Warning: Assassination Ruins Relationships

Relationships Die One Sentence at a Time.

216594524_44b8d124f2_z (2)When you are unhappy about something your partner does the words that come out of your mouth are crucial.

Look at the difference between these two sentences:

  1. “I don’t like it when you leave your dirty clothes all over the bedroom.”
  2. “You are such a slob. You might like living in a pig-sty but I don’t.”

Complaining Vs Character-Assassination.

The first sentence is a complaint.

The second sentence is a character-assassination.

The first sentence deals with the problem.

The second sentence doesn’t deal with the problem at all – in fact the person you are addressing may have no idea what you’re getting at – and they’re certainly not going to make an effort to change. Would you?

If you are assassinating your partner’s character on a regular basis, you can be sure of two things:

Deal Decently with Issues

Before you lash out next time, use the guidelines below to tackle the issue:

  • Identify one issue to talk about. Only one. Let me repeat that: tackle only one issue at a time.
  • Focus on the behaviour not your partner’s character.
  • Plan how you will say it. Begin the sentence with I and not You. “I don’t like the way you spill toothpaste all over the basin.” or “I feel so upset when you expect me to clean up the mess after you’ve cooked”  OR “I feel exhausted after all these visitors; I’d appreciate some help cleaning up and then we can both relax together.”
  • Practice your sentence mentally a few times.
  • When you are calm, deliver your sentence to your partner. Now BE QUIET. Allow your partner to digest and respond.

Getting into the habit of dealing with problems this way allows for better communication and stronger relationships.

Practice Every Day

Start with small issues and practice every day. This way when you need to deal with something big it will come more naturally.

Lastly, don’t forget to verbally appreciate when changes happen.

Criticism, like rain,
should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth
without destroying his roots.

 Frank A. Clark

 Photo by Martin Stabenfeldt


About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.
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6 Responses to Warning: Assassination Ruins Relationships

  1. Pingback: How to shift from self-criticism to self-analysis | Kirsten Long, Coach 4 Life

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  3. Angelique Adams says:

    Hi Kirsten,

    Thank you so much for these guidelines. I have been fighting with my husband for a few months now as we are going through a difficult time but I realize now after reading this that I have been fuelling the fire with the way I say things.

    Thank you so much for this guidance.


    • Kirsten Long says:

      Hi Angie,

      Thanks so much for sharing. It is so easy to get into negative spirals in relationships and this is one of the ways – as you say fueling the fire by taking stabs at our partners character. Then your partner is smarting inside and is much more likely to stab back at you, then its your turn …. and you’re on that negative spiral. It important to stick to facts and deal with one issue at a time. I’ll be posting a video in the next month or so with more on this – so watch out for it.

      I hope you and your husband smooth out this difficult time soon,
      Kind regards,

  4. Lerato Moche says:

    Good Day Kirsten,

    And welcome back, I hope you had a great holiday.

    Thank you very much for the above, it is very true. Reflecting I see myself doing this my kids too. Assassinating their character, and it is damaging to their self-esteem etc. I do the same with my partner and he always calmly asks me baby why don’t you show me instead of criticizing or yelling. I am so embarrassed to know that I have been so mean to my loved one. TIME FOR CHANGE!! Thank you

    • Kirsten Long says:

      Hi Lerato,

      Thanks for your comment. You are so correct in saying that we damage our children’s self-esteem by doing the “character-assassination” on them. This is one of the most important things to stop. Of course, its also important to correct children when they are doing wrong – but is HOW this is done that makes all the difference.

      Good luck with the change! And remember if you have a bad day and slip back to old habits, don’t give up – just start again.


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