Updated: Aug 2, 2020
…or the day for that matter.
Criticisms, complaints, and maybe even the occasional eye-roll are a fascinating part of our vernacular. We are trained very early on that these are necessary forms of communication.
Straight out of the womb, we begin our complaining with a howl that expresses, "Its cold out here!" and "While you're at it, turn down those lights!"
We begin with the only way we know…by whining and fussing until we get what we want, or don't get what we want.
We may not even realize that we're doing it or that there are other options, so we continue to practice the vernacular that is both familiar and occasionally effective:
"You're gone all the time."
"You don't know anything about the kids."
"A little appreciation would be nice."
"It feels like I can't do anything right."
What if we were to ask ourselves, "What do I need emotionally or practically for myself..., from my partner/boss/kiddo/friend/parent at this moment?" and "How can I ask for it in a way that they might hear me and want to meet my need?"
It might begin with something like this:
"I miss spending time with you, would you like to watch a movie together or go out to dinner (tonight, tomorrow, next Friday)?"
"I'm feeling overwhelmed with the kid's schedule. Could we please think together about how we can share the planning, preparation, and action steps for their daily activities/homework?"
"I'm feeling drained. It would feel energizing to know the ways you appreciate me. Would you mind taking a moment to share some of the things you see me doing for you and our family that you find helpful?"
"I feel hurt and defensive hearing all of the ways I'm coming up short - are there things that you see me doing well in our relationship? Either way, would you please speak gently with me about what you need or want so that we can work through this together?
This unfamiliar way of communicating might feel a little clunky initially and will likely take patience with yourself and toward those with whom you are practicing. Still, over time you're more likely to yield the results you desire.
There is potential for a win/win. You will likely feel better about how you are communicating with others, and there is a possibility that you just might influence others to communicate more gently and more effectively with you.