Thursday, September 18, 2008

Persuade me, please don't pressure me

"Naggers always know what they are doing. They weigh up the risks, then they go on and on and on until they get what they want or until they get punched." Jools Holland

persuade - to prevail on (a person) to do something, as by advising or urging; to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince

coerce - to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, esp. without regard for individual desire or volition; to bring about through the use of force or other forms of compulsion; to dominate or control, esp. by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.

pressure - to force (someone) toward a particular end; influence

nag - to annoy by persistent faultfinding, complaints, or demands

There is always someone out there who wants you to do something you don't want to do or simply wants you to let them have their way. I would far rather be persuaded to take up a cause, an activity, an obligation than I would to be coerced or nagged into it.

Where do some people learn to nag and whine to get their way? How is it that their parents let them get away with it? It doesn't fly around here. My children learned early on that "No" means "no." If you ask for something and are told you can't have it, you are also generally told why the answer was "no." Whining doesn't change the outcome, the reason behind the negative
response is still there. If you are to begin to beg or fuss to get your way, you will soon see disciplinary action.

My youngest daughter has a friend who was not taught this. She is 12 years old and behaves like a toddler when it comes to fussing in order to get her way. She quickly discovered that it does not work with me. Because of that I can tolerate her - many others can't. She is finding out that my own 12 year old is not responsive to nagging either. The other day, Erin was at her house and "S" wanted her to stay another 30 minutes. Erin said she could not. "S" began to plead, she began to cry, she brought the phone to Erin and pushed it towards her. Erin would not budge - she is determined to teach this girl that she won't be bullied into anything or frustrated into anything. I was proud of her because it is very, very hard to resist a peer.

I know this. Here I am, 44 years old and I have a friend who attempts to pressure me into things I don't want to do or don't have time for. She doesn't "hear" when I say "no." She doesn't hear the reasons that I give...she just keeps going. I've gotten to wear if I say "no" and she doesn't pull back, I go into a litany of stresses that I'm dealing with. I figure that I'll suffocate her with my overwhelming response to her trying to place another straw on this camel's back. It's been moderately effective. She may soon get tired of hearing a deluge of tragedy every time to she tries to get past one of my "no" answers. She attempted to get my husband to do something last week and he was firm in his answer. He even told her, "Nagging won't work with me."

She replied, "It always works with X." (Her husband). He looked her in the eye and said, "I'm not X."

I know that my attempts to nag my husband to care about his health have failed miserably. I've worked various ways to pressure him and to coerce him into eating a clean diet and working on his physical fitness. Failures every time. I'm working on the persuasion angle. After all, as the old saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." That horse has to be thirsty. You simply cannot make someone else thirsty.

Not that I haven't tried my darndest. I think we all do occasionally. We want something so badly that we try all sorts of tactics to get it. Perhaps we will attempt some friendly persuasion, but if that is unsuccessful we may try to negotiate agreement. Often we just head down the nagging trail...and then sometimes into full fledged coercion. "Do this, or else."

Persuasion *is* an art form - but not everyone appreciates the same art. You cannot convince or convict everyone, regardless of whether your aim as simple as getting that person to accept a small task or as difficult as getting them to see your political point of view.

Hopefully as we mature we get better and better at restraining our inner two year old. I'm hoping that as I'm getting older and more grown up (and we just keep growing up, don't we?) that I'm getting better at the art of persuasion and less apt to fall into the trap of contentious nagging. I also hope that I have the grace to accept "no" for an answer even when I don't like it.

Today's workout is posted:

1 comment:

Noele Doles said...

oh, good old "S"

Unfortunately, with the art of persuasion comes the art of alienating your friends.

There is nothing i hate more than a nagging whiner.