Constructive Criticism

April 15, 2006

After nearly forty years, I have figured out what frustrates me. Well, not everything but a big one.

It has to do with criticism. Now, there is this concept of ‘constructive criticism’ that, by the label, should be constructive. Encouraging.

Now, here is my little idiosyncrasy – if you offer the negative first, I won’t be listening when you get to the positive or ‘constructive’ bits. Here is an example.

Suppose that I’ve cut the grass too low and you don’t like it. If you tell me how much I’ve screwed up, how awful it looks, and how it is going to take weeks to recover BEFORE you suggest that next time I leave it a bit longer, I’m going to have tuned you out long before you get to the suggestion. Nothing personal, but I don’t take negative bits except as a personal attack, even if it is not meant as such.

Now, if you change the way you approach me and suggest that I leave it a bit longer and then present the reasons (it looks bad, it’s bad for the grass, etc.) I’m going to focus on the good bits first and then understand that you are trying to help. I may even think of some other bits that you might be able to help with because I realize that you are trying to help me, not attack me.

It is worse if I know someone and I know that they aren’t trying attack me… my head says concentrate on the constructive bits and my instinct is to ball up my fist and punch them in the nose. Talk about stress…

It’s petty. It’s childish. It’s who I am.

Now you know.

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3 Responses to “Constructive Criticism”

  1. Bill said

    Chris, you have an amazing command of the language. And as a friend, I feel I should be the one to tell you that although you are a swell guy, you use the words “bits and bit” too much. I count seven in this rant. I know this is also petty and childish. I hope this is the type of constructive criticism you are seeking. Your lawn looks nice though.

  2. Ha! You are, of course, absolutely right. I just like to say ‘bits’. It makes my tongue tingle…

  3. I completely know what you mean. Criticsm isn’t helpful if it’s delivered in a way that makes it hard to hear.

    (By the way, blog-tag. You’re it.–details at my website.)

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