Need advice: ignoring negative comments?

Discussion in 'Sex and Relationships' started by BassDude, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. BassDude

    BassDude New Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Carolina
    OK, need some thoughts here. I regularly interact with a person whom I love dearly (a family member), but this person has a very negative perspective on just about everything. I've come to realize that the negativity is not really that person's fault per se...this person suffers from depression (it IS being treated, btw) and that shows up in the person's interactions with me, and I believe with other people. It manifests itself in ways that I perceive as unnecessary criticisms, blatant or disguised put-downs, unnecessary distrust, blowing small things out of proportion, on up to screaming, shouting, name-calling, and episodes of rage. There are some difficult struggles this person is enduring right now, and those struggles have made this worse...however, in general this type of behavior has been going on for many years with me. Because of the longevity of it, I think that I *might* have developed some level of hyper-sensitivity to it as well...I'm not sure about that to be honest. Many times the person says they meant a comment as neutral, but I took it as negative. (I don't know if that is accurate or not. I don't have any "over-sensitivity" issues with anyone else that I can think of...for instance, I can take constructive criticism's just fine if they are delivered in a kind rather than intentionally hurtful way. Folks know me as usually sensitive to others, but no one else has ever told me that I am "over-sensitive", not even friends who know me intimately well nor prior long-term girlfriends, etc. I do not believe that I am over-sensitive...I believe that any typical person would see these comments as negative and feel the cut from them.) Anyway, I know this person has a kind heart, cares very much about me, and I care very much about this person, so you can probably see why I'm posting this question.

    Has anyone read the "5 Languages of Love" book? I know what my love languages are, and I see how they dictate my default interactions with my wife, daugther, friends, family, co-workers, etc. My main love language is "affirming words", followed closely by "quality time" and "touch" (not so much "acts of service" nor "gifts", unless I can see that the service or gift was really heart-felt and thoughtful.) So, this means that, in terms of personal relationships, getting positive words or attitudes from someone makes me feel loved...getting negative words or attitudes makes me feel unloved.

    And therein lies the problem...my main love language of "affirming words" and this person's negative interactions don't exactly leave me with a good feeling much of the time. Some of the comments this person makes absolutely cut me to the bone. They may or may not be meant to be hurtful in some cases...but I perceive them as delivered with the intention to hurt.

    I can't change other people...I can only change myself. Notice that I said I perceive twice above? I have been trying to find a way to change my perceptions of this person's interactions with me, and I'm not succeeding particularly well. Logically, I know that much of the negativity is the depression talking and not the actual person. However, when you feel attacked, any human's first response will be the instinctual ones, not logical ones....namely, defend and retaliate. I control my retaliation instinct quite well (I learned this as a child because I had to). I do not seem to control my defense instinct nearly well as though (but I suppose that's actually good...defense is a much less aggressive posture than retaliation, right?).

    What I wish that I could do is just let this person's words simply slide right off of me, without impacting me at all. I can do that easily if the negative words come from someone whom I don't care about. However, if they come from someone I care about, then they stick.

    I've told myself that every time this person says something that I perceive as ugly to me, I am going to respond by giving them a comment of love and kindness in return. (The intention being to set the example and de-fuse the conflict.) So far, I haven't accomplished that though, as my defense instinct seems to take over when I feel attacked.

    So...any ideas on how I can better control my responses and/or let the words slide off me?

    TIA,
    BD
     
  2. Bluesy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    3,779
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gender:
    Female
    I'll pass along the same advice I was given by a therapist years ago: When a person approaches you with an issue they'd like to discuss, it's your responsibility to hear them out. On the other hand, it's their responsibility to couch their concerns in neutral, non-hostile language, using a respectful tone of voice. You can say to a person who unleashes their inner Criticism Bitch* on you: I understand that you have concerns you'd like to address with me, and I do want to have this conversation with you, but I need for us to either postpone this conversation until a time when these issues can be addressed without anger, or I need for you to rephrase your concerns. (All said very calmly and diplomatically, of course, which is quite a feat to pull off when you've just been verbally attacked, I know :p)

    I wish I could say I'm always able to follow that advice, but it's rough :( The idea is to be constructively assertive, because both reciprocal aggression and complete passiveness are self and relationship-defeating. You don't want to lower yourself to their level by blasting your attacker, nor do you want to teach them that it's perfectly acceptable to treat you this way. If this family member bombards you with criticism regularly, you could try having a heart-to-heart with him/her...let them know how much that criticism hurts.

