Dr John Gray, the best-selling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is in the UAE sharing his relationship wisdom. Tomorrow night, the world-famous communications guru will host a public seminar at Ductac in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates.
How do you anticipate your seminar will be received this week?
I am so excited to be coming to Dubai to teach my ideas. I know people will love it and several people from Dubai actually fly to California to receive my personal counselling.
What is the question you expect to be asked most by those attending?
People will always ask: "What about the exceptions, where a man is more like a woman and a woman is more like a man?" The answer is very simple; we are all a unique balance of these two forces, but quite often, if we don't receive the right support in childhood, we will be out of balance. The problem with that is that stress levels will go up. Finding the right balance will help you be a better leader and more effective.
What's the most common relationship problem couples experience and how is it best solved?
A lack of understanding and acknowledgement of how we are different and that we have different communication skills. If we have a positive way of "interpreting" then our communication improves.
How do couples usually try to solve these issues and what are the consequences?
When couples have differences they argue and fight, and that's possibly the stupidest thing they could ever do. Other couples, because they realise that it doesn't do any good, don't argue or fight and in turn don't express what they're thinking, feeling or they minimise their wants. The key is not to compromise all the time, but to compromise sometimes. The key is to make sure that your needs are understood in the way that your partner can hear them and better communication leads to lasting love and happier lives.
What's the easiest personality trait that men and women can modify to improve their professional and private lives?
For men it is to learn that women like to talk a lot longer than they think - so don't interrupt. For women, it's to realise that when men pull away, they need to be alone - don't take it personally, he'll become interested again.
What are the more deep-rooted problems that may require counselling or intervention?
There are certainly many people who have marital problems because they are not mature enough to be in a relationship. Visiting a therapist to deal with unresolved issues from childhood could help them grow up and see the world in a better light. When childhood trauma occurs, a part of you doesn't grow up and you still act like a spoilt brat, for example. Or feelings of insecurity can still emerge and prevent you from experiencing true intimacy, a willingness to share and cooperate together in the relationship.
How and when did the idea that men are from Mars and women are from Venus first come about?
As a therapist using conventional methods, I saw that they didn't work and decided to try the opposite of what I had been taught in school. Instead of thinking of men and women as the same, I identified the differences and started getting results. Suddenly, I was teaching seminars around the world to thousands of people, having written a book that millions of people had bought.
What's your response to critics who question your credentials or expertise in giving others relationship advice?
When anyone first comes out with a new idea, people tend to laugh it off as insignificant. Then, when they see it starting to become popular, they become very critical of it. I went through those stages, until finally the third stage, where people said: "Oh! It's common sense!" So I get very little criticism today, but for the first five years when my book outsold all others on the planet, I didn't receive one positive print interview. That's because there was so much resistance to the ideas of "experts". Gradually, the people who needed this information most and who cared about their relationships, got results from it and now it's taught in colleges.
How do you feel about the book becoming part of popular culture and being adapted for Broadway shows and sitcoms?
I am very excited about it and doing my Broadway show, standing among the biggest audiences in a Broadway theatre back in the 1990s, was great fun. But I don't want to spend my life on the stage, and while I do like giving big talks, I am more of a family man now.
How is the film adaptation with Reese Witherspoon coming along?
It's very exciting to have Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon as the female lead. Hopefully, it will become "the movie" that every couple goes on a date to see in the years to come. It's exciting that more people on this planet will be able to get the book's message and hopefully have more lasting and more fulfilling relationships.
Are your personal and professional relationships stress and conflict free?
I am one of the most stress-free persons you will ever meet. I have learnt how to be that way and I help lower stress levels in other people. Life is full of conflict and stress and all we can do from our side is learn to overcome those problems in a more successful way. So yes, I have a fantastic marriage, I adore my wife and although we do have trouble from time to time, we have healthy ways of dealing with it. We've learnt to become mature adults who have better communications skills and one loving and positive outlook towards our differences. A good marriage is not free of problems, a good marriage is one where people solve their problems together and grow together with love.
John Gray's seminar takes place tomorrow, 5pm-9pm at Ductac in Dubai's Mall of the Emirates. Tickets start from Dh645 per person. For details, go to www.rightselection.com