Posts Tagged ‘Criticism’

Gottman has found there are four major warning signs to a failed marriage. He calls these “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. These behaviors lead to marital meltdown and divorce. The first of which is criticism. Criticism involves attacking someone’s personality or character—rather than a specific behavior—usually with blame. This can be expressed in a number of ways—“you don’t care” “you only think of your self or you are a selfish person” or “you should know better than to drink too much”. The added word “should” sends a powerful message of being scolded. Unlike complaints, criticism tends to generalize. It uses global phrases, “you never” or “you always”. When criticism starts punctuating your interactions your marriage is in trouble (Gottman, 1994, Why Marriages Succeed and Fail).

Criticism is considered a deadly habit, a form of external control, and perhaps the worst of all the deadly habits. It will disconnect you from the significant people in your life. If you have a ratio of 6 to 1, meaning for every six interactions, five or negative, your relationship is bleeding.

Most people make accurate observations. However, when they share those observations in the form of criticism, they do harm to the people they love. Accurate observations can make it difficult not to criticize. In order to stay connected you have to value the relationship and staying connected more than being “right” or expressing your “honest” opinion.

The rule of thumb is the more intimate the relationship the more damaging the criticism. Furthermore, the more accurate the criticism, the more damage it is to the relationship. Is being right and sharing your observations more important than your relationship? There is no such thing as constructive criticism. No one likes to be criticizing and the people you love are not going to change just because you are being “honest”. Criticizing is not problem solving, it’s a form of external control.

If you want to improve your interaction check out, Stop All Grousing! Its in our library.

When constantly corrected, the child not only gets the feeling that he is always wrong but may become fearful of making a mistake. Such fear may lead to his reluctance to do anything, since he might do it wrong. Fear may press upon him so much that he loses his ability to function. He gets the impression that unless he is perfect, he has no value. However, perfection is an impossible goal, and striving for it seldom leads to improvement, but more often to giving up in despair.

We all make mistakes. Very few are disastrous. Much time we won’t even know that a given action is a mistake until after it is done and we see the results! Sometimes we even have to make a mistake in order to find out that it is a mistake. We must have the courage to be imperfect—and to allow our children to be imperfect. Only in this way can we function, progress, and grow. Our children will maintain their courage and learn more readily if we minimize the mistake and direct their attention toward the positive. “What is to be done now that the mistake is made” leads to progress forward and stimulates courage. Making a mistake is not nearly as important as what we do about it afterwards.

Dr. R. Dreikurs from Children the Challenge