Don’t get mad. Get specific.

Photo by  Nick Fewings  on  Unsplash

When I work with my clients, we’re usually focusing on two things. One, we’re doing a massive de-cluttering and organization of what they own. Two, we’re working to instill new habits so that they can continue to enjoy their newly simplified life.

One snag people hit is trying to communicate with others about doing their share in the household. We often get frustrated that people just don’t do what we want them to do. We say things like:

“I wish my spouse would help out more.”

“I wish my kids would clean up after themselves.”

Sometimes, the problem isn’t the other person. The problem is that we’re not being specific enough about what we actually want or need.

Statements like “clean up your room” are not concrete. They don’t give clues about what your actual expectations are. They don’t give the other person an easy action plan.

Case in point: I once asked my husband to clean the windows on the interior of our house. He looked at me as if I had just asked him to clean the Sistine Chapel.

I could telI was going to have to break this down.

I got out the Windex and microfiber cloths. I handed them to him and said, “Can you clean the windows in the kitchen and the living room, and then, if you’re in the mood, in the bedrooms upstairs? It should take about 15 minutes.”

He took the bait, ahem, the tools, and 15 minutes later, I had clean windows.

Give it a try and see how it works. Try these little shifts to make your requests more clear and concrete:

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 6.15.55 PM.png

This can even work with more touchy interpersonal stuff.

Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 6.17.04 PM.png

Give your inner martyr a little Spring Break, and give it a try.

Remember, be specific. Painfully specific. And see what happens …

PS - For more tips on daily habits and how to get the family involved, check out this blog about my favorite nightly routine - the 20/20/20.