Criticism vs. Appreciation…
Today’s question is: what are the keys to creating and sustaining a romantic partnership? Oh, this is such a great question!
There are so many elements to a romantic relationship, right? Let me just start right off the bat by giving you my number one piece of advice when it comes to relationships. This can be applied to relationships in all areas: work, family, romance. Here it is: Replace “criticism” with “appreciation”. This will change your relationships! I started doing that after my very first workshop with my mentor, and it is what has made my marriage a level 15 on a scale of 1 to 10. My husband would say the same thing because he feels so appreciated. I never criticize him or make him wrong for something. If he forgets something at the grocery store, I don’t bite his head off. I’m not saying that you do; however, the old me was under the common misconception that criticism would change a man. Ladies, we think that, don’t we? We think that criticism will change a man. But it’s not true. A man will take criticism or advice on board only if you are considered a trusted source.
This is one of the topics I teach about: trusted sources, which includes how to become a trusted source for a man (or for a woman who is in hunting mode, like me). Hunting mode is when we’re really focused on producing a result and there’s a deadline to do so. Gathering mode is when there’s no deadline and we’re just communicating and talking, or maybe just spending time together at brunch and laughing, etc. So with a man or a woman in hunting mode, a trusted source is a person, an organization, a newspaper or a news station that is consistent and that is “congruent”. Now, “congruent” means that your actions and your words line up. If you’re incongruent, you’re not going to be considered a trusted source.
Sometimes, as women, we are not considered a trusted source to the men in our lives because we are very fluid. We are very flowing. Rather than following facts, we follow our feelings because our feelings are very factual to us. It’s a different experience for women than it is for men. It’s all about the brain science!
Let’s talk about brain science for a moment. Men’s and women’s brain structures are different from before we are even born. The problem is that we expect each other to act in a way that we would act, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. These are our expectations, and unfortunately, that sets us up for disappointment. We can’t expect men to behave like women and women to behave like men. And actually, we don’t even know that we have these expectations! It’s just what seems normal to us.
Anyway, back to my number one piece of relationship advice. Once again: replace “criticism” with “appreciation”. You can appreciate anyone for anything. You can say, “Thanks for taking the trash out, honey. I appreciate that.” Or, “Thanks for letting me know about that deadline on the work project. I would have missed it. You saved me.” These are just some examples.
Another thing: make it genuine! Men especially have a BS meter. They can tell when you aren’t sincere! Women, we know this too. When someone’s saying something and we get that feeling that something is not quite right, that’s our BS meter in action. Some people call it intuition. There’s just this knowingness. As such, do make sure to show sincere appreciation.
Now, when you practice showing appreciation, think of it as a muscle that you’re going to strengthen, or as a new skill that you’re going to hone. It’s like going to the gym or learning a language or a musical instrument. You’re not going to do these things for one day and totally ace it. That’s ridiculous. This is something you’re going to have to practice on a daily basis. Do so wherever you can. It doesn’t matter if you practice with your cat or with your dog! Just get used to words of appreciation coming out of your mouth.
On the other hand, there are moments when we want to criticize. There are different ways to handle that. Whenever we feel upset, we tense up, and that’s our survival instinct flaring up. For example, your muscles might be tight, and you might be holding your breath a little bit. When you feel that way, just stop yourself. Walk into a different room if you have to and take a few deep breaths. These are normal human survival instincts. I teach about this. It is the foundation of every single one of my classes that I teach. This is normal. However, it is not productive in creating and sustaining amazing relationships. So when you feel that instinct, just talk yourself off the ledge. Nobody’s going to die in this situation. It’s okay. Take a few deep breaths. Remove yourself from the situation, and then do what the opposite of your instinct would have you do. If your instinct is telling you to tell him he’s not doing it right, that’s criticism!
In addition, unsolicited advice is received often as criticism. I’ve made this mistake in my life for years when I thought I was giving people advice. It’s not received well if you haven’t asked permission to give advice. If your instinct is telling you to criticize him and then to show him how to do it right… Do the opposite of what your instinct wants you to do. Touch him on the back or the shoulders and say, “Thank you so much for loading the dishwasher, honey!” And walk out of the room.
I’m telling you, this is my number one piece of advice. Men, wouldn’t you love for this to be an everyday part of your life: receiving a little bit of appreciation and acknowledgment for everything that you do, once or twice or 20 times a day? Hey, it works for women too, right? We ladies need to feel appreciated and acknowledged as well. Share my advice with your partner, and work on replacing criticism with appreciation!
To your happiness,
Barbara Cole Salmeron