Ask Dr. Brinkman

‘General’ Category

NYANP Conference

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Polish is the 25th Language of Dealing with People You Can’t Stand

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

I am proud to announce that our book Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst (Brinkman & Kirschner, McGraw-Hill 2004, 2003, 2012) is now in it’s 25th language.

The companion book which we affectionately call “the Cliff Notes” version: 24 Lessons for Managers: Dealing with Difficult People has also come out in Polish.














Awake within a dream: Lucid dreamers show greater insight in waking life

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

University of Lincoln
People who are aware they are asleep when they are dreaming have better than average problem-solving abilities, new research has discovered. Experts say that those who experience ‘lucid dreaming’ — a phenomenon where someone who is asleep can recognize that they are dreaming — can solve problems in the waking world better than those who remain unaware of the dream until they wake up.

Failure is Not an Option

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

When ever I am faced with adversity or doubt, this is the sign I look at in my office,  (and then I “Spring into Action”).


Download the PDF to print here:

Manifesting Your Dreams by Clarifying Values

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

This time of year we tend to put our attention on manifesting the future. I have found the #1 reason people set goals and don’t achieve them is either they haven’t clarified values or don’t have a specific enough plan.

Here is a gift to you from the book Life by Design, (Brinkman & Kirschner, McGraw-Hill) and my audio Life by Design (Brinkman, CareerTrack), the chapters on clarifying values.

I would consider this the single most important thing you can do to create self motivation.

Download a compressed archive here:

33% Off Coupon – Thank you for being a Conscious Communicator!

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Use this coupon, “THANKS33”  for 33% off your order of any resources in the online store.  Good through December 7th.  SHOP NOW

Dr. Rick Brinkman Talks About Dealing with Relatives on AMNW

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Dr. Rick Brinkman, co-author of the international best selling McGraw-Hill book, Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst, appears on Portland, Oregon’s AM Northwest to talk about dealing with relatives.

Time Magazine – Dealing With People You Can’t Stand

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Time Magazine Business online quotes our book Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst (Brinkman & Kirschner, 2012 McGraw-Hill) with advice on how to deal with tough behaviors in the business world.

Visit the Time Article here.

Dealing with Relatives: Rules of Non-Engagement, During stage 1

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

There are three parts to the Rules of Non-Engagement: Before, During and After.   In the last post we looked at how to prepare yourself before the family event. In the next few posts we will look at what you can do in the “during” phase.


– Supporting your energy

Marta told us:

“My mom loves to make cookies and cakes, and I love to eat them. Problem is,all that sugar gives me headaches and makes me cranky.And when I’m cranky, Mom and I have problems. So I’ve told her that the only time I’m going to eat the fun food is at night, so I can be fun for her to be with all day long.”

Juanita told us:

“I take naps in the afternoon, usually when my dad turns on the TV to watch sports. I used to sit around all day hating the sound of the TV and wishing I could be somewhere else, but not anymore! I tell my parents that taking naps is part of my health regime, and they not only accepted the idea, but my mom liked it so much that she does the same during my visits. Dad gets to watch sports in peace, and both Mom and I feel refreshed when dinner time rolls around. It’s been great for everyone.”

– Remove some Stress

If you can relieve a relative of just a little of their stress, your good deed will come back to you as an grateful family member who is easier for you to deal with.

Darren told us:

“My mother gets stressed when things don’t seem to be getting done or she’s worried about something.This has gotten worse over the years as she has aged, because she can’t do as much cleaning as she used to. So we do things for her, and turn clean-up time into a family activity. We might say, “Come on kids, let’s go outside and rake some leaves!” If she expresses wor- ries about finances, I get on the Internet and do some research for informa- tion on refinancing.Anything she expresses worry or concern about is an opportunity for me to lower her stress load.The result is that instead of a stressed-out and worried mother when we visit, I get to enjoy her company.”

Fred writes:

“My dad-in-law is kind of a dud, and being a dud around company drives my mother-in-law crazy. So I try to engage him in things, take him out for a game of golf, invite him to come with me for a run to the store, anything that gets him away from her and gives her a break. She’s a lot happier when we visit now.”

