In a recent post on handling arguments, Ed mentioned that nobody likes being told they are wrong. I thought it was an interesting perspective because I do not mind others pointing out my mistakes. In fact, I welcome it, if not actively seek it.
The input helps me improve whatever it is I am trying to do. Maybe there is a better way or maybe I missed something. Often, I ask Markus what he thinks of my idea because I am pretty sure he has a better one.
As it stands, the criticism is important to me because it allows me to grow and add the necessary fixes so what is bad can be good and what is good can be great. My own evaluation is not always accurate, after all, but I am working on it.
The Dalai Lama said, and I agree, that “If you realize that you are inadequate in some way, then you develop effort.”
I was not born with this open mind though, if that is what you call it. In fact, getting criticized is one of the banes of people with my personality type. Why it does not apply to me is because of my mother. Her singular goal in life is to “raise good kids” following a set standard that she believed outstanding to society.
As far as I could remember, everything I did was evaluated with an emphasis on “doing it right” or “becoming better”.
When I did something perceived as good, the praise rained from the heavens. When I did something perceived as bad, my mother hit me in a way known today as child abuse. But good or bad, she always explained why the consequence was given and how it will help me better myself.
With this kind of upbringing, how can your everyday criticism affect me negatively?
I understand that people are opinionated and I can use this information to build on my goals and projects. Some critiques are more useful than others, of course, and I simply take the pieces that give me a new perspective constructively and toss the rest in the bin.
I suppose it also helps that I know who I am regardless of other’s approval or disapproval. It really changes nothing.
Also, it is worth mentioning that some criticisms are mainly about the person giving it than the one receiving it. And that is okay.
How do you approach criticisms?
Micah has never been shy about criticism, while I’m just coming out of a phase of being extremely hesitant about it.
So, what’s so hard about criticism? The obvious take is that nobody likes to be criticized and have the flaws in themselves or their actions pointed out. But that doesn’t really answer the question – criticism can be good, after all. What is it, then, that really differentiates good from bad criticism?
There are lots of factors that play into this, of course. Not least of which everyone’s own attitude. But one of the biggest factors, in my opinion, is shame.
I listened to a great book recently: So you’ve been publicly shamed, by Jon Ronson. Next to telling some great stories, the book makes one thing abundantly clear: Shame and the avoidance of it play a massive role in our daily lives.
Such a role does shame play in our lives that entire codes of conduct and methods of punishment have been developed based on it. In many cases, being publically shamed can be a fate worse than death.
Bad criticism shames, while good criticism doesn’t. I used to enjoy being good at pointing out flaws in things and people. When I noticed the effect it could have, I stopped – but that also meant I no longer offered valuable criticism as well.
Now, I’m back to criticizing with a passion. But I’d like to think that now it’s wrapped up in empathy, understanding, and encouragement. That way, I get to have the criticism cake and eat it, too.