I’m really good at making my loved ones wrong. One of my three daughters (who shall remain nameless) does not have the same love of orderliness that I possess. We butt heads on the state of her bedroom. I don’t even have to say anything when I walk into her room; the look on my face makes her wrong.
Now, there are times when we need to point out a mistake or ask for a change in behavior. Often, the behaviors are more serious than a lack of tidiness.
How do we do this without making others wrong?
Peter Crone suggests that awareness of our tendency to make others wrong can make a big difference.
In addition to awareness, or catching myself in the act, here are some approaches that I am going to try as alternatives to making my loved ones wrong:
Begin with honest appreciation and express gratitude for each tiny step toward the ideal.
Make a request, not a complaint. Complaining is unhelpful self-expression; it’s unproductive. It does not communicate what we want and makes it less likely that we get what we want because it puts others on the defensive.
Ask the other person, “What can I do to help you (do what I requested)?”
Empathize. Ask yourself, “How would I like to be approached about this?”
Take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings without blaming another. Instead of, “This mess is making me anxious,” or “You’re driving me crazy with this,” I can say, “ I make myself feel anxious when I walk into your room,” or “I am making the state of your room mean that you don’t care about our house or the things we have provided for you.”
Focus on the other person’s behavior (leaving clothes on the floor) rather than character (messy person).
Be curious instead of critical. Ask questions. Gain understanding.
Make the behavior seem easy to change, encourage.
So there are a few alternatives to making others wrong (so we can love them for who they are).
Let me know how it goes!
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Don’t suffer more than you have to.