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Sample Category - 22-03-2024 - - 0 comments
Kicking the Criticism Habit

Do you remember I shared about the 4 major toxins that make relationships ill?

For a relationship to be resilient and feel strong, we need to have a ratio of 5 positive interactions for every 1 toxic one. 

In this series of posts, we are going to deep dive into each toxin and give you super actionable strategies to conquer each one.  The first of these is the sneaky demon CRITISCISM.

I have never thought of myself of critical, but my husband helped me realise that one of the ways I show care is pointing out how things could be better! Oh no!  I really hadn't realised this = critiscism.

Over time, unchecked criticism is a drain on the positivity in a relationship.  Our other, perhaps our partner or colleague will become brittle, snappy even, probably defensive.  Criticism chips away at confidence, kills good feeling. Our relationship will become less resilient, we may end up having a row. 

Of all the 4 toxins, I feel this one is the sneakiest, is the most 'everyday' and so is a great starting point to be the 'one thing' we change to boost all our relationships, including in fact the one with ourselves. 

So let's be playful and make it a game to change our behaviour.  We have 5 fingers on one hand - so let's assign a positive strategy to each finger and only let ourselves say something critical when we have a whole high five:

You see a 'flaw' - instead of pointing it out:

1. **Look for the Good instead &  Express Appreciation** give your partner a real point of sincere appreciation. Say, "I really appreciate how you handled that situation," or "I love what you're wearing today, it really suits you." These simple acknowledgments cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude and reinforce the value your partner brings to the relationship.


2. **Offer Support and Understanding** When your partner shares a problem or struggle, instead of jumping in with "you should.." or "you shouldn't have.." instead practice listening instead.  Say, "I understand how you feel," or "Tell me more." Listening with an open heart is a foundational skill in relationship.  You literally create a safe space that enables for vulnerability and connection to flourish.


3. **Lean into playfulness** Who says offering appreciation and support can't be playful or funny! Instead of boring old compliments, why not kick it up a notch with a little comedic flair! Try, "Your ability to find the TV remote is truly legendary," or "Your snoring could rival a chainsaw orchestra, but I love you anyway." Playfulness is a superpower - you literally can't be stressed and playful at the same time.


4. **Use "I" Statements** When things do get stressful, instead of criticising, express your feelings using "I" statements. For example, say, "I feel overwhelmed and can't think clearly when the house is a mess," rather than "You never clean up after yourself." This approach shifts the focus from you accidentally accusing them, to you sharing your feelings which helps connect you more.


5. **If you can't say anything positive, don't say anything at all** End. 


OK now you've bolstered the positive bank balance for your relationship, now you can allow yourself one criticism....

The funny thing is, if you go on this journey to conquer criticism you notice how all your relationships, including with yourself start to improve and flourish.

One of the best managers, senior leaders I ever had the pleasure to work for and with was a masterclass in this practice.  I know that she, like I, has a strong perfectionist streak, yet she never criticised me.  Instead, she always pointed out what went well and supported me identify and improve the aspects of my performance that were less that what we both wanted.  I learned so much from her that is of continued value in my life, yet the biggest of all these lessons has been how to not be critical under pressure; a time when our inner critic can rule.

Communication is the lifeblood of relationships, shaping the depth of connection, trust, and harmony we share.

Our words have great power: they can either uplift and empower or unknowingly undermine those closest to us.

Let's be deliberate in our choice of language, opting for positivity and encouragement. By doing so, we create an environment where our most important relationships can flourish and thrive, including the one we have with ourself.



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