Frangipani

Polyamory, bisexuality and maybe even some atheism

The Gentle ‘No’ May 5, 2011

Filed under: Communication,Polyamory,Relationships — Araliya @ 5:59 pm
Tags: , ,

Reading my last post over, I realize that I really need to learn the art of the gentle No. I am good at ignoring people and I am good at annihilating them. I am absolutely useless, however, at addressing a minor irritation. I don’t know how to simply say, ‘Hey, that kind of sucked. Please don’t do it again.’ To my ears, that always sounds like I’m telling someone off. It’s not nice to be checked and it can be a bit of a bummer, but it shouldn’t ruin the whole day, should it? Or must it? A reasonable adult can, if addressed the right way, simply take on board that that little thing they just did is kind of a no-no for you and simply make a mental note to refrain from doing it around you. Can’t they? I’d like to think that I can, and, if I can do it, certainly anybody should be able to do it. Right?

But reasonable as it may sound in my head, I don’t know how to actually do it. Instead, I put up with minor annoyances until I can’t stand them any more. At that point, my desire to not hurt the person annoying me gets outweighed by my irritation, and I let fly, often with far more force than the original annoyance warranted, often damaging the relationship irreparably. This is bad.

I need to find a way to flag things before they become problems. Often, it’s hard to spot, what with it being a tiny thing here, a little overstepping there. Or, if I do spot it, it’s hard to bring attention to without making it a huge deal.

I’ve thought of various ways I could soften the ‘no’. There’s the ‘Honey, I love you, but could you please not do that?’ or ‘Hey you know, that thing you did wasn’t cool. Not a big deal, but just, yeah, could you not do it again please?’ or the ‘me’ statement approach ‘I don’t like such and such much, so if we could avoid that, that’d be really nice.’ or even ‘Hey, when I hear that kind of thing, I feel …’ with perhaps a few bits of ‘I know you don’t mean it that way/wouldn’t do something deliberately’ thrown in for good measure. I don’t know if those are actually good statements or not – they’re just what have come to mind. I  like the advice I got once of focusing on what the person did rather than making it about who they are, and I’ve tried to do that in the statements above. I have yet to use any of them though.

What I think I’d like, really, is a warning sign. I’d like to be able to say, ‘Hey, what you just did is not a big deal, but if it gets any worse, we’re going to have a problem.’  Does that sound like I’m picking  a fight? It does to my ears, so I don’t use it.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

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One Response to “The Gentle ‘No’”

  1. Lindsay Says:

    I think any of the statements you’ve suggested (including the last one) are perfectly reasonable and healthy. It depends on the person you’re with, and I’ve learned that you have to have a certain amount of faith in them, make your best approach, and their reaction is their own, not something you need to feel responsible for. I do think what you’re discussing – addressing problems before they become a real issue – is much healthier than letting them fester. Try to frame it in your mind as “This person deserves to know that I don’t like this, and if I don’t tell them, they have no chance to change it or address the issue.”


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