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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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