Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Explanation Necessary

I read a story in yesterday's newspaper about dealing with friends and relatives who invade our privacy. The author suggested establishing clear boundaries and stating clearly those things we rather not discuss with the "offending" friend or relative. A specific recommendation resonated with me: don't provide explanations for your requests. If you do, there is a good chance the conversation will become about your explanation rather than about your request.

For example, suppose a relative always calls when you take a trip. He probably wants to check to make sure you arrived OK to your destination. Yet you don't like this. You could simply say: "please don't call me when I am taking trips" and leave it at that. Or you could offer explanations such as "because I am tired when I get home, or, I have a lot to do after trips, or, the airplanes are often delayed". If you do, there is a good chance your relative will respond by suggesting you take fewer trips or use a different airline. Before you know it the conversation is no longer about your request for him not to call you. You are now discussing how to make you more amenable to talking on the phone after your trips!

Disclaimer: the above mentioned "relative" is totally fictitious. Any resemblance with an actual relative of mine is entirely coincidental.

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