Weekly Thought – September 6, 2016
Fred differentiated between interest and curiosity – one he valued, the other he didn’t. He also had standards for criticism. The Smith children learned the value of “constructive criticism” as they grew up. They shocked Fred when they told him it wasn’t greatly appreciated. “But I knew you all wanted to improve so I felt it was my responsibility to point out the deficiencies.”
The Art of Criticism
Keep criticism positive. Recently I sat down and thought through the reasons for criticizing. I think most people would recognize themselves in my analysis. Three reasons were negative and one was positive.
1) Self-dissatisfaction: Sometimes we criticize we are just passing on a self-grudge. If before 10:00 in the morning I have been critical of everyone and everything I must stop and ask, “Fred, what are you mad at yourself about?” Generally, I have to stop, go make a phone call, and apologize for something. My environment won’t change until I stop being mad at myself and do what it takes to straighten it out.
2) Superiority: We criticize to show others our superior knowledge. How often do we find ourselves in a situation where someone throws out a really good idea and you go through these mental gymnastics: “Wow, that is a good idea, but if I am too enthusiastic I let him think he is smarter than I am.” So what do I do? I say, “Joe, that is a terrific idea, but…” Many “yes, buts” come from a desire to show superior knowledge.
3) Poor Performance: Much criticism comes from those who haven’t made the grade and want to “rain on somebody’s parade.” A bitter spirit often shows itself in critical remarks. I have found it necessary to neutralize work environments by removing those who become professional naysayers.
4) Improvement: A sincere desire to help others develop is a positive reason for criticism. Pointing out things others may not see in themselves promotes growth. It should be done quietly and kindly. It should be done in private. A rare exception is the heckler who shouts from the audience and needs “correction” publicly. This criticism should be disciplined to cover just the area in question with specific remarks which are made to build up and improve. The motivation of speaking to edify sets this reason apart from the others.
When you criticize positively, you are demonstrating emotional stability – a quality needed by every leader.
This week think about: 1) How do I accept criticism? 2) What triggers a critical attitude in me? 3) Where can I apply these ideas this week?
Words of Wisdom: “Many ‘yes, buts’ come from a desire to show superior knowledge.”
Wisdom from the Word: “The person who hears the reproof that leads to life is at home among the wise.” (Proverbs 15:31 NET Bible)