Sunday, June 7, 2009

Stopping the unwanted comments effectively

I want to continue on to the next step after figuring out that what other people think of us is not our business. (see this post)

Talane Miedaner shares in her book "Coach yourself to Success" just how to protect yourself gracefully from unpleasant comments. It is a simple four step communication model that helps us build the boundaries that so many of us do not have. After we find out that it doesn't matter what others think of us, this is a system you can use when someone actually speaks to you in a manner they should not. I believe as weight loss surgery patients that we so often have blurred boundaries because instead of correcting the offending statements, we worry instead about why they don't like us.

Here is how to stop behavior in a graceful and effective manner.

1. Inform. "Do you realize that you are yelling? or, "Do you realize that comment hurt me?" or, "I didn't ask for your feedback." If they continue with the unwanted behavior, then take it up to step 2, but only after you've tried step 1.

2. Request. Ask them to stop. "I ask that you stop telling me now" or, "I ask that you only give me constructive feedback." If they still don't get it and the behavior continues, try step 3.

3. Demand or insist. "I insist that you stop yelling at me now." If they still persist, you take it to the next level.

4.Leave. (without any snappy comebacks or remarks). "I can't continue this conversation while you are yelling at me. I am going to leave the room." If you are in a relationship and the other person doesn't change his or her behavior after you've tried this model numerous times, you may need to leave the relationship and/or get a therapist. The people who REALLY love you will respect your boundaries.

The key to using these steps is to say them in a neutral tone of voice. Do not raise your voice up or down. Keep it calm and flat. You are informing the person...just like you would say "The sky is blue".

Let me repeat one of the sentences! The people that really love you will respect your boundaries. If they don't, then it is time to walk around them and continue on your quest for a better life...your ultimate goal.

It doesn't matter whether you've changed their matters that you stop the behavior.

After years of being a total wuss I was surprised when I think back to how I applied this system in one area. Remember I am from the south where this happened a little more often. I particularly have a boundary regarding people using a certain derogatory word for a certain race. To me it is disgusting and cruel. Even though I let people walk all over me in every other area, I drew this line in the sand early on. Every one that knows me a little bit knows this about me and guess what? They never say it in front of me. I can't change how they think but I can change their behavior around me. The people that love me respect my boundaries.

Those of us that have not learned how to form these boundaries will possibly find this difficult to do but why would you allow someone to continue to speak to you in an inappropriate way? We have spent years as obese people taking the abuse leveled at us. It's time to stop the insanity.

Next time someone tells you that you took the easy way out, or you've lost TOO much weight, or you will fail, or whatever comments that we often hear....try it. If you don't respect yourself, how to expect others to respect you?

So here's to stopping the insanity! Remember to use the calm voice so that you can stop the critical voices that you've listened to for so long.