Reminder: My topic every day for the month of JUNE is “stressful relationships”— Please go to askevelynbrooks.com and tell me what your biggest stress is, especially if it’s related to a relationship (“relationship” can mean your marriage, dating, friendship, boss or coworker, your kids, family members, neighbor, etc.). I’ll do my best to answer your questions here in a post! (And don’t worry, it’s confidential, so I won’t reference your name or email address.)
When a relationship is tense, it can be really awkward to have any kind of decent communication. You’re probably hypervigilant around the other person, noticing everything they do and trying to “read” their current mood It’s exhausting! And extremely stressful. You end up holding back things you want to discuss, out of fear that it will lead to an argument or bitter words.
(Note: earlier this week I talked about bad moods going viral- click to see the post if you missed it).
Here’s how to speak up and ask for what you need and also for what you want:
- Be direct. If you need to take some time to clarify what you want to say, then jot down some notes for yourself and think it through. Don’t get in the habit of just blurting out a long rambling request filled with apologies for bothering the other person. You have the right to speak. You have the right to make requests in any kind of relationship. You have a right to be treated with respect when you do both of those things. But do your part by coming to the point.
- KISS — You’ve probably heard that the KISS acronym means “Keep It Simple, Stupid!” but I like my own version… Keep It Short & Sweet. Okay, wait a minute, I now see that with the addition of “and” the acronym would be pronounced “kisas” and that definitely is not what I’m talking about — you’re not going to kiss a$$. You’re going to be adult about this and put yourself on equal footing with the other person, even if it is your boss or someone in authority. Be polite, but say what’s on your mind in a concise manner. So let’s say KISS = Keep It Short, Sweetie!
- If you need the other person to take an action, be very clear what you want them to do and when you want them to do it. If there’s a deadline in a few days, then say that you will follow up with a reminder the day before (and then do that step, too). For example, if you are inviting your spouse to a ticketed event that you really want to attend and you know they aren’t a big fan of the opera, or the country band or whatever the event might be, give the pertinent information, say you would love them to go with you but you need to know by X date/time in order to get the tickets. And if they say no right on the spot, simply thank them and say you’ll find a friend to go with you. Do NOT say “Oh, then I guess we’re not going.” You have the right to make plans for something on your own.
- After you’re through talking, thank the other person for listening. This is not groveling, it is teaching them that you are a respectful person, and that they need to treat YOU with respect, too. It helps set healthy boundaries.
your happiness guru,