    I've had to deal with similarly-minded relatives in the past, and I know it ain't easy. It's a tremendous drain on the spirit and if the other person is incapable of change, there's very little you can do (aside from changing the subject or leaving the room, etc.). My best to you, sweetie.

    *My wording, not the T's :D
     
  3. BassDude

    BassDude New Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Thanks for the reply, darlin'. Hmmm, so the suggestion to be constructively assertive doesn't jive well with my thought of responding to a perceived attack with raw kindness then...the passiveness of that sends the message that it's OK to attack. Hadn't thought of that perspective.

    Actually, this person and I have discussed this behavior many times over the years. Sometimes, there is a marked improvement, but generally the behavior always eventually slips back to the norm. I know it's not possible for this person to entirely change that behavior...it's as much a part of the person's "wiring" now as my LL's are for me. Unfortunately, leaving the room or changing the subject doesn't really work either...this person will follow me and continue even if I tell them "I'm feeling angry right now, and I really need you to just leave me alone for a bit".

    There have certainly been times that I've tried giving a passive response (biting my tongue and saying nothing), and times that what was said just really hit me wrong and I retaliated by a counter-attack. But generally, my default response is to defend, sometimes calmly and sometimes not quite as calmly as I should.

    Again, though, I know this behavior has gotten considerably worse in the past year, while this person has been dealing with a difficult situation, so I know it's linked to a strong bout of depression. So, I'm really trying to make sure that I put as much compassion into how I handle it as I can. However, that still doesn't mean the behavior is OK...I still hold this person responsible for their behavior.

    I do try to remember that criticisms tend to say more about the criticizer than they do about the criticizee...however, all that lovely logical stuff doesn't get activated in an attack...the instinctual response does.

    BD
     
  4. Bluesy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    3,779
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gender:
    Female
    That sounds like a tough place to be in all around, then :( I've known people to cut off all contact with chronic criticizers/complainers because they simply couldn't take the emotional beatings anymore and were tired of feeling like they had to defend themselves, though that's certainly a very drastic action to take.

    I wish you luck in finding a solution...I wish I had better advice for you. I know my mother can really get on a roll with the criticism at times ("Why don't you do this, you shouldn't do that...blah blah blah"), and the only thing that will shut her up (I've had the compassionate, heartfelt "this really hurts" convos with her in the past) is to look her in the eyes very solemnly and very calmly say, "I was just wondering, have you reached your criticism quota yet? I'm just checking so I'll know when I can relax and enjoy our conversation." That always does the trick. Not a very sweet thing to say, I know, but so far I haven't found anything better.
     
  5. Logger

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2003
    Messages:
    1,214
    Likes Received:
    45
    Gender:
    Male
    I've been reading the Suzette Elgin Books, YOU CAN'T SAY THAT TO ME, 8 STEPS. I took it out at the library. She has books written up to year 2000, on verbal self-defense and abuse.

    One of Elgin's recommendations is shifting to presenting an attitude of boredom when a mate is less than cordial. Like "Well sometimes things are better than at other times, and that reminds me of some other things I have been putting off, and then I have some worries about ..."

    The Wild Hogs movie had a nice transition where one guy's wife was going off on him for lieing to her about he was actaully going off on a trip with his motorcycle buddies. He just kept repeating sweetly, "You know I love you, You know I really do love you", and eventually his wife calmed down.
     
