Rebecca Eckler, a reporter with the National Post, sat in on my workshop Gag Your Nagging and wanted more information about my e-book, Gag Your Nagging: Ways to Communicated More Effectively.
Here are Rebecca’s interview questions and my answers:
Rebecca: What are the most common nags you hear women recount?
Patricia: It depends on the age of their children and the stage of family development. For instance, a parent of young children who is working to get them out the door to school may say, “Hurry up.” “Don’t be such a slow poke.” A parent of a pre-teen may be focused on homework, “Do you have homework?” “Have you done your homework?” If the family has children close in age, you will hear sibling-focused nagging such as, “Leave your sister alone,” or “You kid s are driving me crazy.” I f the nag is targeted at a spouse, you might hear, “When are you going to stop smoking? It’ll kill you.”
Rebecca: Why a class only for women?
Patricia: I do a workshop on nagging and sometimes there are males present. However, there does seem to be a sex difference. In our culture, when men nag, it is typically called “being persistent.” Traditionally, when men nag, they are more action-oriented. There is still some sense of, “If Dad tells us to do something, we better or something will happen.” Dads tend not to nag as often or use crying as a means of motivation. There are also other reasons women are labeled naggers and men are not. Marriage therapist, Gary Gerber, concludes that when men get into the pestering habit their wives tend to call them “whiners.”
Rebecca: Do you think that some women are just born nags? Is there a nagging gene?
Patricia: No. It’s a learned behavior.
Rebecca: The funniest or strangest nagging you have ever heard?
Patricia: I find the majority of them funny. They are mis-communications. There are clutter, indigestion, stating the obvious, “No one ever listens to me,” “Hurry up ,” illogical question and emotionally wounding nags. Here are a few weird ones:
• “Can’t you pick up after yourself Of course, the person can.
• “Grow up!” How demeaning—either the person is a child or an adult. It’s a put down to say to either.
• “For God’s sake, tidy up.” Personally, I don’t think any God cares about tidiness.
• “What’s wrong with you?” Now there is a damaging assumption—that the individual is somehow flawed. It’s better to ask, “What problem do you have?” Even better is to say is, “I have a problem”.
Rebecca: What do you nag your husband/children about the most? Or have you stopped nagging completely?
Patricia: Two of my most used nags on my hubby and children were:
• You are driving me crazy.
• You are making me sick and tired.
These are self-wounding nags. I gave my personal power away by believing that my children and husband “made me”—made me crazy and made me sick and tired. I created a self-fulfilling prophesy. Good on me that I sought help, got lots of therapy, and I now “make me”.
Have I stopped nagging? Wait a second here! I’ll go find my hubby. (I’m back.) He said to tell you, “Heck, there’s nothing to nag me (Les) about”. However, I still repeatedly remind our oldest daughter (an adult now) about important commitments, but it no longer includes finger pointing or reprimanding. She has a disability and, when she forgets things over and over again, such as to eat or pay her bills, we now end up laughing. In her childhood, I did reprimand. I did nag. I tried to change her. Now we know she has an actual problem of focusing. She either over-focuses or under-focuses. She calls what I do, “loving me with reminders.” Reminders are different than nags. Reminders are most often appreciated, are done with clear communication, and do not attack the individual.
Rebecca: Can nagging get so bad that a relationship ends over it? Have you heard those stories?
Patricia: In his work, marriage therapist, Gary Gerber, encourages digging down deep to discover those hidden issues. The men who whine and the women who nag focus on household responsibility, sex, money, disciplining children, or in-laws. The nags may vary while underneath there is a bigger, core, unresolved and unnamed problem. We do know that the top two reasons for divorce are conflict over sex and money. So, if we are nagging about those issues, the nagging adds to the dysfunction. Nagging is not an effective problem-solving technique. It expands the problem rather thancreating a plan of action.
Rebecca: So, it is possible to “gag your inner nagging”?
Patricia: Would I be doing this work if I didn’t think so? We are all capable of change. Is it easy? No, siree! Plus, I consider myself a reformed nagger. Wait a minute, I’ll go check again with my hubby. Yep, Les confirms I’m easier to be with and more fun as a life partner.
Rebecca: Why do you think your seminar was so successful?
Patricia: Thank you for noticing. First, the room was filled with people who were open to learning and changing. The women asked themselves some hard questions and shared some hard truths. Second, I know this topic well as I have done my share of nagging and I have learned to tell truths lightly. Humor helps the medicine go down.
Rebecca: Also, I noticed that there were women of every age attending? Is there a common age to naggers?
Patricia: No. I had a mother-in-law who nagged until she died. Nagging is an old and ingrained habit, a behavior used in an effort to exert control over other people. People who try to control others continue to do so for years unless they do the work of identifying and changing that habit.
Rebecca: Why do you think it’s important for women to “gag their nagging”? Why not just let them be nags?
Patricia: Most people who nag end up feeling powerless, helpless, guilty, frustrated, angry and incapable. They will better realize their own personal power when they accept responsibility for their fifty percent of the relationship and their poor communication skills. If they effectively edit their defeating self-talk and learn to communicate with clarity, they will speak and act more in integrity. Plus they will more often feel self-respected, competent, articulate, mature and light-hearted. That’s my experienced outcome.
Thank you, Rebecca, for your interest in my work and helping your readers better communicate.
To turn your nags into effective communication purchase my $12.95 book ($7 e-book), Gag Your Nagging: Ways to Communicate More Effectively