of string?’ The people Dr Jackie coaches are from all sorts of backgrounds – from chief executives and managers to plumbers and electricians, from artists to housewives – now and again we could all do with some help!
Dr Jackie has been coaching people and teaching relationship skills for many years and is very well known throughout the USA and Canada, the U.K. and AustralAisa with her own Internet Radio Show.
Gradually Dr Jackie realised that not only do people need help with their existing relationships, but, with so many marriages hitting the rocks, more and more singles are on the scene. In fact, sometimes we don’t even know where to meet Mr or Ms Right! So what’s the answer?
“If you’ve been out of the dating game for a while, it’s hardly surprising that you get ‘rusty’ at the whole dating, flirting and getting to know someone. Plus, if your last relationship had problems, there’s always that little voice at the back of your head telling you that you must be mad to want to do all that again!” explains Dr Jackie.
It was when she realised that, as one person, she could only help so many people, that she started thinking about how to reach more people and help them. One-to-one coaching limits the number of people she is able to help. One of the first things that came to mind was teleclasses.
For the uninitiated a teleclass is where the coach ‘meets’ a group of people on a telephone bridge line. This can be any number from two or three up to over a hundred, if the class is managed properly this is not as impossible a task as it might seem. So Dr Jackie started talking to Steve Stockton, CEO of 24-7coaching.com and Stef Young, 24-7’s Development Director, their organisation specialises in delivering teleclasses on a wide range of subjects. Dr Jackie was already an experienced teleclass leader, so it seemed an obvious step.
“I can help more people through teleclasses, but I soon realised that it wouldn’t allow everyone to work at their own pace and to ask the questions they needed to ask,” she explains. So, with lots of encouragement from Steve and Stef, she started designing a series of eCourses on dating and relationships that can be done entirely through email.
The idea was to offer more than just a workbook, but to add audio messages from Dr Jackie, and regular telephone ‘clinics’ to enable the people following the programme to talk directly to her. It was a big project, but Dr Jackie was dedicated to making it work and the guys from 24-7 were prepared to do whatever it took to support her.
This conversation took place a year and a half ago, but ran into a setback very quickly. Dr Jackie’s husband, Mark, was diagnosed with cancer and she has spent most of the last year dedicated to making their life together as rich as possible.
Sadly, Mark died in July this year, but Dr Jackie is back at work and the Dating eCourse series has been completed. How did she manage a big project like this alongside the heartache of seeing someone you love suffer?
“I look back on this experience and wonder how I did it. My work and my husband were my two great loves and there was never a choice between them. Last year as Mark became weaker, when he turned off his computer and stopped working for the day I stopped working as well so we could spend as much time as possible together. Then I got up to work whilst he slept.”
Mark and Jackie had only been together for four years, so how did an expert in relationships put her theories into practice when they first met? “I had been divorced for 16 years when I met Mark,” remembers Dr Jackie. “I had attended a social event run by my local golf group. While I played golf with them frequently, it was the first social event I had attended since I joined – five years previously.
“After a short time I had had enough and decided to leave, but someone stopped me. Shortly after that Mark arrived and was introduced to me. In a moment he had been whisked away to meet other people, but then, suddenly, he was back beside me.
“I fell in love the moment I saw him, but the problem was that I had all these ‘rules’, theories and beliefs about “dating smart” and building a committed relationship that would last. I’d been working with other people in helping them to develop their relationships for a long time. Here was my opportunity to “follow my own advice!” I resisted the whole notion of love at first sight (though I absolutely fell madly for him the very moment he said, “Hello”) and insisted on going slowly and mindfully through the entire process. Mark was so patient whilst I worked my way through it! I’m so glad he was, and I am so glad I did.”
Dr Jackie says “When people are having trouble with relationships I feel a bit like an auto-mechanic with a car that is not running properly. You listen carefully to find out what needs to be fixed or replaced.
“’I don’t have time for a relationship’, is code for ‘I don’t have a clue how to date and feel daunted by the whole idea,” or “I’m too nervous and scared that I will fail again!” explains Dr Jackie, when challenged that we’re all so busy that sometimes the relationship suffers.
“My mission is to challenge you to explore the old beliefs and expectations which can cause you pain; to awaken you to the new realities of relationships; to revitalize you,” says Dr Jackie.
The Dating eCourse series is now completed – enabling Dr Jackie to fulfil one of her ambitions – to help more people “date smart” and develop successful relationships. There are seven eCourses, each with five ‘lessons’ including ‘Making Sense of the Dating Process’, ‘Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say’ and ‘Internet Dating.’
Dr Jackie makes her ‘students’ work for their results, it’s not a quick fix or an easy option. The questions that students work through dig deep.
“It’s not just instructive; it isn’t only a book, you really need to work at it – to do the writing and exercises, which makes it very experiential. Questions build on each other, so that, even done superficially, it will take people deep into what influences their relationships.”
“After completing the Dating eCourse series you will have a clearer idea of what you have been doing, why it may not have been working and what options and choices you have to make dating more enjoyable, effective and successful,” says Dr Jackie.
Now this particular project is completed – although Dr Jackie will continue to be closely involved through providing the support for students – what’s next? “Well, I have already begun work on an eCourse series for those who are divorcing and divorced and another for committed partners who want to make their good relationship even better. There are so many people who could experience richer and more rewarding relationships – it makes me sad to see relationships break down, when they could be strengthened and repaired – and that includes family relationships.” It seems that Dr Jackie is on a mission to make all our relationships richer – and that can’t be bad!