There’s not much about the word criticism that feels warm and fuzzy. For the most part, criticism is seen as negative. Giving and receiving criticism tends to feel overwhelming and can leave relationships fractured if feelings get hurt. That’s because people equate criticism with being mean. The truth is, criticism doesn’t have to be a negative experience. As a matter of fact, healthy criticism can be beneficial and help us grow. It’s too bad that criticism gets a bad rap.
Understanding why criticism gets a bad rap isn’t too hard. The term critic refers to an individual who communicates an assessment and opinion on various topics. Think—
Critics are usually professionals in the field they critique and have experience and a frame of reference that makes them qualified to give an informed opinion. Most people equate the term critic with unfavorable reviews but that isn’t always the case. A critique can be positive ornegative and both have merit.
Everyday people are critics too. Everyone has an opinion, a review, or feedback about everything. It’s normal to come to a conclusion about something—both positive and negative—and share your thoughts and feelings. Useful criticism might sting, but it truly can help you become better. The key isn’t what’s said, it’s how it’s said.
Delivering criticism or a tough truth doesn’t have to wound or demean. It’s entirely possible to critique someone or something while maintaining dignity and integrity. Likewise, it’s possible to receive criticism without feeling guilt and shame. Hearing constructive criticism can trigger some intense defenses, but it doesn’t have to. Oftentimes, reactions are linked to the past. If you’ve experienced harsh criticism, it can leave a mark and make all criticism seem potentially painful.
Understanding why criticism gets a bad rap can help you deconstruct the criticism and analyze it. Knowing that most people are afraid to hear something negative can help you deliver critical feedback in better ways. It can also help you stop yourself when you instantly feel guarded and nervous hearing a critique.
There’s no reason to be mean when delivering criticism. In fact, there’s no benefit to offering feedback when you’re heated. It only causes people to become defensive and dig their heels in. That’s a lose/lose situation and the exact reason why criticism gets a bad rap.
Take heart, criticism can be a very good thing. It all depends on your perceptions. Be open-minded to healthy criticism and benefit from valuable feedback.
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