When I teach workshops about relationship communication, I always recommend that people bring their complaints to what I call the “Relationship Repair Counter.” Sometimes students think it sounds like I am advocating for people being critical. Admittedly, complaints are negative. However, complaints and criticism are not the same thing!!!
First, no one wants to around someone who is too critical or complaining all the time. And second, it is not healthy to be too critical of the people whom you live and work with!
So, how do you advocate for your own needs in a relationship without criticism? And how do you bring up your complaints without coming across as too negative?
I recommend three things:
- Be mindful. Don’t just let critical words roll off your tongue. If something happens that bothers you, try to not just react with emotion. Instead stop and think about it. After all, you want to be selective and only bring up the concerns that really bother you the most!
- Be respectful. After thinking about it – if you have a concern that you want resolved – start by asking the other person, “I have a concern to discuss, is now a good time?” This one pointer has helped many people to change their relationship. Humans are not good at surprises. So, if you surprise someone by suddenly bringing up a complaint, they are more likely to become defensive.
- Be thoughtful. Think about what you need ahead of time. Identify what your ideal resolution is. Focus on asking for the resolution that you want instead of just elaborating about your complaint.
The best way to state a complaint is to say something positive, give the benefit of the doubt, then say “When you _____, I felt _______. What would resolve this for me would be ___________.”
Following the above recommendations are important because not being critical and stating your complaints in a soft manner will likely help your relationship to have less conflict. However, you are still asking for what you need instead of building up resentments…
If you need more help with communication and reducing criticism in your relationship, please Contact a Relationship Repair Associate today!