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Don't Criticize, Condemn or Complain

Larry James

Many years ago I took the Dale Carnegie course for public speaking and my life has never been the same since. An important part of the course were the "3 C's;" Don't Criticize, Condemn or Complain.

We all do it. Some of us do it without even thinking about the consequences. It is only and always a mistake. It can undermine the trust of our partner and cause them to see us as negative, disloyal and worse. No one wants to be known as a constant complainer.

"Oh!" but you say, "I was only offering constructive criticism." I hate to pop your bubble but there is no such thing as constructive criticism. In a healthy love relationship there is absolutely no room for what some people call constructive criticism.

Perhaps this may shed some new light on the subject. Constructive means to build up. The intent of criticism is to tear down. Those two words do not fit together at all.

Criticism by its very nature is only and always destructive, not constructive. Try constructive compliments instead. We might call them expressions of love straight from the heart. Those words will be music to your partner's ears. Some might call it "ear candy!"

We feel closest to people who cause us to feel good about ourselves. Compliments given with sincerity are a genuine gift of love. Offer them often. Be generous with praise for your partner. Catch them doing something right. Let them know you noticed.

The road to prosperity in relationships is paved with a commitment to generosity toward your partner.

Perhaps all of us would be better off if we would take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

People don't change because they are criticized. They change when the relationship is nurtured with warmth and goodwill that inspires them to please their partner. Appreciation is on the list of top ten needs for most people.

Don't waste your time condemning the behavior or beliefs of your partner or constantly calling attention to their mistakes. When you do, the differences between you become more pronounced and the separation and loss of intimacy grow. Dealing with your differences is where true compatibility begins.

Those who put others down to feel better themselves often resort to other bad behavior to feel better themselves too. Never allow anyone to condemn you, ridicule your choices, or criticize whom you choose to be. Your best choice is to just walk away.

By complaining, condemning, or criticizing, you are placing the blame on other people, and not doing anything to further the goals of the relationship. Someone who constantly ridicules, criticizes, and condemns demonstrates one the seven characteristics of an abuser.

It is much better to choose your words carefully, put some love in your voice and look for a solution. First, take a close look at yourself. Is there anything that you can do to adapt or change your attitude about what it is you feel compelled to criticize? Work on the best way to prevent the mistakes from reoccurring without arousing resentment or hurting your spouse's feelings. Start there.

When your partner expresses a complaint, grievance or criticism, rather than argue the point, listen nondefensively. Rather than counter attack, search for some small part with which you can agree, and acknowledge it. If an apology is called for, offer it. Listening nondefensively can put a damper on an argument expeditiously. Now you can work on a solution together.

When you complain, you're using your power to reinforce and magnify whatever you are complaining about. For what good reason would you want to feed more energy into something you don't want?

So, to sum it up: if we criticize, condemn, complain, show resentment, or gossip about others, it comes back on "us." If we praise, support, encourage and forgive others, it comes back on us as well.

Copyright © - Larry James. Adapted from Larry's book, How to Really Love the One You're With.

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