To be honest, I am my own worst critic. Nothing is ever good enough and anytime I do something, I always feel it could be done better. I think to be able to maintain high standards, but ones that do not damage your self-esteem or worth can be difficult. There is such a fine line between confidence and cocky, constructive and critical and I seem to tip-toe that line between the latter two on a consistent basis.
When I hear the words “constructive criticism” it feels more like an oxymoron to me now. One of the main reasons I feel this way is because the intent and motive behind the constructive criticism are huge factors in whether the information will be received as more constructive or more criticizing. What is our intent when we share a constructive criticism? Is it to make the other person better? Is it to provide guided and helpful feedback? Is it driven by our ego? Is it because what the person said or did hits a sensitive nerve? Is it because like Snoop said, “animosity made you speak what you spoke?”
Aside from the intent of any constructive criticism, another huge factor is the relationship you have with the individual. I know as a very extreme type A person, it is so much easier for me to take any feedback or suggestions from people that I have a built relationship with. Their constructive criticism is less critical and a lot more constructive. The reason it is easier to receive is because the person knows more about me. They know what things are going on in my life. They have my best interest in mind. They know if my intent and motives are legit and pure. They know what makes me tick. They know enough about my history and have seen the foundation which I’m trying to build upon. Their constructive criticism feels more like moving bricks, suggesting different bricks to add, and helping me in restacking bricks to make my “house” strong.
On the other hand, when you do not know the person, that constructive criticism seems more like a wrecking ball bashing levels of your “house” and has no constructive nature or intent at all. The critical part of the remarks are a lot more resounding. In these situations, the constructive criticism can be myopic without necessarily having all of the facts because the personal connection is missing. In cases like these, silence is sometimes a lot more beneficial because perceptions and observations are allowed more fact finding time. By gathering more data and knowledge you aren’t exacerbating the situation, but instead helping to bring more clarity. At times, I now realize when I feel the need to be critical towards other people, it’s better just to be silent. It is not my job to fix adults or have someone conform to my expectations. Instead of imposing my expectations or sharing constructive criticism, my energy would be better served improving upon my imperfections instead.
Is there a time and place for criticism? Yes, when one is speaking out against oppression, blatant hatred or disrespect, or systems that are unfair or unjust. Those situations usually deserve a critical tongue in order to be broken down or deconstructed. We live in America so everyone has the right to free speech, both critical and not. My concern is, should we offer constructive criticism of people? Well in my opinion that answer is both yes and no. Again it goes back to do I really know the person? What is my intent? We should also understand when we offer constructive criticism that it might not be well received. It might be like throwing water on a grease fire, might severe ties, might even create a negative ripple effect that reverberates for others. Unfortunately, I just hate seeing constructive criticism go awry and happening to students and even adults when we all can improve personally first. We should all just be more mindful when we decide to give constructive criticism. I am definitely making an effort to be cognizant of offering constructive criticism and will choose more often to remain silent and personally improve instead. Ultimately the goal in mind when sharing ideas, suggestions, feedback, or constructive criticism is for everyone to improve, right?