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Why haven't you taken the trash out? Pick up your dirty socks! Are you really eating another slice of cake?
Nagging is unpleasant for everyone. Hassling others to get your needs met can be just as frustrating as getting hassled. Though nagging is a natural reaction to bothersome situations, it is rarely an effective communication technique.
Eliminating nagging altogether can be an extremely difficult undertaking. By making a few small changes, however, you can significantly improve your ability to express your desires in a positive and productive manner.
For Those Who Nag:
1.) Leave the past in the past.
When addressing a current issue, do your best to stick to the concern at hand. Though you may resent your partner for handling similar situations poorly in the past, dredging up old conflicts will only trigger defensive responses. Address your current complaint without contextualizing it, even if your partner "always" does it.
2.) Figure out what you truly want to say.
Before complaining about a particular behavior, take a moment to reflect on what you're really feeling. We often nag our partners because we're feeling disrespected, ignored, stressed, or unsupported. Getting angry about dirty laundry may just be misdirected pain and frustration from feeling emotionally neglected, for instance. If you can clearly identify what you're really feeling, sit down and have a serious conversation with your partner. Tell her, for instance, that failing to call when she's late for dinner makes you feel as though she doesn't value the time you spend together. Acknowledge that this behavior makes you feel like an afterthought, triggering feelings of abandonment and loneliness. If you can honestly acknowledge what you're feeling, rather than attacking your partner for their behavior, you can resolve your conflicts in a more loving way.
3.) Let go of the little things.
One of the best ways to eliminate nagging is to pare down the number of issues you raise with your partner. This, however, is far easier said than done, and requires a considerable amount of patience and self-reflection. Pick your battles and bite your tongue regarding other, lesser issues.
If conflict constantly revolves around a particular chore, it may be most effective to simply complete the task yourself. Though doing so is never fun, you can at least ensure that the job meets your standards and is completed according to your own personal timetable.
4.) Phrase your requests in a kind and thoughtful manner.
If you really need to raise an issue with your partner, be sure to do so in a compassionate manner. Instead of rolling your eyes and making a passive-aggressive remark when your partner eats a whole bag of chips, bring the subject up later that evening. "Hey, I've noticed that you seem to struggle a bit with snacking when you get home from work. Would you like me to prepare some healthier snacks so you can have something waiting for you when you get home?" Though bringing this issue up may still be perceived as nagging, you've addressed your concern in a way that is less likely to trigger feelings of anger and shame. By approaching the issue from a place of genuine concern, you'll be more likely to evoke a positive response.
For Those Being Nagged
1.) Utilize active listening skills.
When your partner raises a concern with you, put your phone aside and really listen. Even if you feel attacked, strive to keep your cool. If possible, read between the lines. Is your partner really angry about the dishes? Perhaps she's hurt that you rarely express gratitude for her housekeeping efforts. When you address your partner's concerns, express your intentions with honesty. If you don't really plan on mowing the lawn this weekend, admit it. Instead of stalling, make a realistic commitment to completing the task or improving your behavior. By consistently sticking to your word, your partner will be much more likely to believe your promises.
If, rather, you don't see eye to eye on the importance of a given issue, you should commit to having a real conversation regarding the subject. If neither of you wants to mow the lawn, for instance, hiring a local mower may be the solution to your problem. By listening and actively resolving such conflicts, you can make your partner feel heard and understood, reducing nagging behaviors.
2.) Address concerns in a timely manner.
It may seem like common sense, but addressing your partner's concerns the first time they're raised is likely to reduce the amount of nagging you might otherwise endure. By doing so, you'll get the issue resolved quickly, eliminating the source of stress and boosting feelings of goodwill between you and your partner. By working together and addressing one another's needs, your relationship will thrive.
3.) Apologize when you're in the wrong.
If you've let your partner down, offer a sincere apology. Let your partner know that you appreciate everything they do for you. Promptly resolve the issue raised by your partner to show them that you respect their needs. By apologizing for your mistakes and taking action, your partner will feel more respected and better cared for.
Being mindful of our words and actions is at the core of eliminating nagging behaviors. By voicing our concerns thoughtfully and truly speaking from the heart, we are more likely to get what we want. By listening to our partners and taking swift action to resolve conflicts, we can reduce the amount of nagging that is likely to come our way. Though we might always struggle to combat procrastination and annoyance, speaking and acting in thoughtful ways can significantly improve the health of our relationships.
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