    #5 Logger, Dec 14, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2007
  6. Halogen

    Halogen New Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    First of, Hugs to you! Second..is it possible to cut back on the time you spend with this person? Or, if not..I think it's all in the perception, like you said. My mother cuts me down with icy remarks all the time, but instead of letting it hurt my feelings, I realize that she has her mood swings, and she isn't ever going to change. That's helped me numb myself to her verbal swipes.
     
  7. bricolage

    bricolage New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Are you able to identify what causes your current reactions? For example:

    Perhaps although you know there is a difference between the person and the illness, you have a difficult time automatizing your ability to differentiate between the two?

    Maybe a part of you finds each of this loved one's negative comments to be somehow valid?

    I'm sorry you're having a bad time--the mind can accomplish great things and I'm sure you'll find peace.
     
  8. Logger

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2003
    Messages:
    1,214
    Likes Received:
    45
    Gender:
    Male
    If you are feeling unnecessarily put down, then you could try to find a way to verbalize your dissatisfaction. Ther are 3 rewards abusive people receive.

    1. Your emotional response. They can see they are making you uncomfortable.

    2. Your attention, you are giving your mate attention, and rewarding them with intensity. Silence can be intense.

    3. They are putting you on the defensive, so if you had anything legitmate to complain about yourself, you are pushed back.

    That is why arugining logically does not work, because that is still gtiveing them attention, on their terms.

    That is why criticizing back does not work, because that is giving them an emotional reaponse and attentiohn, on their terms.

    What if she truly thinks all these bad things about you? What is the worst that can happen? Resolve your mind to accept the worst, emotionally calmly, and then you can face her, with boredom, without fear. If she senses fear, then there is the emotional reward. Handle any of your fears. It is normal to fear breaking up. But if a partner is using your natural fear of separation as a weapons to beat you, then you need to disarm the weapon of fear, by emotionally accepting her veiled threat.

    Ignoring does not work to correct a serial verbal abuser. Certainly overlooking an occasional slip is reasonable. But Silence is an emotional response. They may be telling you for your own good, or because they can't stop themselves, or whatever. But silence is a reward, because you are not ignoring criticism; they know words hurt. You need to find a way to use your knowledge of attitudes, to find an appropriate level of response, and corersponding words.

    .
     
  9. Dreama

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,890
    Likes Received:
    15
    Gender:
    Female
    I know what I'm about to say may sound a bit harsh, but please bear with me. I mean no ill-will toward your friend.

    I think your friend has been allowed to pull the 'I'm depressed' card on you many times over the years, and has gotten used to you being someone they could complain/make derogatory comments to. Although you may have discussed these things with your friend, perhaps they feel like those discussions were still in the range of 'friendly discussion'. I say, you should dissociate yourself from this negative person until they decide to help themselves. Therapy can only get you so far, and both a behavior change and an attitude/perspective change are in order here, and those changes need to come from within.

    That said, you cannot make a person change. So, why would you want to subject yourself to such a negative influence? For years even? Just because a person is depressed does not mean that you have to indulge them at every turn, and indeed putting up with their negative comments will encourage further negative behavior. I know it sounds rough, but perhaps refusing to have any truck with such behavior under any circumstance will give them the push they need in a positive direction. Only when one becomes uncomfortable with themselves to the max, decide to fully undergo a positive transformation of this magnitude. Letting them continue this with you is actually doing damage to both your mental health, but also your friend's progress in their depression. Don't let anyone drag you down with them. I understand that things in life are tough, and depression is no joke, and I'm glad they're seeking help. But, they have to understand that they have to surrender themselves to the change in every possible way. As for you, you seem like a positive fellow; being truly positive entails only surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good with positivity and loving care. Negative comments about everything, and incessant complaining are things no loving friend should burden you with.

    That's my $ .02 for the day! Hope everything works out in the end, and good luck to you and your friend.
     
