Monday, August 17, 2009

So, He Didn't Call When He Said He Would? Using the Handy, "I Noticed..." Statement

I wish I could say that this hardly ever happens, so don't worry about it. But people not keeping their word happens all the time, especially when dating!

So, what to do when he doesn't call when he said he would? That's what one of my clients wanted to know recently.

Here's what I told her.

Typically- if someone does something like this once, you can blow it off (if you want)- but if it happens more than once, then don't ever ignore it!

Ignoring things never makes them go away- it usually makes them worse!

Why? Because when someone does something more than once, they are showing you a pattern of behavior. And patterns indicate their underlying personality.

And when YOU put up with a pattern of behavior from someone- you set up the expectation that the behavior is ok with you.

Which means: You'll get more of the same behavior in the future.

So, when someone doesn't keep their word and that's not ok with you (as it shouldn't be!), then it's worth addressing.

Lucky you, handling these supposedly "uncomfortable" topics, can be super simple when you know how to use the "I Noticed..." Strategy.

Here's how to stand up for yourself and set clear, healthy boundaries, right from the beginning with the people in your life, love life included.

Using the "I Noticed..." Strategy

Step 1: Find a quiet, calm time to bring up your concern.

That means you are relaxed and no longer ticked off.
AND, it seems like a convenient, easy-going time for your friend.

Step 2: Bring up your concern gracefully, casually using "I noticed..."

Just casually work into your conversation something like:
"Hey, I noticed ... that you were going to call on Tues but I didn't hear from you till today...."

Step 3: Pause and WAIT for their response.

Just let your "I noticed" statement hang out there for a moment and they will have to say something about it. Usually you will learn alot from what the person says next.

Either you'll get a useful explanation and/or apology, or you may get a bunch of BS.

Either way, you are learning more about this person to help you decide if this is indeed someone you want in your life.

You may chat a bit from here, or...

Step 4: Make a clear request by setting your boundary.

Often, it's helpful to end your discussion with a clear request about what you need.

Something like, "Hey that's cool this time, but just so you know, keeping my word is really important to me, so I'd appreciate it if we both kept our word to each other."

Right here, you've made your expectations clear. You are setting the boundary for how it's ok to treat you.

Plus- by putting it in "we" terms, you make it clear that you aren't pointing the finger, this isn't only about THEM.

It about the two of you together, in relationship to each other.

So, it's more about entering into an explicit agreement to pay attention to each other's needs, rather than a slap on the wrist.

From here, things will either go swimmingly in the future, or not so much- if they aren't the right person for you.

Step 5: Follow up the next time

Hopefully, your new expectation will clear up any misunderstanding and things go full speed ahead. But if your new partner can't or won't respect your request- then you pretty much have your decision made for you: They just aren't a good fit for you.

If it happens again, try something like:

"Gee, I noticed that even though we talked about keeping our word to each other, it seems like that just isn't happening. What do you think is up with that?"

These types of conversations either bring you closer as you come to a deeper understanding of each other, or they drive you apart because you simply don't see the world or your relationship the same way.

However it goes, it brings the Gift of Clarity to you so you know how best to move forward towards your goal of creating a love that lasts a lifetime!

Readers: Try out the "I noticed..." statement with someone in your life today and let us know how it goes!

1 comment:

nycgal said...

Dr Jen - you said this perfectly. I wish I ready this 5 years ago. I met a guy whom in the beginning was perfect - he giving me behavior that was unacceptable. Like calling me last minute, calling me late at night, he had no respect - why because I did not apporach him in the way I should have. I complained about his behavior and got more of the same year after year. I finally put an end to our relationship (never too late!!)- he tries to still contact me but he knows he will never see me again. Thnx for a great article