How to Nicely Tell People to Stop Nagging

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A nagging spouse, family member or friend can be profoundly annoying. As your patience wears thin, what could have been a minor discussion can become a huge fight due to your frustration with being nagged. In addition, as you probably know, the more someone nags you to do something, the less motivated you are to do it. If you'd like to stop the nagging and develop more effective ways to communicate, a calm, honest discussion can often solve the problem.

Change your perspective. Consider why the other person is nagging. While nagging is profoundly annoying, the nagger may be motivated by how much she cares for you, as in the case of a mother who anxiously reminds her college-age child to call her every night. Examine your own actions -- when your spouse is talking to you, do you have a tendency to keep your eyes rooted on the TV while he's speaking? He may be nagging because he thinks you aren't paying attention.

Initiate a conversation at a time when the nagging is not taking place. If your partner is nagging you to take out the trash, telling her at the moment to stop nagging will likely make her defensive and less likely to listen. Instead, wait for a time when she's relaxed and in a neutral mood.

Focus on positive actions. Emphasize to the nagger that you appreciate his concern for you, and that if he would like you to do something, you would like him to tell you twice at most. Telling the other person that you appreciate him will help keep him from getting defensive, and focusing on what to do in the future will let you avoid recriminations over past arguments. In return, promise that you will truly listen and follow through when your spouse, friend or parent asks you to do something.

If the nagging is about something less concrete, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, tell the nagger that you are aware of the problem, and inform him of two concrete steps you are taking to address the problem (such going to the gym three times a week and avoiding sodas). Explain that you are doing the best you can, and while you appreciate the concern and support, you would prefer to be reminded less frequently of the change the nagger would like you to make.