  10. yorkiesmurf

    yorkiesmurf New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    I do not read pop-psychology crap as it creates more problems than it solves and it is written by people who do not base their books on sound psychological advice. Instead they base it on what will generate the most money for them and get them the most lucrative contracts.

    In my life I deal with enough negative people and I will share my approach. The thing you have to remember about the word negative it is perceptual which means what is negative to one person is not necessarily negative to someone else. Also the behavior has some purpose for them otherwise they would not be using it as a strategy. This means that I have to decide what aspects of their behavior that I deem to be negative, try to understand what purpose it serves, and from their develop a plan of dealing with it. In some cases it may mean I cut back on my contact with them, other times it may mean that I talk to them about their attitutde in a postive constructive way, and I look at ways at how my behavior maybe reinforcing their behavior. If there is a way I can change my behavior such as changing how I respond to their comments, how I direct the conversation, or my body language I will do that.

    How you deal with it is up to you. The main thing is to develop a network of friends that are positive that deflect from the negative and find a way of dealing with it.
     
  11. Logger

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2003
    Messages:
    1,214
    Likes Received:
    45
    Gender:
    Male
    I ran out of Renewals for the 1995 Elgin, 8 Step book, so I have to return it.

    I have been using the boring response with some better luck.

    Here is my paraphrasing of Elgin's 8 steps:


    Step 1 Understand the perspective of truth for the other people in the conversation. You will be tempted to reject some concepts immediately because the words they chose mean something different to you. Hold off forming opinions on what the person means, until things are more definitively defined. Too often harsh feelings are created by misunderstood meanings.

    Step 2 Avoid Arguing, begging or debating or reasoning with a criticizer. Habitul criticism often has built in rewards, that keep additional criticism flowing. The rewards are attention, emotional response, and escape from personal guilt on related or other issues. Use non-emotional, boring attitude responses, without upset or fear, to respond to issue raised.

    Step 3 is setting goals of your communication.
    Goal can be dominance, venting, educational, or persuading.

    3 part statement. I Feel.... When You..... Because bad comes.......

    I could feel more uplifted with you, if you tried to look more for opportunities for helping or making things better. Any way you would like to help with something?

    Step 4, is asking questions to see if there are factual problems that can be better understood both negative and positive aspects of the negative thoughts.

    Step 5 is explaining and acknowledging your understanding of the person’s comments or beliefs, in non-emotional terms.

    Step 6. Identify issues of fear, guilt and not measuring up. Bring the issues into words, as unoffensively as possible, to get the issues on the table, for discussion. Look for face saving concepts for the other people involved in the issues. Their guilt may drive hem to be unpleasant, so diffusing their responsibilities may reduce the tension.

    Step 7, discuss the issues in as complimentary a manner to yourself, as reasonably possible, while not overlooking relevant personal traits that are less than optimal. Look for win-win solutions for the other person to save face.

    Step 8 is backtracking. There will be times when you will realize, that you could have disclosed something relevant about yourself, or listened to certain aspects of the situation known to others, and some more responsibility that you could have shouldered yourself. Go back over what you missed.
     
  12. Logger

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2003
    Messages:
    1,214
    Likes Received:
    45
    Gender:
    Male
    Dear Bass Dude,

    I read the part of your post about the 5 languages of love. I counted something like 14 languages, 9 in addition to the 5 in the book.

    One additional language of Love, is Criticizing. "If I didn't Love you, I wouldn't point out where you can improve."

    I have been using the ideas of opposites to get my attitude of boredom going.

    1. Things might get a little better, or they might get worse, It is hard to know what will actually happen.

    2. The weather man was predicting rain for tomorrow, but often they are wrong about the weather, so it will probably be a sunny day.

    3. I was thinking about taking some night courses to improve my job chances, but I really enjoy my cable TV at night. Seems I should enjoy myself while I am young.

    4. I heard the interst rates were dropping for home mortgages, and there are some deals on houses, but maybe I will save up to be able to afford the house I really want.

