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“Dear Dee” Advice. COVID Conversations? Should we live together?

by Donna Rustigian Mac, “Dear Dee” Advice Columnist

Hello—it’s Dee…with your communication advice for the week…so you can create healthy human connections….that means trusted relationships in your personal and professional life.

Have you listened to the Q&A on audio? Well, here it is! Let me know what you think!

Our first question today:

Dear Dee,

Can you provide any tips for helping me refocus and communicate better with family and colleagues especially during this stressful time?


Dear M.M.,

Let’s take your question and divvy it up into 2 parts, beginning with, how to refocus? Considering we’re in an extraordinarily stressful time I’m finding many people struggling to focus. So, ask yourself… Why can’t you focus? Are you thinking and worrying about the future? The past? Are you able to take your focus, which may be scattered, and narrow it, so you’re able to view what is happening…right here and now, in the present moment?

Here are some tips to help you try to be in the present moment, during this very stressful time:

First, stop, several times each day  and take a few deep breaths while focusing inward, on the air and oxygen (get out of the busy brain and into the body, which narrows your focus). Next, try to tackle just one day at a time. Coronavirus news is changing daily so get used to living with uncertainty because things are changing often. Try to focus on the things you have control over and leave everything else behind. Perhaps you could stop and rest for a while.

For the 2nd part of your question, “how do you communicate better with family and colleagues?”

Everyone on earth is different. So, tune into them. Listen more than you speak. There are some family members and colleagues who will be easier to communicate with than others.  It’s your job to be…perhaps a bit more empathetic these days. Meanwhile, try to be as healthy, clear and direct as you possibly can.

Our next question…

Dear Dee,

My partner wants to move in together, but we both recently graduated college and I have too much college debt plus I’m not ready to make that step. On the other hand, they were on a full scholarship and ready for that next step. How can I communicate with them that I can’t make that step without upsetting them?


Dear C.R.,

There are no guarantees that your partner will remain calm after hearing what you have to say, but there are a few things you can do to speak as honestly, respectfully and lovingly as possible, as you broach this subject.

If you really love your partner, begin the conversation with that fact. Tell them how much you truly care about them, and, if you’d really like to live with them someday, say so.

Now…do NOT follow that statement up with the word “but”. That word seems to cancel out everything that goes before it. Instead, say the word, “and”. Then continue the conversation with why it’s important that you don’t live together right now.

For example, you could say something like, “I really love you and am excited about our future. And I am positive that I can’t consider living together with you until I get myself into a much better financial position. So, I’m going to stay here for a while.

Speak your truth, C.R., then stop. See what happens. You might receive an emotional response but it’s important that you know who you are and what you need.

Everyone entering a committed relationship needs to know who they are, what they want & need, plus they need to be able to articulate it. If you don’t have those skills yet, you are definitely not ready to cohabitate.

Dear Dee is published every week at RI News Today dot com…and we’d love to hear from you!

Send your “Dear Dee,” question – in complete confidence – to: – Put “Dear Dee” in the subject line, and then look for your answer on Saturday. Please keep your information private in not identifying specific people – and sign your note with your initials or as you would like it to appear – such as “Confused in Cumberland” This is Dee, signing out for today, creating healthy human connections through high level effective communication. You can find me at That’s the letter i…voice

Donna Rustigian Mac is the Founder and Chief People Officer at iVoice Communication, dedicated to creating healthy human connections through high level effective communication.

Donna is an executive communication coach workforce trainer and motivational speaker with more than 3 decades of experience.

Donna is also the author of Guide to a Richer Life, Know Your Worth, Find Your Voice and Speak Your Truth and the creator of The Six Pillars of Effective Communication.

Donna’s undergraduate degree is in Liberal Arts and Humanities. She has also studied psychology at Lesley University, with Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence), and is a certified mindfulness teacher with continuing studies at Brown University’s Center for Mindfulness.

During her career, Donna has partnered with Clear Channel Communication and The Speech Improvement Company, the oldest speech communication company in the United States. Clients include Merrill Lynch, Cambridge Associates, The Massachusetts Banker’s Association, CVS Health and many others.

In addition to her work, Donna is an avid runner, skier, gardener and the mother of two kind, strong and successful millennials who have the great ability to communicate!