Saying hurtful things will push anyone away, and if you do it enough, no one will want to connect or communicate with you. At that point, you will no longer have an emotional support structure, and joy may be as elusive as a shooting star.
We can all nitpick to the point of making those we work with and care for run for the hills or want to cover their ears and say, “La, la, la …,” like children do. People simply tune out critical comments when they become a way of life.
When you are constantly critiquing, the person getting the supposed benefit of your sage advice may just be acting polite to get you to stop as soon as possible. Although you are trying to help, you are actually pushing the other person away. Your words will be blown off, and your advice will not be respected or accepted. This can’t be good for your relationships, no matter how great your guidance is.
To avoid this negative cycle, think about your choice of words carefully, and before you decide whether to tell someone how you feel (or just tell them off), imagine how you would respond. If you’d get tweaked, then so will they. This is a simple thinking process that too few of us engage in.
Most of the time, when we think we have an idea of how someone could do things better, we feel it’s our duty to share our insights with them. Truth is that, most people are trying to do their best, and you telling them that it could have been done better will only take the wind out of their sails.
If you really think you can improve someone else’s actions with your input, wait until everyone else is out of the room and say something like, “I really liked what you had to say, but I don’t think everyone else got you. Would you like to consider an idea that may help you reach them better?”
When you can communicate in a way that is nonjudgmental and positive, others will be more open to what you have to say. This will not only improve their skill sets; it will improve yours as well.
There is a lot of truth in the old adage that “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”
If others think that you are going to just blast them, their ability to take in your wisdom, no matter how great, will be diminished. Never judge or reject a person’s ideas or desires without first considering what they are. If you have a difference of opinion, that’s fine, as long as you express it with kindness.
Also, speak in a pleasant tone and remember to smile. Almost half of communication is tonal and a little more than half is visual.
Speaking in a sincere and calming tone will let the other party know you are coming from a caring place.Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. Reach him at email@example.com. His column appears Sundays and Tuesdays in the News-Press.