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Article Archive >> Community

Family Affairs: R-E-S-P-E-C-T Spells "Happy Family"

Family Affairs
R-E-S-P-E-C-T Spells "Happy Family"

On my end of the phone, I listened intently to the conversation between my 3-year-old granddaughter and my 30-something son.
She said--and I could envision her eyebrows curling: "I don't want to wear that shirt! I want this one!"
He said: "Daddy wants you to wear this one, because it's cool today. You need sleeves to keep your arms warm." I could "see" him stooping to her eye level.
She escalated, "I want that one!"
He repeated, "Daddy wants you to wear this one, because it's cool outside today.
She bellowed: "No!"
He repeated verbatim: "Daddy wants you to wear this one, because it's cool today."
She sounded tearful: "But I want to wear that shirt!
He whispered: "You're going to be so cool in this shirt!"
Apparently emerging through the neck of the shirt, she replied: "Unh-hunh."
He quickly said, "Give me five!"
I heard laughter.
Why would a 6-foot-5-inch and proportionately filled out ex-Marine and successful entrepreneur go the long route in this conversation in which he had all the power and little time to spend? R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
People on both ends of my birth date can remember the 1967 hit song, "Respect." The Library of Congress honored Aretha Franklin's version by adding it to the National Recording Registry, and it is number five on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." The "Garbage" episode in the Bill Nye the Science Guy series uses a parody version of "Respect."
Respect is a key ingredient in every relationship, and it holds hands with trust. When there is trust and respect, people are willing to bend, to give, to compromise-even give in totally. When there is a lack of trust and respect between people, their communications reflect that. They don't elaborate on what they say. They won't give details. They subconsciously leave out information that causes problems in future conversational attempts.
On the listening end of the phone conversation, I smiled and thought: He used the "broken record" approach: calmly repeat word-for-word. And he showed that he cares about her need-even at 3-to be cool before the preschool crowd. He knows her well enough to know which button to push to bring her around. He knows that taking the time to respectfully insist on obedience now will save him time and headaches later when she stands toe to toe and nose to nose with him.
Adult communicators in conflict also must take the time to give the details, to give the person in the wrong a graceful way out or take the way out when offered. They must find the way to end the conversation on a positive note, giving and receiving R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
You can listen to "Respect" by Aretha Franklin at www.rhapsody.com.

Faith Johnson Crumbly is a writer and motivational speaker for Essential Pieces Communication Strategies, essentialpieces@gmail.com.

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