Hello, I’m Donatus Michalka. I’m a psychologist, a relationship counsellor and I’d like to talk to you about the second killer, Criticism, and how to knock it dead.
When we criticize, we hurt. When we criticize, we get the other person to push back and to hurt us back. What happens in a relationship when each of us criticizes? We turn what was a beautiful thing, something we treasured, loved and wanted to last forever to be in, into something ugly; something to be discarded.
It’s understandable that it loses value for us. We may want to get rid of it, just like an old piece of furniture, with bruises, with scars, with dirt and grime on it; something that has lost its appeal; something we no longer want.
So, how do we turn a relationship that’s like that old piece of furniture, withered over the years, as a result of neglect, careless misuse, abuse, wear and tear, into that original attractive resource that we once cherished and treasured; that same item, but now with all its layers of grime stripped back; with bumps tenderly restored; something that we now treasure anew. For, as Shakespeare wrote: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
A vitally important first step is to stop criticism. Just stop it. Make your relationship and your home, a Criticism Free Zone. Many people have turned their home into a smoke free zone. No one is welcome to smoke within its walls. They know that if they do, their home begins to stink.
The smell sticks to the carpet and furniture. It hangs around in the air and other people breathe it in. It is toxic and kills. Criticism is like that cigarette smoke. It contaminates the relationship environment which begins to stink. But most of all, their relationship begins to stink.
The air of criticism hangs around, highly toxic to those criticising, but also to children, who live within its active and passive influence. Criticism kills. So how about we stop it, dead.
What are examples of criticism? “You’re selfish”, “You’re lazy”, “You never do this” “You don’t prioritize me. “You always criticise me” etc.” You, you, you … that’s a criticism.
But to stop something effectively, we need to replace it with something better. We certainly need to say what’s bothering us, or resentment can build up and we end up exploding in anger, or becoming passive aggressive.
We can replace criticism with something that does work; we call it D.E.S.C.
It’s like stripping off that old varnish, it’s like restoring that old piece of furniture to its original beauty. And D-E-S-C, is an acronym. D stands for Describe the offending behavior, E the emotion that you feel when your partner does that, S specify what you want and C spell out the consequences of what’s going to happen if you do that.
- D: “When you put me down in front of our friends yesterday and told me that I was lazy.
- E: “Inside I felt hurt, resentful.
- S: “What I’d like you to do is if you have something to say to me, tell me at the time, tell me in private, so we can deal with it.
- C: that way we can create a positive relationship by replacing criticism with DESC. It works.
It works particularly if you keep it safe, if you mirror your partner, repeat what your partner is saying without sending anything of your own, We’ve already spoken about that in the previous article on creating emotional safety by listening.
DESC is a tool you can master, it’s simple but not easy. It will make a difference. You just watch what happens when you replace criticism with DESC in your relationship, in your primary relationship and your relationship with your children. You just watch the blossoming that happens. And this is something Patricia and Donatus can help you with at Lifefocus. Give them a call on (08) 93839799.