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23 September 2019

100 Day Personal Performance + Business Growth Challenge, (Day 96): Healthy Relationships (Criticism Doesn’t Work)

Jairek Robbins

If you want to have a healthy relationship with another human out there, there is something that you need to understand, and I am going to ask you to share this with every human you know because for some reason at this point in history, based on the internet and all these cool sites, there’s a lot of people that really need some help on how to communicate with each other.

And the reason I say this is because I am watching how they are doing it and it is radically ineffective, and I am sure it is frustrating them because they are seeking to help someone to make a change and are not seeing any change happen. This is leading them to get louder about what they need to change, what they are doing wrong and all this jazz.

The truth is, it is not working. And I can show you something that actually does work. In order to do this, you have got to realize that this is based on research of what works. You can do it any other way you want, but I can tell you based on my research and the research done by my friend for fifteen years studying this concept, there is something that absolutely doesn’t work and there is something that absolutely does work.

And so what doesn’t work if you are trying to influence the masculine energy (this could be a masculine man or a masculine woman) is criticism. It never, ever works to influence such a person.

I have noticed, because I have been following my friends here on Instagram, and I have also got some messages from other beautiful people out there in the world, and it is just a criticism of what they don’t like, what is wrong with something, why I am missing something.

I posted a picture a few days ago of six men and six women who started late in life, but they went on to succeed. And I got a message from a young woman who says “Yeah, this is great, but could you try being a little more diverse? I mean, there’s only one Asian woman in here and she didn’t really earn it, so if you could please be a little more diverse in what you are doing. I wish I could shake every white man and let them know!”

I was like wow, what in the world! This criticism seems to have nothing at all to do with me, and it isn’t going to be helpful. I just blocked the person because I don’t have time for that. If there’s a genuine question, or something she honestly feels could be different, like a request that I include something else to improve what I am doing, I would have no problem with that because I like improving and doing better. But when it is just a long, endless message which is just a bunch of criticism, I just push you aside because there is no time for that because it is just a distraction from all the good stuff we are doing over here.

Related: What is Your Personal Motivation For Action?

And so, instead of criticism, and I will tell you where criticism has worked in the past, but even then it wasn’t working so well.  When a group of people who have feminine energy get together, and this could be a group of women or a group of men, but if they all have feminine energy (meaning open and flowing, and free and alive, etc.), when they get together, let us say it is a group of feminine women getting together, and as they get dressed up and gather in their group for whatever reason. Let’s say that one of those women comes up to her group and she is wearing a red dress and black shoes. One of the group members can say, “Oh my gosh, you are wearing those shoes with that dress?!” Ladies, just think about that scenario and tell us what the likelihood of that woman ever wearing that particular dress with those shoes again is?

It is pretty clear that she will never wear those shoes with that particular dress. This is an example of the few situations where criticism can work. 

Now this is for the guys; if you showed up at my house and the two of us are masculine guys, and I walked over to you and said, “Oh shit, are you going to wear that shirt with those shorts?” With masculine energy, what is the chance that this dude is going to wear that exact shirt with that exact pair of shorts the next time I show up at the house?

I will tell you, as a man, the likelihood that he will wear those exact shorts and shirt is very high. This is because as a guy, when a guy criticizes the shirt I am wearing, I am going to get that exact shirt every single time he comes to my house and I am going to be wearing it just to rub it in his face every damn time I have the chance! 

So, let me give you a hint, criticism doesn’t work on us with masculine energy. If anything, criticism causes us to want to do the very same thing you are criticizing again and again and again. This can become extremely annoying when you are actually trying to help us to become better. 

So, as a masculine man, or a masculine woman, all have masculine energy. I think it has changed recently because it used to be that men were masculine and women were feminine. If you try to criticize masculine energy, regardless of the sex of the human, a lot of the time you are going to cause them to want to throw it in your face.

In that case, let me give you a better way to influence them if you see a way that could actually make them better because some people out there are trying their best to help someone to become better. The problem is, they are using a radically ineffective way to do so.

So if criticism won’t work, praise and appreciation works like a charm. How do you do it? Let’s say that one day, someone (me) happens to post a picture that is a little bit more “inclusive” than any of the other pictures that have been posted in the past, and when you observe that change, send a message that says “My goodness! I have looked over your page and I was worried because I didn’t see as much inclusiveness as I would have hoped for, but I’ve got to tell you, that last post…you nailed it! Good work! Keep doing that! I really appreciate the fact that there were more women than most of the time. As a matter of fact, I appreciate that there were women of different nationalities. That was really cool! I like that! You should do more of that.”

I would be like my goodness! People out there in the digital world like it when I post something like this? My God! I would immediately send a message asking my team to find more stuff like that because people like it when I post such pictures and someone sent me a little note to say that was great and I should do it again.

That is all you need to do! In this case, I would probably have a bunch of posts like that. I was going through Gottman Level 1 certification training. The majority of the people in the room were marriage and family therapists but I am not a marriage or family therapist, but I was in that room learning and I actually signed up for level 2. When I was there, there was a piece of literature they gave us that showed us how we should really listen to each other.

