- Are you more critical of the people closest to you?
It could be that we are so used to dealing with driven and ambitious people all day at our jobs that we forget that our family and friends aren't employees or co-workers who get paid to do a good job. We expect them to dot their i's and be proactive in home life and in things that might not really matter much to them.
Strangely, we'll lay out our criticism in a much harsher way when dealing with the people closest to us. Maybe it's because we feel we can be "brutally honest" with them (that doesn't sound like fun), or we don't feel obligated to sugar-coat something in the way we otherwise would when dealing with a co-worker or acquaintance. Or maybe it's that we lose patience more easily or expect them to read our minds on how we want something done and get frustrated when they don't.
Of course, the criticism starts with us. We have a specific expectation that might not have been communicated well. Or maybe we have difficulty accepting something that's done differently from the way we would do it (similar to the Not-Invented-Here problem in business). This way of thinking undermines our relationships and creates an environment that isn't supportive or empowering. I know that I can personally be better about how I deliver my "suggestions for improvement" to the people around me to have a more positive effect.
Often times, we're so focused on criticizing what's wrong, that we forget to notice what's being done well. The short business book "The One Minute Manager," by Ken Blanchard, offers the idea of "catching an employee doing something RIGHT" and celebrating it as one suggestion for being a good manager. This public praise encourages them to continue doing things well and motivates others to follow suit. Everyone wants to be acknowledged for being good!
Catching a family member doing something RIGHT could be celebrating when your partner takes out the trash, or when your kids make their beds, or how much you appreciate it when your brother picks up food on his way over to your house. The more public of a statement, the better! The idea is to get everyone in on the praise so it means more. As you start doing this, I bet you'll find that a little positive reinforcement goes a long way.
When you find yourself getting overly critical, it's important to remember that we can control this perspective and these thoughts because they're generated in our own minds. We can affect the way we perceive the situation by recognizing:
- Not everyone thinks like we do
- There isn't just one "right" way of doing something
- Each person has their strengths and challenges
- When can you catch your partner or family member doing something RIGHT and celebrate it?