Metro Plus Chennai

Quit that nagging!

It’s time people realised that nagging gets them nowhere

I have a friend, male, of course, who insists nagging is in women’s genes. It seems that haranguing comes naturally to women only because it is hardwired into their psyche. While I definitely do not agree with the friend’s theory, there is no denying that if you line up hardened naggers, women will outnumber men. As the more responsible sex, women do a far better job of juggling all those balls in the air, using some amount of reminding, urging, coaxing and cajoling. Which the men label nagging. 

Whether it is a plea to the man to quit that bad habit; to the children to pick up their clothes or finish their homework; to the maid to stop wasting so much cooking gas or to the parent to get a little more exercise, women seem to be constantly on someone’s case.

This gives people the impression that women keep score in relationships. That isn’t true; it’s just that women tend to view most things through an emotional prism. The problem here is that nagging brings in only resentment, sulkiness and a determined refusal to adhere to the nagger’s wishes. If those who nag reflect, and change track, it will bring about a sea change in their attitude and the response they get.

As with all behavioural patterns, some amount of introspection is called for. The first step is to get real. To accept that humans have an innate tendency to minimise the importance of things they see as small. Rather than resenting them for forgetting some small but vital task, it would be better to acknowledge this and work with them to solve the problem. Engaging them on the matter and getting them to accept that though the task is small, it is crucial, is a step forward. Once others learn to value all things recognise their inherent place in the scheme of things, it’s easy to get them to do the job at hand.

The next step is showing appreciation. Basically, everyone craves affection and admiration but think they can get it only by achieving big things. It is up to you to make it clear that the smaller tasks, too, are important and deserving of appreciation. What’s more, show that appreciation in unstinted measure each and every time. All too often, the one who nags believes that nothing gets done unless some nagging is done. And, a vicious cycle is set in motion: no task done; no words of praise; no motivation to do; nothing gets done.

Let us not underestimate the damaging powers of resentment that a nagger carries, upon seeing that things are not done the way he / she wants them to be done. It gets harder for them to acknowledge that others are trying their best, since in their view, that best falls far short. This resentment will also negate whatever others do, and lead to score-keeping: the nagger feels he / she does all the work and nobody holds their ends up. In turn, seeing that he / she is never happy whatever they do, the others feel there is no point in getting down to things. They show resentment, too.

The key is to stop demanding and start requesting. Infusing needless urgency with every little request will undermine its importance. Never let people think that their efforts are in vain. Also, understand that most people don’t do something unless they are asked to. But, ask in the most polite manner.
Put things in perspective. If people forget to run an errand for you, or don’t pick up after themselves, let the situation head towards some minor catastrophe, it does not mean they are your foes. It just means that they are human, and they sometimes forget. Or that what is vital to you is trivial to them. You can either make a fair attempt to change their viewpoint or gracefully concede defeat.

The way to get off the nagging track is to delete ‘I told you’ from your vocabulary. Learn to forgive more and move on. Do not make a big deal of unforced errors committed by others around you. See the silver lining in every dire situation. Shower love, appreciation and generous support. Stop dumping guilt on others. Be tactful when expressing views that are less than flattering to the person or situation. Above all, stay in a good mood.

Give it a shot. It could well change the way things move around you.

Never say ‘I told you’
Learn to forgive and move on
Don’t make a big deal of unforced errors
Stop dumping guilt on others


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