PREVIOUS: Criticism (#1)
SITE: “Varieties of criticism”(Aesthetic, Moral, Practical….)
Even when we are dealing with actual criticism (not just thinking we’re being judged, nor when our essence is being attacked, but rather just a comment about our ideas or actions), we need to understand what we’re hearing, & be able to distinguish between legitimate vs. negative ‘feedback’. Are the comments being presented constructively or destructively? Any form of criticism challenges our thinking, behavior or skill, so it’s normal to feel uncomfortable.
Are we receiving:
• Hurtful criticism? This is most likely a form of thoughtlessness, not consciously meant to injure, but can nevertheless be insulting & insensitive. It’s usually ‘perpetrated’ by garden-variety narcissists who are not trying to be hurtful but are simply expressing their point of view, as if it’s a given that others will see the world in the same way. (“That’s a stupid thing to say” // “I can’t believe you didn’t know that”…..). They’re generally unaware of other people’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 their creation, prestige, reputation &/or self-esteem. It’s malicious & hurtful without adding any suggestions for growth or improvement. It’s meant to show that the person or object has no worth or validity, so no practical advice or consideration is 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. They are generally the angry & controlling narcissists, who may or may not acknowledge other person’s feelings, but don’t care. They want everyone to be like them & can’t stand anything that isn’t. They are insecure Under the facade of superiority they are deeply insecure, so bringing others down boosts their False Self, & temporarily boosts their ego.
EXP: “You’re wrong. You’re always wrong! // You shouldn’t dance – you’ll just embarrass yourself // You have lousy taste”……
OR are we being offered:
• Constructive criticism? This type also points out faults, but without attacking the person, AND includes practical advice on how something can be corrected. That way the Receiver can choose to improve – if they agree with the solution AND if it suits their personality. Often using gentler language, constructive criticism aims to help the Receiver do better in the future, by kindly suggesting what to work on, & without being controlling (as in “do it my way or you’re stupid”).
Therefore, it directly or indirectly allows the Receiver to have a choice.
EXP: “Your painting looks nice. 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….”
Suggestions & alternatives is offered without the Sender being superior, manipulative or insistent – as if only they have ‘the answer’. How something is said is just as important as what is said. This usually makes it easier to accept, even if it still hurts a little.
As a Sender:
— FIRST, be sure it’s appropriate for you to put your 2 cents in
— if you feel the need to tell someone the harsh truth, be sure it’s not offensive
— make it clear that 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 do NOT get positive criticism, you can say “Ouch, that hurt, now say it nicely” OR “Thank you for sharing” OR just shake your head, change the subject or walk away. Do NOT get into a fight or try to convince them they’re wrong. It never works
— If the comment is simply not relevant to who you are – just say “Thanks for the info” & then move on
b. If you DO get constructive criticism:
— always take it positively. Think about it & if it applies, use it to improve yourself. Remember that anyone willing to be careful in how they talk to you are reasonably healthy, & likely care about you as well, so take it as a sign of good will or love
Whatever the style of communication ‘sent’, remember you’re not responsible for what others say, but only for how you react. Using our Adult ego state, we can have our internal feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, confusion…. but it’s more self-esteeming if we don’t express anger & cause a scene. If we challenge the other person, it may escalate into an unnecessary & possibly damaging argument
NEXT: Criticism (Part 3)