How Constructive Is Your Criticism?
As a mom of seven, it is so vital that my children learn how to communicate with one another. Respect is the ultimate rule at here. Respect in words. Respect in behavior. When someone does something that offends another, they are to express themselves in a way that respects both parties. In other words, yelling, saying nasty words or making put-down comments are not allowed. They can say what they feel that achieves a mutual understanding peacefully. We have showed them how to do just that. The results of this has been a peaceful home. I’m not saying my children never yell at each other (in anger or joy), but over a period of time of showing them how to communicate, it is a habit they mostly have.
One method I’ve taught my children to implement in their communication is constructive criticism. If they have a complaint about their younger sibling, I would ask them how can you help them improve? What information can you share? I maintain that children are very emotionally intelligent, they relate easily to emotional concepts, better than most grown adults I know!
We are all non-entrants in this societal contest of life. Ours is a society full of critics and judges. Add one part “free speech” and two parts of technology, and we have a rude mess of insulting and degrading words thrown around at lighting speeds.
I’m going to share an unpopular idea. I don’t believe speech is “free”. I believe speech always has consequences to it…good or bad. Just ask “Kramer” Michael Richards. ( I had to Google Kramer, I’ve completely forgotten his name!) I believe it is extremely vital to express one’s self… but never at another’s expense.
In this sense speech is limited. If it is limited, then it should be constructive. Let’s face it, saying whatever you feel, simply because you can, does not always build relationships. It does not always create a respectful, peaceful environment. Especially if your speech or criticism is one that simply gets issues “off your chest”. Then what? You feel great after you’ve “expressed“ yourself, a freeing feeling, but the other person is left with a boatload of issues. I have to be honest here…one of my pet peeves are children allowed to “express” themselves without guidance. My children have been on the other end of those types of expressions (often), and I’m left holding the bag and devastated child. What good does it do? Good for the express-or, but does nothing for the express-ee.
Speech can only be free if both parties benefit from constructive criticism. If feelings, knowledge and wisdom is shared in a way that enlightens all involved. Truly free speech leaves both parties in a better place than they were before.
How constructive is your criticism? What do you do to problem-solve any complaints you may have with another in the blogosphere…at home…at work?
Determine Where Your Head/Heart Is At.
Is the other person the source of the problem or are you just having a bad day? If that’s the case, then other methods of self-expression need to be applied! My favorite way to unwind is by prayer/mediation. Works every time. You can also…
- Sing (preferably in a private setting if your pitch is off!)
- Dance (preferably in a private setting if you have two left feet!)
- Talk to a neutral party (spouse/friend)
Choose Battles Wisely.
Many a times, I’ve wished I kept my mouth shut! Sometimes bringing up a critique is just not worth it. This is where wisdom and experience need to be applied.
Share Concerns With Humility.
No one likes a bossy, know-it-all! I am constantly advising my children on how to deal with these types of personalities! It’s not cute at a young age (sorry people!) and it’s certainly unattractive in an adult form. This attitude does not lend any empathetic value to a conversation, which is so vital to the enlightment of both parties. Share concerns with the intention of learning and self-improvement.
Share Concerns With Positivity.
This can be tricky. It requires creative, positive thinking with a dose of self-control, and a touch of class. If the conversation is approached with the intention of self-improvement, the focus is placed on you and not the other party, that in itself can be positive.
Another way to be positive is to Offer Help Rather Than Criticism.
Let’s face it. We could all use some help. Sharing knowledge, helping another is so much more productive and constructive than just telling someone else your opinion on what you think may be wrong. This can also be a good guideline…if help or a solution cannot be offered, then don’t say anything! This is also a bit tricky as you can come off as arrogant, again, wisdom is to be applied and words should be chosen carefully.
What tips do you have for constructive criticism? Please share. ;)