We each have a lot to be grateful for and this week, Thanksgiving here in the U.S., gives most Americans an opportunity to give thanks and then, to binge-eat. It’s a strange tradition that either brings families together or makes them want to cringe and hide out. You can admit that some people in your family treat you in ways you can’t understand. You might also admit that you find yourself falling into patterns with family members that might actually cause them to respond in ways that you wish they wouldn’t. But they do. And they do because, well, you started it.
In fact, your relationship is up to you. All of it. What you stand for, what you agree to, how you engage with others, how you let them engage with you.
A young woman just reached out to me to ask about how to respond to someone who is always right or, really, always needs to be right. We encounter these people at family gatherings. It’s harder when that’s the person you’re living with. I’ll give you some tips and tricks in this week’s Wednesdays With Wayne. Thanks for being here!
First, let’s revisit my top Watch Word. This is the #1 word from my list of 10 to eliminate that really will help your holidays (and each of your relationships at work and at home) get better. The full list can be found in my first book, Choosing Your Power, which seems to be getting a strong resurgence of interest.
Unless you’re reverse engineering a problem or you are doing some deep reflective work, and let’s face it - neither of these is happening at a family gathering, the first word to eliminate is the word WHY. This is nothing sort of blameful. “Why are you late?” “Why did you bring that dish?” “Why don’t you have a better job?” “Why are there dishes in the sink?”
Yecch! These questions don’t actually get you the response you want. The “Why” question in this case, is meant to demean. How fun is that in a family or social engagement? If you’re the culprit, stop it. If you’re on the receiving end, rewrite it!
A “why” question begs a “because” response, meaning the other person has to defend themselves. You get a child-like response of someone who is seeking the right answer to gain approval or someone who doesn’t give a poop, acting like a resentful teenager. Either way, you’re into a fight.
Yep – the “why” question causes a fight.
If you’re asking that, recognize that the REAL answer you seek is beyond the blame. Make a statement or ask a different question: “Awww, I’m disappointed you’re late. Are you okay?” “Oh, you brought that dish. What can we do to better coordinate in the future?” “Wow, it seems like you’ve been struggling to get a different job for a while. How is your current job treating you?” “Hey, there are dishes in the sink. Since we’re all using them, what can we do to keep the sink clear?”
Asking questions that offer more engagement and keep an outcome in mind is much better than setting up the game of blame & shame.
And if you’re on the receiving end of the “why” interrogation? Well, I’ve actually asked people to reframe their question. “Why are you….?” My response, “I’m not sure what you’re really asking. Could you ask that differently using a what or a how question?” Yes, my response teaches the other person how to treat me!!!
And that’s what you substitute for the “Why” question – Use What or How.
“What are you hoping for?” “How has that affected you?” “What do you like best about…” So much better than “Why?”.
Yes, use “Why” when you’re trying to figure out how a condition got a certain way. If you are reverse engineering a problem, great. Be sure to use it inclusively and not as a blame-storm. And if you’re exploring personal values, then, as I noted in my Choosing Your Power book that came out near Sinek’s Start With Why, yes dive in deeply several times in a self-reflective way: “Hmmmm, and why is this important to me? Oh, and why might that be important to me?”
Beyond those, eliminate the word Why.
And, because this is a time to bring families together, to reset and renew, you’re going to love this gift - I’m offering my online course that’s about relationships and personal power in the world at over half off! Seriously use the code HolidayPower2018 to get the Direct Power System™ course for just $497. You’ll get lessons from me each week for the next six weeks to take you into the New Year! Start 2019 right with you being in a better space for YOU, your family, your partner, your work-team. You deserve this. Go get your Direct Power System™ course for just $497. You’ll love it! I guarantee it!
Use code HolidayPower2018 for your special pricing!
I’m grateful you’re here. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving and a fantastic holiday season (with a more empowered you).
Keep making your magic™!!
~ Dr P ~