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Criticism continued (2)

•Personal, using “I” statements to express your point of view:  “I have trouble when someone  . . , so I’d prefer if you . .” “Instead of telling me  . . , I’d be more open if you asked me this way...";

 

•Patient, without expecting the other person to comply instantly or change overnight:  “I know it’s going to take us time.” “It’s normal to have some ups and downs.”;

 

•Open to the other person’s feelings:  “I can appreciate how angry you must feel.” “I can see how upset you are; I’d be hurt, too.”;

 

•An invitation to hear the other person’s point of view:  “What could we have done differently?” “What would work for you?”;

 

•Careful to limit criticism to specific actions and not to person’s overall self-worth:  “I still think you’re terrific . . and what needs work is . .” “I value you greatly as a partner, and that includes our ability to discuss these things.”; and

 

•Committed to cooperation and a positive outcome:  “Since we both want  . . , we’ll need to watch out for . .” “How can we work better together?” “If we remember to...we’ll do fine.”.

 

Receptive Listening Skills

In addition to developing the use of constructive criticism in our interpersonal relationships, we need to work at developing receptive listening skills. This requires setting aside our own thoughts and feelings long enough to learn what the other person means, to actually feel what another feels. We need to listen beyond words to the sender’s best intentions.

 

Receptive listening is one of the most powerful means with which to communicate warmth and stimulate creativity. There are three components to receptive listening: developing empathy; shifting from “I’m right” to “Point of view”; and staying calm.

 

Developing Empathy

With regard to hearing criticism, empathy means listening to other persons in such a way that you can understand the feelings beneath the words. It means striving to see their frame of reference, including how they perceive you and your actions. When you are giving criticism, empathy means being open to appreciating the other person’s reasons and point of view. Instead of trying to convince people that they should feel different, empathy helps you seek to understand why they feel the way they do (Eccl. 5:2).

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