Last week I was speaking in front of a group of delightful, sane, professional women, and I asked precisely those questions.
To my relief, the vast majority nodded.
Loved ones can be annoying – exceedingly annoying – at times. They have this unfortunate habit of having their own opinion, and their own way of doing things.
Obviously, if it conflicts with yours it must be wrong.
But do they listen?
Of course not. And if they’re not listening, then… that’s communication down the pan, right?
That’s often how it turns out in reality. The question is: does it have to be that way?
I’d love to say that I’m a saint and I’ve never suffered with this kind of problem. Sadly, it just wouldn’t be true. I was brought up in a house where someone was always raring to light the blue touchpaper. For the person creating the explosion it is, after all, one way of ‘letting off steam’. It’s just not a very good one.
Still, you have to do something with a head of steam .
For me, being a coach is always about walking the talk, doing my best to live the message I share with my clients. Otherwise there wouldn’t be much point. I don’t believe that a message is a whole lot of good unless you do your best to embody it.
So, what to do when loved ones irritate you?
Asking why they are doing what they’re doing, instead of what you think they should be doing, will only inflame the situation. Have you ever noticed how righteous anger feels?
What’s required is for someone to think ‘outside the box’ of anger.
Since you can’t rely on that tiresome other person to do that, chances are you’re going to have to step up to the plate, yourself.
Ultimately, that’s the irritating thing about relationships; they always require you to step up to the plate of being the best, most mature version of yourself that you can be. This can be exceedingly annoying if you feel like throwing a temper tantrum of some sort.
Since there is no earthly point in asking them, “Why can’t you just…?” you might as well do something different.
At least, if you ask yourself as sensible question you might get a sensible answer.
In fact, the simple rule with questions that most people seem to overlook most of the time is this: the better the question you ask, the better the answer you get. This is something I go into at length in my book.
So, what would be a really good question to ask yourself to defuse an irritating situation?
How about, “What is that person’s best intention in the situation?”
What makes it such a great question is that it requires a whole different subtext – about the other person having a best intention instead of just doing it to drive you crazy.
Chances are, if you really focus on the answer to that question, it will help shift your thinking to a more useful approach. Unless that person is a Crazy-maker – in which case they’re not worth arguing with in the first place.
Loved ones may irritate you. That’s a given.
It’s what you do with that irritation that matters.