Do you have difficulty telling your partner you are frustrated at them? Do a friend’s annoying habits trigger you, but you choose to stay silent to keep the peace?
This is where knowing the difference between constructive and destructive criticism comes in.
“It’s important to relay feedback to a loved one even when it’s negative because we want to help our loved ones to become better versions of themselves,” says MindNation psychologist Jessa Mae Rojas. “Additionally, when we are able to go through difficult communications with our partners unscathed, the relationship becomes stronger.”
This does not mean you have to call them out about every little annoyance; some things are better left unsaid. “As long as what you are saying helps the person improve and does not make them question their self-worth or self-confidence, then that is constructive criticism,” Jessa says. “Everything else is just nitpicking.”
Ready to have the constructively critical conversation? Here are some do’s and don’ts for relaying feedback to your loved one:
“It’s important to relay feedback to a loved one even when it’s negative because we want to help our loved ones to become better versions of themselves.”Jessa Mae Rojas, MindNation Psychologist
- Time it right. Don’t do it when they are tired after a long day, or if YOU are tired after a long day. And especially do not get into the conversation when you are angry because you might end up saying something destructive instead. If tempers are high, step out of the room for awhile, take deep breaths, or do activities to distract you until you calm down.
- Focus on specific behaviors, not on your partner’s whole personality. Don’t just say, “You’re just no fun.” Get specific instead by saying, “I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to enjoy online parties with my friends. Can you tell me why so I can understand better?”
- Give your partner a chance to explain or offer feedback. You have had your chance to speak, now it’s to sit back and listen. Remember that you are having a dialogue, not a monologue.
- Diagnose your loved one. “I think you have mental health issues,” or “Wow, your childhood really messed with your brain” will only deviate the conversation from the main issue.
- Make “You” statements. If you say, “You are impossible to talk to and you just don’t listen,” your partner will justifiably feel defensive. “I sometimes find it difficult to talk with you,” is a much more positive way to broach the subject.
If despite your best efforts your criticism is received in a negative light, don’t fan the flames by responding angrily. Instead, seek to understand why your loved one is acting this way. “Have a heart to heart talk; ask them ‘How would you want me to talk to you about this next time? Would you rather I write it down or send you a text message first, instead of talking to you about it directly?’” Jessa suggests. “These can help pave the way for more productive conversations in the future.”
If you and your partner are having difficulty communicating with each other, MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7 to help you build a stronger and lasting relationship. Message https://bit.ly/mn-chat to book a session now!