Another longish, rambler today.
Laying down the law, never pleasant whether you’re the layee or the layer. People have different approaches to situations, and mistakes or misunderstandings are common when the person who you are dealing with tackles life or work tasks differently than you would. Or sometimes they are simply lazy. When pervasive or constant disregard or disrespect for the other party is common, sometimes Laying Down the Law is necessary. Sometimes it needs to be done for the betterment of the whole. And in most instances, the person getting the verbal notice knows full damn well they aren’t doing what they should be doing. They may get defensive or try to flip the script, but you have to stick to your guns and stay on task. You need to be respectful and like a rock in the face of drama. It will likely be unpleasant, but it sets the tone for what you’ll accept, and what you won’t, and hence very important no matter what your relationship.
I’ve had to get out the stick (instead of the carrot) for staff at work. Bring them into my office, tell them they aren’t performing to expectations and they better get their act together, that type of thing. Not pleasant for me. Very unpleasant for them. But you know what? In every case they know they aren’t performing, and it at least makes things crystal clear on what those expectations are. They may take it pretty hard. I had one dude take the afternoon off after I pretty stoically told him the situation much to his chagrin. I’ve had employees nearly cry as we’ve conversed about tough situations and performance reviews. Ugh. Professional conduct throughout, but if these people had done what they were supposed to do, we never would have had these conversations.
For our children, those little midget crazy people we share our lives with, laying down the law is absolutely necessary on a regular basis. I watched a neighbor and friend warn his kid about 8 times to stop doing something, and still let him do it. Afterward, like an asshole, I asked him if they gave his kids timeouts. “Yes” he said, but he didn’t want to when people are over. Fuck. That. Lay down the law with your kids or they will walk all over you. Shit, I discipline other people’s kids. In front of their parents, and they don’t say shit. They support my timeouts and punishments. This Post is about 2.5 years old but supports my point I’ve written about before: Red Pill Dad: Disher of Discipline. If you want kids to do something, you sometimes need to lay out the cause-effect relationship of their actions. It’s part of growing up. This Post (good article for those that have a problem with talk back and kids not listening- as long as you follow through) talks about it, and recommends a timer. A black-and-white cause and effect for their actions:
When either parent wanted something to be accomplished, they were to ask Abraham to do it within a certain time frame. That could be “before your sitcom begins,” “after dinner and before you begin to use any electricity,” or better yet, “before the timer buzzes.” If the kid began to argue, they were to ignore his complaints, set the timer, and walk away. If he accomplished the task on time, reasonably correctly, and without a bunch of grumping and griping, life would move on. If he didn’t, then he would lose out on a privilege or receive a “bad point” or other negative consequence. No ifs, ands, or buts . . . just a consequence for not doing as told when told.
My two nephews are staying with us this week while my brother-in-law and his wife are in Sexico. Having two extra crazies in the house raises the insanity level since the cousins feed off each others’ energy and loudness drawing LoudBoy into the fray. The older one is a really nice kid, but my youngest nephew is a little shit. Always has been, with blatant disrespect. My father-in-law refuses to watch them anymore because of his behavior. What’s interesting is that in general they behave much better here. We don’t coddle them, make them help with chores (laundry, making their lunch, cleaning up), and set clear expectations and consequences. Young nephew has been in about a dozen timeouts in the first few days, but has since listened and behaved. Funny how that is. Their parents are all bark and no bite, while I set clear expectations and ALWAYS follow through on my warnings.
Now comes the most complex of the Law Laydowns – the spouse. Your relationship with this best friend/lover/ roommate/ co-parent/ coworker is very complex. But shit, if your spouse sucks ass at something hard core or is just plain lazy, you still have to lay down the law. Now, I must put a caveat on this. First, is your spouse contributing in other equal but different ways to the overall well being of the house, but doesn’t cook, clean, or do laundry as often as you, some slack needs to be cut. I’ve talked a lot here about my own situation. Holly and I are equal earners, but view chores differently. We’ve found a way that works for us, and because I recognize her contributions in areas I wouldn’t touch (big organization, decluttering, and major projects) I’m ok with her lack of contribution on the day-to-day cleaning that I need to have in order to stay sane (my parents are hoarders, my intolerance of clutter is somewhat high).
Before you approach your spouse on whatever you need to bring to their attention (too much spending, too much drinking, too much time on video games, getting their health in order, not enough attention to you, too much time spent staring at electronic devices instead of having sexy time, whatever), take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. Often people just get into a pattern of coasting and slowly make their way to an unhealthy condition. While they’re likely aware of their behavior, they currently don’t see any consequences from it, so like Newton’s First Law of Motion, if left unchecked they’ll continue doing it. The purpose is not to berate them or shame them, but to bring attention to their behaviors and the effect it has. Think of it more like an intervention, so you need to handle it with tact, but make the expectations known. Don’t make threats, but be prepared to lay out the consequences if things don’t improve. You may want to revisit my How to Fight with Your Spouse post as well.
This will be uncomfortable, and they’ll likely get defensive and start picking on your behaviors as well. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since there are likely behaviors you have which need improving as well, so if both sides raise their game a little, theoretically the family unit as a whole should be better. Too often, we let our spouse get away with behaviors we would call out from other people due to the conflict, the potential for fighting, or simply fear (I have seen men literally afraid to confront their wives). While this advice applies to both men and women, the supplicative husband is usually the one who has the harder time Laying Down the Law. Again, the purpose is to bring awareness and accountability to behaviors that hopefully help with a common goal (better health, more quality time together, cleaner house, better sex life, better financial situation). And framed in that way, it’s a more palatable way to introduce a bitter pill.
So with all that, what is the takeaway? Whether with your co-workers, friends, kids, family, or spouse, if you aren’t seeing behaviors that are in line with your expectations, you need to bring attention and awareness to those behaviors and set expectations for change along with potential consequences. Prepare to be uncomfortable and for the other person to get defensive and even angry, but with tact and the right approach, hopefully you’ll see the response you desire. Have confidence, and take action. You only live once, so no need to live with not-awesome behavior that sucks life out of you. Good look!