Try using words that make people smile when you speak. For instance, when my over questioning 5 year old asks me the eternal question, "Why?" I have stopped saying, "Because" and now say, "Because I love you." It may be a silly answer but he smiles whenever I say it. When my children ask what we are having for dinner I used to say, "Food." because I knew if I told them what we were having they would start whining before they had even tasted it. Now when they ask I say, "We are having something special that big kids love to eat. But it has a magic spell on it that makes it only taste good if you try it two times." This makes them laugh at me but also makes them interested rather than fearful. I'm presently working very hard on changing my vocabulary and I must say that the results have all been good. I am also, slowly, learning the very high value of giving myself time to think before I respond to people. I'm hoping that with enough practice and verbal/mental exercise I can train my mouth to keep time with my heart so that I can reduce the amount of damage my quick tongue can produce.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Often times the difference between being (feeling like) a good mom vs. a bad mom, or being a happy person vs. a not-so-fun-to-be-with person is all in our vocabulary. Below are some common sayings that, if twisted just a bit, can really determine how we feel about ourselves and how other people perceive us.
"I'm so tired" This phrase tells people that you are weary, inconvenienced, unhappy, and want to be left alone (and so most people will leave you alone). A better thing to say could be: "You know, right now I really need to enjoy some snuggly sit down time." This tells people that you know when your body needs to rest but that you are going to enjoy it. It also hints that you are open to having a guest come and sit/snuggle with you. Or you could say, "I'm taking a break for a bit to reenergize." This way you aren't focusing on your fatigue and sounding like a martyr but rather like a woman who is usually full of energy, knows her limits, and is taking care of herself so that she can carry on with work that she values.
"You're going to have to wait just a minute." or "Just a second." Most people, especially children, know that this means you might get back to them in 1/2 hour or more. That is, IF you even remember them later. It also makes people feel like you value whatever you are doing more than you value them. Often the thing the other person needs won't take more than a minute anyway. A better thing to say when you are being interrupted for a favor is, "Let me set this aside for just a minute and see what I can do." This lets the person know that you are more than willing to help, but also that you have work that you need to get back to in a short amount of time. Everyone wins here and the relationship between you and the person you are helping will greatly benefit. Besides, you will want them to return the favor when you need to interupt them for some quick help.
"What were you thinking?" No one likes to hear this question. It is rude and the answer is obvious... they weren't. I know I don't want someone asking me this when I eat a doughnut while dieting, or when I forget to return a rental video on time, and I've seen my kids cringe every time I've asked it of them. A better approach is to say, "I'm not sure what you were thinking when you did this but lets see if we can fix it." This shows that even though you may not understand their motives you are willing to help them fix it, making you a source of support, instead of an accuser to run away from.
"I am not in the mood." or "I'm not in the mood for this!" This proclaims that you are a moody person because you depend on moods to govern your actions. And how are the people around you supposed to understand you or help you if they have to guess what mood you're in or what mood you need to be in to handle the situation? Help everyone out by being more specific and give detailed responses like: "I need you to know that my head is hurting and so when you guys fight it makes me hurt. Would you please stop fighting until my head feels better?" Or, "In order for me to fully enjoy (insert activity here) I need to feel like the house is in order. Would you like to help me finish the dishes so that I can play with you?" Or, "I love you and want to be with you but I think I need to cool of and relax for just a minute before I do. If you could care for the kids while a slip away for a hot bath I would come out a new woman and better able to return your affection." When you are detailed you switch from being "moody" to being a normal person who has needs just like everyone else. People can understand that and are more likely to help (I only promise "likely") if they know exactly what you need.
"Not right now." If this is all you say you might as well say, "Not ever." This is another time when some specifics could really help. Let them know why "right now" is a "right now" and then tell them how they will be able to tell when "right now" is over. So, you could say something along the lines of, "If you wait until I'm done changing this diaper you will get a better answer." Kids really appreciate this one, "When I'm upset at one of your siblings it is always a good idea to wait until I'm not frowning anymore before you talk to me." Husbands appreciate, "I'm afraid that if we try to deal with this at this moment I will say things to you that you don't deserve. Can you wait until I approach you with it, or at least until tomorrow so that I have time to deal with it rationally?"
"How many times have I told you...?" Obviously it really doesn't matter how many times you've told them so this is a pointless question. Take a deep breath and try something new. You can present it this way, "I know I've told you... several times but I don't think my telling you is helping. What is something we can do to help you remember so that you don't get in trouble?" Kids, and anyone else, need to know that you don't want to get mad at them. Helping find a workable solution is so much better than making them feel stupid for not remembering. Try something nonverbal to help them. Make signs, roll play the situation, use a fun code word or phrase that will help them remember, walk them through it every time until it becomes a habit, or remove the means of offense.
Some other great vocab changes you can make are:
Say, "I love you" instead of just "goodbye" or "goodnight."
Try saying "Yes!" more often than you say "No" or "We'll see."
Say, "Let's improve it by..." rather than "It's not right."