Tune in over the next few days for more and check out the resources at:

MacMillan Publishes Audiobook of “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand”

Friday, August 20th, 2010
Dr. Rick in the studio

Dr. Rick B in the studio

The Doctors Rick were in Blackstone Studios (Ashland, OR) this summer, recording the audiobook version of their international best selling book (20 languages), Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst.

It will be available on iTunes,, and this fall and in stores by the end of the year.

A Token of Love

Friday, August 7th, 2009
Lighter given to Felix by Simone, 11/2/43

Lighter given to Felix by Simone, 11/20/43

My father being the dedicated worker and leader that he naturally was rose quickly to run a telephone repair factory in the ghetto.  As mentioned in an earlier post (The Radio) he understood electricity and had a knack for fixing things.  The German officer in charge of the whole ghetto, hearing about his ability to fix things brought my father to his office. The officer had a record player, a very advanced design for the time, that wasn’t working correctly and asked if my father could fix it. Felix said of course (even though he had never seen the inside of one before) and said he needed to take it back to his workshop with a few records for a couple of days.

Felix fixed it in a matter of minutes and as a treat to his employees he brought all the workers at the factory together to hear the music. People didn’t have such things in the ghetto and hadn’t heard music for years. Most of the employees were young women and some of them insisted, “Herr Brinkmann you must dance.” My father chose my mother. A day later he made her his secretary, even though she couldn’t type, but as my dad said, “She sure could kiss.”

They eventually got married against the ghetto’s Jewish authorities wishes. The head man said, “I’m not giving a nice Jewish girl to that German!” So they made their own ceremony.

Pictured above is a cigarette lighter that my mother gave my father for his birthday in November of 1943. My Polish is not that good, but as I recall my mother translated the engraving as something like: “My sweet smoochie poochie, Felix on your birthday. Lodz ghetto 11-20-43.”

How did this token of love survive? In August of 1944 the Lodz ghetto was liquidated and the inhabitants sent to Auschwitz, My mother’s older sister Ola and her husband Kit were part of a small group that was left behind to “clean the ghetto”. They found the lighter when they were in Simone & Felix’s apartment. The lighter spent time in Poland, Israel, Canada and ultimately came back to my mother just 10 years ago. She gave it to me during one of her frequent visits to Portland.

The next time my father visited I showed him the lighter and true to style his first response was: “So you’re the little ‘$#*%” who stole my lighter!”

Who’s Crazy?

Friday, August 7th, 2009
Felix, age approx. 21

Felix, age approx. 21

My father, Guido Felix Brinkmann, was a German from Latvia who ended up in Poland on a program that moved German people into occupied territories. When it was time to join the military he innocently and honestly wrote on his application that his mother was Jewish but converted to Lutheran before he was born. That brought the proverbial “knock on the door” by the Gestapo and he was thrown into the Lodz Ghetto.

Once there he sat on a bench all day waiting to be processed. No one knew what to do with him because to the Jews he was obviously a German (and probably a spy) and to the Germans he was obviously Jewish. Finally at nightfall he was sent to an insane asylum because those people were too crazy to care whether someone was Jewish or German.

Can you imagine that? Too crazy to be bigoted.

What crazy people.

PS: “In an insane world, the sane would naturally appear insane.” Mr. Spock to Captain Kirk

Felix Brinkmann 1918-2009

Friday, July 31st, 2009

I feel I had a fortunate life. Even going through the three concentration camps, I somehow was able to make the best out of the worst. I never would have thought growing up as a boy in Riga, Latvia that I would end up in the greatest city (NYC), in the greatest country in the world (USA).”

These are the words my father spoke to me two weeks ago, July 14th, when I last visited him in NY. My dad survived three concentration camps for 12 months, Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and Ebensee. He came to NY in 1947 with $5 in his pocket and unable to speak English. Eventually in 1971 he partnered with Mel Steir and Joe Cavalaro to open what would become one of the premier discotheques in NYC, the Adams Apple, (1st Ave and E 61st St.)

