How’s that working for ya?

I love this line. It’s one of my favorite responses when people complain about how poorly a situation is going and what they’re doing, or not doing, to fix the problem.

“I keep asking my kid to stop hitting his sister until I’m yelling and screaming at him.”
“Oh yeah? How’s that working for ya?”

“Every time I watch Bill work I get furious. He does everything the opposite of how I would and takes forever.”
“Oh yeah? How’s that working for ya?”

If you ask and ask and ask until you’re blue in the face, boiling over with anger, consider how that’s working for you? If it isn’t, why do you drive yourself crazy doing the same thing over and over?

There’s only one thing we can control, and that’s our own emotional response to a situation. This harkens back to my show don’t tell post. If you tell, bark, and demand obedience, you’ll find you’re facing off against a bitter and defensive person whether they’re 3 or 30. Good luck getting a defensive person to be anything but stubborn.

If your past actions aren’t working, you have to pivot, adapt and come back to the situation with a new strategy. The good news is that with family, friends, and colleagues, you usually have more than one chance to get it right. For characters in books, they frequently need to ask themselves this question, and once answered, only then can they begin to change their fortunes and overcome the central conflict of the story.

Think about your futile attempts to make that thing that’s driving you nuts stop, and let me ask, “How’s that working for ya?”

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