Word of the Week: Fractious

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  1. Irritable and quarrelsome.
  2. Difficult to control, unruly.
Tree RootsRoot: From the Latin word frangere.   In Latin this means “to break or shatter”.


Did you know:

divergent and fractiousThe word fractious is often confused with the word factious. They are similar, in fact, with the same Latin root. However, factious means something that is caused or stemming from a faction (or a disagreeing small group within a larger group). It is possible to be both factious and fractious. To be factious, though, you must first be part of a faction. You can be fractious all by yourself.

Fractious as a child

“She started it!” “Did not!” “Did too!” “Did not!” “Mooom!!!”

Sound familiar? Children are the Jedi masters of being fractious. As the parent of a child on the autism spectrum as well as an emotional teenager I have had a wealth of experience in calming the fractious child. Here are 3 tips in how to rediscover calmness when your child is being fractious.

  1. Remain calm. Children feed off of your emotions. When you lose control it is like a green light for them to talk the tantrum into overdrive.
  2. Find a diversion. If you can change the subject or divert their attention often they will simply forget that they were upset in the first place. Note: this works better with a 4 year old boy than it does with a 16 year old girl.
  3. Speak soft and low. This trick has several benefits. First, the child has to work to hear you. This can often be a distraction for them (see #2). Second, it allows you to convey disapproval through vocal pitch as opposed to volume.

Fractious crowds

If you give more than one presentation in your life chances are, at some point, you will run into a fractious crowd. When this happens, just like when dealing with a fractious child, there are certain tips that can help you deal with tough crowds and touch presentations. Nancy Duarte illustrated this quite well in her article “Tough Crowd? 5 Ways to Stay Calm, Cool, and Collected”.   She lists the following 5 suggestions for staying calm in the face of a hostile audience:

  1. Set clear, realistic goals
  2. Anticipate resistance
  3. Find some common ground
  4. Be honest
  5. Stay Calm

Notice that no matter who the fractious one is, whether child or adult, whether a single person or a crowd, staying calm is one of the best defenses you have. If you control you, others will follow.

This week, your word is Fractious

Let’s see it in a couple of sentences

  • My fractious four-year old didn’t listen to a thing I said.
  • What started out as a peaceful protest devolved into a fractious mob.

 Go forth, friends. Words are powerful. Use them well.


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