KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Relationship Book That Speaks Layperson

Being a medical editor, I edit a lot of medical-journal manuscripts. Even the book manuscripts that I edit are mostly written for health-care professionals and so are very technical. But a recent one—We Are All From Uranus: How to Have Out-of-This-World Relationships—speaks layperson, meaning that it talks like we regular folks do in our everyday lives. And that's a huge strength.

I'll bet that like many people, some of you reading this blog post have been in relationship therapy. I have. And one thing I found intimidating about the process is all the jargon. To be in therapy, it seems you have to learn a new language. But the authors of WAFU (that's their nickname for the book) toss around very little jargon. Reading the book, you get the feeling that you're talking with old friends—friends who just happen to have some excellent advice for how to get your intimate relationships back on track. Working on personal relationships is tough enough, but the authors' approach doesn't add to that inherent difficulty. With plain language and humor, they make that tough work seem doable. In discussing an exercise for readers to engage in with their partners to get practice in speaking up about what actions they do or do not want in their relationship, the authors write:

Do this exercise with your partner until they cry uncle—and then do it once more. Continue to work on eliminating your own [problematic] beliefs. ... You are learning to negotiate and communicate. It might even lead to conscious cooperation. It might even start to happen accidentally, out of habit. Look, Ma, no hands!

When people focus on relationship difficulties, they can sometimes start seeing the world as a rather gloomy place, so the authors' humor is a refreshing relief:

Now step back just for a minute and think about all you have learned and accomplished so far. Can you believe it? You are becoming a summa cum laude black-belt relationship master! Keep up the good work, and continually remind yourself of how far you've come since we started! You can even pat yourself on the back if you'd like. You see, flexibility can come in handy.

But don't let the humor fool you. Charles E. Bailey is a physician, general psychiatrist, and clinical researcher. Though he and his coauthor, Rebecca Lane, have a down-to-earth writing voice, there is plenty of solid advice in the book.

We Are All From Uranus: How to Have Out-of-This-World Relationships, by Rebecca Lane and Charles E. Bailey, MD, from the Global Institute for Scientific Thinking. Paperback (ISBN: 978-1936264230; US$16.77); 190 pages.

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