Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to nag properly

Although I get the greater majority of my content from my girls, this post was inspired by my wife. No, my wife is not a nag. FAR from it. In reality, she is so considerate of others and has such a strong dislike for confrontation that she suggested I write a post about how to encourage someone to reach their goals. Having been married to her for some time now, I understood that what she was really asking was how much she should be encouraging me with my health goals. (I'm not failing, but I could be doing better.) I just decided to throw the "nag" term in there because she's so concerned about not wanting to nag me about my goals.

Somewhere along the line, you have probably heard about SMART goals. You may even use them on a daily basis already. For those of you unfamiliar with them, SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. That works so well for setting goals, I thought we could use an acronym for properly nagging someone else to attain their goals. I think I came up with a good, strong acronym just for this purpose.... WEAK nagging. Seems legit. You want to nag, but not too much.

This post will walk you through the steps for WEAK nagging. You will learn WHEN to nag, how to ENCOURAGE them, how to ACCEPT your differences and what you need to KNOW about their goal.

When to nag
Learning when to nag is probably the hardest part to figure out because it is so vital to get it just right. Nagging too soon comes across as overly pushy and unrealistic. Nagging too late will appear as if you've just decided to play a game of "I told you so" and take over the process. It's a lot like a game of stoplight without anyone telling you red or green.|

I didn't realize it was so tough for my wife to understand when to nag versus when to let it slide. It shouldn't have surprised me because I never really did tell her. And to be completely honest, I don't have a middle ground. I'm either happy to comply with a suggestion or I'm snappy because I feel like I'm being pushed. (That's all me...probably another goal in there somewhere.)

I gave her an example to hopefully set a "template" of sorts to help her decide going forward. I used a food example because that's the most obvious every day example. I explained to her that if we're eating a basic mac n cheese dinner and I'm on my third bowl, that would be a realistic time to mention portion control. On the other hand, if we're having enchiladas (one of my favorite meals that we almost never have) and I'm going for plate number two, maybe cut me a little slack for a "special occasion." A lot of it is in the timing and in picking your battles.

Encourage them
Yes, I know. Encourage is just a fancy schmancy word for nag, but I should probably use it at least a few times in this post. Nagging is fun to do and especially fun if you're on the receiving end, but it doesn't really work without a little encouragement. Don't jump right into encouraging though. You first need to understand what you are encouraging.

Rule number one. Encourage what THEY are trying to accomplish, not what you think they should accomplish. I'm not saying you shouldn't set the bar high. I'm saying that the bar setting should have been done before this whole process started. When you are nagging to their expectations, you will have better results for your nagging efforts.

Rule number two. Encourage them to ask for help if they need it rather than constantly offering unsolicited advice. (That can borderline on "real nagging" pretty quickly.) Most people don't like to ask for help so encouraging them to speak up when it's wanted goes a long way. Don't forget to actually help if/when it's asked for.

Rule number three. Encourage them by acknowledging their small wins along the way rather than pointing out their near misses (losses). Being negative doesn't usually motivate someone to do better next time.

Rule number four. (Caution: For expert naggers only) Forget rule number three sometimes. Why call it how to properly nag if you can't point out some of the losses in a clearly sarcastic and playful manner. In my house that would be something like my wife saying, "What - you couldn't finish the WHOLE carton of ice cream? It was only a brand new carton." Just have fun with it whenever you can, but know your audience!

Accept that they are not you
This one is extremely important for people who happen to be goal crushing professionals nagging possibly reluctant, less goal driven individuals. When it comes to health goals anyway, this would explain my wife and me pretty well. She's the run every morning, eat sensible meals, doesn't wake up at midnight nearly every night to have a sandwich kind of gal.

Me on the other hand.... I have good intentions and reasoning behind my health goals, but less excitement about achieving them than I should. I want to lower my blood pressure and not have a heart attack before my girls graduate high school...or grade school for that matter. My problem is that I don't really care enough about how I look on the outside to have the daily visual reminder of my lack of six-pack abs encourage me.

Know the person you're nagging
In the end, if you really know the person you're nagging, then you can throw all these tips out the window. Have a free-for-all until you find what works. Knowing their personality will let you know how and when to do all the steps above.

For me, an eye roll or serious "talk" about my health will put up my defenses because I feel like a failure. (Sorry, some of my emotional side was leaking out there - someone wipe that up.) Because I'm a joker, I respond better to a comment like, "Hey tubby! Can you pass me the salt when you're done inhaling that bite?"

Well, once again, I've gone and rambled on far too long. Or maybe I haven't?? Technically, no one has ever nagged me about my posts being too long. Of course they've never nagged me about them being too short or too infrequently published either. I'll stop while I at least feel like I'm ahead. Until next time....