While we shouldn’t needlessly flatter we must make it a goal to encourage. Regrettably, we tend only to welcome results as opposed to effort. Several of us condemn much more than we eulogize, thereby dampening fervor and squelching confidence. One teacher who was counseled about his fifteen-year-old student, Matthew, exclaimed, “He never does anything right!”
Anything?? Now that’s Impossible!
Grownups do it to adults as well. Why do several of us so concentrate on another’s fiascos or disappointments? Oftentimes, it is because you want to establish that you are smarter than me, that you are superior. Or, you want to demonstrate that you were right and that I was mistaken. Or, you want to express how much more honor you have than I do.
There is yet an additional reason some of us are very disparaging and intolerant. Unhappy people vent their disappointment and resentments at handy targets. Condemnation often serves as a ready made avenue for the articulation of your rage and your sense that the world has dealt you an inequitable hand. Furthermore, when you condemn, you don’t have to accept your reservoir of anger. You can cloak your remarks in noble robes, for example: “I was only trying to help.”
Folks require guidance. We crave feedback designed to keep us moving in a vigorous, fruitful direction. I don’t want you merely to be my cheerleader – I want you to tell me when I am being excessive and unrealistic.
There is one type of criticism, however, whose outcome is solely negative. It is when you find lapse with something they can do zilch about. There is no point in ever permitting your brunette, hazel-eyed spouse to know that you prefer platinum locks and baby blue eyes. It is brutal to comment to your slim wife that you find bouncy breasts a real turn-on. It is tactless to go on and on about how eloquent and charming you find your male friend to be, when your husband is modest man of simple tastes.
Criticism, delivered correctly, can be helpful when transformation is within our grasp. Demanding a person to change what is already etched in stone will only compel them to feel worthless and indignant.
A critical change, nonetheless, requires that we simply shift some of our energies and become perceptive of somewhat different priorities. We educate our children to value the environment and set aside days for recycling in order to validate that respect. Adults dutifully segregate their garbage, putting aside paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic products so they can have another life. Why not then, proposition a globally recognized day each year on which we are remarkably mindful of treating others with dignity, when we associate with others as humans not objects, as equals not inferiors, as people who goad on and not criticize, as people with the same desires for appreciation?