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How To Have Nonviolent Communication With Stubborn Family Members

How To Have Nonviolent Communication With Stubborn Family Members

The funny thing about family is, one minute it seems impossible to coexist peacefully, but in the next, we couldn’t imagine life without them! Sibling rivalry can get particularly intense, even to the point of communication breakdowns. Ironically, these emotion fueled conflicts are usually waged out of genuine care for one another!

Often there’s a particularly stubborn family member who always finds themselves at the point of conflict. Even with your best efforts, every approach seems to end in an argument with them. In these cases, you need to call upon these smart communication strategies for dealing with stubborn people.

1. Don’t Escalate Situations By Trying to Prove Your Point

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    Don’t fall into the trap of proving your point against all odds. You’ll find yourself getting completely sucked in and slugging it out until they appreciate your point. This simply isn’t effective with stubborn people because they are often reacting through emotion instead of logic.

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    Even if what you’re presenting is a logical case, their emotions can blind them to seeing the reason. As a result, the argument goes nowhere and builds frustration. This isn’t good for either of you, especially if one of you reaches boiling point!

    With this fact in mind, you should adopt a smarter communication strategy. Bury your ego and focus on soothing their emotions first. Once you’ve calmed them down, they’ll be far more receptive, possibly even coming around without much persuasion.

    2. Find Common Ground to Relieve Rising Tension

    Studies have shown that our stubborn tendencies are brought to the surface, the more people disagree with us. So when you start to feel that uneasy feeling and communication is about to take a turn for the worst, employ this next strategy.

    Striking common ground is the fastest way to diffuse the situation, preventing the full force of stubborn behavior from taking hold. You don’t necessarily have to bend against your own will. Just switching the focus point or activity to something you can both appreciate. You’ll soon notice the tension in the air evaporating.

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    3. Don’t Get Locked Into a Power Struggle

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      If we have to deal with stubborn people, getting caught in a power struggle makes the whole situation worse. Especially when it comes to family members, hierarchy and position can often add fuel to the fire. Continued escalation just becomes a tug of war, the harder you pull, the harder they pull too!

      Typically, stubborn people are more aware of the hierarchy and they will use it to bolster their side of the argument. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself in an “I’m the parent/oldest so I’m right” kind of situation. This is very counterproductive, you should aim to diffuse situations before reaching this.

      4. Be Completely Honest, Don’t Attack or Blame

      If an argument ensues, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and use tactics such as blame or attacks on character. At this point, constructive communications will become impossible! Instead, you should stick with honesty by expressing your true feelings (using “I”). Speaking from a genuine place is going to be the most effective way to bypass their stubborn nature.

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      Let’s say your brother smokes and you desperately want him to stop. Remaining calm and speaking sincerely will get you the furthest. Explain exactly why you want him to stop and how it makes you feel, as opposed to simply stating it’s terrible and dirty!

      5. Speak, Stop and Listen, Ask Questions

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        It’s easier said than done, but this is the best way to deal with stubborn people. After honestly stated your qualm, sit back and listen while taking mental note of all their points. The mere act of showing your willingness to listen and understand may even dissolve their stubborn behavior.

        What’s more, you can then carefully address each point in a calm logical manner. Once you’ve shown that you have taken their side of the argument onboard, they will be more receptive to hearing yours.

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        6. If All Else Fails, Let Them Cool Off

        Sometimes we reach a certain point, then the best thing we can do is to give stubborn people time and space to cool off. If we continue to harp on, it falls upon deaf ears as they continue to build their resistance.

        If you have employed these strategies correctly, this provides a chance for them to mull it over. Most of the time, they will come back to you, sometimes they even apologize for their stubborn behavior. If you notice this as a regular cycle, you may just have to accept that’s just how they are!

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        Last Updated on August 4, 2020

        The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

        The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

        No!

        It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

        But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

        What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

        But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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        1. Value Your Time

        Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

        2. Know Your Priorities

        Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

        For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

        3. Practice Saying No

        Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

        4. Don’t Apologize

        A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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        5. Stop Being Nice

        Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

        Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

        6. Say No to Your Boss

        Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

        But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

        7. Pre-Empting

        It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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        “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

        8. Get Back to You

        Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

        “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

        At least you gave it some consideration.

        9. Maybe Later

        If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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        “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

        Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

        10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

        This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

        Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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        Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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