ASK AMY

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Life - – Dog Lover Email Amy at [email protected] amy­dick­in­son.com

DEAR AMY: My wife and I so­cial­ize of­ten with my wife’s brother, “Brad,” and his girl­friend, “Shel­ley.”

Shel­ley tends to hi­jack con­ver­sa­tions, steer­ing them to­ward her­self and/ or her kids. Lately, I’ve no­ticed that Brad does the same thing.

In one in­stance, my wife be­gan to talk about a news event, and he jumped in af­ter a cou­ple of sen­tences.

I told him to please let my wife fin­ish her thought and tell it her way, and then we could hear his thoughts. He took ex­cep­tion to this.

Last night we were with Shel­ley and at one point Shel­ley men­tioned that I don’t like for her “to talk.”

She said she was in­ten­tion­ally quiet for the first cou­ple of hours of the visit be­cause of this.

I ex­plained calmly that I never asked any­one not to talk, only that I want her to be re­spect­ful of bound­aries when oth­ers talk. She got up­set and left.

I don’t want any fric­tion, and I need to talk to her about this. How do you sug­gest I ap­proach this? – In­ter­rupted Hus­band

DEAR IN­TER­RUPTED: Ide­ally, you would have of­fered this cor­rec­tion us­ing “I” state­ments that re­flect your per­sonal re­ac­tion to her be­hav­ior, rather than tell her di­rectly what you “want” her to do dif­fer­ently. Telling some­one how to be­have is bound to make them de­fen­sive. And when they’re busy be­ing de­fen­sive, they don’t lis­ten to the point you’re try­ing to make, be­cause they are plan­ning their men­tal, emo­tional, or phys­i­cal es­cape.

Here’s an ex­am­ple of how you might ex­press your frus­tra­tion: “Shel­ley, I don’t mean to si­lence you. That’s a ter­ri­ble feel­ing. But I get very frus­trated when I’m en­gaged in lis­ten­ing to some­one and then that per­son is in­ter­rupted. Then that per­son is be­ing si­lenced, and I feel this throws con­ver­sa­tions off track. I hope you can un­der­stand my re­ac­tion. I’m try­ing hard to en­joy what ev­ery­one has to say.”

DEAR AMY: A reader re­cently chas­tised you re­gard­ing an is­sue with an ag­gres­sive dog. The reader no­ti­fied you that put­ting a yel­low scarf on an ag­gres­sive dog’s col­lar in­di­cates that the dog is ag­gres­sive. Um, not nec­es­sar­ily. The only sure­fire and ap­pro­pri­ate way to ap­proach any dog is to ask the dog’s hu­man if the dog is safe.

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