Criticizing with Love

Critical and harsh words can sometimes, more often than not, hurt us deeply. If we give it power, it can affect our lives. Have you ever been victimized by harsh criticism? Or let me ask you this, have you ever been the one giving harsh criticism? If you answered yes to both these questions, join to the club. I’ve been there and still struggle with giving criticism sometimes. There is nothing wrong with giving criticism, in fact sometimes, when we understand it, it is intended to help us. What can we do to criticize with love, in other words give positive criticism?

This past Sunday my husband and I sat in church listening to our pastor talk about relationships, whether it be between a spouse, a family member, a child or even just friends or coworkers. He talked about how the bible says we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19). These words really spoke to me. I mean, we hear it all the time but why is it so hard for us to follow? When things are on your mind or something is bothering you about the other person (it can be that: they don’t do things the right way, or the way they present themselves with their attire/attitude, etc.), you just want to tell them what’s on your mind. You don’t mean to intentionally hurt the other person, you are just being “real” with them and “telling it like it is”. Can you see how this can really hurt someone?

There are ways to speak to others without hurting their feelings, and trust me when I say this; boy do I struggle with it sometimes, especially when it comes to the closest people around me. I’ll ask my husband to do somlove-is-patient-love-is-kindething whether it be around the house or pick something up from the grocery store, and in the beginning of our marriage he just didn’t get it. It’s as if I was talking to a brick wall. That sounds funny now and we both laugh about the rookies in marriage that we are, but it was so frustrating at first (and let’s be honest, still is sometimes). I used to get so upset with him and blurt what was on my mind! Instead of criticizing him for being lazy or incapable of doing something, I should have used encouraging words and ask if he needed help with it or better yet, done it together. Using words of affirmation are great ways to encourage and speak love into someone’s life. This is also one of the core love languages of many people. It is important to use loving words and words of encouragement when giving feedback. Positive criticism is good when it is done in a loving way.  Someone once said, “When I do wrong, I hear it ever; when I do well, I hear it never”, as true as that sounds, I don’t want my husband to always think that I nag at him constantly. Instead I want to encourage him on all the things he does right!

What are the things that you struggle with when giving criticism? Let’s help each other in building others up and not putting them down. There’s always a way to say things with love. Even just your tone of voice can soften how the recipient receives the criticism. I encourage you if you have any questions about how you can criticize with love, reach out to us. We are always here to answer any questions you have.

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