Most of us like to come home to a place of harmony. To keep home as an oasis of peace, it helps to have manners and maintain boundaries. Here are some guidelines that work for most people.
1. Acknowledge others. Acknowledge them when they walk in the room; say “hello” and “goodbye.” Don’t take people for granted; say “please” and “thank you.”
2. Stay calm rather than being reactive. If someone’s grumpy, you don’t have to fix the problem or take it personally. Give the person space if you can. If the negative energy is overwhelming, then leave the room or say something without being offensive. “You seem unhappy. Is there something I can do for you?”
3. Seek some solitude every day and give others their privacy as well. By clearly communicating your intentions and your needs — that you need to rest or catch up on reading, for example, others will not take your isolation personally.
4. Look for the best in others and you’ll probably find it. Look for the worst, and that’s what you’ll find. If you’re the critical type, learn to let things roll off your shoulders. But if you’re the type to avoid making waves, try to speak up when things really bother you. The sooner you bring up things that upset you, the more casual and easy the conversation and relationship will be.
5. Communicate without judgment. All of us react quite differently to a friendly request than to negative criticism. Tone of voice and intention are more important than wording. “I feel a lot happier when the house is neat. I would really appreciate it if you’d clean up your dishes after you use them. And let me know if there’s something I can do differently.”
People in close quarters who are caring and thoughtful without being reactive or invasive can make living together a joy.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD