Saturday, January 5, 2013

#5—Politely Address an Irritation Before It Becomes a Problem

Blue because you don't know what to do?

26 Expressions of Love and Kindness Plus 1
#5— Politely address an irritation before it becomes a problem

            It seems that families are either touched by abrasive, in-your-face talk or quiet, seething, unspoken resentment.  Consider a balance of these two extremes as a way to express love and kindness in a family.

            Most people want to avoid confrontation.  Yet, which of the following is less confrontational? 

            1.  Expressing a concern or irritation in its early stages while you still have self-control of your temper or

            2.  Waiting until you get to the point that you cannot take it anymore and you cannot stop reciting all your complaints long enough to listen to the other person (or you get so upset with someone that you vow never to talk to or do anything with that person again without telling him or her why you are no longer a friend)

            On paper, the first way should sound like the better choice.  In practice, however, too many people choose the second method, and they do it in the name of "kindness."  They think saying "nothing" is more kind than saying something that might make someone else uncomfortable.

            Think of it this way.  If you say "nothing" to others, what are you thinking every time they repeat the "offense" that they do not realize is offensive?  Are they bad thoughts?  Does your anger grow each time?  Do you start expecting them to figure out what they are doing wrong even though you have not told them?  (such as, "Can't he figure out by now that I can't stand it when he does that?"  "Why does she keep doing that when it irritates me so?")  Are these expectations fair?

            For example, during this past year, as a result of some volunteer work I do, I had to intervene or help with the beginnings of problems.  One situation involved the behavior of a little girl.  Since she was still in the beginning stages of learning appropriate behavior and responses to the children around her and the adult leading fun time, it was much easier to talk briefly with the mom (and grandma) about what we could do to make her time in the class more enjoyable for everyone.  Letting everyone understand expectations early was much easier than waiting until she had established a pattern of verbal and physical misconduct that would be difficult to change or waiting until she had been a problem so long that her leader had run out of patience and tolerance with having her in class.  In short, a small irritation that was quickly heading towards a big problem was stopped and re-routed so that everyone involved could stay on friendly terms and enjoy (rather than dread) seeing each other.

            The key to early intervention is to approach everyone involved with love and kindness, showing you care enough to maintain a good relationship.  This approach touches both families and non-family members in a way that makes relationships stronger for the long haul.

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