How to Deliver Feedback in a Relationship
Giving feedback in your relationship can be tricky, but using a new strategy can help you master it. Feedback is valuable for affirming wonderful qualities in a partner or in the relationship, as well as addressing issues that need to change. Watching your volume and keeping feedback objective leads to your partner feeling loved and respected, and will help you maintain a strong commitment in your relationship. It may take practice, but you can transform your relationship by using some simple feedback strategies.
1 Lower the Volume
Getting a handle on your voice's volume increases the chances of good feedback reception. Yelling will turn off your partner and hinder his willingness to listen to you. If you yell at your boyfriend because you feel he doesn't spend enough quality time with you, he is less likely to work with you on a solution, leading to longer-term problems in your relationship. Maintain a calm and level voice when giving feedback. Make sure your partner hears you when you're talking by asking if he's following you. If you are giving feedback on a difficult topic, take some time to calm down by exercising or processing your emotions, so that your emotions and their power don't end up raising the volume of your voice.
2 Objects, Not Subjects
When giving feedback, stay focused on the objective rather than your perspective. This suggestion does not mean taking emotions entirely out of what you say or ignoring your own feelings, but it does mean giving feedback on what did happen rather than why you think it happened. For example, if your girlfriend forgets your anniversary, focus on the fact that she forgot and talk about how it made you feel, rather than assuming that she forgot on purpose or doesn't care about you. Sticking to the when, what and where, rather than focusing on the why, will help you give feedback that is helpful and isn't alienating.
3 Polarity Shifts
Balance positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback, which often praises, feels great, but negative feedback, which addresses things that need to change, can also be helpful, if less pleasant. For instance, when giving feedback about your dates with your boyfriend, positive feedback can focus on how enjoyable your dates are and negative feedback can address your desire to increase how many dates you have. By only focusing on one type of feedback, your partner may feel as though he can do no wrong or that he can never do right. Instead, be honest and let him know what he's doing right, but also what you'd like to change in your relationship. Creating a well-balanced relationship that addresses both the good and the bad carries your relationship further than by unrealistically focusing on one or the other.
4 Lend a Listening Ear
Giving feedback in a relationship involves listening to your partner as well as speaking. Listening is crucial to your long-term success as a couple. After you've given your feedback, allow your partner time to process and communicate her thoughts and feelings to you. When she talks, let her know that you are listening by nodding or giving simple affirmations, such as "Yes" or "Mm hmm." Be non-judgmental and do not interrupt her. Listening allows you to get an idea of how she feels about your feedback and the issue that prompted it. This act also lets her know that when you give feedback, you are not just there to criticize her, but also to hear her point of view.