Imagine that after an extremely difficult day at the office, a man comes home to his significant other. All he wants to do is relax and get some of the stress off his chest. When he’s finished talking, however, his partner starts going on and on about what he should or shouldn’t have done throughout the day.
Or what about the situation where a woman buys herself a new outfit that she loves. She took a lot of time picking it out and feels really good about the way she looks with it on. So, she wears it out one day with her family. Her significant other notices the new dress and offers this critique: “It makes you look fat.”
Both of these situations happen far more frequently than they should and neither one is healthy for relationships. You can only imagine how the rest of those stories went, and all because of some unsolicited advice.
Most of the time, your significant other just wants someone to listen to them.
As you go about your daily life, try to avoid giving criticisms or offering feedback to people that haven’t asked for it. Especially with your romantic partner. Looking for some relationship advice? Unless they specifically ask for your opinion, they probably just want you to listen to them. Most of the time, your partner turns to your for comfort.
Giving unsolicited advice can be damaging to your relationship.
How do you think it feels to be hit in the face with criticisms when all you really wanted was some understanding? Not good, right? Every time you offer up your advice without being asked, it’s called giving “unauthorized feedback”. All of those moments of unauthorized feedback between the two of you is slowly eating away at the solid foundation of your relationship.
Giving advice is hard, even with the best intentions.
The problem is, giving feedback to our loved ones is hard. We think we can be direct with our friends, family, and romantic partners because we share really close relationships with them. So with all of the confidence in the world, we go about our days making small comments and offering our opinions about the things they have done, the things they are doing, and the things they will do.
We don’t mean anything by it, we’re just trying to help the people we love. Instead, our little comments and opinions can actually end up hurting other people. This hurt may not be in a big way, not at first. But over time, all the little pieces of unsolicited advice and all the little feelings of hurt that they cause start to add up, chipping away at the relationship little by little. Before long, we’ve created a big ball of pain – an obstacle to happiness in our relationship.
The way you give advice always matters.
Does this mean you should stop giving advice and keep your opinions to yourself? Absolutely not. Every bit of relationship advice out there tells us that clear and honest communication is the key to a healthy and happy relationship.
What’s important is how you talk to your partner and give your opinions. Advice should be given so that it gives each person the opportunity to grow. The last thing you want is to cause disturbances between you and your partner.
Before giving feedback to your partner, ask for permission.
You can change the vicious cycle of unauthorized feedback by simply asking for permission first. According to relationship advice from Margie Warrell, one question can make all the difference in the world: “Can I share some feedback with you that I hope will be helpful?”
Think about when your partner talks to you about a difficult professional relationship with one of their coworkers. While you’re listening, they tell you about something they said or did to their coworker and you think it may be the cause of their problem.
Now, imagine you just come right out and say, “Well, you shouldn’t have said ___.” What did you just do? That’s right, you instigated an argument by putting your partner on the defense or making them feel bad. Now take that same situation and imagine you say, “You know what, I noticed something about what you said. Do you mind if I give you my opinion on the matter?” Once you have your partner’s consent, you can proceed with your feedback. You’ve opened up the lines of communication in your relationship.
Don’t focus on what “should have” happened, focus on what should happen.
Remember this relationship advice: When giving your partner feedback, don’t focus on what you think they should have done. Instead, offer feedback about what they could do in the future. This way, you’re giving your partner more than just an emotional opinion that could damage your relationship. You’re giving them information that could help them become a better person in the future. And that’s what romantic relationships are about, helping each other grow.
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