Working here changed how I talk to my mum

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I’ve been working for Quietroom for six months now. I’m not a writer. I don’t improve the words our clients use. I’m the Account Manager. I make Gantt charts and update budget sheets and boss the writers about, when I get the chance. But between number crunching and diary juggling, I’ve picked up a thing or two about writing. The tools (not rules) we teach don’t just apply Monday to Friday, nine to five. It’s even starting to affect how I talk to my mum.

When I forgot Mother’s Day

I am a lovely daughter. I really am. But it’s been a busy year and, unfortunately, Mother’s Day went under the radar. That was until the Monday morning, when my Dad called pointing out that Mum was, in her words, ‘pretty disappointed’. I knew I needed to make amends sharpish. My Mum was abroad at the time, so a WhatsApp apology had to suffice. I borrowed my favourite technique from a complaints workshop that we did at work, to manage this one.

Reflect the language of the reader

My Mum wasn’t angry or offended or shocked. She was disappointed. So I used that same word when writing to her. ‘Mum, I know you were disappointed when you didn’t hear from your kids on Mother’s Day.’ It shows that I get how she feels and I’ve bothered to take note of the words she’s used.

My Mum has since forgiven me. I put that down to my carefully crafted WhatsApp message. It also put me in good stead …

When I needed to borrow some money

I repeat, I’m a lovely daughter. But it’s been a busy year. And when your card starts getting declined at Tesco and it’s 10 days until pay day, you’ve got to call in favours. How to ask for help and action is something we’ve taught hundreds of people about in the working environment. The same tools got me out of another sticky situation involving my Mum.

Order your thoughts

If you’re in a tough spot and you’re asking for help, explain how you got there. It’s harder for someone to react badly when they know why something happened. So opening with, ‘Mum, can you lend me £30? My card just got declined’ really isn’t going to cut the mustard (believe me, I’ve tried).

Instead I said this, ‘Mum, it’s been an expensive month. I’ve had to spend loads on train tickets and presents for the 18 weddings I’m going to this summer. Because of that, I’m really struggling to make ends meet.’

Paint a picture

Saying ‘my card got declined while shopping’ wouldn’t have garnered much sympathy from my Mum. So instead I painted a picture using lots of tangible details. It meant that my Mum could see (and feel) the situation. I said: ‘Just this morning I was trying to buy some eggs and milk from Tesco and my card got declined. Now, I’ve got nothing in my cupboards for breakfast. I can’t even make a cup of tea. So, can you please lend me £30 to get me to pay day? I’ll pay you back next weekend.’ Bare shelves and an empty stomach? That’s enough to break a mother’s heart.

Use words that connect with people emotionally

When we’re talking about tricky situations, many people start using formal words like assistance and require. There’s really no point. We use the words help and need more often in everyday conversation. So I ended my message with, ‘Right now Mum, I really need your help’. Instead of ‘Mum, I require your assistance’.

Mum did help. I did make it to pay day. And I have plans to pay her back soon-ish.

Who would’ve thought a couple of tips I picked up in the office could save my relationship with my Mum and win me a cheeky 30 quid?

So, thank you Quietroom. And sorry Mum.

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