Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stepmothers: Don't Be Too Nice

I was just reading an article over at Freelance Switch about something called The Emotional Scale. Mark Garison says,

"A boss I once had presented the staff at a sales meeting one day with a chart of emotions. At the bottom were the negative emotions, progressing up into neutral emotions and at the top were positive emotions . . . He told us that people cannot relate to someone who is not within two emotions on the scale (ie. a depressed person will not relate to cheerful behavior).”
It caught my attention because when people seem frustrated with me my gut reaction is to just try harder—to be nicer, to smile more, to do more. Luckily my stepdaughter was very young when we came into each other’s lives and she didn’t go through a phase of being frustrated with me. But most stepchildren go through a period of mourning the family structure that they have lost and a period of frustration with the changes that a new family dynamic brings to their lives.

If she had been older I suspect my instinct would have been to meet any angry comments with increasing levels of syrupy kindness.

This article suggests that the opposite is more effective—if someone is communicating negative feelings to you then the best response is to speak to her in a calm, reserved tone. Garison says, “without them realizing it, this will bring their emotions closer to yours.”

Now that I think about it this way it seems like common sense. What do you think?

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