How To Politely Tell Someone To Stop Doing Something


In the day to day of living with our closest people, and even with people not so close like friends or co-workers, frictions, misunderstandings or discomforts can arise.

Those kinds of situations are quite normal since we are not all the same, nor do we all have the same level of sensitivity. And of course we all give importance to different things.

An expression or behavior that might be very annoying to you, might be just normal for another person, so no one should be angry.

When it is not possible to continue in a certain way, but we do not want to be abrupt, we must act with precision and tell the other person to stop doing something.

Telling someone to stop doing something is best done with a brief and calm explanation on how it affects you and how you rather would like the situation to be. Use “I” sentences and avoid pointing on the other person with “You”.

The need to express your discomfort

When uncomfortable situations occur to us, the most appropriate and healthy thing is to let that person know that something has bothered you and you want them to stop.

It’s appropriate, because if we don’t say it, that annoying situation could repeat itself. Taking into account that others are not fortune-tellers and therefore cannot know what our feelings are or know if something has bothered you.

Let’s say that up to here, it is nothing new for you. Important are the benefits of expressing our disagreement and how we say it to the other person.

Benefits of expressing that something has bothered you

One of the benefits that has a lot of weight is that telling someone that something has made us uncomfortable makes us free. Free to express precisely what bothers us.

If we don’t, we will have to swallow the annoyance, put up with it, feel anger, discomfort … and not only that time that it has bothered us, but all those that come after.

Becoming free people, without a doubt, makes us happier people, which is no small thing. Happy because, we will be able to negotiate with the people around us and in this way, avoid many tantrums, anger and bad moods.

Being happy will undoubtedly help us sleep better. Otherwise, as said before, we will have to endure the discomfort.

Expressing calmly and in good manners what we think, say or what has bothered you, will make people around us behave in the same way with us.

In this way, they will see us as a person they can talk to and who will also respect their opinions. On the contrary: If we never express what we think, from the outside we will be seen as very reserved people, and that does not usually inspire confidence.

Expressing yourself improves relationships

Saying what bothers us will help us to maintain healthier and more sincere personal relationships, since the people with whom we interact will end up knowing us, and at the same time, understanding us better.

On the other hand, being honest about this and saying what has bothered us helps us to set limits. Indeed, setting our limits, we can only do it ourselves.

Remember that others will not know what bothers us or what does not, if we do not let them know. Therefore, express yourself and set a limit with that person very clearly so that they do not bother you.

Saying what has bothered us, reinforces our self-esteem because we will be avoiding everything that bothers us. And that is thinking about ourselves, and about our well-being.

Don’t attack others

What most of us do most often is tell that person what he or she has done wrong. Or, rather, what we understand that he has done wrong, and for what we are upset.

Bad expressions:

For example, we can say things like:

“You haven’t called me all day today, if I haven’t called you…”

“I sent you a message in the morning and you haven’t answered it yet.”

“I’m talking to you and you don’t stop looking at the computer, you don’t listen to me!”

Things like this have probably all been said at some point. What we get by expressing ourselves in this way is that the other person feels attacked, with which they will surely defend themselves and get angry.

Better expressions:

On the contrary, in the previous examples, we could say:

“I feel like you don’t care about me if you don’t call me all day.”

“I have the feeling that you don’t care what I write if you don’t answer my messages.”

“I get the impression that you do not listen to me when I speak to you.”

Then you can tell him how he might behave so that you don’t feel bad, or so you don’t misinterpret his behavior. If we say it this way, the other person cannot feel attacked; nor can he tell us that this is not true, because who we are talking about is ourselves.

Saying the above, that person could explain to us why he has done it; most likely there is a reasonable reason. And from there, become more aware of what things bother us.

Set your objectives before you criticize somebody

Making a criticism is asking for a change and is making another person aware of what is bothering us so that they stop doing it.

Normally, we criticize badly and what we get is that the other person feels attacked and becomes defensive instead of changing.

The first thing will be to be clear about what our objective is, what we want the other to do, stop doing, or do differently.

It is not convenient to abuse criticism, or use it in a general way. Do nut use words like: everything, nothing, never and always.

If I am calm and happy, I will not get carried away by anger and I will keep my objectives more in mind and, if the other is calm and happy, they will have a more receptive attitude and will be more likely to change what they it bothers me.

Remember that it is not convenient to abuse criticism and that the target of our criticism must be behavior and not people.

How to report annoyances

So… what is the best way to tell someone to stop doing something? We will use the “I” Messages and The Sandwich Technique.

The “I” Messages

These are the messages that are sent in the first person. They do not imply negative evaluation of the other (unlike in the “you” messages) and does not damage relationships. Instead, they will increase the probability that the other will change.

The best way is to talk about yourself and not about him/her. Tell her how you feel when she does or does not do certain things.

It will not be the same to say to your mother-in-law, for example, “You are a bore” than to say to her: “When you call me at work, I feel overwhelmed because I am very busy and I cannot attend you”.

The Sandwich Technique

It consists of cushioning the negative charge of what we say by also saying something positive and incorporating empathy.

We will start by empathizing. Following the example above, you could say to your mother, “I understand that you want to talk to me”.

Then, we will say what bothers us using Message me: “… But when you call me at work, I feel overwhelmed because I am very busy and I cannot attend you”.

Then we’ll ask for a change: “I’d rather you call me when I’ve gotten home”.

In closing, we will express something positive. For example: “So I can give you all the attention you deserve”.

Don’t swallow your annoyances

We repeat, telling someone the things that are bothering us should that person become to change so that it does not happen again.

Of course, If he/she is close to you and is at least fond of you, he/she will do his/her best not to make you uncomfortable. Or he/she will negotiate with you how to act, so that neither of you feel upset.

Remember that expressing to someone what bothers you is your right. But remember also that your freedom ends where the other persons begin.

If you decide to swallow one annoyance, and then with another, and later with another without saying anything, you will be disrespecting yourself. And we’ve heard it before: No one will respect you if you don’t do it first.

In addition to all of the above, saying at every moment that something has bothered you, prevents us from having to swallow our disagreement.

If things add up and accumulated to lot of annoyance, you no longer say things properly, but you can explode and say inappropriate things.

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