We’re all guilty of it: Rattling off the minor—or major—irritations we have with our partner from a place of exasperation. (“Did you seriously leave the water pitcher out on the counter again? Ugh!”)
But, according to the Gottman Institute, which takes a science and research-backed approach to relationships, there’s a much better way to articulate the change you want to see.
It comes down to something they call “positive” vs. “negative” needs. Basically, it’s the idea that improvement is much easier to come by if you cast it positively. In other words, if you need a behavior to change, describe what you would like to happen instead of what you would like to stop.
For example, the water pitcher left on the counter. Instead of venting about it in a frustrated and passive aggressive manner (hello, negative), try this: “I want to drink a cold glass of water when I’m thirsty, so please put the Brita pitcher back in the fridge after you use it.” (Positive.)