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In the past I often heard my mum, my wife, my brother, or other relatives to complain about how I do certain things (washing dishes, cleaning, etc.) and advising me how they prefer I would do it. For a (too) long time I didn't pay too much attention to it. But recently my interest in non-violent communication and empathy in general increased I try to practice more deep listening.

While I have the feeling that I understand the needs of people around me better, I still have a lot of problems remembering it. This results in the fact that at I later point of time I keep doing things the way I'm used to it and don't adjust it to the needs of the people around me. This obviously leads to conflicts.

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    Hi Andreas! Welcome to IPS. While knowing how to remember how people would like you to handle this is rather more of an intrapersonal issue (and therefore off topic on this site), I believe we may be able to help you. Is your goal of communicating your relatives that you have a hard time remembering to do things the way they prefer, or maybe would you like to disclose the trouble you're having? Or is it only that you'd like how to remember how to do it "their way"? – avazula Nov 19 '19 at 6:21
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    If you're leaning towards third option, unfortunately that'd be off topic here. However, we could help with points #1 and 2. Also, have they verbally told you how to do things or was it more of a non verbal expression of disagreement? – avazula Nov 19 '19 at 6:22
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    I think there is something else here, how you wash the dishes, unless they are not clean, shouldn't be a reason for conflict. It seems odd someone would worry about it. Maybe you are failing to understand their underlying needs in the discussions you have with them and that is why you forget later on what they asked? You could ask a question here, for example explaining the situation with the dishes and how you should respond to show you care. @avazula I am not sure if what I just suggested would be a valid question. What do you think? – Mykazuki Nov 19 '19 at 6:33
  • @Mykazuki it could be a valid question indeed, how to ask them why they want you to do things a certain way and how to tell them that it's why you struggle to do so. – avazula Nov 19 '19 at 6:55
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We usually remember the things we like, and the things we understand. If you do not remember something, then you are either not interested, or you do not understand the benefit.

It helps me a lot when people tell me what to change, and why. Sometimes (usually?) they only express briefly the expected outcome, and their effort either falls on dead ears, or even worse, is understood as "What, are you smarter than me?".

I will give you an example which helped me change a habit, pretty much like your situation now.

I used to slice tomatoes for eating in the following way:

  • cut the tomato in half through the "bottom";
  • with V-shapes cuts, remove the two resulting halves of the bottom;
  • slice each half of tomato.

I was told that it is better to give up the first two steps, and go directly to slicing. It went to deaf ears. Until one day I was like: "But why?!"

And then I received the background info: it is faster. I do not have to do things which are useless. And now I slice the tomatoes directly, without caring about the bottom. It remains alone at the end, and I just throw it away.

The downside might be that the slices are not as beautiful and symmetrical and what-not, but I do not really care. In a few minutes, there would be no slices any more, anyway.


Bottom line: try to understand WHY they want you to do things differently. You might be able to learn one or two new things, and at the same time not forget, and be more empathetic in general.

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