Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Constructive Criticism

January 22, 2009

peanuts-higher-criticismYou know you’ve been hit when you feel  stung, shot right between the eyes, express hurt, and the shooter retorts: “What’s the matter? I was just giving you a little constructive criticism!” This is their defense posture because now they’re feeling criticized by your reaction to their criticism.  It’s supposed to mean they were  “only trying to help you”.  

In the first place, if you’d wanted their opinion you would have asked for it. These people have never learned the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Worse yet, these are often the very same people who once taught us this very thing, but they think that because they’re our parents they somehow have an exemption.

Criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone based on perceived faults in them or their behavior. So constructive criticism is an oxymoron.

Destructive Criticism :

That haircut makes your face look chubby, dear.

Didn’t anyone ever teach you not to make disgusting noises when you eat, sweetheart?

Have you noticed that your gut is beginning to hang over your belt?

Honey, no offense but you sing like a baboon.

When are you going to learn that not everyone is interested in your long, boring stories? 

You really over indulge that child.

You’d better stop feeding her so much or she’s going to turn into a whale.

When I raised my son he got his underwear ironed.

Why are you wearing so much makeup? Did they have a sale down at Macy’s?

Most of us have been victims of such remarks at one time or another.  But you don’t have to stay a victim. You can have an a ready response in your arsenal should a shooter appear disguised as a friend or loved one.

The obvious one that I started with was “If I wanted your opinion I would have asked for it.”   But that doesn’t fit everyone’s personality style. Others might include:

“Thank you for your kind, gentle, and  sincere help.”

“You can withdraw your fangs now, I get the message.”

“I have a headache tonight. And I’ll have one tomorrow night too.”

“You’re beginning to sound just like my mother.”

You get the idea. Disclaimer: I’m not talking healthy communication responses here.  I’m talking good old fashioned getting even. Because once in a while, lets be honest here, it just feels good to take a shot at the shooter.

Sarcasm is NOT ok

January 10, 2008

This is a problem behavior for many couples who come to see me. Sometimes they readily identify that they’re communicating with sarcasm. Sometimes I identify it and call them out on it. They’ll say “Hey, that’s just the way I am.” Or, “My whole family talks this way, its just a joking thing, nothing serious.” Well no. Actually it is serious. Sarcasm is communication with a bite. And bites hurt.

Sarcasm is not a personlity trait. It is learned behavior. Sarcasm often brings laughter to a group, at the expense of one group member…whoever was unfortunate enough to be in the sarcastic person’s line of fire.  But, group dynamics being what they are,   the sarcastic person is often the life of the party. This of course only reinforces the behavior and that’s understandable. But its still not ok. Sarcasm is communication with a bite. And bites hurt.

For anyone who thinks I’m making a big deal out of nothing, that’s probably the sarcastic person thinking it. So let me ask you this: Has anyone ever been sarcastic to you?  Either on a routine basis or in a group? Try to remember how it felt to be at the other end of the sarcasm. Probably not very good. Probably awful.  So do you think your sarcasm helps or hurts your personal relationships and the people that you love?

Sarcasm is communication with a bite. And bites hurt.