Strike while the iron is cold. All criticism should be offered with kindness, not anger.
Ask for a specific behavioral change. Your loved one is less likely to respond defensively if you say, "Please call me when you're going to be more than 15 minutes late" instead of "I can't rely on you."
Keep it short, and don't exaggerate. Stick to three sentences or fewer, and don't tell your sister she's done something "a million times" when it's really three occasions. She'll only want to correct your distortion—and won't hear anything else you say.
Psychologist Harriet Lerner, PhD, is the author of Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up.
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