Clients often express that they are reluctant to communicate their frustrations to their partner and they do not want to be seen as a nag or a complainer. People may fear hurting their partner, they may consciously or unconsciously avoid conflict or they may be afraid of losing their partner.
These fears and reluctance to be open and honest tend to contribute to a build up of resentment and may eventually lead to a break down of the relationship. How To Criticize Your Partner With Finesse?
Typically because of their reluctance to seem critical of their partner, people bottle up their frustrations until that final small incident occurs and boom! That criticism is blurted out in anger with hurtful accusation spewed at their partner, who is often puzzled because the intensity of the attack was so disproportionate to the offense. There is an art to expressing criticism in a way that invites a closer connection with your partner.
6 Tips To Criticize with Finesse
- Be timely. Deal with issues as they come up. If you cannot truly let something go, then talk to your partner about it.
- Be specific. Stick to one issue at a time. This is not the time to dump a truckload of garbage on your partner, dragging up past issues and heaping old grudges on top of present concerns. Give clear messages, describe what is happening, how you feel about it and what conclusions you have drawn from the situation.
- Be solution focused. Express what you want or need; suggest possible ways to make things better. Turning your focus to possible solutions rather than harping on problems may help both of you feel more hopeful. Be respectful rather than sarcastic when you are describing what you want.
- Be present. Do not snipe at your partner via text message or email. Look them in the eye and talk with them. Talking to your partner face to face may moderate what say or how you speak to them, since you will be getting instant feedback about their reactions to what you are saying. Minor misunderstandings can turn into major problems when couples fight remotely.
- Be empathetic. Consider your tone. Spend some time thinking about how saying what you need to say will be heard by your partner. Point out their strengths and avoid personal attacks. Avoid throwing blame on your partner and be quick to own up to any part you may be playing in the problem.
- Be open. Listen to your partner. Make sure you are willing to hearing how your partner thinks and feels about the issue. Extend to them the same courtesy you would like them to show you.
If you are on the receiving end of criticism, the most important concept to remember is that all feedback is good feedback. Although it is never pleasant to hear that our partner is unhappy with us, it is far better to know about and deal with the problem, rather than let it fester and grow.
Finesse for the Receiving End of Criticism
- Be open. Listen. Being willing to really hear your partner’s criticism will often go a long way toward validating your partner’s feelings. Listen to hear what the situation is, how your partner is feeling and what they hope for or see as a possible solution. Listening and validating their feelings does not mean that you necessarily agree with everything they are saying, it just mean you are trying to understand them.
- Be accountable. Take responsibility for your behavior. Do the best you can to put your defensiveness aside.
- Be willing to work together to come up with solutions.
When you express criticism with finesse, you do not have to end up in a war or cold standoff. Using finesse when you criticize or are being criticized can help you handle the situation peacefully and create an opportunity for a heartfelt discussion that leads to more closeness in your relationship.
Source: Improving Relationships
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