How compliments and criticisms affect relationships

I played hooky from church yesterday. I made the mistake (depending on point of view) of turning on the local Christian station as I was getting ready for church, caught the tail-end of a message about unanswered prayer, then went into a message about patience. Seeing as I have little, I listened intently. It was good stuff, so I stayed home and listened. By the time that was over, services had started, so I listened to a third message. This one was supposed to be about marriage, which isn’t terribly useful to me at present, but quickly veered off topic. The pastor had no focus whatsoever, but there was lots of good stuff in there. Among them: Write down the five greatest compliments you’ve ever received and who said them. Then, flip the piece of paper over and write down the five most lingering cuts/criticisms. The lesson: The criticisms are probably older than the compliments, and probably come to mind more quickly. The source also tells something. I wondered why I was never able to have an effective relationship with two particular people, and suddenly I understood why. One was responsible for two of the top five; another was responsible for a definite one and another that arguably belongs in the top five. Suddenly it made sense.
The other thing that came from that: It typically takes nine compliments to counter a cut. I’d heard that before, but in this context it clicked. So, those two people I had trouble establishing any kind of healthy relationship with? Well, one of them never said nine nice things about anyone, at least not with that person present.

But hey. They’re both figures in history and very likely to stay that way. Now I don’t have to feel guilty about that.

As good as Pastor John’s messages always are, I don’t think he could have packed as much into his 20-minute messages as I got from that hour fifteen or so from three different people.

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