You need - give and receive - 5 compliments for every criticism

You need - give and receive - 5 compliments for every criticism

Sometimes, even if we don't realize it, we keep a communication style that is too critical and even hostile. Criticizing comes naturally, learning not to make value judgments and accepting without judging are more complex skills that require preparation.

For this I propose a very simple exercise: try to discover the sad face in the image that appears below.

You need - give and receive - 5 compliments for every criticism

You will probably have done it soon. Most people find their faces sad easily. And it has been proven that the same thing happens to us in everyday life.

In practice, we notice negative events more, their impact is greater than that of positive events. If a person is in a bad mood, they will have a tendency to remember the negative experiences they have had and it will be more difficult for them to remember the good times.

Likewise, a single negative act can have a disproportionate effect on someone's reputation and it can take years for that person to regain their image. A compliment can momentarily inflate our ego, but a criticism can have devastating effects throughout life.

This is why it is important to pay attention to our speech, especially in the context of the couple relationship, with our children, parents or friends because some words can deeply hurt, much more than we imagine.

It takes 5 compliments to cancel a criticism

Psychologist John Gottman has spent more than three decades analyzing the factors that predict that a couple will stay together and be happy. He discovered a very curious thing when examining people's comments: the frequency of positive comments must exceed that of negative ones, in a 5: 1 ratio.

In other words, it takes five positive comments, showing understanding and support, to be able to cancel a single negative comment that has had an undertone of contempt, hostility or negative criticism.

Surprisingly, Gottman also found that the level of positive feedback is often very low. Why?

The answer is very simple: when a person makes us a positive comment, however trivial, we tend to thank him. But we don't always respond with another positive comment, so we break the "circle of good vibes".

Conversely, when we receive a negative comment, we have a tendency to immediately respond with a harsher comment, which in turn triggers more hostility. This way, the situation quickly gets out of hand and can end in an argument. In fact, you probably remember the last fight with your partner that started for a stupid reason.

Obviously the problem is that this mechanism occurs automatically, we do not realize that we are breaking the positive circle and unleashing a vicious circle of negativity.

If you don't want to become a toxic person, with whom no one wants to be, it is better that you start to become aware of that mechanism. Simply not feeding the cycle of negativity with cutting and critical comments will greatly improve your interpersonal relationships and, in the long run, increase your well-being.

How to do it?

- Include positive words in your speech

A study conducted at the University of Texas recruited 80 couples who had recently started their relationship. For three months they collected the messages these people had sent to each other. Psychologists found that couples who wrote in more positive terms not only stayed together but also felt satisfied with the relationship.

However, those who used more negative words, criticized or simply referred to daily activities not only felt more dissatisfied but many of them had already broken up.

So the message is clear: It is important that you make an effort every day to include words of understanding, encouragement or support in your speech.

- Use comparative thinking

Psychologists at the University of Groningen wondered if comparative thinking could be used as a tool to improve interpersonal relationships and avoid friction. Therefore, they recruited couples who were in a stable relationship and asked them to think about each other in two different ways. One group was asked to explain in a few words why their relationship was satisfying. The second group was asked to think of other relationships that weren't as satisfying and to explain why theirs was better.

In practice, both tasks were identical: explaining why the relationships were satisfying. However, the path was different. In the end it was found that those who had made the comparison highlighted more positive aspects of their partner.

Therefore, the strategy is simple: to keep yourself in positivity for a long time, it is useful to make comparisons and remember all the things that could go wrong. In this way we will realize that our reality is not as negative as we perceive it.

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