Relationships, Part 14: How Do You Respond to Bids for Attention?

attention

1. Negative response

“You want to go out to dinner tonight?”

“I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last man on earth.”

It might discourage him from ever asking again.

2. Accusatory response

“You want to go out to dinner tonight?”

“You can’t make it up to me that easy.”

Maybe not, but it’s a start and you are shooting down his attempt.

3. Generalizing response

“You want to go out to dinner tonight?”

“You always want to go out when I’m so tired all I want to do is crash. We never do what I want to do.”

Always always indicates an over-generalization. Never use never to describe someone’s behavior.

4. Passive response

“You want to go out to dinner tonight?”

“Whatever.”

Invests very little in the process. The person asking still has to do most of the work and take most of the risks.

5. Low energy response

“You want to go out to dinner tonight?”

“Sounds good, where?”

A little more positive energy, but still, invests very little in the process. The person doing the asking still has to come up with ideas.

6. Attentive response

“You want to go out to dinner tonight?”

“Sounds great. You like that Thai place down the street?”

In the earlier examples, the person doing the asking bears all the costs and takes all the risks in the exchange. Here, at last, with the Attentive Response is there sharing of responsibility over the outcome.

7. High energy response

“You want to go out to dinner tonight?”

“Boy, do I! Hold on while I put the frozen pizza back in the freezer!”

Includes enthusiasm, humor, affection, or empathy, but might be interpreted as sarcastic.

The way you typically respond to bids for attention may have something to do with how attentive your partner is to you. When you make it costly for them to pay attention they will be less attentive to you.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

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