We know that things in life are going to happen. We cannot control events like traffic, weather, presidential elections and even snarky comments from our family. What we can control, however, is our response. We can think about or respond to the situation with reactions like:
- “Oh yuck, rain again today.”
- “How stupid can you get!?!”
- ‘What an idiot.”
- “They are so _________ (fill in the blank with wrong, lazy, careless, rude, immoral, thoughtless).”
When we react with a negative response, it can often make matters worse and even damage a relationship.
Here is a story someone recently shared with me. A teenage daughter was late arriving home. My friend, the teen’s mom, was waiting up and watching television, wondering what could be the cause of her daughter’s tardiness. When the teen finally entered the house (45 minutes late), her mom’s words were: “You are 45 minutes late and I was getting really worried. What happened?” The teen relayed that she was at her friend’s house next door and her friend’s boyfriend had just broken up with her. She was very upset and the teen stayed with her friend until she calmed down. The teen ended by saying, “Is that what you want me to do, Mom? Be a good friend?” Her mom replied, “Of course, but I was worried about you. Next time, please take a minute and text me to let me know you are OK and what’s happening, so I don’t think the worst.”
When we get curious, it can open the dialog. When we are critical, it can shut it down. I will admit this takes practice and requires conscious thought about situations. The good news is that we move from critical to curious and have productive conversations instead of tears and slammed doors. Try being curious and let me know what happens.