Chapter 1 How We Connect Emotionally A work team at one of Seattle's floundering Internet companies has a problem that's common in many workplaces: They can't communicate with their boss. If you catch a few team members at a local tavern after hours, you're likely to hear an exchange something like this: "Joseph is the coldest fish I've ever worked for." "I know what you mean. The other day I saw this picture of a little boy on his bulletin board and I said, 'Cute kid. Is that your son?' And he goes, 'No.' " "And that was it?" "Yeah. So I'm standing there wondering, 'Well, who is it then? Your nephew? Your stepson? Your love child?' " "He's just so out of it. And to think we were so jazzed when we heard he was going to head the team, with that vaunted success record of his." "He's smart, all right. But what good has it done us? We still haven't launched the site." "That's because he has zero people skills. Have you noticed how all the other managers try to avoid him?" "Yeah, that's what's screwing us up. We have no real standing in the company. I was hoping he could take our ideas up the ladder and we'd finally get the resources we need. But he never asks for our input. He never even asks if you've had a nice weekend." "Remember when we moved to the new building and he decided to do away with private offices? He said we'd have an open floor plan to 'enhance communication.' What a crock!" "Stop it, you guys. I feel sorry for him." "Sorry for him? Why? He's the one with all the stock options!" "Well, I think he wants to be a better boss-he just doesn't know how." "Oh yeah? How can you tell?" "I don't know. It's just a guess. Maybe he knows how disappointed we all feel in him. And that makes it even harder for him. I can't read his mind, but I bet that's what's going on." Next meet Kristine, age fifty-four, an advertising executive whose mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Kristine would like to help with her mother's care, but Mom lives several states away, near Kristine's sister, Alice. Here's a typical phone call between the sisters: "How's Mom?" Kristine asks tentatively. "She'll be better once the insurance pays her hospital bill," Alice responds. "That's all she talks about." "But that was last December. The insurance still hasn't paid?" "No, not that hospital stay. I'm talking about this last time, when she had that seizure." "What seizure?" "Didn't I tell you?" "Tell me what?" "She was in the hospital last month after a seizure. They ran some tests." "I can't believe you didn't tell me about this. Why didn't you call?" "It was just so hectic. And it's impossible to get hold of you with your voice mail or whatever. Besides, there's nothing you can do from the East Coast." "But, Alice! I've asked you to call me when these things happen!" "Well, it really doesn't matter now. They put her on some new medicine and she's doing much better. We got through it fine. There's no need to worry." But Kristine does worry. And she's angry as well. She tells herself that Alice isn't cutting her out of the loop on purpose; she's just caught up in her own concerns. But now that Mom's health is going downhill, Kristine and her sister have got to cooperate better than this. Otherwise, Kristine might miss her only chance to be there when Mom needs help most. And if that happens, she and Alice could hold grievances against each other for the rest of their lives. Now meet Phil and Tina, a couple in their thirties who seem to have it all. SoGottman, John is the author of 'The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships', published 2002 under ISBN 9780609809532 and ISBN 0609809539.