PREVIOUS: Criticism (#1)
SITE: “Varieties of criticism”(Aesthetic, Moral, Practical….)
Any form of criticism challenges our thinking, behavior or skill, so it’s normal to feel uncomfortable.
When we are dealing with actual criticism we need to understand what we’re hearing : not just when feeling judged, nor when our essence is being attacked, even just a comment about / disagreement with our ideas or actions.
Is it legitimate vs. negative ‘feedback’? Are the comments constructive or destructive?
1. Are we receiving
• Hurtful criticism? This is most likely a form of thoughtlessness, not consciously meant to injure, but can nevertheless be insulting or just insensitive. It’s usually ‘perpetrated’ by garden-variety narcissists who are simply expressing their point of view, as if it’s a given that others will see the world the same way. (“That’s a stupid thing to say” // “I can’t believe you didn’t know that”…..).
They’re generally unaware of their effect on the listner’s emotions & sensitivities, since only their own feelings & ideas are real to them
• Destructive criticism? This type is a direct attack on someone, generally given with the intention to harm, belittle & destroy the other’s creation, prestige, reputation &/or self-esteem.
It’s malicious & harmful, meant to show that the person or object being attacked has no worth or validity, so no practical advice or suggestions for growth are included.
Naturally, this can do a lot of damage, & in some cases trigger verbal or physical retaliation.
While anyone is capable of this kind of attack – occasionally, & under great stress – here we’re talking about people who use this style as their main way of communicating about anything they don’t like or don’t approve of.
Generally, they’re the angry, controlling narcissists, who may or may not even notice other person’s feelings, and don’t care. They want everyone to be like them & can’t stand anything that isn’t.
Under the facade of superiority they’re deeply insecure, so bringing others down boosts their False Self, & temporarily satisfies their ego.
EXP: “You’re wrong. You’re always wrong! // You shouldn’t dance – you’ll just embarrass yourself // You have lousy taste”……
2. OR are we being offered:
• Constructive criticism? The Sender also points out ‘issues’, but without attacking the Receiver’s identity, AND may include practical advice on how something can be corrected.
That way the Receiver can choose to improve – but only if they agree with the solution AND if it suits their personality.
When using gentler language, constructive criticism aims to help the Receiver function better in the future, by kindly suggesting what to work on, & without arrogance (as in “do it my way or you’re stupid”). Therefore, it allows the Receiver to consider.
EXP: “I like your painting. Would you consider adding brighter colors?” // Your Math grades would improve if you let a tutor help // Practice keeping your back straight so you’ll feel stronger & more confident….”
HOW something is said is just as important as what. Suggestions & alternatives are offered without the Sender being manipulative, insistent, or superior – as if only they have ‘the answer’. This usually makes it easier to accept, even if it may still hurt a little.
As a Sender:
📌 FIRST, be sure it’s appropriate to put your 2 cents in
◆ if you feel the need to tell someone a harsh truth, be sure it’s not offensive
◆ make it clear it’s your personal taste, & just your opinion – even if it’s based on first-hand knowledge or hard-won experience
◆ if you’ve tried your best to be respectful, but it’s still taken badly, then it’s not your responsibility to fix their hurt feelings or pride
As a Receiver:
a. If you get negative criticism you can say :
• “Thank you for sharing”
• “Ouch, that hurt, now say it nicely”
• OR – just shake your head, change the subject or walk away.
Do NOT try to convince them they’re wrong, or get into a fight. It never works. If the comment is simply not relevant to who you are – just say “Thanks for the info” or “That’s not helpful” & move on
b. If you get helpful / constructive criticism:
❥ always take it positively. Think about it, & if it applies, use it to grow. Remember that anyone willing to be careful in how they talk to you is reasonably healthy, & likely care about you as well, so take it as a sign of love or at least of goodwill .
NEXT: Criticism (Part 3)