|Photo Credit: Ian Schneider|
1. Pause and reflect: When Tom is running late, my time can best be served by pausing rather than fuming. If I greet him with "What took you so long?" we will be off to the races. Changing my focus to on Tom: "Gee, I'm glad you're home! It must've been a hard day." serves to lower Tom's defenses. He is less likely to see me as critical or judgmental.
2. Ask Permission: Pausing and reflecting enables me (Tom) to figure out whose needs I am attempting to meet -- mine or Mary Frances'. If I am truly focused on MF and helping her, I need to ask permission: "Would you mind some feedback?" "Is now a good time?" If I Ass-u-me Mary Frances wants feedback I could get my "A _ _" tromped from the get-go.
3. Be Positive: I (Tom) want to be kind, compassionate and encouraging. For example, if Mary Frances is stressed because she has taken on too much, I might offer to help. "I know you have a lot on your plate, perhaps we can work on this together?" is much more effective than "This week is crazy! What were you thinking?" I turn my intent and my heart to 'helping' her. By choosing to help avert a crisis, she knows I am on her side and a later conversation about this topic is more likely to be productive.
4. Focus on the Present Situation: Absolutes like: "You always" and "You never" are simply not true. So is bring in a 3rd party like "You are just like your mother!" Both are like gasoline on a fire. Keeping my focus on Tom's fatigue when he arrives home late keeps me from blame and criticism. My gentleness builds trust and sets the table for a conversation on a sensitive topic like time management when we are both rested and at our best.
5. Keep it Practical: Keeping my (MF) focus on specific ways to move forward, like prioritizing, simplifying, and asking for help are key. The key here is conversation and not a lecture. Ask questions. How can I help? Is there something I can do for you before I leave the office? Recognizing our limitations and pulling to our strengths can turn criticism into collaboration. Often the little things make the greatest difference and show we care.
|Photo Credit: Azrul Aziz|