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If I were you . . . (DW#429)

Many of us love giving advice, thinking to ourselves: "I should really share the wealth of my knowledge, wisdom and experience – I am sure the recipient of my advice will be very grateful indeed". 

And then we get very confused when the advice is rejected or remains unheeded  . . .

Here’s the thing: one of the worst ways of giving advice is to start it with "If I were you  . . ." before we have finished this sentence, the person on the receiving end of this advice is saying to themselves:
But you are not me
My situation is different 
You just don’t understand 

And all that valuable advice that we so graciously shared has now gone to waste – sigh! Such a shame, no?

It turns out that of the many ways of giving advice, the most effective one is to simply share information about something. A study on this subject found that information advice was the most effective and the one most likely to be heeded. Information advice...

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Not this again! Can’t you just drop it... (DW#428)

Today’s phrase is another variation of blaming the other person for issues in the relationship. 

"Not this again!" can be said in many ways:
"Oh no, here we go again" - eye roll and heavy sigh included –
"You never let anything drop, do you?"
"Why do you make such a big deal about things that are not important?"
etc. etc. etc.

 

The message in each version is similar:

 

"Something is wrong with you that you cannot drop this issue – you have no grounds to be upset. I don’t see it as a big deal, I don’t respect what you have to say and I’m not willing to listen, communicate with you or change in any way. This issue is not important to me even though it matters to you. The problem is clearly you and not me".

 

As you can imagine, this message is more likely to damage the relationship rather than make the issue go away. It is likely to add fuel to the fire as when we are upset, we want to be listened to and heard, not told that we...
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I’ll talk to you when you can be rational (DW#427)

As we have discussed before, conflict is normal and even healthy in relationships. It is how we deal with the conflict rather than the absence of conflict that determines if the relationship is fulfilling or not. 

Even though conflict is normal, it can be unpleasant. When we are in the midst of an argument, it can trigger all sorts of strong emotions that make it difficult for us to have productive conversations. 

When we find ourselves triggered, it can be very helpful to take some time for ourselves to calm down so that we can get back to the conversation in a more helpful way. 

The key, though, is to take responsibility for our own emotional state rather than suggest that the other person is "not being rational"

A statement such as "I’ll talk to you when you can be rational" is guaranteed to make matters worse. It is a statement that is likely to inflict emotional injury and make the other person significantly angrier. 

So the...
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With all due respect (DW#425)

Almost always coupled with an insult or unsolicited advice, the phrase "with all due respect" is often used as way to say: "Prepare to be disrespected." "I’m going to say something now that will most likely offend you but since I have said "with all due respect" you cannot really complain".

Many people find this phrase so annoying that it regularly shows up on the lists of most disliked phrases.

So the next time you are going to disagree with someone or present your opinion which might be controversial or unpopular, start by acknowledging what others are saying and make sure you understand the various aspects of the discussion. You can then state your opinion in a respectful way without using the phrase "with all due respect".

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I’m sorry, but… (DW#424)

Today’s phrase is closely related to yesterdays one which was "You made me do it".

I’m sorry but . . .in this phrase we appear to be taking responsibility and saying sorry. However, the "but" in the apology negates everything that comes before it. The end purpose of such an apology is to effectively promote ourselves as the good guys and to blame someone else as the real responsible party.

Consider these examples:

I’m sorry Mummy yelled, but your behavior was so bad I had to do something to get your attention…

I’m sorry I laughed at you but you were looking kind of ridiculous . . 

I’m sorry I flirted with your best friend but you were ignoring me . .

I’m sorry but aren’t you being a bit too sensitive . . .

I’m sorry I forgot but you should have reminded me . . .

I’m sorry but can you see how the above are not apologies! 
A true apology does not contain the word "but". It is an unconditional apology which does not...

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Watch your words! (DW#421)

We all want to enjoy great relationships with the people that matter most and others whom we are in regular contact with. Our spouses and our children, our friends and community members, siblings and parents. People at work and in the neighborhood.

Sometimes, though, despite our best intentions, we say things that drive these same people way from us.

For the next few days, let’s explore some phrases and things that we say that can be annoying, that shut down communication, damage intimacy and distance our loved ones.

Today’s phrase is wildly popular on social media and via instant messaging: "just sayin’".

 

Here is how the Urban dictionary defines it:
  • a term coined to be used at the end of something insulting or offensive to take the heat off you when you say it.
  • The punctuation people put at the end of an unsolicited, fact-less assertion to indicate self-satisfaction at having stated something they erroneously believe...
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Divided you fall (DW#398)

And do not quarrel for then you will lose heart and your power will depart.
(Sūratul Anfāl, No.8, Āyat 46)

When we are part of a team, whether it is a couple, a family, a committee or a team at work, there are bound to be differences in thought and style amongst the team members. Teams that remain strong find ways to appreciate the differences and diversity of thought and approach. They remain focused on the goal rather than get distracted by petty differences.

If on the other hand, for a team that allows differences to turn into quarrels, two things are likely to happen:

  1. The energy is diverted from the task at hand. Instead of working together to achieve their goals, each person or quarrelling segment begins to work on its own, sometimes in opposition to the other team members. The result is a weakening of the morale of the entire team. 

  2. This results in a huge loss of effectiveness of the entire team. A weakening of power. The Quran uses the word ‘rīh’ to...
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Recognize the power of a good word (DW#397)

In Verses 24-25 of Chapter 14, Sura Ibrahim, the Quran says: A good word is like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in the sky, yielding its fruit in every season with the permission of its Lord.

Words that are true, kind and wise have immense lasting power. The Quran compares them to a fruit bearing tree which planted once continues to bear fruit season after season.
Similarly, when we speak words to others which are kind and supportive, the impact of such words lasts beyond the time we speak them. Just as hurtful speech continues to hurt long after it has been spoken, kind words can continue to heal, inspire or provide support long after we have said them.
So let us watch our words. Let us aspire to speak only that which will yield fruit for those who are the audience of our speech.
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Where does family fit in? (DW#388)

After yesterday’s DW went out, some of you asked the question: which domain of life do family relationships fit in? (The domains we mentioned were mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual relating to our minds, bodies, hearts and souls).

Strictly speaking, family relationships belong in the emotional domain of our life along with our other close relationships. This means that if any of our major relationships are conflicted, we will likely give ourselves a low score in that domain, implying that there is much room for growth in this area.

Family relationships however, are in a somewhat special category because our satisfaction with (or lack of satisfaction with) family life impacts all the other domains: there is loads of research on how a happy or unhappy marriage for example, impacts physical and mental health. So if our close relationships are causing us distress, that is likely to show up as a low score on our mental wellbeing and physical health due to stress.

...

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the growth mindset approach to conflict (DW#385)

One of the most destructive of all relationship myths is the belief that if it requires work, something is terribly wrong and that any discrepancy of opinions or preferences or the presence of conflict is indicative of character flaws on behalf of one’s partner.
 
Dweck believes that conflicts are part of all good relationships and a growth mindset is not threatened with conflict in the relationship.
 
Dweck found that people with a fixed mindset on the other hand are threatened by conflict. When they talk about their problems, they are likely to assign blame to their partners AND often assume that the fault lies in a character flaw of the other other which is not fixable. Since the fault lies in the personality of the partner, they feel anger and contempt towards them (we have previously discussed how looking down with contempt at a partner is poisons a relationship) and dissatisfied with the entire relationship.

 People with a growth mindset, on the other...

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