This point goes with being patient and gentle. You understand that
your impatience is usually unreasonable and that being gentle is an important
aspect of your PPS commitment; but there are those times when criticizing or
offering a negative comment is both appropriate and necessary.

A combination strategy works well when criticizing or making negative
comments to your significant other. Using it starts with being clear about what
you want to say and equally clear about what you want the outcome to be.

•           If
you want a hostile, angry reaction, say what you have to say sharply and
without any thought or consideration. Just blurt it out.

•           If
you want silence and a closed off reaction, just say what is on your mind,
whenever the thought pops up, however it comes out.

•           If
you do not care what the reaction is, it does not matter what you say, when you
say it, or where you are when it comes rushing out.

•           If
you do not care what your significant other thinks or feels about you and what
you say, just let it all hang out and spew forth.

Simon knows you a little better than that, though. You do care what
your significant other thinks and feels. You care as well about what kind of
reaction you get. The challenge is remembering that you do care when you are
frustrated, feeling negative, or overwhelmed with the urge to criticize. At
those times, the impulse to let go with whatever thought is there is hard to
control and good alternatives are harder to see.

Retrieve Simon’s earlier comments about self-discipline. The need to
be attentive and self-disciplined applies here as well. With criticism and
negative comments, the second step is to exercise the self-discipline to censor
what comes out of your mouth. Actually, there is a step that needs to precede
censorship. You need to stop long enough to think about what you are going to
say before you need to censor it. Just as “listen and learn” requires
that you listen before you learn, “think and talk” means that you
should think about what you are going to say before you say it. It takes
attention and self-discipline to listen and learn and even more to think and
talk, especially when you are about to be negative or critical.

You have all of the interpersonal tools you need when you are tempted
to be negative or critical:

•           Listen
and learn. Be sure you understand the situation before proceeding.

•           Be
self-disciplined and attentive with your feelings, thoughts, and reactions.
Evaluate what you want the outcome to be. What do you hope will happen?

•           Think
and talk. Understand what you want to say and what outcome you want before
saying whatever you choose to say.

•           Be
specific. Do not say more than you want to say or less than you need to say. It
will help if you are careful only to comment on the immediate situation or
circumstance. You are headed down the wrong track if you bring up things from
the past or let your focus drift to other issues. Stick to your point.

•           Be
patient and gentle as you say what you have to say and especially as you
receive whatever reaction or feedback you get. This is the time to go back to
the “listen and learn” step and apply the steps in the strategy, with
special attention to “think and talk.”