Monday, May 26, 2014

What's The Deal With Constructive Criticism?

There is no such thing. It’s an oxymoron. 

Once you hear someone say “criticize” or “criticism” you are automatically on the defense. The word has been terribly stigmatized. Criticism is commonly associated with hostility, judgment, personal ego-trips, and a lack of empathy. No one will open their arms warmly to receive criticism. There is not much about it that is perceived as ‘constructive’. 

I had a funny relationship with criticism. It was always something I shied away from receiving but was always more than happy to dish out. I didn’t consider it a bad thing because I thought it was ‘constructive’. I figured it was necessary to criticize others when they did something I believed was wrong. 

I realize now that my “constructive criticism” had more to do with my ego than anything else. I noticed the pattern in my criticism of others. I had a tendency to criticize others simply for doing things differently from me. I always got upset and irritated with others if they didn’t make the changes I wanted them to make when I wanted them to make it (I still catch myself getting irritated at times when that happens). I was critical and harsh at times with the misguided belief that the harsher I was, the more effective I would be.

I wasn’t. 

Correction, on the other hand, is a totally different ballgame. There is no hostility with correction. There is no disgust or contempt. There is no attitude of “my way or my way”. There is only concern for the well-being of another. There is only the self-awareness that you are not perfect but you have picked up some useful nuggets of wisdom along the way that you would be remiss not to share. There is only empathy. There is no force-feeding of your belief. 

Free will, anyone?

There is only planting of positive, godly seeds with the hope that they will eventually grow in the spirit of others.  (I know how LONG it took for some of the positive seeds planted in me to grow in my spirit.) There is informing people of what you believe they can do to enjoy a better life and why it matters. There is love.

Correction works.

I’ve had to really learn to control my desires to be “constructively critical” of others. It’s not the easiest thing when we live in a society that has normalized critical and judgmental behavior through our many forms of media (i.e. reality TV shows, social media, gossip blogs, etc) It’s a work in progress but one that we can all choose to stick to because it will make us more kind, compassionate, and empathetic people all around. And more importantly, we will serve people better by actually offering correction that is more likely to help rather than criticism that will probably do nothing more than hurt others and inflate our egos. 

Truth: no one’s life journey is about you or your timing. You do not get the controlling vote when it comes to another’s choices.

Your job as a loving being is to pass on the messages and lessons you receive/learn as you continue in your own spiritual and personal growth. Then you need to allow the person receiving the information to comprehend it when THEY are ready to get it, not when you want them to be. 

How do you do this?

Be mindful to choose correction over criticism in your interactions with others.


What are your thoughts on this, folks? Do you believe there is a difference between correction and criticism? Do you believe harsh criticism is effective? Leave a comment below:)

Disclaimer: There is nothing about sugar-coating in correction. There is never a time when you are required to lie about your beliefs to appease another person's feelings. Sometimes our feelings will inevitably get hurt because we all have egos and there are times when we prefer to hold on to our pride/stubbornness. The key is to be as compassionate as you can with your correction while not allowing the fear of another person's reaction stop you from saying the truth. 

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