IF THERE’S ONE THING we’re generally pretty sensitive to it is criticism in those ‘precious’ places close to the heart. When people criticise us and our self image has defined us contrary to the criticism, the shock stuns us; these also speak to our love languages—those we ‘speak’ well or with passion, via the way our personalities are constructed.
Sweet Spots and Sour Spots
When it comes to our relationships with people there is hardly a more important thing than having an awareness of the person’s sweet spot—what they love to hear about themselves. And doubly handy is having an awareness of their sour spot. This is what they most fear hearing from others about themselves.
We learn in this that people love to hear certain things and absolutely hate to hear others.
Love Language Illustrations
Put simply, if we speak a particular love language of the heart, for instance ‘helps,’ i.e. we love helping people and being helped, and someone criticises us because we haven’t helped enough, we can become quite quickly and incredibly hurt. That’s the temptation, personally, to become aware of. What about if the shoe is on the other foot—how do they feel when we’ve criticised them in the same way?
Again, if we pride ourselves on the sort of quality time we spend with a loved one and then they act as if we haven’t done very well in this area that too is sharp blow that stops us dead in our tracks.
Further again, for the person who loves words of affirmation the slightest criticism or ambivalence when they’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty could devastate them. If they’re mature people they might shrug it off, but this will never ingratiate us to them.
Awareness, Patience and Caution, Always
The key thing is awareness; both for the things we’re personally sensitive to, and the things others important to us are sensitive to. If we know we have a sour spot for something it will always pay to have a heightened awareness of this, so in the moment we don’t give way to that type of hurt anger that could damage the relationship.
Likewise, if we are aware of others’ sour spots, relating to their love languages they speak well or prefer, we can easily tread warily around these and construct our feedback so it’s not such a cruel body blow to them.
Most people despise being ‘criticised,’ and it’s hardly ever warranted anyway—that we might be ‘seen’ to criticise.
There are far more tactful ways of communicating our points of difference, particularly if we don’t rush the process and go in with a deliberately gentle approach.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.