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From clients to networking events, you’ve managed countless relationships in your professional career. But what about your personal life? Maintaining strong and healthy personal relationships can alleviate stress and lead to a happier life. However, this isn’t always easy to execute, especially with difficult family members and other relationships that are here to stay. Even if you can’t change the difficult people in your life, the good news is that you still have the power to change the relationship.
Many of us have people in our lives (maybe even relatives or in-laws) who get on our last nerves. Their behaviors may irritate you and become a nuisance. While this may be true to some extent, we may never have considered that changing our own way of doing something can change the entire dynamic of the relationship. But it can. It can change how the other person interacts with you and even treats you. You may start seeing new sides to them that were never seen before, and perhaps like them even more. Who would have thought? A huge factor in changing your negative relationships is the way you choose to react in situations.
For example, if someone in your life is judgmental and says something to hurt your feelings, your first instinct may be to lash out and tell them to stop their behavior. Well, if you’ve tried this tactic before, you know it simply does not work.
Instead, you can choose not to respond to their behavior. That’s right, don’t get mad or reciprocate their attacks. If you feel that you must say something, many mental health professionals recommend you use “I statements,” meaning you tell the other person how you are feeling without placing blame. Such as, “I feel poorly about myself when you say that to me,” instead of “you make me feel poorly about myself.” The former helps the person feel less defensive and he or she is more likely to listen to you.
According to Dr. Gordon, author of such books as Parent Effectiveness Training, “I-statements are hard to argue with,” because these statements are simply telling the other person how you’re feeling, and you can’t really get upset or argue with what someone else is feeling.
Another effective behavioral response is to laugh at the situation. If someone in your life is overly anxious and constantly talking about the worst case scenario, you can make a joke and say something like, “You’re so funny, who thinks of that?” More than likely, the other party will laugh too. This will be way more effective than saying something like, “You’re crazy! Stop thinking like that!”
Try one of the aforementioned behavioral responses and watch as the whole dynamic of your relationship changes.You may finally get the relationship you always wanted simply by changing your reactions.