Once upon a time, there was a young painter who had just completed his course under disciplehood of a great painter (Master). This young artist decided to assess his skills. He decided to give his best strokes on the canvass. He took 3 days and painted beautiful scenery.
He wanted people’s opinions about his caliber and painting skills. He put his creation at a busy street-crossing. And just down below a board which read, “Gentlemen, I have painted this piece. Since I am new to this profession I might have committed some mistakes in my strokes etc. Please put a cross wherever you see a mistake.”
While he came back in the evening to collect his painting he was completely shattered to see that the whole canvass was filled with Xs (crosses) and some people had even written their comments on the painting.
Disheartened and broken completely he ran to his master’s place and burst into tears. Sobbing and crying he told his master about what happened and showed the pathetic state of his creation which was filled with crosses and correction remarks.
This young artist was breathing heavily and the master heard him saying, “I am useless and if this is what I have learned to paint I am not worth becoming a painter. People have rejected me completely. I feel like dying.”
Master smiled and suggested, “My Student, I will prove that you are a great artist and have learned a flawless painting.” The young disciple couldn’t believe it and said, “I have lost faith in myself and I don’t think I am good enough. Don’t make false hopes.”
“Do as I say without questioning it. It will work.” Master interrupted him.
Young artist reluctantly agreed and two days later early morning he presented a replica of his earlier painting to his master. Master took that gracefully and smiled.
“Come with me.” the master said.
They reached the same street-crossing early morning and displayed the same painting exactly at the same place. Now master took out another board which read, “Gentlemen, I have painted this piece. Since I am new to this profession I might have committed some mistakes in my strokes etc. I have put a box with colors and brushes just below. Please do a favor. If you see a mistake, kindly pick up the brush and correct it.” Master and disciple walked back home.
They both visited the place the same evening. The young painter was surprised to see that there was not a single correction done so far. The next day again they visited and found the painting remained untouched. They say the painting was kept there for a month for no correction came in!
This story is one of many life instances that portray how much people prefer to criticize rather than improve a person or situation.
It’s so easy to criticize other people, and so hard to give a single honest compliment. It’s so easy to see yourself in a good light and at the same time focus on the imperfections of other people.
Have you ever noticed how some people don’t think twice before criticizing someone else? Or how their tolerance level for ideas that are different from their own is practically non-existent, making them argumentative and easily angered?
Have you been in a situation where you spend a considerable amount of hours on a task thinking that you pulled a good one, only to have your work flimsily thrown back at you with a derogatory remark from your boss or supervisor and even friends? And, when you ask them to give opinions on how it could be better they go blank?
That’s how much people prefer to criticize rather than improve. Most critics only know that a task or situation can be better but can barely pinpoint how to make it better.
As a boss, supervisor, parent, team leader, or expert, there’s probably been times you discredit and make your subordinates feel they haven’t done enough.
Whatever you hope your critic statements could positively impact the lives of the person you criticize, you need to understand that people’s ability to handle criticism differs and you may never ascertain for sure the mental strength of the person you have overly criticized.
What if your harsh criticism makes them give up or pushes them over the edge? What if your derogatory remarks were the reason a person never trusted their abilities anymore?
Rather than criticize, you could give feedback. If you want to help people improve their behavior, it is worth investing your effort in learning how to help people change their behaviors, attitudes, and skills.
Criticizing people is a complete lose-lose situation that only creates distance, spreads negative energies, and causes tensions. Criticism is one of the worst kinds of negative thinking, talking, and acting.
If positive thoughts are creative thoughts of connecting, including, sharing and loving, then negative thinking is composed of thoughts and words (and consequently actions) that disconnect, exclude and spread hate.
Practice giving constructive feedback rather than criticizing. Both criticism and feedback involve evaluation. However, a key difference between feedback and criticism is that criticism involves judgment and fault-finding, where feedback evaluates and then passes on corrective information.