Conflict and Arguing

Positive Alternatives to Nagging that Work


Nagging is ineffective and puts a strain on your relationships. Instead, try some of these ways to get what you want. Some are so easy you can start doing them immediately while you work your way up to the more advanced strategies.

Simple Alternatives to Nagging:

  1. Do the math. If you still need to convince yourself that nagging fails to get results, try counting how many times you say the same thing. The tenth time is likely to turn out the same as the first nine attempts. You have everything to gain by trying a new approach.

  2. Focus on the positive. Keep your eye on the big picture. When you think about how your family, friends and colleagues enrich your life, it’s easier to cut them some slack on the less pleasant details of your interactions.

  3. Do it yourself. It may be faster and more satisfying to complete a task yourself rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Learn to replace the air filter in your car. Sweep the stairs or wash the dishes even when your spouse was going to do those jobs this week.

  4. Become more flexible. Let your spouse know that you appreciate their willingness to help out even if their methods are different from your own. Smoothing out the bedspread makes the room look tidier even if you have to give up on hospital corners.

  5. Let others experience the consequences of their actions. Maybe your spouse forgets to pay the water bill on time. Going through the hassle of getting the water turned back on may help them see how staying on top of things is important. 

  6. Engage outside help. Consider paying professionals for chores that cause ongoing conflicts. A weekly housecleaning service may be worth the investment.

  7. Streamline your workload. Chronic irritability is often a sign that you’re trying to do too much. Figure out which responsibilities are priorities and which you can put aside.

  8. Embrace technology. Brief text messages and automated calendar reminders deliver the same information with less risk of putting people on the defensive. Remind your partner that you have a dinner party tonight without saying a word.

  9. Take a time out. Deal with sensitive subjects when you’re feeling calm and collected. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a walk until you settle down.

    10. Start with gratitude. Start each day listing 5 things you are grateful for. Focus this list on the things you are grateful about your partner. A grateful heart has the power to keep us graceful towards others.

 alternatives to nagging that work, marriage, relationships


We coach our intensive couples through these strategies and more and come up with an action plan customized for their success. Here are a few:

More Advanced Alternatives to Nagging…

  1. Address the root issues. Probe more deeply to see if nagging is a symptom of deeper issues in your relationships. Intensive counseling or parenting classes may help you get to the bottom of what’s going on.
  2. Ask for what you want directly. Work up the courage to state what you need clearly and tactfully. One skillful message beats years of beating around the bush.
  3. Listen well. Practice attentive listening. Concentrate on what the other person is saying and confirm that you understand. It’s easier to cooperate with each other when we feel validated and cared for.
  4. Nurture your self esteem. Some studies suggest that women are more prone to nagging because they feel like they have less power. Encourage yourself with positive self talk and pursue meaningful goals. Feeling strong and secure makes you less vulnerable to finding faults in others.


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