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How To Give Criticism To Your Man Without Getting Mad

How To Give Criticism To Your Man Without Getting Mad

Unless your guy is from outer space then there have probably been times when he’s done something to upset you – most likely unintentionally – after all they are from Mars and we are from Venus.

It’s no secret that men and women have different brains and the way in which we think and perceive things can vary from each other. This can inevitably make relationships trying at times and conflicts can arise but there is a good way to deal with these differing of opinions and a not so good way. If you know you have a genuinely good man in your life then you know that dealing with life’s arguments and conflicts need to be dealt with in a balanced constructive way. If you find yourself getting mad, angry and acting out when you feel he’s done something wrong then you might want to learn to deal with the situation in a healthy, calm way using what I like to call ‘constructive criticism’. It’s not about playing games or manipulation – it’s understanding the fine balance of human relationships, interactions and emotions that can lead to less conflict and upset.

The following points can be applied to any situation where constructive criticism is needed but for this article I’m going to use a common pet peeve: communication – or lack of it. This can leave a woman to pull her hair out with frustration and a man left wondering what the heck he’s done wrong.

1. Self-Evaluate

This isn’t to try and point blame at you but we are all complex beings and issues are part and parcel of every person. It’s natural to want to stick up for yourself if you feel you’re being taken advantage of but it’s also important to stop and check your thoughts, feelings and actions before you dive into the crux of the matter. If you’re feeling angry and upset, ask yourself some questions – why do you feel this way? Is there another root cause or issue that you’re not dealing with e.g. past bad relationships? Has something triggered this reaction? Is it a reoccurring emotion that may need looking at more closely? Are you being fair?

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This isn’t to say you should just let it lie if you feel the situation is genuinely upsetting you. Stepping back and looking within yourself first can eliminate any unrelated issues and could possibly diffuse the conflict before it’s happened.

2. Pick The Right Time For Constructive Criticism

Even though you are giving him constructive criticism in the best way possible, timing is still an important factor when bringing it up. Find a time when he’s ready to listen and not just when you’re ready to talk. Make sure it’s not the moment he walks through the door after a long day or any time that he might be tired and unable to process a serious talk with you. After all you want to have his full attention so you can get the best out of him. It’s also good to bring up the discussion with a question – this makes it feel like you’re willing to talk about this at a time when he’s ready and shows consideration. It will go a long way from his point of view.

For example, when you think it may be a good time just go ahead and ask “I wanted to talk to you about something, is this a good time?”

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Think twice and try to figure out the possible root problems before giving out any criticism. Jumping to conclusions and assumptions will only create more unneeded upset and drama for both parties.

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For example, if you haven’t heard from him for a while or he hasn’t let you know he got somewhere safely then maybe there is a genuine reason – he’s busy and stressed or he’s been distracted by something. A lot of the time people have genuine reasons for not getting in touch (and this isn’t exclusive to men). Giving them the benefit of the doubt is the least you can do before jumping to conclusions and turning it into an expression of emotion especially if you don’t know the full story. Find out the facts first – at least your criticism will be more concrete this way.

4. Highlight How It Makes You Feel

The key is not to do this in an emotional way but calmly and to the point. People react much better to criticism when they can relate to the consequences their actions have to others. Sometimes people just unintentionally don’t see others’ perspectives and gently shifting this is a good way to allow them to see how what they’re doing is affecting you.

For example, explain to him that his lack of contact makes you worried about him and you don’t like feeling this way. After all it’s natural to feel worried especially if it’s someone you care about and it’s not unreasonable. This will allow him to see the consequences of his actions from your perspective and also show that he’s cared about.

5. Don’t Make It Personal

We have a tendency to point the blame when we’re angry and this can cause the other person to feel victimised and become defensive creating more anger in the process. Try to point to the problem instead by using non-judgemental language.

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For example, instead of piling on the blame with statements such as “it’s showing to me that you lack responsibility!” use more descriptive statements such as “you haven’t contacted me for a while and it’s starting to upset me”. When you put yourself in their position, getting blamed for things and having your character questioned is no fun for anyone whether they’re in the right or the wrong so there are better ways to approach this.

6. Listen To What He Has To Say

This can be hard especially when you feel you are the one upset by his actions – it should be him listening to you, right? Make sure you don’t make it all about you as this just opens up the divide and really creates a you vs. him situation. No matter what he has to say, listen to him and take what he’s saying onboard. If you feel his response is unreasonable or he shows no remorse or lack of understanding as to why you’re upset then tell him in a calm way using the other points listed here.

7. Include The Things He’s Done Right

Remember that you’ve chosen to be with this guy so hopefully he’s worth it and does a lot of great stuff for you. Whatever he’s done may be an annoying habit but it’s important to keep in mind all the wonderful qualities he has and the times he’s gone above and beyond for you. This doesn’t mean you should dismiss what he’s done but use this to diffuse the criticism and get him to understand that you do ultimately appreciate him. Guys do love a bit of appreciation!

For example, either before or after the constructive criticism just add in “I want you to know I really appreciate you and what you do for me”. You can even give examples and saying this will reenforce his status as your man and allow him to take the criticism with a more balanced view instead of feeling victimised and unappreciated.

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Conclusion

Feeling our emotions both positive and negative is a good thing but when we’re in a relationship these emotions can get intertwined with the person we share our life with. When something is bugging you then you need to bring it up and not box it up and lock it away as that only results in it manifesting somewhere else down the line and to a more substantial degree.

Constructive criticism is a way to allow you and the other person to view each others’ perspectives and solve the problem in a calm and ‘adult’ manner. All relationships are complex but if you find that using constructive criticism still doesn’t resolve the problem over time, then it might be time to question the amount of respect your partner has for you.

Featured photo credit: Charlie Foster via stocksnap.io

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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