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Criticism can be an art. When we hear the verb criticize, the first thing that usually comes to mind is someone speaking ill of another person. However, criticism can also be constructive. We are too accustomed to associate the "critical" concept with a disqualification, but a criticism can also be a motivating and learning comment on a subject.
It is important to know how to criticize, because through these we can ask other behavior changes, express what bothers us or help them improve. When someone asks us for advice on faculty work, to help them improve, we can issue a constructive criticism: "it would change the introduction and make it easier," for example. Throughout the article we will discuss the concept of criticism, what prevents us from doing them, and offer some advice on how to express criticism in the most correct way possible.
- 1 What are the criticisms
- 2 What prevents us from issuing a criticism correctly?
- 3 Tips for criticism to be constructive
- 4 Hands to work with criticism
- 5 How to know if the criticisms are not constructive?
What are the criticisms?
As María Nieves Vera (2009) states: "critualizing can be used to motivate people, to influence them, to teach them, to communicate needs and desires or to encourage someone to improve ". Even so, we usually make certain mistakes, and as Vera points out, "What we say and how we say it are often at odds with our goal, with what we hope to achieve.". That is, how many times have we tried to criticize positively and have achieved the opposite?
When we pretend that another person changes or improves and the criticisms are not adequate, it will be difficult to achieve our goal. Imagine that we are teachers and a student gives us a job. We read it carefully and realize that it is quite bad. "Let's see, how have you done this work? You have not been right, it is badly written, badly posed ... it seems that a small child has done it".
Now, how do you think the student can take it? Possibly wrong. Although the intention of the teacher is good, the way of saying things can be key to cause one effect or another.
What prevents us from issuing a criticism correctly?
There are three aspects that stop us when it comes to criticism: thoughts about ourselves, about others and about the situation.
The thought that usually paralyzes us most often is that which devalues us as a person: "What if I'm not right?". On many occasions, although we are convinced that we are right, at the last moment we are filled with doubt about whether our point of view is correct. The fear of making a mistake paralyzes us and, in this way, we do not issue any criticism.
However, what happens if we make a mistake? Nothing really. The right to make mistakes belongs to us, so we can express our opinion without fear. Knowing that we can be wrong is another way of learning. If we have fallen into error and the other person makes us see it, we will have gone to bed knowing something new. So that It is important to know that the error is not synonymous with being invalid, but learning.
About the other person
What we usually think when someone carries out a behavior that bothers us is that the intention is to harm us. Negative thoughts also come to us such as: "How bad it is", "He just wants to hurt me", "He is a bitter person, so he acts like this". Somehow, we usually condemn the other. In this case, we can ask ourselves if the other person is really that bad or if we have created too rigid expectations.
Many times, we build expectations about how people should be with us and when these do not match our mental constructions, we feel disappointed. This is why it is so important to see to what extent are we accepting the other person or rejecting it just because it does not fit our thinking. We must assess to what extent the behavior of the other is so harmful or we can ask that something change.
About the situation
How many of us tend to lament and curse when a situation does not go our way? We think it is not fair that things go differently than we had planned. "Why does life treat me like this?" How difficult is it for things to go as we want? "... Actually, we have little control over what happens around us. Thus, the acceptance process is an important part to stop criticizing everything that happens in our day to day with which we are not satisfied.
Tips for criticism to be constructive
- It is convenient to keep in mind that we all make mistakes and we can behave in a way that sometimes may not like us too much.
- If criticism is constructive, we can help others.
- It is important to be kind. We get the feeling that when we make some criticism you should be brusque and somewhat arrogant, however, this is just a thought.
- Notice that when criticize someone's behavior and not the person itself. For example, instead of accusing, "You are a mess, you are very messy"better to say “It would be convenient if you picked up your clothes every time you changed”.
- A criticism, instead of representing a conflict between two people, It is a way to solve a problem.
- Making criticism or asking for changes to the other person is a personal right.
- Keep in mind that the other person has everything the right not to accept criticism.
- It's advisable be precise, concrete and describe the facts.
- Avoid judging.
- Our rights are the same as those of other people.
Hands-on with criticism
What do I want to criticize?
It is important define what we want to criticize and avoid generalizations. Try to avoid: everything, nothing, always, never ... For example, avoid expressions such as: "You are chaos, you will never change".
Is change possible?
We must assess whether the possibility of change exists in the other person. Do we believe that the other person wants to change? Many people criticize again and again the same aspect of someone specific, however, the person in question does not change. So, it is worth thinking if the other is really willing to change.
On the other hand, it is important avoid criticism based on personal relief. We may think that we do it for the other, but in reality we are only venting through anger and / or frustration.
Will the reviews be useful?
Think about what we want to change with criticism. Is change useful for me, for him / her or for us? If someone is afraid of snakes and in their day-to-day life they are not in contact with them, it is unnecessary to criticize their fear of ophidians. Now, if our partner is afraid to drive but for various reasons he needs to do so, criticism makes more sense.
"It would be important that you go to a driving school or a psychologist to work your fear of driving, I will not always be able to take you to work". This criticism would be much more constructive than, for example: "Let's see if you start driving, I'm always taking you and I'm tired, are you never going to learn or what?"
What is the change we want? Do you understand our criticism?
Delimit what we expect from the other. The more concrete and direct we are, the better. If we leave with abstractions we can confuse the other person or, directly, not express ourselves well. What do we expect from the other person?
How to say it?
- Use the first person and avoid threats, accusations or disqualifications. It is important to know that a criticism is neither true nor false since most of them are judgments. For example: "It seems to me that your method of study is not the most appropriate", "I think that if you were more orderly you would not lose so many things"…
- Empathize with the other person. If you told me what I am going to say, how would I feel? What would i think? This can help us polish the criticism to say it in the best possible way.
- Moment and place. Neither time nor anywhere are suitable. That is why it is so important to know how to select both one and the other. For example, avoid asking for a change when the other person is furious or performing some important task.
- Speak clearly. The other person should know what you are criticizing.
- Avoid insisting too much. If this happens, the other person can disconnect. It is therefore recommended that the criticisms are not long or repetitive.
- We can offer any incentive for the other person to change and commit to help in the situation.
- Avoid transmitting anger, anger, etc.
- What happens if the other person takes it wrong? Prevent a complicated situation It is part of the plan. For example: "I know you are a reasonable person, so I know I can tell you this ...".
- Strengthen positive changes. If criticism arises, it is advisable to reinforce it.
How to know if the criticisms are not constructive?
- If we humiliateWe shame or confuse the other person.
- If we blame to the other person believing that the only explanation for their behavior is what we think.
- We are not specific Or concrete.
- When we think that the other person understands us or knows what We talk without giving explanations.
- When we do not offer alternatives of behavior
- Yes we devalue the other person If our criticism is accompanied by feelings of disappointment.
- Yes we emphasize all the time in the negative.
- When our thoughts are too inflexible.
- When the environment is not adequate.
- Yes we use threats.
- Use accusing questions. For example: "How are you able to think that?", "What's that idea for?".
Vera, M. and Roldán, G. (2009). Social anxiety Practical manual to overcome fear. Madrid: Pyramid.