Rude on a scale of 1 to 10

Janice walked in the door for our coaching session, rolled her eyes and ended her phone call.

“Someone important?” I said with a smile.

“Yes, very,” she said. “But he can also be irritating. It was my husband, Darrel.”

“Would you like to talk about what’s irritating you?” I asked, knowing that venting can be a great way to start a coaching session. By releasing this energy, the client can more easily move forward.

“We had a fight about texting etiquette,” Janice began. “I’d been waiting for a client to get back to me and I checked my phone while Darrel and I were at lunch. He was OK with me checking for client messages, but not when I responded to other texts. Although I initially got defensive, looking back I feel it was his delivery that really set me off.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“Last night we met friends for dinner,” she explained. “Minutes before they arrived, Darrel said that he needed to talk to me about my texting. As our friends waited to be seated, he gave me a look of disgust as if he were my disapproving dad. We didn’t talk about it during dinner, but we were both stewing.”

“What happened then?” I asked.

“On our way home, he said that he thought I was rude with my texting and he cited a couple of examples,” Janice explained. “I scrolled through my texts to prove that my texting was justified, which only made him more upset. He said he’d like to talk about it later and I said there wasn’t anything more to say. Later when I tried to open a conversation, he got very upset with me and wouldn’t talk. It was ugly and childish on both of our parts.”

“Did you finally talk about it?” I asked.

“Later when we had both calmed down, I explained how I was upset that he was questioning my judgment. We have different opinions on what is appropriate. He then mentioned being irritated with people at work who rudely text during meetings, as though everyone else is not important. He said he may have been extra sensitive and taken it out on me.”

“What was the conclusion?” I asked.

“We both realized that texting at lunch is what prompted it, but the real fight started when we tried to talk about it,” Janice said. “When we calmed down, we realized we have different standards of what is considered rude when texting.”

“What will you do differently next time he brings up a touchy subject?” I asked.

“Instead of immediately getting defensive, which is a pattern I learned growing up, I’ll try to listen to what he is saying before I react. Then we can talk about it in a more constructive way.”

“Are there any Action Steps you’d like to take regarding this situation?” I asked.

Janice thought for a minute and said: “Next time I’ll slow down my reaction time by taking a deep breath and counting to 10. In addition, I’d like to talk to Darrel and agree on our rules of conduct regarding texting. If we know what the other expects, it’s easier to avoid arguments like this.”

Coaching Challenge: When you are in a relationship, it’s important to agree on rules of conduct between each other. Your first sign of trouble may be a defensive conversation, but this provides an opportunity to identify problem areas and come up with agreements that you can both live with.

Sheri Fisher is an intuitive life coach living in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. For information and to access her blog, go to: http://www.coachwithsheri.com.


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