    5. I have been putting some money into savings, and ther are some deals on leasing some nice cars, but if I go over the mileage on the lease, ther are penaltires, so It would have been better for me to buy a car instead of leasing.

    6. My boss seemed to appreciate the work I did last week, but he does not seem ready to give me a raise, so I probably should spend more time looking on Monster and the Want adds for better job opportunities.

    7. I was thinking about seettleing down to get involved in one church congregation, so I would get to know the peopple better. But I enjoy visiting various worship services, so I don't feel tied down, and I can move around.

    I guess the attitude of boredom can expressed in terms of quanries, without really taking a particualr side of an issue or dilemna.

    .
     
  13. BassDude

    BassDude New Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Wow...thanks for all your thoughts folks. Ya know, don't get me wrong here...I love and adore this person (thus cutting the hang time is not so much an option from my perspective nor the other person's). I also know without any doubts this person loves and adores me as well, and it does show in other things that they do. And this thread really isn't meant to criticize that person at all...my purpose of course is to change myself. I may get 2-3 units of positives, then one unit of criticism. The problem for me (and I know it's actually my problem in terms of perception) is that the one criticism pretty much nullifies the 2-3 units of positive. (I recall reading somewhere that it takes 5-10 good things to offset one hurtful thing for most people...I would tend to agree with that, knowing myself as well as I do.)

    The times when I actually feel angry about the criticism or negative comment (and am most likely to respond with a strong defense or a retaliatory comment) is most often those times when I've done several acts of service for this person, they haven't acknowledged or shown any appreciation for those, but rather throw out a cricitism of something that I didn't do for them or some minor detail that wasn't done exactly to their liking. Also, in most cases I feel like the criticism is not true, is quite petty and nick-picky, and totally unnecessary. This frustrates me to no end...I always immediately think "Hello...why can't you just appreciate the 4-5 things I did for you rather than focusing on this one minor detail that I didn't do/didn't do to your liking?" Those are primarily the ones that just really tick me off, and where I have difficulty not responding in a poignant way. This person has actually given me some "hot buttons" that I didn't have before I knew them. There have been many times when I said in a quite stern way "I really don't want to hear your criticism." So, really that's the part I need to figure out...how to remove those hot buttons in myself. The reality is that this would not only help this relationship, but in all likelihood it would carry over into other parts of my life, career, etc...so it seems like this would be an awefully good skill to master. This is honestly the primary thing that makes the relationship difficult sometimes...just about everything else in the relationship is quite good...

    AND...I get most ticked off when the criticism is not true (or I don't believe it to be true). If the cricism is true and I know it, I'll generally tell the person something like "sorry...you're absolutely right".

    BD

    BassDude
     
  14. Bluesy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    3,779
    Likes Received:
    14
    Gender:
    Female
    Gotcha, babe :) I see how that would be frustrating...you are solely interesting in learning how to immunize yourself to this person's dyfunctional behavior, and we're all saying, "Here's how to deal with the behavior." Not quite what you had in mind, I see. I can't fault you for wanting to be immune; being a nonreactive person is an admirable goal. I'm reminded of a quote: When there are no enemies within, the enemies outside can't hurt you. I think the best way to become nonreactive is to figure out which buttons are being pressed and why it hurts. There must be a message floating around somewhere in your subconscious that is being reinforced by what the criticizer is saying, ergo, a finger is stabbed into a psychic wound, you flinch, and it's a purely reflexive action. If you truly believed that what they were saying wasn't true, their words would have no power over you. (I grew up in a verbally/emotionally abusive household, I have great BIG glaring red buttons--this is how we become defensive people.) Maybe this is something you can manage on your own, or you might want to enlist the help of a counselor.

    I do think your goal is realistic, but it's going to take some time and whole helluva lot of cognitive work. You might want to look into Buddhism...there you will find the philosophical experts on becoming non-reactive.

    It's a lofty goal, but you can achieve it, I'm sure.
     
