It’s Not WHAT You Say…

But HOW you say it that matters

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Recently, my parents came for a visit, and it was clear that my mom is very worried about my dad’s health. There is nothing drastic going on, but several little things that my mom (and me) are concerned about.

My mom is adamant, though, that my dad won’t go see the doctor for a full check-up and blood work, and she is probably right about his resistance.

“He doesn’t listen, Theresa,” I have heard her say time and again.

We were on the phone a few days after they left and I made the suggestion that my dad go see a naturopath as well as a regular doctor thinking that there might be a nutritional component to what is going on. My Mom said, “One thing at a time. He isn’t going to listen.” To which I responded, “Maybe you could bring it up differently.” (And yes, maybe I could bring it up too….)

My mom, like most of us, has a tendency to tell my dad what he SHOULD do, and even if she asks him to do something, what she is really doing is DEMANDING that he do it.

Usually my dad resists, as do most people when told they HAVE TO do something. And, like most people, my dad unconsciously or consciously decides to rebel against her demand or succumb to it. If he does succumb to it, it may not be because he actually WANTS to do it, it’s because he merely wants to get her off his back, and he has put his need for PEACE above his need for CHOICE. (I am sure that you have done the same thing.)

It’s as if we are hardwired against being pushed into anything, yet we allow ourselves to get pushed to preserve the relationship, and for fear of not being loved.

When I suggested to my mom to “bring it up differently” what I was urging her to do was to reflect not on what she was saying (because I am with her in terms of my dad going to the doctor), but on HOW she was going about it.

Essentially, less demand and more request and enrollment.

What’s the difference?

Well, a true request is open to a NO. A request, when denied, is not followed by irritation, annoyance, anger, etc. It is followed by curiosity and compassion.

Enrollment, goes even a step further, is about opening up the other person to the POSSIBILITY and VISION of what could be.

What about you?

How do you ask people to take action? Do you demand, request, or enroll them? How is that working?

Practicing Enrollment,

Courage. Compassion. Connection.

Originally published at

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