I’ve heard it said once that, “There is very little difference between people, but that little difference makes a great deal of difference.” How true that is! We’re all humans, sharing in this human experience. We all feel. We all grow. We all pass on. And while it may look like we’re different, the differences between us aren’t that great.
One of the differences between all of us is how we value people.
We get to choose how much or how little value we place on others. When it comes to valuing people, I think it’s important to talk about the subject of criticism.
At one point in my life, I was very good at criticizing others and very defensive when being criticized. Because of my failures, I am more aware today of the price that we pay when being critical in negative ways. Today, my goal is to love and respect rather than criticize. I want to value others and help them see their inherent value.
Criticism is such a negative force that if you live with it every day, you can become dehumanized or even suffer from depression. When a child grows up and lives with criticism, she learns to condemn and devalues herself and others.
Criticism plays out in many ways.
A person having a terrible day at work or feeling bad about their performance can begin to criticize, rather than taking ownership for their actions. In this situation, our criticism towards others comes from a place of negativity, and all we’re doing is shifting our negative feelings onto another person. As we unload, we feel better, but the person we dumped on starts to feel bad.
If we value each other, mean-spirited criticism will not be a part of our interactions at work or home.
There are times we need to give criticism, but it can come from a place of positivity. I believe that before we provide criticism, we must be able to receive it from others. This will help create an atmosphere in our home and work environments where people feel free to give and receive constructive criticism.
There are three critical components to receiving criticism:
- Thank the person that provides a critique to you.
- Ask: “What can I do to improve this?”
- Listen to what is said and remember that being defensive is inappropriate.
Practicing this response to criticism helps us learn to take responsibility for our actions and behaviors.
It takes a very self-confident person to be able to receive constructive criticism, so when you know a person has a poor self-image, be sensitive with your approach. When we give criticism, take responsibility to offer assistance in making changes possible.
If you find that criticism is more natural than praise, start applying this rule: Give nine compliments before you give one criticism.
One of the “little differences” between us that makes a “great deal of difference” is a person’s ability to give and receive criticism in healthy, helpful ways.
Where are you at in your journey with criticism? Do you need to learn to accept it better? Or maybe you’re always the one critical of others, and you need to start finding and celebrating the good in others.
Wherever you fall, your growth journey is never finished.