Most people operate better with position reinforcements than with negative ones. I used to know a man that harshly criticized his wife and daughter about being overweight. Nearly every time I was at his house he put them down either blatantly or in some subtle way. His wife ignored hog calls as she walked through the room but his daughter seems to become saddened. One day I asked him why he behaved in such a humiliating manner especially in front of me. He said the embarrassing them only way he knew to make them stop overeating. His motives, according to him, were to make them healthier; however, his plan backfired. Before his daughter finished high school, she got pregnant and moved in with her boyfriend’s family. His wife gradually began to worker more overt ime and got home later every night. Subsequently, he began to suspect his wife was cheating. His suspicions were compounded when he saw her in a seemingly overly friendly conversation with a male co-worker in the employee cafeteria. At their house later an argument ensued and cont inued for weeks until she ultimately admitted it and moved in with her coworker. He found out the hard way that putting people down is not the best method to improve them.
There has never been a time in my life that I did not perform better operating in the spirit of approval than I did in the spirit of criticism. Couples must learn to appreciate the finer and lesser attributes of their partner. Nobody enters a relationship with the expectations of being ignored, ridiculed, putdown, or constantly criticized. There are ways to criticize and not come off like a nagger. For instance: In the case of someone concerned about their partner being overweight, would be wiser to show a health concern more than a physical appearance concern. If my friend have encouraged his family to join a gym on a family plan and make it a part of their family outings. Or perhaps he could have taken a nutrition class at a local college or sold healthy eating cookbooks into his home and learned to prepare the meals himself for his family instead of making hog calls as they walked through the house, he might have experienced a more desirable outcome.
Years ago, I had a female friend who was considered a genius. Her IQ seemed to be at least 20 points higher than mine, which is quite a leap. She spoke multiple languages, played multiple musical instruments and was the administrator/ owner of a prosperious mental health facility. Yet, she made me feel like a super star merely because I wrote poetry and recite it regular at coffee shops and occasionally was asked to speak at African American Cultural Ceremonies. However, quite subtly, while dining she would teach me social etiquette i.e. the proper flatware to eat with, the way the order fine wine, etc. She inspired me to become a more confident speaker by telling me, after one of my speaking engagements, that I grammatically misused certain words or phrases and pointing out the proper usage. A lesser woman would have criticized me in a manner that would have caused me shame and gradually severed the relationship. One of the lessons that I took away from the friendship is that you can get more kisses lifting people up than you can putting them down.
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