Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | MIND - MIND YOU WORDS: ROWENA HARDY Rowena Hardy is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor and coach at mind­

I’m not a fan of red onion (any onion for that mat­ter) when it’s raw in sal­ads or sand­wiches and par­tic­u­larly when it’s cut in chunks or large slices. It’s not that I hate onions. I like a very small amount finely chopped in sal­ads for a sub­tle flavour and more when it’s cooked in a hot dish. But some­times there is a lot and I feel that, when it comes to raw onions, less is more – and that’s what this ar­ti­cle is ac­tu­ally about.

I liken it to in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter­is­tics: we all have our own unique and multi-faceted per­son­al­i­ties and some of those facets are more ap­par­ent than oth­ers at times. Oc­ca­sion­ally, these dis­tinc­tive traits can ini­tially be en­dear­ing – a cer­tain laugh or voice, a style of com­mu­ni­ca­tion or be­hav­iour, for ex­am­ple – but over time, if fre­quent, they can grate and be­come an ir­ri­ta­tion.

Once that hap­pens it can be hard to ig­nore the ir­ri­ta­tion and it be­comes a fo­cal point and then we’re on the look­out, ex­pect­ing it to hap­pen. Like me and raw onion. Once I re­alised that I didn’t like it I be­came hy­per­aware of when it ap­peared un­bid­den in my dish and then went on the hunt. In other words, I had a laser-like fo­cus … on raw onion. Yep!

What is the so­lu­tion when this hap­pens? Do we un­friend the per­son? Break up with raw onions?

The chal­lenge is that the now an­noy­ing be­hav­iour is per­fectly ob­vi­ous to us and prob­a­bly oth­ers, but the per­son demon­strat­ing it has lit­tle clue. You should un­der­stand that most of our own be­hav­iour is un­con­scious to us. It’s driven by our set of in­trin­sic fil­ters. In other words, we don’t recog­nise that we’re do­ing it or the im­pact it may be hav­ing on those around us. If the per­son demon­strat­ing the ir­ri­tat­ing be­hav­iour is some­one we love and care about, we re­ally need to bring it to their at­ten­tion so that they have the op­por­tu­nity to recog­nise and adapt it.

How am I sup­posed to do that with­out of­fend­ing them, I hear you ask.

The an­swer lies in de­liv­er­ing the mes­sage with love and re­spect and with a fo­cus on the im­pact of their be­hav­iour on you. For ex­am­ple, “Dar­ling, when you leave your dirty dish in the sink I feel frus­trated be­cause I’ve asked you sev­eral times to put it straight in the dish­washer. If you could start do­ing that from to­mor­row it would save me some ex­tra work. Is that OK with you?”.

Rather than get frus­trated with the per­son, blam­ing them, get­ting fired up and not act­ing, em­pha­sise that it’s their be­hav­iour that’s caus­ing the ir­ri­ta­tion, not them as a per­son.

Feed­back de­liv­ered in the right way al­lows you to keep the emo­tion un­der con­trol and them to recog­nise its im­pact on you. With prac­tice it can be very ef­fec­tive and will not cause of­fence. No big scene or over­re­ac­tion; less is more. Like raw onions …

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