If you feel uncomfortable, upset or angry when someone does something, chances are your boundaries – the actions you will tolerate towards yourself – have been violated. Some of us don’t want to challenge that person because we hate conflict. Some of us think that if we show them we are unhappy they will understand and not do it again. It doesn’t work. You need to be explicit and here is how:
I felt uncomfortable when you criticised me in front of my friends.
I would like you to talk to me in private if you need to tell me something.
If you continue to criticise me in public I will no longer be friends with you.
OR if you no longer want to be friends: to protect myself I will no longer ask you to come out with me.
One of the main issues I work with as a counsellor is relationships and how people can become closer to the ones they love. Often they have gotten into patterns of controlling behaviour and seem to think if only the other person could change their behaviour then they would be happy. But relationships are not one sided and no-one has a magic control wand that makes other people do what they want them to do. So just as no-one can control you, you can’t control anyone else. The only persons behaviour you can control is your own. That is not to say people don’t try to – they will bribe, threaten, nag, criticise and punish to attempt to get people to do what they want. This doesn’t bring people together though, it tends to pull them apart. I may be going out on a limb here but I’m pretty certain you don’t like anyone trying to control you.
William Glasser in Choice Theory talks about 7 Deadly Habits: deadly because they are likely to kill any relationship, whether that be romantic or friendship. He also talks about 7 Caring or Connecting Habits which will bring people closer together. Both are below:
People are often quick to tell you what the other person has done, or not done. They get frustrated and possibly angered at the other person. Reminding them that the only behaviour they can control is their own, I always ask:
What do you want from your relationship? Do you want to stay together?
What are the main problems in your relationship?
What are you doing that are sustaining these problems?
What is going well in your relationship?
What is one thing this week you could do in terms of your behaviour that will bring you closer to the relationship you want?
Most people can think of at least one thing they can do. It could be as simple as eating together without playing on their phone, or asking how their day was. If you are in a rut with your relationship, give these a go. Reflect and make a small change today.