  15. Vanja

    Vanja New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2007
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Female
    My situation with my mother is much the same as with you and your friend. I know how frustrating and tiring this can be. I wish there was an easy way out of this. It took many many times of me saying to her that what she's doing is just an inch from emotional abuse. She didn't respond well to that statement at all... but she has had some time to think (many years to be exact). We have discussed and fought over it extensively and finally last year we decided on a "stop word" when I feel like she's passing that invisible line. She has tried doing the "I know you will probably not like it BUT..." - so I interrupt her and say "well, then don't say it so we won't go back to square one mom".

    It HAS gotten better but it will probably never be perfect because she won't admit that she has a problem. She does admit that I will live my life as I see fit and there's not much she can do about it. I thought it was a big breakthrough she finally admitted that when I was at the ripe age of 33 :D

    What Logger has been saying is basically spot on... I wish I would have read that book to discover what's behind it all for her. Would have saved years of aggravation and fighting probably. I'm definitely going to take in what he's saying about responses.

    Good luck to you Bassdude... it would be so easy if we could just cut people like that out of our lives but it's not always that simple :)
     
  16. bighiker2003

    bighiker2003 Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,754
    Likes Received:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Northern Indiana
    Halogen Said
    I just wonder why you are spending any time with Her
    I know that I wouldnt.

    Hiker
     
  17. BassDude

    BassDude New Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Bingo, Bluesy...you are following exactly what I'm saying. (Btw, nice pic! Ouch!) What a great way to put it: immunize myself from being offended.

    So, you pose an excellent question...is there a part of me that believes a particular criticism/etc. is actually true? In general, that's not the case (occasionally yes, but in general no). This person knows me entirely well enough to know exactly what statements would be perceived as offensive by me. Since that is true, my expectations for this person are higher than for someone who 1) does not know me at the same level, or 2) simply cannot be held responsible for their actions (child, mentally ill person, rude stranger, whatever).

    However, I know this person generally does NOT blurt out a criticism with the intention to hurt or be offensive...it's just automatic. (This person grew up with an overbearing over-critical dad who would always find something wrong with things his kids had done, even if what they did was nearly perfect. This I think is actually one of the sources of this person's depression.) I see the same behavior in this person with me on the receiving end. Now, of course sometimes comments are delivered explicitly with the intent of delivering hurt (during arguments, episodes of anger/anxiety, etc.). I also know that sometimes I mis-interpret comments that weren't even meant to be criticism's or negativity, and I simply take it that way. (Of course, then I get a real criticism..."you always expect the worst out of me", which simply isn't the case...I expect behavior that matches what I've always gotten in the past...who wouldn't, right? This is why I say this person has likely created some "hot buttons" that I didn't have before.)

    Finally, there's often a tendency to criticize or find fault with me for doing something this person also does. That one REALLY frustrates me! Logically, I know that the characteristics that we like most in others are often the same characteristics that we like most in ourselves (agreed?)....and that the converse is also true: the things we dislike the most in ourselves tends to be the things we also dislike most in others. That completely explains why someone would criticize someone else for something they themselves do, eh? But again, knowing that logically doesn't stop an instinctual reaction to the criticism. I can't think of many people I know who would not defend themselves if they felt attacked...that's human nature.

    So, put another way...if this were almost anyone else, I'd simply laugh off the criticisms. I have pretty healthy self-esteem, sometimes to the point of being slightly over-confident, so I can and do laugh off many jabs, or respond with a comical counter-jab. In fact, I often tell some funny story and get a laugh at myself for my own role in it, so I'm pretty comfortable acknowledging my own shortcomings...after all, we're all imperfect humans! With this person, I have difficulty laughing off the criticisms...why is that? The best answer is that I can come up with is that I hold this person to reasonably high expectations. Now, I don't expect them to be perfect, but I do expect them to be kind and considerate, and to focus on all the good things in their life rather than the bad things. And that last statement (focusing on the good rather than the bad) is a key part of it I think...because of the depression this person has tremendous difficulty focusing on the good.

