Joe Fishel was raised in a P.E.T. family. And by that we mean, both of his parents were P.E.T. Instructors. We wanted to hear Joe’s unique story—especially since had just attended our Instructor Training Workshop (ITW) for P.E.T. in San Diego in October (2017).
GTI: So what prompted you to come to the workshop?
Joe: Well, I was actually in the middle of taking a P.E.T. class and saw that the ITW was during and decided what better way to really learn the skills? My parents always said the best way to learn something is to learn how to teach it.
GTI: Do you remember being raised with P.E.T.?
Joe: It was all I knew actually…I didn’t know what a Behavior Window was or when they were using an I-Message or Active Listening. That’s just how we communicated with each other—I didn’t know the names of these skills. So when I was in the class and then the ITW, I realized, “Oh! That’s the window or that’s what they were doing all those years!” As I look back, as I was growing up, I see how the skills really helped me in my life, in my relationships and at work.
We were a family of six—four kids and my parents. When they’d teach P.E.T. classes together, they considered that their date night each week. A night of sharing something they both loved and of course, who doesn’t want a break from four kids once in a while? I remember I was about four years old and I saw them preparing flip charts for the classes. I realized that that was what they were doing when I was preparing my own charts for my practice teaching while at the ITW. So my parents weren’t just drawing on paper—they were preparing to teach P.E.T.!
I now see the big picture of P.E.T. after the ITW—it cemented and formalized my childhood experience of being raised with these skills. Now I really get what they were doing all those years.
GTI: How have the P.E.T. skills helped you at work?
Joe: Nearly 100% of my job is being on the phone as a financial advisor. So I notice the value of not just Active Listening but basic listening, namely silence. There’s no body language to tune into, so I find myself being silent and letting the client fill in the gap or allow them space to talk and share and it really helps. You don’t know necessarily where you are in the Behavior Window all the time when it’s entirely on the phone so silence and Active Listening are key. It’s a discipline for sure.
GTI: What is your favorite thing about being in a P.E.T. family?
Joe: My parents are huge part of my life, my son’s life and they are some of my best friends. They were and are the best role models for me. The biggest element for me in a P.E.T. family is the concept of no-lose–everyone has a voice in the family, in the relationship. Despite different opinions and needs, we can come to a solution that makes everyone happy and our differences can become advantages.
I told my son that I was going to San Diego to learn how to be a better dad. When I came back, soon after my (7-years old) son says to me, “Dad I think its working!” I am conscious of when I am using the P.E.T. skills and it’s a daily practice. I know I will never be a perfect dad but I know that with the P.E.T. skills I will continue to be a better one. It requires patience, flexibility but the results are amazing. I can’t say enough great things about P.E.T. It’s just a part of me.