Next time you need something, try asking for it – So often we have an expectation that our partner (or friend or co-worker) knows us so well they should know what we want or need from them. This expectation may lead to disappointment, resentment and possibly even anger when we are let down because it turns out people aren’t “mind-readers” after all. Avoid potential conflict just by asking for want we want from each other. Sounds easy right? However, it can be difficult at first. We may feel uncomfortable, or vulnerable, or even like we are imposing on the other person. Give it a go and see where it takes you. Just remember, ask nicely.
Try eliminating the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary – This will take practice! Once you pay attention to the use of the word ‘should’ in your conversation, you will come to know how over-used this word is. “You should go for a walk” might become “you could go for a walk.” “You should ring your friend” might become “would you like to ring your friend?” The difference in the words we use is subtle. However, the way it will be interpreted is likely to be far more positive.
Avoid the use of ‘why’ questions – “Why did you do that?” “Why didn’t you call me?” “Why” can feel confronting. The other person feels they have to justify their behaviour or actions. Instead you could say, “when you didn’t call me today, I was worried about you” or “when you borrowed my car without asking, I was left stranded and couldn’t get to work on time.” The person we are relating to will not feel shamed for their actions, but rather see how their behaviour had an impact on us. Again, we avoid the potential for further conflict.
Leanne Schubert, ThoughtMatters counsellor
This article is also published on the Australia Counselling website. For more articles on relationships and intimacy click on this link: