Criticism is not always positive, there are criticisms that hide resentment, frustration and even envy. But there’s another other criticism, a constructive criticism, which can help grow or correct errors.
However, because criticism will be well-received and produce a positive change, must not only be honest, truthful and made with the best intentions, but also expressed in the right way at the right time. If any of these ingredients is missing, it is likely that criticism is received with suspicion and does not reach the goal.
Therefore, when we make a criticism, it is important to be aware that the person doesn’t change because we insist to criticize him/her, even if we are right.
The frustration of the person who criticizes
Often the person who criticizes knows to be right, therefore, insists on his point of view. But when sees that the other person is not receptive, or at least not as much as he/she would like, starts feeling frustrated.
But the problem is that when criticism is repeated tends to become a reprimand, then who criticizes end up accumulating frustration and stress, which then puts on the other. Obviously, when reproaches appear the person loses control and does not realize that has entered into a downward spiral. At this point criticism begins to be destructive.
The person who’s criticising realizes that has been insisting in the wrong direction, that even if is right and wants to help others, words, attitude or simply insistence, have a counterproductive effect.
The anger of those who are criticized
In addition, the person who is criticized tends to perceive these words as an attack, and gets on defensive. Obviously, this state of mind does not allow him/her to see how much truth there may be in the criticism. As a result, the person may feel vulnerable, guilty or angry, but it is unlikely that will be prone to change.
Neither we can blame him/her, because criticism is often repetitive and contains a huge emotional burden hard to carry. Moreover, often criticism turns into erroneous generalizations that express only resentment.
Some common examples of reproaches that once used be constructive criticisms are: “You always act like that…”, “at this point you should have understood…” or “don’t you think you should change sooner or later?” These accusations may be accompanied by offensive words that produce emotional wounds difficult to eliminate.
Bothering and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t enhance the change
At the end, the repeated criticism in the form of reproach end up harming the relationship, without resolving anything. As much one side cricizes the other much the other will closes in on itself, making communication more difficult.
At some point, everyone starts to live in his mind. Who’s criticizing thinks that the other doesn’t take account of his opinions and needs, and regrets this. Who’s criticized thinks that the other doesn’t consider or understand him enough, and suffers.
How to get out of this vicious circle?
First, it is important to take on our own share of responsibility. If you want a person takes into account your opinion, you should express it in a respectful way, without hurting the other or try to impose your point of view.
If that person doesn’t listen you at first, you can always repeat the criticism, but being careful not to turn it into a reproach. You have to say what you think without making value judgments, express how a certain behavior or attitude makes you feel and offer a possible solution.
5 key points of constructive criticism:
1. Go straight to the point. Many times people are forced to repeat criticism, simply because they do not have the courage to openly say what they think and turn around the point, hoping that the other understands. In this way they only generate malaise. If something bothers you, makes you feel bad or think it should be changed, say it in a clear, direct and assertive way.
2. Express your feelings and take responsibility for your emotions. Sometimes criticism is perceived as an attack, therefore an excellent strategy to make the other person more receptive is connecting both emotionally. And for that, you need to express how you feel. For example, instead of saying “you make me go crazy” a phrase that generates guilt in the other, you can say, “when come home later I get nervous”, in order to distribute the responsibility and emphasize the behavior you would like to change.
3. Be concrete, do not generalize. Nobody can change completely. So, if you say something like “You are unbearable”, the other person will not know how to react and what you expect of him/her. On the contrary, the key is to be as specific as possible. For example, you can say, “These days I noticed that you’re angry, is there something wrong with you?”
4. Focus on the present, don’t bring up the past. The past is past, we can not change it and, although it may serve as a support, the criticism will be better received if it focuses on the present and looks to the future rather than rehashing the mistakes of yesterday. Therefore, instead of saying “you’re always late”, you can say “I’d love you try to do you’re best not to be late, do you think you can do it?”
5. Be gentle. Although sometimes is difficult to control emotions is important to avoid irony in the criticism and use the right tone. Sometimes a simple “please”, “sorry” or “thank you”, can positively prepare the other person to listen to what you have to say.
Finally, remember that the other person is free to decide whether to accept criticism. Once you’ve made sure that he/she understands what you would be changed and why, you should leave him/her space to reflect and make a decision.
Pérez, A. (2016) No por insistir en la crítica, cambia el otro más temprano. La mente es maravillosa.