Complaint v Criticism

We are always likely to have various complaints about the person we are married to.

When we live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, and live out daily life so intimately with another person, it’s just normal that we will upset and annoy each other. Deep down we might love each other very much, but that doesn’t mean we will always appreciate all of their idiosyncrasies.

What we have to be careful to do is to express our complaints to them, without criticising them.

You see, there is a world of difference between a legitimate complaint and a criticism.

Let me give you an example:

A complaint would be:

“I just want you to know that I feel like I’m the one that’s holding this place together these days. It seems to me that I’m the one that does all the household chores, and you don’t seem to be doing anything. I’m getting really tired of it and I need you to help. What do you suggest we do about it?”

The complaint focuses on the issue, and on the behaviour of the other person.
But what can so easily happen , if we’re unaware of it, is that we can get critical.

For example:

“You are so lazy. I do all the work around the place while you just come home, sit down and read the paper. Well I’m not your servant. Clean up your own mess. What’s wrong with you anyway? I can’t believe that you are so selfish?

A criticsm takes the complaint to another level by assassinating their character, or their personality. It doesn’t focus on the issue, but on the person instead, and rather than solving problems…. Critisism can make things even worse. It can lead to even more conflict rather than reconciliation, or a solution.

The difference between a complaint and a criticism

A genuine complaint usually begins with the word “I”. For example: “I‘m getting tired of doing all the work around here. I need your help to find a solution.”

Whereas a criticism generally has lots of “you’s” in it. “You do nothing around the house. You are so lazy.”

Which would you be more willing to respond to?
A complaint … or a criticsm?

This week take time to listen to yourself, and to those you love, and really hear how you express yourself … if you find yourself being critical can I encourage you to raise the bar and find another way of addressing the issue.
It really can make the world of difference.

Even better, consider joining us for a weekend couples retreat and learn how to communicate on a whole new level.

 

Nikki Bray

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