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.

Published by Keith R Wilson

I'm a licensed mental health counselor and certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor in private practice with more than 30 years experience. My newest book is The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad. I recently published a workbook connected to it titled, How to Make an Apology You’ll Never Have to Make Again. I also have another self help book, Constructive Conflict: Building Something Good Out of All Those Arguments. I’ve also published two novels, a satire of the mental health field: Fate’s Janitors: Mopping Up Madness at a Mental Health Clinic, and Intersections , which takes readers on a road trip with a suicidal therapist. If you prefer your reading in easily digestible bits, with or without with pictures, I have created a Twitter account @theshrinkslinks. MyFacebook page is called Keith R Wilson – Author.

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