After Lisa and I read the super-amazing little paperback, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk”, we changed the way we communicated, not only with your kids, but with each other and other people. It revolutionized our speech.
But more than that, it caused us to analyze how we thought. It made us step back to look at how we imposed our expectations upon others.
Here’s an example. Your kid’s room is dirty. So you say to it (I say “it” just to add to the humor because they sometimes seem like its.), “Clean up your room! Now!” What you’ve communicated is that you can’t believe a human being would willingly live in such a den of iniquitous filth. You know you wouldn’t. You’re the boss. Your kid must live according to your standards of cleanliness and orderliness. Plus, your kid should drop what it’s doing and attend to your command immediately. Not only that, you’re the boss and your kid should just do as it’s told whether it likes it or not no questions asked.
But your kid’s thinking, “What’s wrong with my room? It’s my room, not yours. I like the disheveled look. I like my room to look lived in. I have way more important things to do, like catch up with my friends on Facebook. This 140 square feet is mine and I can do with it what I want. Who made you the boss of me? I’m old enough now to be spoken to as a human being and even an almost adult. Why are you snapping at me? Why are you being such a bitch? I was going to ask you if you wanted to take me out for lunch. Well, forget that!” Etcetera.
Rather, when you walk by the room, you could say, “You know, I personally find it challenging to look at your room. If your door was closed, just for me, that would be cool.” You haven’t barked a command. You haven’t imposed your expectations. You haven’t imputed your standards. You’ve expressed your feelings. You’ve communicated a simple fact: “For my peace of mind it would help to keep the door closed. That is your space and I respect it. The way you keep your room is up to you.”
Here’s a super-easy example. Your kid slams the door. Instead of saying, “DON’T SLAM THE DOOR!”, which usually gets your kids eyes rolling and sighs forthcoming. Instead, say, “You slammed the door.” Usually, they will say, “Oops! Sorry!”
So for this Saturday’s spiritual exercise, try not to issue commands or impose your expectations or impute your ideas upon others. Just make statements. Try it. I promise that it won’t be long before it becomes your normal mode of speech.