Constructive criticism does not hurt. It advises and informs. If you take it up another notch beyond constructive, it can destroy someone’s life. You may think you are helping if you are always criticizing your partner, but something else is happening. You find yourself alone or trapped in a negative cycle. There are consequences when you point a finger at someone. Here are 10 bad side effects of criticizing your partner:
1. He/she will hide things from you
Your partner may be tempted to keep secrets if you routinely spew negativity and criticism. If you are always criticizing your partner, think twice. Your partner may be taking on new risks/challenges without you knowing. You may be missing out on their growth, learning experiences, and the intimacy of a healthy relationship.
2. He/she will secretly resent you
A build up of criticism can lead to closeted resentment. Resentment shows up when you most need your partner—on your deathbed or co-signing on a loan. Resentment is worse than hate because, like the background music in an elevator, you don’t always notice. It’s there while everything else looks normal. Walking around with resentment is painful and makes others vulnerable to future hurt.
3. He/she will not give you the space to make your own mistakes
Sitting on a person’s pedestal may be nice in the beginning. The overly criticized partner will admire you, perhaps too much. They will give you no room to mess up, as you become the light to their darkness. If you are always criticizing your partner, you inadvertently build your own jail.
4. He/she may seek validation online or elsewhere
A partner who is overly criticized needs an outlet. It can be as innocent as reading a book alone or more risky like venting to someone who is emotionally available, caring and compassionate. Leaving the door open to this can create dire consequences that can lead to the end of your relationship.
5. He/she will tune you out
After consistent criticizing, your partner will stop listening and stop caring. Wait, what’s that you said? Exactly.
6. He/she will see you as a burden
Nobody wants to go into a relationship with a job. Daily life is enough of a hassle. If your partner overly criticizes you, you may see them as a drag, a burden, and a problem. Your overly criticized partner may want to stay with you, but they simply cannot handle doing the work.
7. He/she will become a punching bag for the qualities you hate about yourself
Like everyone else, your partner is a reflection of your innermost self—some parts you don’t even know. Criticizing your partner is an act of projection. Your partner may look like they have the problem, when it’s really you. Is your partner always late? You reminded him/her for the thousandth time. You may see this as an act of disrespect when your teachers in elementary school ignored you. Now, it’s up to your partner to make you feel good again. Fix your own life, first.
8. He/she will lose self-confidence
Keep criticizing your partner and they will lose the energy to live life to the fullest. They may become indecisive, disempowered and complacent. Would you be happy with a partner like that? Consider how that would affect your life.
9. He/she will become dependent on you
Your partner may give up completely. After constantly complaining to your partner that he/she does not help out around the house, they may stop altogether. You’ll end up with the brunt of all the tasks, decision making, and planning in more than one area of your life. Congratulations, you just created your own worst nightmare.
10. He/she will lose courage to try new things to advance their lives
Worst of all, an overly criticized partner may become stuck and stagnant. Regret will grow in them each day for the life they did not live or the places they did not go. They will blame you, whether it is fair or not.
Then how to give constructive criticism lovingly?
Choose the right time: Never judge your parter when he/she has just gone through a tough time. Only give constructive criticism when they are calm and they can give you their full attention.
Go for dialogue rather than monologue: No one likes being told to do something so make sure you can create a space where both of you can express your thoughts and listen to each other’s point of view.
Show appreciation before giving criticism: If you want your partner to accept your criticism, always highlight what you appreciate him/her first. After they let their guard down and know that you have good intention, they will take your criticism more positively.
Keep in mind, everyone is responsible for his or her own life. You can’t make an overly criticized partner give up unless they already wanted to, or had talked themselves into it. However, if you are always criticizing your partner, you can make it a lot easier. Instead, choose your words carefully. Give advice only when asked and show empathy more often. What you do to others, will in some way be done to you—literally or figuratively. Think wisely.
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
How did I do?
Are there any areas for improvement?
Did I sound or look stressed?
Did I stumble on my words? Why?
Was I saying “um” too often?
How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too: