Confrontation

Remember that you have a right to request a change in someone’s behaviour if it hurts, irritates or upsets you in some way and that constructive criticism values both you and the other person. Not mentioning negative feelings does not make them disappear. On the contrary, resentment pushed underground simply builds up in intensity and can easily undermine a relationship.

Learning to handle criticism when on the receiving end can improve your ability to manage giving criticism to others.

Most people are uncomfortable about expressing negative feelings about another person directly to that person. Instead of saying something at the time we actually feel the hurt or resentment, we find all sorts of plausible excuses and `good reasons’ for holding back and keeping quiet:¬

“IT’S NOT THE RIGHT MOMENT”

  • “We’re all having such a good time.”
  • “It is Christmas after all.”
  • “I’m in someone else’s home.” “It’s the middle of dinner.”
  • “I can’t make a scene in front of these people.”

“IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT”

  • “He’s just in a bad mood.”
  • “She’s overtired.”
  • “He’s too sensitive.”
  • “He’s ill and/or old”
  • “He didn’t know what he was doing.”
  • “She just didn’t notice.”
  • “It’s the wrong time of the month.”
  • “He’s going through a bad patch.” .
  • “She can’t help it.”

“IT’S NOT IMPORTANT”‘

  • “It’s too trivial.”
  • “I’m being oversensitive.”
  • “It’s just not worth making a fuss about.”
  • “I’m not perfect myself.”

“I MIGHT MAKE A BAD IMPRESSION”

  • “If I’m wrong I’ll look stupid or foolish.”
  • “I don’t want to seem petty.”
  • “I don’t want to appear unreasonable.”
  • “I don’t want to sound ungrateful.”

“THE OTHER PERSON NEEDS PROTECTING”

  • “He can’t take criticism.” ‘
  • “It would upset her too much.”
  • “She’d feel terribly offended if I told her how I felt.”

“THE CONSEQUENCES MIGHT BE DIRE”

  • “Maybe she’ll criticise ME!”
  • “He might get angry and lose his temper.”
  • “She may never speak to me again/it may ruin our relationship forever.”
  • “She might hate me for saying that.”
  • “How will they react if I say something now.. after all this time?”

If you avoid expressing hurt and resentment then the pressure can build up until you explode – often at the wrong person. Suddenly, whether or not someone volunteers to make you a cup of tea becomes a life or death issue! It’s perhaps helpful to realise that learning to handle criticism when on the receiving end can improve your ability to manage giving criticism to others.

 

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