Change I don't want to I would like.
A great way to express your concerns is to talk about what you would like rather than what you don't want.
When you speak in a negative way, it often leads to a negative response. If you open with I don't want, you are risking
that the conversation will take on a complaining/defending tone. To increase positivity in the exchange, use a would like to message.
- Don't want: I don't want to see another action movie.
- Would like: I would like to see a romantic comedy.
While this small shift is very simple, it can have a huge impact. Using a negative statement leads to defensiveness and discouragement. Using a positive statement leads to cooperation and enthusiasm.
Don't want statements are problematic for another reason. When you talk about what you don't want,
it can be inaccurate and misleading. As an example, read these statements and guess what type of car Susan wants to buy:
- "I don't want an SUV."
- "I don't want a motorcycle."
- "I don't want an American car."
Now here's a different version of what Susan could say:
"I would like a Honda Accord."
Wow. Now it's so obvious. Even if your spouse wants to be nothing but helpful, they will have a hard time doing so if they receive insufficient information from your negative statements. The chart below explains how would like statements reveal useful information in a nonthreatening way.
Would like to Chart
Would Like To
|Don't want can be confusing.
||Would like to statements clearly reveal your preferences.
|Don't like often leads to defensiveness.
||Would like to leads to constructive conversation.
|Don't want/Don't like create ill will and negativity.
||Would like to creates positivity and an aura of goodwill.
Make sure you avoid following would like
with the word you
. "I would like you
to" sounds like you are telling your spouse what to do. Instead, "I would like to,
" or "I would like a,
" or "I would like more,
" work well because they encourage cooperation. These openers explain your own concerns without controlling your partner or telling him/her what to do.
If you do find yourself saying I don't want
, you can neutralize the effect by adding a would like
afterward. For example, I don't want to watch a DVD, I would like to go on a walk so we can talk to each other more.
Time to Practice
Practice this skill by converting these negative statements into positive statements. Come up with details that reveal what the speaker actually wants in each situation.
- Don't want: I don't want the bed to be so messy during the day.
- I would like: I would like to have the bed made after we get up in the morning.
- Don't want: I don't want to eat chicken again tonight.
- I would like: