Let’s say you’ve asked your husband to take out the garbage, or your kid to clean up his room. Or you’ve asked your boss for information you need to take a project to the next step. Or something has happened at a community organization that offends or upsets you, and you speak up.
How do you ensure that your choice of words clearly conveys your message without annoying the other person? And how do you know you’re not asking too much? If you don’t get the results you want, how soon is it appropriate to restate your request?
When do requests for action cross the line of communicating your needs and wants in any relationship to become nagging? When do you become a pushover instead of a person who stands up for herself?
Of course the answers are subjective and depend on the situation at hand and people involved. Which means we are all actors and authors. Every day of our lives, we take on different roles depending on who else is in the room. We are often afraid to epxress how we really feel, because we don’t want to offend. We often bite back things we want to say, and instead write scripts that will mollify our bossess or spouses. On the other hand, sometimes when caught up in the moment, we say things we don’t really mean in tones and volume levels we may later regret.
Or like the contestants on American Idol who can’t believe it when Simon says they can’t sing, we get defensive. And we take objective issues and make them personal. Yet we deserve to express ourselves and make our thoughts and needs known.
Keys to success include the wording and timing. So consider the old adage: think before you speak. Try to look at both sides. And especially, think about that e-mail before you hit ‘send.’