Last year my father was hospitalized for the whole month of July with Hepatits B.  I spent most of last summer in NYC caring for him. During the following month of August he couldn’t even remember being hospitalized. I took him back to Oregon at the end of the summer. After 1 week of Naturopathic (holistic natural medicine) care at the Center for Traditional Medicine and Nature Cures, he could remember the date and time we were flying back to NY.

To illustrate the kind of guy he was, two months after being freed from the concentration camp he was crossing a bridge in Germany and was stopped by a Russian guard. My father who spoke Russian explained what had happened to him and that his family had been killed. Then another man tried to cross the bridge. The Russian stopped him and because he wore a German army coat pulled back the man’s shirt to reveal an SS tatoo. He was an SS officer. The Russian soldier handed the machine gun to my father and told him to kill the German for my father’s family. My father said, “No” and handed the gun back to him. The Russian then shot the SS man.

Last November my father celebrated his 90th birthday. (See pictures of the party and pictures here.) Although he didn’t “have to” work he loved to work and managed a commercial building in the Bronx owned by his former partner (Mel Steir). He would drive there everyday, seven days a week. Working was one of his pleasures. Three weeks ago when his car was being repaired he walked 6 blocks to the subway station, took the train to the Bronx, walked another 3 blocks to arrive at work on time. In fact the “alarm” that something was wrong was sounded by the superindentent Julio at the buidling. When Felix didn’t show up, Julio knew something was wrong. It literally took someone killing my father to stop him from going to work.

His end is certainly a shock to me, but at the same time I know my Dad and even if he survived this attack he would have had no complaints. He knew as I do that we all have to “go” sometime. He told me that, “when faced with death I simply choose life and never gave up.” I know my Dad would not have been happy having to be cared for by someone or not being able to live his life functional (working) and independent. Even when I would try to get him to take a week off and come visit me in Oregon he would resist saying, “He didn’t want to leave the United States.” Going relatively quick is something he would have wanted.

For their amazing stories of survival see:

8/2/09 “Assholes & Angels” an audio of when my mother asked to die and hope came from an unexpected source

7/21/09 “Escape of Diana” (My mother’s twin sister’s escape from a death march.)

6/2/09 “Simone’s Story of Escape and Survival” (My mother’s escape from a death march.)

4/3/09 “Priorities in Black & White part 2” (My father’s life and his 90th birthday party.

1/28/09 “Happy Birthday Mom” (my Mom, an identical twin survives being picked by Dr. Mengele)

9/11/08 “Priorities in Black & White part 1

Link to movie about Felix Brinkmann’s life made for his 90th birthday last November.

Quicktime version: The Felix Brinkmann Story (16 min)
AVI version: The Felix Brinkmann Story (16 min)

Photo Gallery:

The Doctor is In

Thursday, June 25th, 2009


I am delighted to announce the availability of private counseling/coaching sessions over the phone (Portland area office visits are possible.) I consider it an honor to work with people one-on-one and see them make positive changes in their health and behavior. If you are ready, I am here to help you.

Typically, I get results with people in 3 to 5 visits, over the course of a few months. We get results fast because we create change from the inside out. As part of the therapy, I record a customized hypnotic therapeutic audio specifically made for you to address your issues. Listening to the audio daily will put you into a very relaxed meditative alpha state. It will be a major stress release for you each day. This alone will benefit you greatly. But even better, while you are in that meditative state we’ll also be addressing your specific issues and planting the seeds of behavioral change, new attitudes, new reactions, and new ways of being.

What can I help you with? (Here are some examples.)

Difficult People (Including yourself!)

  • You can change your reactions to anyone and anything.
  • Perhaps you don’t want to react in a certain way to a spouse or need more patience with your kids.
  • Does someone you care about say, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”? Tone of voice trumps words and it reflects your internal state. Your internal state is subject to change upon your notice and together we can give it notice.
  • By mastering your reactions, you also produce a positive change in other people. Whenever you bring out the best in yourself, you bring out the best in those around you.
  • Become more successful with difficult behaviors. There is a “right response” in both attitude and strategy to difficult behaviors such as tank attacks, whining, negativity, etc. Together we’ll program that “right response” in your unconscious so you automatically respond successfully. People you once found difficult, will become easy for you to handle.