Most people, when we listen to each other are level 1 listeners, which means we listen long enough until we can literally jam our words in between the next words the person is trying to say. This means we aren’t even listening! We are simply listening for the gaps so that we can plop our words and thoughts in between their breath of air. This happens every now and then between my wife and I.

She would be talking, and the moment she paused to take a breath I would immediately jump in with a bunch of words and she would also do it to me every once in a while. When that happened, we would be like Oh my gosh! We were not even listening to each other!” That’s not listening.

Level 2 listening is listening but when you are only hearing the words they are using, and the words only account for about 7 percent of all communication. So we are missing the body language and how they are feeling. We are missing what they are not saying, and we are missing the tone, the tempo and the pitch. We are missing all the other elements of communication that they are putting across along with their words.

And level 3, this is where all the magic happens. This is where you are listening to the words, the tone, the tempo, the pitch, and the emotions. And you are also watching their body language as they are telling you something. You are paying attention and reading what they mean if they lean in as they communicate, or if they lean back. You can even notice if there’s a little pulse on their neck as they talk indicating that their heart rate is going wild or is completely relaxed. You can also watch other cues, like are their pupils dilating or staying small. As you pay attention to all the elements of what’s going on, you truly are starting to listen.

In our program, they gave us this little four-step process to learn how to listen.

  1. Listen at level 3 by engaging and staying fully present as you listen to everything that they are saying. As you are engaging and listening, you should repeat back some of the things they are sharing with you so that you are both hearing it. You can say, “It sounds like what you are saying is…” and you let them confirm that you heard them right and that you are on the same page. They can also clarify what you may have got wrong so that you can proceed after getting the clarification.
  2. Add some empathy to the conversation (wow, that must have been scary). Here, you label the emotion that the other person must be feeling or might have felt while undergoing a certain experience. You should also let them correct you if you read the emotion of the situation wrong. You then repeat back the emotion to show that you are on the same page once again 
  3. You then mention empathetically how what they are saying would make you feel. For example, that would make me feel extremely frustrated if I were made to wait that long! 
  4. Ask them what they want to do with it or about the situation.

In the beginning when I first learned this, I remember I got so excited and came home waiting for my wife to share something with me because she always has something to share. She came and started talking and I waited and waited and waited until she eventually got to the point where it was time for sharing. And I went like that sounds like…and I repeated back some of what she had said. And she looked at me and was like, what are you doing? And I said, that must feel…and I threw in an emotion. She was like, what in the world are you doing? And I continued, that would make me feel…and she asked why I was sounding like a robot. To which I replied, what would you want to do with this? And she replied, can you please stop this!

She told me that was really weird because I sounded like a robot and I repeated it again. And I started laughing and said let me do it again. The next day she said something and I did the same thing. I was very robotic and pretty soon she was making fun of me. She would say, are you going to do it again? Can’t you just listen? I finally stopped.

I then told her I needed to ask her permission for something. She said, what’s that? I said can suck at this in the beginning? Can I literally be horrible with this? Can I be the worst human on earth at this? Can I suck at this for 30 days? I guarantee I will do it enough times in 30 days that by next month I will be okay at this. And if you give me permission to suck at this for 30 days and I become okay at it, then I promise that I will be really good at it in 90 days if you give me permission. And if you continue to give me permission to continue practicing this, then I will be really great at it in 180 days and it will be one of the greatest gifts that we could give each other in our relationship. But I really need your permission to really suck at this for the first 30 days.

And so, going back to the husband and wife…where the wife is trying, give her permission to be really horrible at this for the next 30 days. Give her permission to be so ridiculously odd, and strange and weird and goofy and silly and just flat out suck at it, and if you give her permission to just suck at this, and be horrible long enough, what will end up happening is that she will start to get good at it. When she starts to get good at it, she and you will have an amazing opportunity to have something wonderful in your relationship. And so if you give each other permission to be horrible at it long enough, but you keep practicing and really truly honoring each other for trying, you will have a chance at an incredible relationship because there are very few people on earth who put that much effort in and who are willing to do the work with you.

So, regardless if you are the husband or the wife, spouse or whatever, give each other permission to suck, support each other and egg each other on in a healthy way, have fun being silly with each other about this, have fun getting better at it because at some point, you will become world class at it because you will go from sucking at it, to becoming okay, to becoming good and eventually you will become world class at it. And when you become world class at it, it will dynamically change your relationship. 

And so that was our topic for this Day 96 of our 100 Day Personal Performance and Business Growth Challenge. I hope I have shared a few useful tips on why criticism doesn’t work and how you can swap out any criticism you have for your partner or any relationship you have and replace it with praise and appreciation and watch what happens. You will get way more effective results that way and you will actually enjoy the process. So, God bless, have a nice day and I will see you guys tomorrow for Day 97 of our challenge!

To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins



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