The Art of Criticism-1

A couple of weeks ago I wrote on how to carefully choose our words when stating the truth so we don’t hurt the listener. I also emphasized on the subtle distinction between having an opinion and speaking the truth. Just because we believe in something or in a certain way of doing things and the other person does not, it doesn’t mean that by stating our opinion or criticism, we are speaking the truth. Know the difference.

Many people wrote back saying that sometimes in social, professional or personal settings, you have to make a point. At times, you have to give negative feedback. What to do when hurting the other person is unavoidable? To cut the long story short, how to provide constructive criticism?

I know exactly what you mean. Who among us haven’t dealt with difficult people? Still, my personal experience says that we can speak the truth or share our concerns in a kind and positive manner. A while back, I read Ajahn Brahm’s Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy. He elaborates on a brilliant way of providing negative feedback which he aptly calls The Sandwich Method:

First, praise the people you want to criticize. Lay it on thick but honestly. The purpose of the praise is to establish that we respect them, value their contributions, and that we are not simply putting them down.

Praise also serves to open up people’s ears. We pay scant attention to what people are saying to us, preferring to listen to our own thoughts about what they are saying instead. Praise is the bait that lures us out of our self-protective inner safety room so we can fully hear what is being said. We like praise, so our ears open wider for more.

Then we hit them, metaphorically of course, with the criticism, “But…” And the reprimand goes in through opened ears.

Lastly, we add another thick layer of praise, reinforcing that we are not rejecting them as people, only pointing out one or two faults among so many good qualities that we have just now taken the time to point out.

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!


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