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Managing Your Mind: Relationships

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Today we present part three of our Managing Your Mind series (check out parts one and two). Today’s excerpt, kindly provided by authors Gillian Butler, Ph. D., and Tony Hope, M.D., provides some very practical relationship advice. Study up!

Saying no nicely

If someone asks you to do something that you do not wish to do, then all you need to do is say no. You are under no obligation to explain yourself. You have as much right to say no and leave it at that as the next person. However, many people find it easier to say no if they know how to do so without provoking pressure, persuasion, confrontation, or dismay. Some people make it hard for us by refusing to take no for an answer. Strategies for saying no nicely can, therefore, contribute to your sense of fair play.

Here are a few ways of making a refusal easier on you and easier for someone else to accept.

  • Make it clear that you appreciate being asked: “Thank you for asking me”; “That’s nice of you”; “I’m really please to be asked.”
  • Acknowledge the other person’s priorities and wishes: “I know that it is important”; “I understand the difficulty, but…”
  • Give a clear reason for your refusal: “I am already committed to doing…”; “It would take more time than I’ve got”; “I don’t know how”
  • Help the other person to resolve their difficulty. One way of doing this is to make a suggestion – for example, suggesting someone else they can ask instead. The aim is to find the balance between saying (or thinking) “This is not my problem” and taking on other people’s problems as if they were your own.

Taken from chapter 13, page 129

Relationships as Systems

Some rules for fair fighting

  1. Stick to the concern of the moment. Don’t chuck in the kitchen sink and any old “unfinished business.”
  2. Don’t overgeneralize. “You always complain … or never listen to what I say.”
  3. No name-calling. “You’re stupid… completely heartless … domineering … “childish …”
  4. Use the cooler. Take a break from a fight. Count to ten before you answer back. Go somewhere you can calm down. Explain what you are doing – do not just storm out.
  5. Ask: What’s my part in this? Start your sentences with “I”: “I’m furious,” not “You make me wild.”
  6. Avoid going for the jugular. Hitting where it hurts mostly just adds to the pain, hurt, and anger. It makes it harder to forgive and forget.
  7. Do not use threats, verbal or physical. They lead to escalation not resolution.

Chapter 15, page 152

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