Criticizing is when the speaker points out the negative in another person.
Often explained as “I am only telling the truth”, criticism often leaves the listener feeling hurt, angry and possibly demeaned.
Here is an example: A husband is depressed over the state of the economy and how much money his family has lost.
His wife is tired of hearing about this, so one evening she says,
“You are chronically disappointed!”
Obviously, her husband knows he is depressed and is struggling to recover.
He will likely experience his wife’s comments as a personal attack. This can lead to an argument where both leave feeling angry and hurt.
The better response by the wife might sound like this:
“I know you are struggling with all this and I really understand how hard it is for you. Maybe we can do something to help you get your mind off this for now.”
She is acknowledging her husband’s feelings, not taking them too personally, and making a suggestion that can affirm her love for him and help her husband cope with the stress in his life.
When the husband hears the affirming message, he may see his wife as a source of support and love…which is a good thing.