    This is a great thread, btw! If it doesn't help me, I hope it helps someone else!

    BassDude
     
  18. Logger

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2003
    Messages:
    1,214
    Likes Received:
    45
    Gender:
    Male
    Dear Bass Dude,

    There is one technique I use that may help in your particualr situation, where you want to enjoy the person's company, but need a technique to handle an occasional barb, or criticism.

    I will sometimes use exaggeration. One message in some people's belief systems, is that bad things can get worse. Or imperfections can lead to adverse consequences.

    Listening can be demonstrated by acknowledging the valididty of the criticizer's perspective on the issue related to the criticizm.

    So when an occasional criticizer says something like, "That is the second day you wore that shirt, because you still have that small spot of soup near your collar."

    An Exaggeration Response could be, "You are right. I really do need to do more laundry, more often. If someone at work noticed that spot of soup, my reputation for being a conscientious person could be damaged. Once people start thinking that I am unreliable, my co-workers and supervisors will be questioning everything I do. People at work will become less cooperative and my productivity will drop. I will probably get written up, and soon fired. I really should pay more attention to getting a clean shirt every day."

    The people I use this on, usually respond with a smile and acknowledging nod, "Yes". meaning I caught their drift, but that their criticism is probably not as big a deal as their original TONE OF VOICE indicated. Elgin takes some time in her books discussing tone of voice issues, and uses captial letters for the words that sometimes get emphasized in her examples, to illustrate the cutting power of emphasis of ordinarily cordial words.

    Your thread title covers a subject with which many people struggle, certainly including myself. Thanks for starting a significantly relevant discussion thread. A married lady aquaintance of mine was complaining that her husband was freer with his criticism than she felt reasonable. I gave her the 1995 Elgin 8 Step book. Now I am starting to read Elgin's 2000 book on the workplace verbal abuse response techniques.

    .
     
  19. BassDude

    BassDude New Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Great post Logger! Let me think about that one for a bit. For me, that would probably come across as cutting sarcasm...but, if I delivered it with a big smile, it might actually go a long ways in defusing frustration for myself and the other person.

    Ya know, I've learned some lessons about forgiveness over recent years, and I have to say that having a 5-yr old daughter has really gone a long way in my thinking. Kids can sometimes say some really ugly things! But I can't imagine not forgiving my little girl for absolutely anything that might come out of her mouth. It would be absolutely friggin ridiculous to hold a grudge against a child right? Well, I've found myself applying that same thinking to adults now. It can be hard to forgive adults for some things because they are responsible for knowing how to act...I hold myself and other people accountable. However, I've had to consider that if it's ridiculous to hold a grudge against a child, isn't it also ridiculous to hold a grudge against anyone for that matter? We all have a little bit of child in us (some folks more than others ;) )...why not look at it that way? Definitely something to think about and act on, IMO.

    So, back to the main topic though...my little daughter can be a demanding little chick! (She knows she's daddy's girl...I'm putty in her hands...BUT, I do still hold her to a set of high expectations, reward her when she meets them, and correct her in a kind way when she doesn't meet them! I fully believe that kids need a lot of love AND to be held to high expectations. I also know that fathers are a huge impact on a daughter's self-esteem...I want my little girl to grow up with so much self-esteem and confidence that when she's an adult she will be a strong and confident woman who just doesn't take any unnecessary crap off of anyone...I want her to grow up to be a force to be reckoned with, and getting her there means I had to start when she was a newborn and continue throughout her whole childhood! I'm well on my way with this I believe...and so is she!) If I tell her "yes" to 2-3 things she wants, then tell her "no" to one more, she will sometimes cry and throw a little tantrum about not getting what she wanted. She won't hesitate to tell me "you're mean!"...:D...and that doesn't hurt at all since I know I'm not "mean" and it's just her learning how to deal with her feelings. I will always point out to her that she got 2-3 out of 3-4 things that she wanted, and that she should appreciate what she DID get rather than making a fuss about what she DIDN'T get. End of conversation. That usually works quite well...she get's it, and I hope it sticks when she's an adult.

