Most of us believe criticism (or constructive feedback) more than praise.
Why? Because some of us grew up in homes where criticism was a way to show care.
Over time, this environment creates a core belief that "love = criticism".
Such a tendency leads to relationships fraught with conflict, cynicism, and sarcasm.
In this talk, Galit and Assael unpack this core belief and its effects through examples from their marriage and the clinic.
Practical tips will help you soften this tendency and create a more positive, complimentary, generative relationship today.
For registration and more details on our upcoming webinar exploring the relational power dynamic in relationships - click here!
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Click here for more information on our upcoming online couples workshop.
James , what do you believe? More criticism or compliments criticism? Why?Speaker 2:
I think criticism seems more authentic and genuine.Speaker 1:
I get that all the time. Clients say that to me all the time. In fact, today, what we're gonna be talking about is why do we believe criticism more? The compliments also known as when love is criticism. Mm .Speaker 3:
You are listening to the potential state podcast With your host, Dr. ASEL and gal , man .Speaker 1:
Hi, my name is Dr . Elli I'm Gill Romanelli , and this is the potential state. And today we're gonna be talking about this topic of criticism and compliments, and I'll speak from my experience. And then you can speak from your experience. So someone else grew up in environments where criticism sarcasm or citizen was a way to relate. So I grew up in a house where there was constantly constructive feedback of where you could have gone better. The compliments would be very minor, but the, the , the growing pains or the constructive feedback was very, very in the front. And what I've noticed is with other clients, especially with men, is when, when we grow up in that kind of environment, we, we , we kind of have this core belief of caring equals criticism. Mm . And that's why when someone comes to , when our partner comes to share something with us, the first thing will say is what's wrong, or how could this be improved? As we both know, I've done to you as a zillion times. And what I've noticed is a lot of times the secondary gain is you always wanna be better, always striving, you know, to , to improve. There's also the kind of this modest seat together with ambition and drive. But the, the loss of having this core belief is that there's always , there's always, you always feel like there's, you're not enough. There's more to do. You can never actually rest. There is no joy.Speaker 2:
I think there's an interesting element of criticism in us, kind of looking for criticism or being able to digest criticism more than compliments . There's a social element. I think that comes to play. I think, especially for women, who've internalized this voice of you're not pretty enough. You're not tall enough. You're not thin enough. You're not good enough. You're not a good enough mother. You're not a good enough lover woman, wife. Like there's always this, you know, this social message of you're not enough, right? Obviously for like marketing purposes, they want you to buy more products. They want you to go to the gym. They want you, and like advertising has kind of , um, eaten a way at our self-esteem and uses criticism as a way of kind of getting us to act or buy or purchase or consume. And so I think on a social level, like we are just so used to digesting criticism that then even in our relationships, we consume criticism.Speaker 1:
So bring that down to our relationship, cuz in the first eight years, our first marriage, we're now in our second marriage, but in our first marriage, I would mostly give you criticism cuz that's the way I express caring. We talk , you can reference that episode on , um, inter gender communications called report talk , but it wasn't just report talk . It was more criticism. And, and , and I wanted to ask you because you grew up in a different environment.Speaker 2:
Yeah. My environment was extremely supportive and I actually don't remember a lot of criticism or constructive feedback, to be honest, I remember very much like you can do whatever you want, you can do it all. And I think this kind of like that also almost loses its validity to a certain degree. Mm . Um, because then, you know, where are your strengths? Where are your weaknesses? You know, that you have strengths and weaknesses. So when you're not getting genuine feedback, either way, I think it kind of leaves you a bit lost. Um, but I definitely, I definitely don't think that I received criticism in the same way. Like whatever grade I brought home, if, if I had done my best was good enough.Speaker 1:
So, so I see this a lot in the , in the clinic where couples, where the, the communication, the care will be expressed through , um, basically criticism or constructive feedback. And I wanted to ask you cuz the first eight years, what I was giving you was mostly criticism. And I , and I guess for both of us, that seemed okay or that was good enough. Or we went with that and reflecting back, how did that land for you?Speaker 2:
I'm actually curious like where, cause , cause in my mind there was both right. It was just in different places. Right, right. Like I would also criticize you, but in just other places , um, that you would criticize me, but I don't know to be completely honest, I guess, I guess, you know, you filled my love tank in other places. And so for me it was like there was, there was in essence a kind of balance.Speaker 1:
Well, I think what I'm noticing a lot in the clinic is couples where that's gonna be the main discussion and what hasn't over time, if that's the communication, but there's this distance and almost competition. And there's a sense that you can't really be just happy and joyful.Speaker 2:
