Don’t take it so personally!
Day six of #JPsLateNightScribbles
I am awful at taking criticism. Especially, the constructive type. If you aren’t, then that’s great. I mean, really. I’d pat you on the back if I could.
It’s just that I’m not particularly good at the whole “yes, please shit on me while I smile at you” deal. And let me explain why.
This is how it usually works.
The critic mostly always comes along unwanted. With a forced smile plastered on, s/he will first try to smother you with compliments laced with high-level bogus. Ugh, just get to the bloody point already! And then the flowery criticism begins to flow in; one they obviously won’t be subtle about. I’m talking about an avalanche of shite being flung at your face without any warning. I don’t expect any better from someone who thinks he’s an expert at everything to shoot his mouth off.
Am I thin-skinned with a constant nagging need to be pat on the head? A self-entitled narcissist? A grade-A whiner? Sure, I’ll admit that I might be a little too sensitive to constructive criticism but it’s not like I don’t beat myself up trying to improve as a person. I listen and pay heed to the badgering little hater voice in my head. But how exactly are we meant to take the same from others with just a few grains of salt and not at a truckload? And how am we supposed to differentiate from criticism and hate? Could that pseudo-expert in fact have something valuable to offer?
While some hide behind the haughty “Fine, I thought I was helping you!” veil when slinging unsolicited insults across and others only seem to find courage when sitting behind a computer screen, the seemingly-oxymoronic expression constructive criticism is a form of honest feedback that should help at expanding our thinking. Because in all honesty, if we all did agree on the same things in life, how superfluous and redundant would the world be.
My husband Nitin, a man seems who never seems to take criticism personally, believes that the key is in detaching the assessment from the environment in which it was given. “Some form of personal growth will be included in the criticism, you just have to find a way to read between the lines,” he shares. He also explains that the reaction when being hurled vitriol at is normal, expected even. “You’re happy when being praised, I don’t expect you to be just as positive if I tell you that you could work on toning up that backside.” Yup, trust my husband to bring up my arse in the middle of a serious conversation…“But what if it sounds more like hate than constructive advice?” Of course subjective opinion will be part of the faultfinding process and it will often sound like hate. But hate in itself, he shares, is sometimes worth taking into consideration because the opposite in fact is the sort of demeanor that makes growth close to impossible.
One step back and I realise that Nitin might be onto something for once. (ha!) Criticism of the positive kind is mostly always focused on an activity whereas the destructive kind is focused on the person itself, where the person was just waiting for an opportunity to tear someone down in a demeaning manner — a pathetic attempt at bruising someone’s ego. Nitin’s successful business and social relationships reveal the pinnacle of human beings’ potential: his ability to overlook the second type, and understanding that critiques are just concealed opportunities to improve himself are what make him grow in every facet of his life. In that vein, choosing to believe that others aren’t always motivated by hatred and cruelty would be a step forward for me, as an individual looking to grow and better herself on a daily basis.
“You are not the ultimate standard bearer for everything and it would be egotistical and regressive of you to think so,” he concludes. Ouch! I clenched my teeth, balled my fists and did it.
There you go. I took his criticism constructively.
Of course I had a massive go at him right after, but we shall ignore that for the purpose of this piece, of course.