HALLIE EPHRON: 'Tis the season for all of us to feel stressed out. The other morning my husband started to leave for work and turned back. Rubbed his jaw. "You know, I'm so busy I think I forgot to shave."
We're all SO BUSY THAT...
When he got home from work that night he "forgot" to hang up his coat and left it hanging on the doorknob to the closet. Not a big deal, I know. BUT IF WE ALL LEFT OUR COATS... the nagging voice in my head went off when I saw it still there the next morning. My martyr self considered hanging it up for him. My nasty self considered flinging it into his favorite chair where he reads his morning paper.
My craftier side prevailed, and I sidled up to him in the kitchen when he was making coffee, rubbed his back and cooed, "Darling, when you’re living alone, I give you permission to leave your coat wherever you like…" He laughed: the preferred response. And eventually hung up the damned coat.
When we had our babies I learned to say, "Darling, would you like to change this diaper or should I?" And "Did you mean to leave yesterday's newspapers on the floor, dear?"
Have you developed the art of the noodge? Please, share your secrets. Because at this time of year we all need a little help.
LUCY BURDETTE: While he was making coffee Hallie? I happen to know he's not a morning person, so you had the edge going in LOL.
My best tip is giving the person in question a choice: "Sweetheart, would you rather empty the cat's litter box or finish the dishes?" And sometimes he even chooses the litter box!
Or here's another one...instead of saying something like "Put the damn xxx away" we now say "How would you like to put the damn xxx away?" Sometimes it helps because at least the other person knows we're TRYING.
HALLIE: That choice thing used to work with my kids ("Would you like to take your bath now or in ten minutes?") Not so much with my husband.
RHYS BOWEN: When John first retired he decided to take over the grocery shopping. He'd drive from store to store, getting the "bargains" of the day. He'd come home, spread everything on the kitchen table and say "Guess how much." I'd do a quick guess and think "$55". But I'd say "Seventy five dollars."
"Wrong!" he'd say with delight. "Only fifty-five."
And I'd say "You are such an amazing shopper!"
And he's done the grocery shopping ever since.
But it doesn't work with hanging up his clothes, alas.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I never noodge. Not ever. Not me, nohow.
Let's just say someone leaves their dish on the table. I say: Your dish is still on the table, sweetheart.
Let's just say someone puts their dish in the sink. I THINK: Hey, buddy, there are only two of us in this house, and if YOU don't put your dish in the dishwasher, who do you think is gonna do it? But I don't say that. I SAY: I'll put your dish in the dishwasher, okay?
Here's the key:
The next time, if that person puts his dish in the dishwater, I say: Wow, thank you, honey! SO great of you to put your dish in in the dishwasher. I LOVE when you do that!
(The key here is that it has to be sincere. Not sarcastic.)
This truly works. Positive reinforcement.
Once a person emptied the dishwasher, unbidden.
I went crazy with delight. "wow wow wow, this is SO great! Thank you!"
Now a person does that all the time . And I am honestly thrilled. It's the best thing. So he is happy and I am happy.
Still, I have not succeeded at convincing someone not to cut in line in the exit lane on the highway. I have tried saying "so happy you didn't cut in! Thank you!" when he doesn't, but so far, that's a work in progress.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Flattery will get you everywhere in my house. Well, almost. I haven't figured out how to make that extend to cooking, even after twenty-something years. Sigh. But Hank is so right. Positive reinforcement is positively magical. And one of my little resolutions is to say "thank you" more often.
HALLIE: Flattery, positive reinforcement, the sweet question you know the answer to...
What are your tips for getting what you want without pissing off the people you love?