Yeah. I definitely think that at one point we kind of reached, we reached a point where I felt like it was constant criticism and you didn't acknowledge what I was doing. And I think that maybe actually, because of my background, it actually came to a head and I was like, I can't, I can't take this anymore. Like you , you have to be able to give me words of affirmation. You have to be able to kind of see what I am doing and not just constantly, you know, point out what what's lacking. And , but I will say that as a parent. Um, unfortunately I do see that in my relationship with SA I'm very critical. Um, and that is definitely something that I'm aware of in working on actively, but it's something that's that I'm really interested in. And because I see the difference between how I relate to him and how I relate to Lila . And I know that with him, I relate that way very critically because I feel very insecure in my relationship with him.Speaker 1:
So I , I wanna , I wanna PI piggyback that and say, so I once worked with this couple where he would give tons and tons of constructive feedback and she would obviously get insulted and hurt . And when we started peeling the layers, we realized that he did grow up. That was the environment. He had this core belief that love is criticism like caring is criticism. And for him, that was just his way of, of kind engaging. And what we've , what we started doing is soften that core belief. And I think for a lot of us, we don't even realize that's the environment we grew up in. Yeah . And I remember working with this chef once and he said, criticism is truth. Compliments is always within like, there's a , there's an angle there. Yeah. And I'm thinking, how can we help people change or couples change that dynamic? Well,Speaker 2:
I think one thing that's really interesting that we've found in our webinars and stuff and in our model right. Of like let it land is that often we kind of immediately go to examples of criticism or conflict. But what we've actually found is that, you know, you need the same tools and openness to receive the compliments because we're so not used to like, it's actually even easier us for us to kind of turn our attention and, and direct ourselves to the negative and with the positive, like we really need help there. We really need , um, to kind of actively focus our attention to, to digest the compliments.Speaker 1:
So, so how does , how did that switch, that leads to talking about? So here's what we've discovered, first of all, realize that you mostly, you're mostly critical or that things that jump up to you are first of all, where it's not right. The constructive feedback. Okay . First of all, be playful about that and own your when you're, when you're discussing with your partner and you're seeing let's keep coming up as critical, first of all, just own it and say, wow, I'm very, very critical realize that. And I think the second thing is really, we spoke about this in a different video, but , but fake it till you make it , try to consciously top down , be more encouraging. So if your first reaction is say, well, why didn't you that, or this is a great dish, but it's just missing this. Just try to go to the opposite way and just say , this is great. ThankSpeaker 2:
You and period. Yeah. Like, and there , what I wanna say for women and many kind of female comics have made jokes about this, like it's a known phenomenon of like that women don't know how to receive a compliment. Right. They're always like, oh, but , and they like flip it to just say, thank you. Like just take it. I think that when we are able to take the positive feedback and just like really take it, then people will wanna give it to us more as well. Like I think it's something that it's a pattern that really feeds itself. So I think if we're able to , um, receive, then it , it will just become this system that feeds itself.Speaker 1:
And I'm reminding you guys that the , the relation, the ratio between compliments and criticism, the Goins found is five to one. If you five compliments to every criticism, five yeses to every no. And you wanna consciously switch that around, go for the compliment , but a period there. And then also settle that it's gonna be good enough for some of us and you can reference the perfectionism is the block episode. Yeah . Yeah . Good enough is great. And I think that refers to a lot of different things. We spoke about mediocre sex. We spoke about a lot of different things. I can just say, great, this was great period. And what's gonna happen over time is as you shift this balance and there are more compliments, more just positive feedbacks than the constructive feedback you're gonna , oh , notice something's gonna open up in the relationship, energy, vitality, trust, joy, and gratitude. And I think,Speaker 2:
Go on now ,Speaker 1:
Finish your sentence. And I just wanted to say that gratitude would be the antidote of criticism. And if you could kind of create a Goodwill between you and your relationship, which you would have to actually top down consciously do that, that can really, really manifest a big change in your relationship.Speaker 2:
The , the , the thing that I wanted to say was that I, I think that when we feel kind of the criticism bubbling up to get curious as to what, what we're being critical about and where does that stem from? Because I think most of the time , um, it's quite possible that it's ours, that it's not even about our partner. It's one of our buttons that's being pushed. And if we can kind of get curious about that and dive a little deeper in there and see, because I also think that there's a way of kind of giving feedback, right? There's a soft way of giving constructive feedback where you can grow as a couple and then there's criticism, right. Which is just kind of a kinda smacking down. And I think that when criticism bubbles up, it's actually sitting on something of ours .Speaker 1:
And if you remember at the end of the day, trying to change the culture of the relationship yeah. By consciously doing that, then you're gonna find a softening. Okay . I think we're done here for today. This was Elli Dr .Speaker 2:
And we're the potential state . We'll see you next time.Speaker 3:
You've been listening to the potential state podcast for more information, visit email@example.com. Thanks for listening.