Studies have shown that there are three patterns of behavior that hamper communication and, when repeated, may destroy your relationship. While there are positive things to do to, here are three behaviors to avoid: being critical, defensive and detached.
Criticism means censure, personal attack or denouncement. This is a message from the “you” perspective. It is not the same as complaint. The difference, while subtle, is pregnant with consequences: when criticizing, we refer to a person, and when complaining we indicate a behavior we wish to be changed.
Recall the situations when you have been criticized. How did you feel? Did you feel cornered? Wronged? Judged? Think whether you wanted to change and to reach out to another person.
When we feel criticized, we ourselves start to retaliate and join the vicious circle of accusations, allegations and insinuations. It is therefore vital to abstain from criticizing others. This does not mean, however, that you should docilely accept anything. By no means! Complain, but do not criticize.
Instead of saying: Your house cleaning is always sloppy; I always need to intervene.
Say: When you clean up, make sure you dust the shelves carefully. I would really appreciate it.
Instead of saying: You never ever go out with me.
Say: I would like us to go out together more often.
Instead of saying: You do not care about what I think; you are always doing whatever you want.
Say: When you do not ask about my opinion, I have a feeling that you do not care about my needs.
2 and 3. A defensive attitude and emotional detachment
Perhaps the other person in the relationship is constantly criticizing you and takes everything out on you. It is natural that you become defensive and avoid taking responsibility. It is nearly an instinctive reaction. The thing is that it takes you nowhere. A defensive attitude and emotional detachment effectively prevent us from communicating with one another; they are conducive to distance and barriers. This makes communication increasingly difficult, if not impossible.
Next time you want to say: This is not my fault. You should have taken care of this, ask yourself what it is that you want to defend yourself against. Perhaps this simple question will help you adopt the right perspective, break out of the vicious circle of accusations and communicate better.
Zuzanna Górska-Kanabus is a doctor of psychology, graphologist and coach. She has conducted the largest-scale global studies on handwriting psychology. The studies have helped create the GCP Method® – the Graphological Competence Profile – a method of profiling personal and professional predispositions and competences. She is the author of an expert’s blog about graphology and coaching – zuzannagorska.com.
This text was published in the Polish version of Aleteia here.