A husband says to his wife, “Why are you ALWAYS on the phone with your friends?"
A girlfriend says to her boyfriend, "Could you please remember to put the toilet seat down."
A coworker says to another coworker, "Why can't John respond to an email on time? Ever?"
A father says to his son, "If I have to tell you to clean your room one more time..."
A friend says to another friend, "Why do you always have to cancel plans at the last minute?"
If you and I are alike, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say we are, at least one (if not more) of the above sounds familiar. It's so tempting to point out those flaws in others that annoy us; those actions or habits that proceed to drive us up the wall. We often say these things out of frustration, exasperation, or, simply because it's easy to do on the moment.
My question to you is: Do the complaints above work; are they effective in negotiating the change you wish to see?
In the long term? Nope. In the short term? Perhaps - as a frustrated girlfriend or coworker fixes their mistake in a huff as they grumble to themselves...and then probably complain to others about how challenging you can be and why don't they ever point out the good things you do.
Wait a second..."point out the good things you do"? That's interesting. When's the last time you took the time just to say, "Thanks for always getting those reports to me on time - I really appreciate it." Or, "When we sit and watch tv, I really appreciate that you always give me a foot massage." Perhaps the other person is always on time, always complements you, goes out of their way to take the trash out, empty the dish washer, or speak up for you in meetings. It's so easy to complain about what people don't do, that we forget how equally easy it is to brag to others about what they DO do.
If Shakespeare had written about this choice, perhaps Hamlet would have famously said, "To Nag or to Brag? That is the question."
And that's your challenge for this week - take a moment each day to point out and thank a coworker, friend, family member or significant other for something they do right. "Happiness" and "Gratitude" are spoken about a lot lately with the advent and popularity of positive psychology and with good reason - they are powerful. Give it a shot - you'll make their day, you'll feel better, and you might - just might - start finding that those negative behaviors don't quite bother you as much as they used to. Or…they might just disappear altogether.