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How to Criticize Your Partner Without Damaging the Relationship

Tested on thousands of families.

How to Criticize Your Partner Without Damaging the Relationship

Have you ever realized that for the harmonious development of any relationship (in a family or in a team) it is important to observe certain proportions of criticism and praise?

It turns out that scientists have conducted a lot of research on this subject, deducing the ideal ratio of the good and the bad. Bright Side shares these interesting findings with you.

The Losada ratio

The Losada ratio is the ratio of positive and negative in relationships between people. Psychologist John Gottman was the first to note the influence of these proportions. Over 40 years, he has analyzed more than 3,000 marriages. Given the proportions of the positive and the negative in a relationship, he could predict the probability of divorce with 90% accuracy.

Later, psychologist Marcial Francisco Losada, after analyzing hundreds of business groups, clearly defined the circumstances of greatest efficiency and derived the ratio.

Why are the right proportions so important?

Imagine that the situation is a ship. With sails. The wind blowing the sails is praise. And criticism is the ship’s steering wheel. Will the ship move if your criticism is greater than your praise? No matter how much you turn the wheel, you won’t get anywhere without the "wind of praise."

Or, on the contrary, all you do is sing your partner’s praises and try to turn a blind eye to their shortcomings. Such a ship will become uncontrollable, and who knows where it will be carried with all the wind.

The Losada ratio is approximately equal to 3 positives for 1 negative. This is the minimum necessary to achieve high performance in any team, be it colleagues, friends, or family members. The maximum is about 7 praises for 1 criticism. Relationships that are beyond the boundaries of these figures inevitably deteriorate over time.

Here’s how it works

Without a positive attitude and willingness to compromise, any relationship will fall apart. But just as dangerous is the complete absence of negativity. Balance is very important. So remember this simple rule: 3 positives per 1 negative.

Illustrated by Marat Nugumanov for BrightSide.me

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