In my own experience and experience working with couples, I can’t recall a single case where a relationship was made stronger through excuses, defensiveness, or finger-pointing the other way. My first boss was very wise and his tagline was “just solve the problem.” Imagine going to a nice steakhouse to celebrate a milestone. You paid $70 for a medium-rare bone-in filet. Perhaps the steak seems more well done to you. Do you want your server to tell you that they put it in right but the cook screwed up? Do you care if the grills are having mechanical problems? Do you want them to cut into your steak and tell you it’s actually more medium? Probably not. You most likely just want a different steak. Perhaps a free dessert or steak will keep you coming back. The question of whether you want to be happy or right is an important one. While being a doormat isn’t a good way to go through life, sometimes you have to pick your battles. Most times just trying to solve the problem will get everyone further along than excuses, defensiveness, or finger-pointing back.
It’s also important to realize that most criticism directed toward you isn’t really about you. It’s usually about someone else’s unmet need. Trying to “win” this discussion doesn’t get anyone anywhere. My first career was in project management. Project managers get all kinds of criticism from executives. These people usually have no idea how well I was leading or the team was doing. It was all about how their leaders promised faster or different results and weren’t seeing them. Don’t take anything personally. It’s not about you. Just solve the problem.
Meeting the unmet need is usually all it takes and people forget about all the rest.
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