Behaviors Vs. Words: Do You Even Know You're Nagging?

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Effective Communication: Do Even Know You're Nagging?
Nag Relief 101: is it time for a refresher course?

We all have memories of nagging: our parents may have constantly pestered us to do chores, finish homework and play nicely with our siblings. Because of this, we may have promised ourselves that we'll never engage in nagging behavior with our adult relationships. But take a closer look at your interactions: are you pesetering without even realizing it?

Do you nag? Does your significant other avoid the next furrowed brow or deep sigh as you notice what you had asked for has not yet been done? Is he well trained to read your body language when you are less than pleased or when your expectations have not been met? It can be nice to know that someone is totally in tune with your opinions and needs, but has your partner grown wary of your demanding needs?

Just as with children, scolding (or nagging) seems to bring on the need for more scolding. It becomes a vicious, resentful circle. Our relationships definitely don't flourish when our perceived needs are not being met, yet the resentment that builds from constant nagging separates us from the very people we love the most. If you're constantly nagging your spouse, although he or she is not a child, he may behave like one, rebelling against nagging by doing the opposite of what you request. Alternately, he, like a child, will work to please you when he's feeling appreciated, understood and loved. It's a no-brainer: if you feel appreciated, you are motivated to engage in behavior that elicites that response.

So how do you drop the nag? First, start with yourself. Studies show that what bothers us about any anything is our thinking — not so much the circumstance on which we are focused. How we approach a circumstance can change with our moods. Notice your overall feeling and approach toward a situation. If you're feeling positive, you're much less likely to nag about a small annoyance than when you're annoyed or irritated in general. When we are in a bad mood we tend to want to control the tiny details in our lives, and become hyper-focus on those things. This makes our partner feel like they're constantly under attack, or being watched under a microscope. 

Next, don't have a "conversation" when you are in negative mood. Having a discussion when you're upset is likely to devolve into a nag-fest in which you are bringing up not just one pet peeve, but everything you can think of that irritates you. Instead, stick with the specific thing that has you miffed. The best thing is to wait until your mood improves and have the discussion in a focused, calm manner. 

Finally, remember that this is a person you love and cherish. Focus on what is working in the relationship and be willing to let the small stuff go. Look at the bigger picture; the relationship is worth it.

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Bonnie Olson

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Bonnie Olson, Certified Life Coach

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