Communication 11: Nag, Nag, Nag!!!

Date: 12/5/2005

If there were no side-effects, it would not be so objectionable. Unfortunately, however, nagging can sour relationships and ruin the atmosphere of a home, office, or classroom.

Those of us who do nag usually have a belief like "it is the only way to get things done." 

Well...Is that so... or, is there an alternative to nagging?

The good news is that you do not have to nag!

Lets discuss an effective alternative.

The first thing to consider is based on a Rashi in Chumash (Shemot chapter 19, verse 24). Tell them your request and later on give them one reminder.  In other words, you tell them your request twice.

The first time you mention your request, do so at an opportune time-- Not too far before the event when they could forget about it and not too close to the event when there is a risk they won't be able to finish in time.  

---For example, at the beginning of the week tell them "I need this report by Friday."  .

Since the "opportune time" will vary from person to person and from task to task, consider carefully when you feel this might be. It is worth the few moments of thought planning ahead to avoid the adverse side effects of nagging.

The second time you mention your request is a reminder just before the task needs to be done. (Make sure you give them enough time to complete it).

---For example, on Thrusday morning tell them  "I just wanted to remind you that we need that report by tomorrow."

The second thing to consider is speaking with a suitable voice tone. Naggers often speak with an annoyed, whining, or sarcastic voice tone. This should be changed in most situations. Try speaking with a matter-of-fact voice tone. Or, a loving voice tone. Or a humorous or a serious one. Or, try asking them instead of telling them. Different voice tones are effective with different people and with different requests. Experiment and see what works for you.

THe third consideration is changing your belief. Instead of a belief like "nagging is the only way to get things done" mentioned above, develop a nurturing belief. "I can find a good way to remind without nagging." (see the article on "self-confidence" on how to change beliefs)

Give it a try! Before you nag you probably feel annoyed either that the task is not done or in anticipation that it won't be done. This annoyed feeling is an "anchor" (stimulus) to nag. One way you can break the habit is to actively practice the method mentioned above 2 or 3 times a day, every day. Plan ahead which words and which voice tone you want to use. Keep it up until you see that you are reminding instead of nagging.

(see Rashi on Exodus Chapter 19, Verse 24)

Please email me your personal experiences relating to this article.