Next time you think about making a negative comment (online or in-person), consider your motivation. Is your criticism well thought out and intended to benefit? It could be a defensive reaction, an attempt to improve others’ perception of you or to bully someone into your bias by ridiculing them.
Rajesh Setty said sometimes for smart people…
Criticizing others was the side-effect of their constant need for approval.
I think it is helpful to acknowledge this, but also to realize it is a decision. We have a choice to be more thoughtful in our criticism. Or perhaps we need less criticism and more critique.
- Criticism finds fault/Critique looks at structure
- Criticism looks for what’s lacking/Critique finds what’s working
- Criticism condemns what it doesn’t understand/Critique asks for clarification
- Criticism is spoken with a cruel wit and sarcastic tongue/Critique’s voice is kind, honest, and objective
- Criticism is negative/Critique is positive (even about what isn’t working)
- Criticism is vague and general/Critique is concrete and specific
- Criticism has no sense of humor/Critique insists on laughter, too
- Criticism looks for flaws in the writer as well as the writing/Critique addresses only what is on the page
Taken from Writing Alone, Writing Together; A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups by Judy Reeves
(hat tip to Jen at Scribe’s Alley, emphasis mine)
I think the world could use more kindness, honesty and objectivity. How about you?
A friend who reads the blog called to discuss this topic. He mentioned how we will feel critical of ourselves and want to bring others down to our own level of self-loathing. Also, after discussing society’s acceptance of negative criticism (Big Brother on CBS, road rage, etc.), he shared a scripture that gets at the point.
2 Corinthians 10:12 (The Message)
We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.