Change Habits

  • You can end self-defeating habits that no longer serve you and replace them with new positive habits.

Work or Professional Issues

  • Transform your reactions to become comfortable and confident in a variety of situations such as speaking in front of a group.
  • Someone recently asked me, “…how can I keep from Tank attacking my employees.” No problem, that can quickly change.


  • You can overcome depression, anxiety and even physical symptoms that have not been alleviated by other treatment.
  • Start exercising and think of it as fun.
  • Make dietary changes that support you and enjoy it.
  • Let go of stress and maintain calm in the midst of a storm.

Life by Design

  • I can be your Life by Design partner, helping you clarify your values and goals and move forward confidently. You’ll break through any obstacles in your path whether they relate to belief in yourself, procrastination, or logistical limits.

Other Personal Issues Including Relationship Problems

  • With couples communication counseling, you both can neutralize your triggers, untie your knots, and create communication that works for both of you.

Physical Symptoms

  • Get at the deeper cause behind physical ailments. If you have not had a work up from a Naturopathic physician then I will connect you to someone in your area or a doctor with whom you can work long distance. He/she and I will work together to coordinate treatment addressing both your physical and mental/emotional issues.

Sports Optimization

  • I have worked with amateurs and professionals in various sports to keep themselves in “the zone” and enhance their performance. One high school diver went on to become a champion at an Ivy League school and used his audio before every swim meet.

Sales Optimization

  • Sales people know they have a zone. It’s a state of being when they are really on their game, communication is flowing, and they are having their prospect “get it”. You can get in your sales zone at will.

What is the process?

Each of our phone sessions is 30-50 minutes. When we’re off the phone, I’ll record your customized audio. It will be in MP3 format (or CD upon request) and is typically 22-25 minutes in length. Once a day, you lie down or sit with your eyes closed and listen to the audio. It’s wonderfully relaxing, stress will melt away and in the days and weeks to come, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how you respond differently in new positive ways to old situations.

The number of visits and how often depends on the specifics of what you need. Typically we have a first phone visit, then a quick check-in a few days later to make sure the audio works for you. The second therapeutic visit is 2 weeks after that, then another therapeutic visit in 2-3 weeks. If needed, we have two more visits 1 month apart.

My patients have always been stunned at how easy and effective therapy can be and how quickly they can change.

To Make an Appointment or Questions

When I work with people, they have my full attention and commitment to getting the results they desire. Therefore, I can work with a limited number of people. At this time, I can accept 15 clients (one slot of which is already filled). I’ll keep a waiting list and as I complete with a client I’ll schedule the next person on the list.

This is an investment in yourself and there is no obligation to complete the series. You will know very quickly that you are getting the results you want.

Now is the time to make the transformation you desire. To schedule or for questions please write or call 503-635-4145.

PS: This owl visited my backyard as I sat on the deck and wrote this. It’s only the second time I’ve seen an owl here in 23 years. Perhaps it’s symbolic of your inner wisdom that we can find together to make positive change.

West Linn, OR 2009

They’re Everywhere!!! Generalizations

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

MannequinsHuman beings have something that I call “The Generalization Point”. It seems it only takes two or three experiences before people generalize. If we meet two or three people in a bad mood we say, “Everyone is in a bad mood today.” This is what I call the generalization point.

You can use the Generalization Point on purpose. Whenever you hear yourself say, “I understand.” Follow it with two to three specific statements of what you actually understand. Anyone can say they “understand” without actually understanding anything.

Let’s say a team member says they are overworked. There’s a big difference between just saying, “I understand.”

Verses saying, “I understand you are overworked because it doesn’t seem the workload was downsized along with the workforce. And the demands from our Customers are increasing. Not to mention the seemingly endless stream of meetings.”

In the second example, because of the three statements you made, you hit the other person’s generalization point and he or she will feel completely understood by you.

Hey Dude, Where’s My Sign?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

The hedge you see in the picture to the left is where my presidential lawn sign used to be. Apparently all the lawn signs in our immediate neighborhoods were stolen. Well, not all the lawn signs, only the signs of one particular presidential candidate. Never mind who that was, as it’s not the important issue here.

