We all deserve to live in a relationship free from constant criticism…
In this article I will be sharing some a simple 3 stage strategy to help you deal with it better within your relationship.
Although you might feel it’s constructive, if the criticism is a regular thing, it often becomes destructive.
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This is because it’s either delivered in the wrong way or it feels like an attempt to fundamentally change the character of the other person – the one thing we’re told we definitely can not and must not do.
John Gottman, a renowned psychologist and relationship expert, has extensively researched the impact of criticism on relationships, shedding light on the destructive effects it can have. Fundamentally it is a communication pattern that attacks the character or personality of one’s partner, creates a toxic atmosphere and erodes the foundation of a healthy relationship.
Gottman’s research demonstrates that criticism often leads to defensiveness and escalating conflict. When one partner criticises the other, it triggers a natural defensive response, causing the criticised partner to feel attacked and unsafe. This defensive stance can quickly escalate into a cycle of blame, counter-criticism, and hostility, leading to a breakdown in communication and emotional connection. Over time, this pattern can create deep-seated resentment and erode the trust and intimacy within the relationship.
Moreover, criticism undermines the fundamental need for acceptance and validation. When one partner habitually criticises the other, it conveys a message that they are not valued for who they are. This can damage self-esteem, increase feelings of inadequacy, and create emotional distance. Couples who experience frequent criticism often report feeling lonely, disconnected, and unsatisfied in their relationship.
Gottman’s research emphasises the importance of replacing criticism with healthy communication patterns. Instead of attacking a partner’s character, focusing on specific behaviours or issues allows for constructive problem-solving. Expressing concerns or needs using “I” statements and focusing on expressing feelings and desires rather than blaming the other person can foster understanding and empathy. This approach promotes a safer environment where both partners feel heard and valued, nurturing a sense of emotional closeness.
His research demonstrates that criticism has a profoundly negative impact on relationships. It erodes trust, increases conflict, and diminishes emotional connection. By replacing criticism with constructive communication patterns, couples can create a healthier and more supportive environment, fostering a stronger bond and greater satisfaction in their relationship.
This comes from a place of personal frustration.
This is when you’re not offering feedback that can help your partner develop, it’s more about nit-picking small behaviours that annoy you.
Or the worst kind of criticism which feels like a character assassination.
Criticism can be complicated so here it is…
A SIMPLE 3-STAGE STRATEGY
1️⃣ Ask more questions
👉 Before jumping to your own defence, find out more
👉 The criticism might be coming from a good place of concern and with good intentions, but it’s just been communicated poorly
👉 Try your best to listen without judgement
👉 Assume the best intentions
👉 Ultimately, ask more questions to clarify exactly what they are trying to help with
2️⃣ State the facts
👉 Remove emotion from the situation by identifying the facts as you see them
👉 Repeat these back to your partner in a positive way so they can see how you view it
3️⃣ Let your partner know how you feel
👉 If you get frustrated yourself by the criticism, how you feel can get lost in the conflict
👉 Be honest about how it hurts your feelings can help the way it’s delivered in the future
Every relationship has a level of criticism and I believe we can all learn how to deal with it more effectively.
For even more information on how to avoid or counteract this behaviour in your relationship, check out this article by the John Gottman Institute by clicking here
If you have found this article helpful, you may find this other article of interest too: CLICK HERE to read more on how to help with overcoming defensiveness in your relationship.
I’m always open to a conversation, so feel free to message me here and I may be able to offer you further strategies to help.