3… 2… 1… Impact!

In close relationships, impact is important. In fact, the closer we are to someone, the more impact we have on each other. Let’s look at some of the ways this plays out, in both positive and negative scenarios.

Let’s say you left for work in a hurry, and the kitchen was a mess. As you were driving home that evening, you knew exactly what waited for you: a sink filled with dirty dishes, crumbs on the counters, and a sticky spot of dried OJ on the floor. You were tired, hungry, and not in the mood to clean it all up, but you couldn’t even start dinner until you had.

You walk in the door, eyes on your feet, and as you look up…you see a sparkling clean kitchen! Shiny counters, OJ-free floor, and instead of a pile of dirty dishes, you see a pile of chopped veggies waiting to be stir-fried for dinner!

How are you feeling right now? Take a moment and think of words that describe how you’re feeling: relieved, happy, grateful, lighter, loved, cared for, important, special? Tell your SO that. Don’t just say “thank you for cleaning up the kitchen and starting dinner.” Say something like, “I feel so grateful and relieved that you took care of that mess, and so special and loved that you’ve started dinner. Now I can relax and enjoy the night. Thank you!”

Different message. Totally.

Now, let’s take the same set-up and play it out differently. When you walk in the door, instead of a clean kitchen and dinner prepped, you find not only what you left, but worse. Now there are more dishes on the counters, food left out on the stove, and a smear of something unidentifiable on the counter. Worse, your SO is sitting in a comfy chair, sipping a cold drink, watching TV.

How are you feeling right now? Take a moment and think of words to describe it: angry, unimportant, exhausted, enraged, taken for granted, resentful, confused, unloved?

Here’s where impact statements can make a big difference. Instead of yelling, attacking, accusing or being snidely passive-aggressive, SAY how you’re feeling. Say, “I feel so sad and resentful that you didn’t take the time to clean up the kitchen. I’m confused about why you chose to watch TV, leaving the mess for me to deal with. I feel taken for granted, like you think it’s only my job to manage the house.”

You’re not attacking or accusing, you’re saying what’s true for you; you’re naming the way you feel in the face of this choice your SO made. Rather than blaming, you’re giving your mate the chance to take responsibility for their behavior and owning your own feelings.

Different message. Totally.

Try it this week and see how it goes. Remember, don’t focus on what they do, focus on how what they do impacts you.