What is important is the preciousness of our democracy. My father, the survivor of three Nazi concentration camps is fond of telling me that “America is the greatest country in the world” and how fortunate he feels to be here. I agree with him. A democracy based on individual freedoms is quite special since it requires creating a framework that includes everyone with their differing religions, beliefs, and political persuasions, while not letting those beliefs intrude upon the freedoms of others.

To put it a different way, for us to preserve our democracy, each one of us must respect the freedom of expression and rights of people, whom we think have their head where the sun doesn’t shine.

I find myself very disturbed during election time because of the polarization that occurs.  It becomes a war of “us” against “them” with no respect for the opinions of the other side. In reality there are no Red or Blue states. There are only 50 Red, White and Blue states. “United We Stand” does not mean “united we stand against each other”. It means that together with our differences we build something stronger.

Unfortunately a media empire has been created on shows that emphasize and promote polarization. Even shows where supposedly issues are being discussed are really verbal boxing matches. No one is listening to each other and no one is trying to evolve the differing points of view into ideas that work for everyone. The election system has become a battle of marketers whose arsenal is made up of talking points, sound bites, and half-truths about the other candidate. It is not about finding out who people really are, what they stand for, and what their plans are for preserving this light of freedom on the hill that we call the United States.

On an individual level our willingness to listen to the opinions and beliefs of others is our personal responsibility to maintain our democracy. If we can really hear each other and understand the intentions and desires behind our differing points of view, we can manifest ideas that work for everyone. It is my hope in teaching Conscious Communication that I can contribute to your ability to maintain our democracy.

“Democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to an untiring effort.”

“Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

“We preach the virtues of democracy abroad. We must practice its duties here at home.”

“Elections are a good deal like marriages. There’s no accounting for anyone’s taste. Every time we see a bridegroom we wonder why she ever picked him, and it’s the same with public officials.”

A Service Star Shines at a No Star Hotel

Monday, September 29th, 2008

For various travel reasons too lengthy to explain I ended up flying into Amsterdam for some UK seminars. I didn’t realize it was the busiest convention weekend of the year and ended up staying in a “hotel” that was different than any other I have experienced in my 22 years as a road warrior. To call it a “hotel” is really stretching it. I don’t think it had any stars. It was more like the kind of place you go with your college buddies, in fact most of the rooms were dorms. I upgraded to a “triple” room, (which was three skinny beds in a dorm room), but it had it’s own toilet. That toilet was in the hall and was no bigger than an airplane bathroom, but hey, it was mine! 😉 I also had a “desk” and even a chair. Of course there wasn’t enough room to pull the chair out from the desk so I never got to sit in it. No air conditioning or heat,  just a good old-fashioned window for ventilation. And it was five flights of narrow winding stairs up to my concierge floor triple room with deluxe external toilet facilities.

But there was something about this hotel that was as good if not better than 5 star Ritz Carltons and other resorts where I have performed programs. That was Sarah at the front desk. She was so genuinely welcoming and helpful. From hand writing the train schedule to the wonderful greeting she gave me every time I entered or left. No matter how busy she was she had time to make eye contact and smile. I have stood at the front desk of 5 star hotels waiting for two front desk employees to finish discussing some important piece of business that must have been related to national security because it obviously was more important to them than the Customer. But for Sarah nothing was more important than greeting each guest immediately, even when in the middle of handling multiple requests at the front desk from six college students with backpacks, who turned and looked at me with an expression like, “Dude, Dad’s here!”

In my Customer service programs, I ask participants to consider a great service experience and to extract the essence which they can apply to their work. Here’s my take on the experience of Sarah.

#1 People make the difference even when the circumstances are not ideal.
#2 The quickness of her acknowledging me had an impact. It seemed she understood there was a “moment of truth” and timing was everything. 
#3 Sarah was genuine. She was not just trained to “use the guests name” and “smile”. She was in a genuine state of “welcoming” and it effused from every aspect of her being. 
#4 She was 100% consistent over the three days I was there.

So what can I learn from this? People make the service difference with speed, genuineness and consistency.

Thank you Sarah for making this trip special. You’re a service star! :-)