Say Yes, or Say No


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt


I think  maybe is a passive-aggressive response.  I know.  I’ve used it myself.

Said to a child, it means “I don’t want to think about that right now.  I don’t want to answer you with a yes, because that will commit me to  something  I don’t really want to follow through with. I don’t want to say no because that makes me  a mean mom. Maybe gets me off the hook, and I can hope you’ll just forget about it.”

What we should say instead is the simple truth: “I don’t know the answer to that right now. I’ll think about it and decide by lunchtime, and I’ll tell you then.” Of course, if you say that, then you are honor bound to follow through. Otherwise your child has the right to send you to time-out.

Between adults, maybe  is just as problematic.  He says maybe when he really should say “I don’t want to do that. Why don’t you go with a friend or two instead?  It’s just not my thing.”  She says maybe  when she means “I really don’t feel like it right now, but give me some time and let me think about it, and we’ll talk again in a day or two.”

In marital counseling, I spend a lot of time helping couples learn to say what they really mean instead of  tiptoeing around an issue. Both partners have trouble just being honest at first. They fear that the other person will be angry, or hurt, or misunderstand. They fear rejection, invalidation, isolation, emotional distancing. It’s amazing how these fears all begin to drop away when a couple can learn (1) LOOK at each other when you need to talk about something important. (2) Touch. Hold hands. It helps keep the connection going. (3) State your concern calmly, honestly, and with no dancing around the real core of the issue (4) Listen carefully.  Repeat what you’ve heard. Doing that helps clarify before moving on to the next statement. (5) Don’t mind-read. You really don’t know what the other person is thinking. Start your sentences with I, not You. Don’t make your spouse feel he/she has to defend a position. Both of you will lose.

If you learn how to communicate openly and without any filler words that don’t mean anything, you’ll find you’re saying maybe less often.

Good grief.  I really didn’t know I was going in this direction when I started this post!

PS–I don’t know where all the graphics came from.  I had a picture of a cute baby there. Working on getting rid of the mess.


3 thoughts on “Say Yes, or Say No

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