Chores can come high up on the list of aggro-inducers in any household, with only money topping it as the cause of fights. In a perfect world, all household chores should be keenly performed, with every family member taking his or her share.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. What usually occurs is that one person takes ownership of all the household tasks and then tries to delegate them, leading to accusations of nagging and a constant need to keep re-delegating.
This can be tricky, especially if you want to avoid these three key forms of failure:
- Verbal repetition: often seen as nagging.
- Giving up and doing it yourself: turns the “delegator” into a compliant doormat.
- Getting other family members to do the tasks, but with the attitude that they’re your jobs that you will always ask them to do: victim retains ownership of task and anyone doing them considers themselves to be doing him or her a favour.
Ideally, your family should understand the tasks are for the benefit of all and decide to do them when they need doing, not wait to be asked or expect thanks.
Here are 8 ways to help achieve an ideal situation:
- Always communicate face-to-face when you have undivided attention. Ideally, all family members need to be present.
- Employ body language that oozes confidence and authority. A calm posture, good eye contact and a confident delivery are vital.
- Don’t begin the conversation by airing past gripes. “You’ve never lifted a finger to help” is a very weak gambit as it’s something they can’t change. Do you want an apology or do you want action? Too many goals, especially emotional goals tangled up with behaviour goals, will cause confusion.
- Never allow emotion to show in your vocal tone or your body language. If they can hear you’re upset, they’ll smell blood.
- Don’t back down. Fiddling, looking away or arm-folding will look like defensive signals.
- Listen to their points and don’t interrupt. Then pause. Then stick to your guns.
- Don’t make threats. Kids can always threaten better and carry their threats out.
- When they do the tasks, don’t shout out instructions or ridicule. Encouragement and praise are motivational, but never thank them – it gives you ownership of the task.