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Melli O'Brien



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The Difference Between Complaint and Criticism

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today, I'm going to talk

about the difference between

a criticism and a complaint.

So maybe when you think about a complaint

versus a criticism, you think that

they're kind of the same thing, but

actually there's a huge difference.

And being clear on the difference

can make a really big difference to

all of your relationships in life.

So no matter how much you love someone,

eventually the people we spend a

lot of time with will do something

that probably annoys us, right?

We all go through this.

But how we handle those moments when

someone rubs us up the wrong way can

make a huge difference to how harmonious

and satisfying our relationships are.

Mindful communication here is key.

And so what I invite you to try

when expressing frustrations

with loved ones is to let your

complaint be known when needed.

And from time to time, it will

be needed, but don't criticize.

So what's the difference?

A criticism is a negative comment that

is somewhat of an attack on a person's

personality, history, or character.

With criticism, there's really nothing

a person can do to help change things.

They simply feel judged,

blamed, or attacked usually.

Complaints, however, are specifically

about a person's behavior and that

behavior has a specific time and place.

So with complaints, there's no attack,

but there is a very direct focus on the

actual problem that's bothering you.

So, an example, let's say you

were meeting your partner for a

date at a really nice restaurant.

They're late, 20 minutes

late and you're hungry.

So you're feeling agitated.

And let's say, when they arrive,

you say something like, you're

always late, you're more interested

in your work than you are in me.

You just don't care anymore.

That is a criticism.

It's a comment on someone's

character rather than a behavior.

A complaint might sound like this, I'm so

frustrated right now because you're late.

I'm sitting here all alone for 20 minutes.

And this is the third time that

this has happened on date night.

So with this complaint, with any

complaint, you're just talking about

the behavior that caused you to feel

upset without attacking the person.

So with a complaint, what you can do is

you just let the other person know how

you're feeling, and then describe the

behavior that led you to that feeling.

So trying to speak in I statements.

So I feel this emotion,

when this behavior happened.

Then you can also ask for

the behavior to change.

So for instance, in the example, I

just gave you, you could add, would

you please make an extra effort

to turn up to our dates on time?

It would really mean a lot to me.

So a criticism usually, if not

always, leads to an argument

because the other person is going

to feel defensive and judged.

A complaint speaks clearly about what's

bothering you and opens the way for

understanding, resolution and change.

Today's invitation is this.

The next time someone annoys you or

frustrates you, just take a pause

and see if you can let them know

your complaint without criticizing.

I really wish you well with this practice.

Thank you for doing this inner

and outer work in the world.

Let's settle in for today's meditation.

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