Healthy Relationships: Criticize or Encourage (Part 2 of 4)
Greetings and welcome to my post. In the next for posts, I want to focus on this question: do you want to criticize people or do you want to encourage people? As you know, my goal here in 2015 is to write about building healthy relationships and my hope in doing this, you will examine your relationships by exploring the intention of the people in the relationship. Healthy relationships have good intentions, unhealthy relationships have unhealthy intentions.
If your intention is to be critical, you will cause lots of hurts and distrust in your personal and most meaningful relationships. You see, all people are sensitive. We are all sensitive to someone judging or criticizing us. This sensitivity probably stems from child when someone was a bully to us, made fun of us, or were mean to us and all these hurts never got healed.
So when you are out to be critical, you are adding hurts to hurting people who are sensitive to words of criticism. Our mouth and our tongue can get us into trouble today if we feel free to just say what we want and we have no filter over our mouth in what or how we say some words. On one hand, today we have given ourselves permission to find our voice, give our opinion, and in this freedom and permission we have misused our words to hurt others.
When we attempt to justify our position of giving our opinions and criticism, we are basically saying to the other person that my words are more important than how you feel. How you feel does not matter because my words or criticism is the right thing to say or do. It is easy to justify our words or opinions by stating, I am just trying to be honest.
If your spouse were to cook you a meatloaf or bake you a casserole and your words after the meal is to be critical and say something like that was the worst meatloaf I have ever eaten, in some ways, you are claiming that you are the authority on meatloaf’s or casserole’s and thus you are in a position as an expert to tell the people where they are wrong. I don’t know about you, but if you are not Wolfgang Puck or Rachel Rey, I probably would be hurt and would dismiss your words or critical comments. I probably would say something to the affect, “well, who made you the expert on meatloaf’s or casserole’s and where did you decide to get off being the expert criticizing me for what I am doing?”
We all need to be careful putting ourselves in a position of authority when we really are not skilled or have as an expertise being a person of that authority to judge or criticize the other person. If we go around each day and look for ways to give an opinion, make a comment, observe what someone is doing and decide to tell them something, than we are focusing on what others are doing and when others do something wrong. It is almost like we are watching others and looking for ways to fix them.
So in your most personal and important relationships, if you are the type of person where you do notice that you tend to criticize people, ask yourself this question: What affect does it have on the other person and what affect does it have on the relationship? You see, critical people feel they have a right or a mouth or an attitude or a position in which they can share their voice and use their words to express what they notice and feel about others. In many ways, if someone gets hurt by their critical words they could and can say, well that is your problem.
In other words, critical people most of the time feel if someone reacts or does not like how they criticize or say words, they often feel as if it is the other person’s issues. They think the other person is too sensitive, that they need to grow a tougher skin and deal with it, and for the most part they justify their critical comments as only giving their opinion and if you can’t handle the truth, well, that is your problem.
The place where people come from when it comes to criticism is a place of perfection. Life for critics is searching for rating life as a 9 or 10. Trying your best is one thing; demanding or criticizing someone personally for failing to live up to your demand for perfection. Critical people demand, encouraging people cheer you to do your best. Critical people feel and judge that you are not giving your best and will not hear excuses. Encouraging people feel you can do better and work with you and alongside you to help you make some improvements. Critical people observe and stand on the sidelines of life telling you what to do. Encouraging people jump right in and with sensitive kind and cheerful words think of ways to work with you to do your best.
So if I signed up for the Army, I know I will get criticized by some Sargent or person in authority who is out to shape and criticize me for how I am doing something as they are in a position to teach and mold me to be a good soldier. If I signed up for Tiger Woods to teach me how to hit a 5 iron, I would expect him to be critical. But in my most personal and important relationships, I did not get married to my spouse asking him or her to be my Sargent. I did not ask my spouse, my best friend, a family member, a lover to take on the role of being my Sargent out to observe all that I do for the sake of trying to criticize me.
So all of us need to be careful in how we talk and treat one another. We all need to answer this question: Am I really an expert and an authority in this area to place myself in a position where I can comment on this or that? If you want to be a film critic, than go to film school and learn all about the world of filming. But in your most personal relationships, take off that critical hat and figure out a way to encourage your spouse and others and not criticize them. Because as you do this, the one being criticized will become less defensive and two of you will create a safe relationship and not a place hurt and battle for a war zone. Thanks for reading.