    So, my thoughts this morning are about applying this type of approach to adults as well, ya know? Maybe I can adopt the same perspective...perhaps the criticism's/complaints/etc. from an adult are this person not knowing well how to deal with their feelings. I expect an adult to act like an adult instead of a 5-year old...but hey, not a single one of us is anywhere near perfect, so maybe I should work toward adopting that perspective...in some sense, treating this person somewhat "like a child" (not at all meant in a derogatory sense)?

    BD
     
  20. BassDude

    BassDude New Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Continuing to think along the child vs. adult lines here...

    Real-life scenario: child
    Child: "Daddy, I want another piece of candy".
    Me: "No, you've enough sweets already."
    Child: crying ensues..."Daddy you're mean!"
    Me: "I'm not mean. You should be happy that you've already had ice cream, a fruit treat, and one piece of candy. Now stop crying and act you appreciate what you already got."
    Child: crying stops after a minute or two (usually...much of the time now, she doesn't cry at all in these types of situaions. :D She knows her daddy's kind and loves her, but he also doesn't take any ridiculous crap...;) )

    Real-life scenario: adult (if my memory serves me correctly)
    Adult: "I like that you do the dishes for me, but I wish you'd learn to intelligently stack them." (Delivered with a quite sarcastic tone.)
    Me: "Ya know, that wasn't a very nice thing to say, since I've done 80-90% of those dishes for the past 2 months. Just because I don't stack them the same way you would doesn't mean that I'm stupid." (Note that here, I see the comment as implying that I'm stupid because I didn't stack them the same way this person would have. I actually get more miffed about a criticism that's NOT true than I do about a criticism that IS true.)
    Adult: "Well, I'm sorry...I didn't say you were stupid, I just said they're not stacked right."
    Me: "Well, that's what you implied. If you don't like the way the dishes are stacked, then re-stack them the way you want them." (Feeling more miffed because the person is now denying that they implied stupidity.)
    Adult: "Well, if I'm going to do that, then I might as well do the dishes myself."
    Me: "By all means, go ahead." (Delivered with a sarcastic tone.)

    So, what's different here? My daughter said "you're mean", which isn't true, but it slid right off me. This adult essentially said "you're stupid", which isn't true either, but it got me miffed rather than sliding off? Why is that? These are very similar interactions...why did I not react in a similar way?

    Is it because my expectation is that the adult would not say/imply "you're stupid"? I would not offend this person by saying that they can't do something in an intelligent way...I know that would hurt the adult's feelings. I expect them to treat me with the same regard. (In fact, I usually work to build this particular person up because I know they suffer from depression, low self-esteem, etc. Btw, I sure am I glad that I don't depend on this person for my own self-esteem! ;)) Why do I react differently to these two similar situations because of the persons involved?

    I realize my example above sounds like a very nit-picky gripe. And it would be if that were the end of it. However, it wasn't...the whole situation exploded into an anxiety attack and episode of rage for the other person not very much later.

    OK, I'm still thinking about this...if I replace both my daughter and the adult in the above conversations with just random person X, what's the effect? If someone tells me "You're mean"...well, the fact is that I know I can be "mean" if someone has been "mean" to me...so there's actually just a little bit of truth in the "you're mean" statement. I think that may be why it doesn't make me feel miffed, it's not totally untrue. However, if random person X said "you're stupid", I would be very offended by that because I'm not "stupid" (I'm at least intelligent enough to stack dishes in a reasonable way ;), for instance). So, perhaps my reactions are at least partially dependent on who's delivering the negative comment AND the content of the negative comment. Human beings are complex creatures, aren't we?

    Am I doing self-administered cognitive therapy here? And is that anything like masturbation? :D

    BD
     
    #20 BassDude, Dec 17, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007