Compliments and Criticisms
How we relate to compliments and criticisms often plays a big role in the happiness of any relationship, whether family, romantic, or business. In our most healthy relationships, we’re not dependent on receiving compliments or dishing out criticisms. At the same time , it’s important that we’re able to express and receive both. Ideally, we express them genuinely and authentically from out heart and we open our heart to hear them.
Let’s look a bit at criticism first. Criticism actually takes on several forms. The most obvious form that most of us know quite well is what I’ll call judgment. Judgment shows up in the form of “what you are doing is wrong or bad.” In the “judger’s” opinion, you should be some way other than the way you are. Who likes this experience? So why do we do it?
We refer to another common form as constructive criticism. The energy behind constructive criticism typically feels, or at least intends to be, supportive rather than judging. Constructive criticism appears most commonly in our business and professional relationships as well as with those who care most deeply about us. Although not always comfortable, most of us are open to hearing constructive criticisms when the expresser holds our best interest at heart.
The last form of criticism that I want to bring into the discussion, I actually wouldn’t call criticism, I’d call it “authentic reflection.” It might take the form, “when you do that, I feel this,” or “I’ve noticed… have you noticed that?” In this case, the expresser isn‘t expressing a judgment or “fact” about you, but is expressing his or her experience when with you. This removes all blaming or judging energy and the receiver typically receives the feedback more deeply, often feeling empowered, or at least desirous, to change.
We all offer feedback, even criticism… What form of criticism do you offer?
To your beloved? Your employees? Your kids?
Beyond know that authentic reflection is the most conscious form of feedback we can offer, here’s another critical success factor, if you will, for offering feedback. Before sharing what you wish were different, start by acknowledging something you like about the person or something the person does well,. When you offer your perspective in this way, the person feels seen, recognized, and often good about themselves. Feeling recognized, most all of us can more easily open and integrate authentic feedback. If you want to create an even better experience for the receiver, tell them more than one thing you like or appreciate. Then share what you struggle with and finally, follow that up with something else positive. Management trainers call this the “sandwich technique”. Sandwich your constructive feedback in between at least two pieces of positive feedback. Using this technique will radically change your experience with anyone you offer feedback too.
Now that we’ve looked in depth at how to offer feedback more consciously. How consciously do you receive it? Do you get defensive? Do you start hurling back your own criticisms? Do you blame someone or something else? Just notice. Can you just open and listen? Can you be present and consider that their might be a gift in what’s being offered to you? … even when it doesn’t show up the way you think it should.
Can you consciously open and receive feedback… looking for the gift?
Equally important as how we handle criticism, we must also consider how compliments show up (or don’t) in our relationships. Again, there’s the giver and the receiver of the compliment.
Do you offer compliments? Do you offer appreciation or recognition? Do you notice and acknowledge the little things, or sometimes not so little things, that others do?
One of the secrets of Conscious Relating that I write about is “Celebrate your Partner” which is just a big form of offering a compliment. My recommendation… acknowledge the heck out of everyone in your life – your significant other, kids, co-workers, employees, even the waiter or the store clerk… and see how life changes.
Practice acknowledging everyone
And, like we said earlier, when someone knows they’re seen and appreciated, it will be much easier for them to hear your authentic feedback or constructive criticism when you do offer it.
Finally, on the flipside, if ‘celebrate your partner’ is one of the secrets of conscious relating, can you be a partner who is celebrated? Or are you one who more commonly deflects or plays down a compliment. Do you immediately return the compliment or point out a flaw so that you can take the focus of your greatness?
You deserve and your partner deserves, to have the best you in relationship, and if you can’t genuinely receive a compliment with an open heart, then you can’t be believing in or accepting the best of you… and therefore must be denying the relationship the best of you. Learning to fully receive compliments is essential to the greatness of your relationship.
Do yourself and your partner or future partner a favor and
practice receiving compliments.
Remember… offer authentic reflection not judgment
…open yourself to hear reflection offered to you
…celebrate each other
…. Receive compliments
In love, light and ecstasy,
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.