Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend explains the happy and healthy way to take that criticism.
1. All criticism is a more a reflection of the person giving the criticism than the one it’s directed to.
• Use the feedback to understand what is really important to your partner
• Instead of being offended, try to figure out why your partner really is making such a big deal about that specific issue.
2. Check your sources.
• Example: If the source of the criticism about your house cleaning skills is your partner who never helps or does any housecleaning then weigh the feedback as such.
• Is the criticism coming during a fight or negatively charged interaction?
• Is your partner upset about something else and now is going off on one of your flaws?
• Is the criticism coming from your partner’s area of obsession, pet peeves or based on issues from how he or she was raised as a child?
3. Find the truth (no matter how small) and disregard the rest.
• There is great power in being able to show that you can actually discern the truth in the criticism instead of disregarding any feedback from your partner.
• In healthy relationships, there is usually more truth in the criticism than the criticism found in less healthy or unproductive relationships.
• Don’t believe more than is true. Remember that nobody is 100% accurate so don’t believe all the feedback even if comes from your parents or your partner.
• Remember, you want to improve in life so find the truth in what they’re saying, change to improve yourself and disregard the rest.
• Show your partner where you agree with them by using lifting words like I agree, I admit, I acknowledge, I accept, I appreciate and I apologize.
√ For example, “I totally agree that I need to work on being more affectionate with you by initiating more touch and I don’t agree with you that I don’t like to touch you because I really do.”
• Disregard the rest using “ands” not “buts.” When people use “ands” in their sentences it builds bridges between where they agree and where they don’t. When they don’t use “ands” they build walls.
√ For example, “I agree I need to work harder on getting the house clean and I am raising five children who are going in twenty different directions.” See if you can see the differences between that comment and this one. “I agree I need to work harder on getting the house clean but I am raising five children who are going in twenty different directions.” Can you feel the difference? One feels more inclusive and one sounds like you really don’t understand.
4. Don’t turn over your self-esteem to another person.
• Own your own feelings and sense of self worth.
• Do not empower your partner by giving them complete control over how you feel about yourself and what you do.
√ Watch your feelings and remember that you get to decide whether criticism is true or not.
√Gather data from others.
• If you’re losing your self esteem get help from a professional.
• Get your partner help on how to give better feedback.
• Make sure you have a solid core of who you are and what makes you special. Use that knowledge to fight off the critical blues you feel with your partner.
Matt can be reached at the Townsend Relationship Center at www.marriagemattersutah.com or (801) 747-2121. You can also attend a date night with Matt:
An Evening with Matt Townsend
Saturday, January 16
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
$20 per couple
Location: Noah’s in South Jordan
To register call 801-747-2121