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Can You Open Your Mind To Criticism?

by Rick Baker
On May 14, 2013

For the sake of change and innovation, I hope you can.

For the sake of future Canadian generations, I hope you can.

For your piece of mind, I hope you can.

I have written often - Constructive Criticism is an Oxymoron [99.44% of the time].

To be clear...

I mean that as an observation. I do not mean that as a moral or philosophical judgment against constructive criticism or a condemnation of criticism in general. It is simply an observation. 

Now...if I was inclined to make a moral or philosophical judgment then:

Criticism is needed and an environment where it can and does happen should be promoted and appreciated. When applied with wisdom and sincerity, criticism should always be received well.

You should have thick skin…criticism only injures you when you allow it to. Even offensively-applied criticism does not have to injure you. It is your choice. If you have thick skin and a thin skull then you know this to be true.

For other people, criticism can be offensive. That's their shortfall...you do not have to be offended by criticism. You can choose to not be offended. You have thick skin...or you can make some character adjustments so you have thick skin. Thick skin provides you the ability to make that sort of choice.

Indeed, criticism cannot be done in a willy-nilly, free-for-all way. Nobody should deliver criticism that way. You are on very thin ice when you choose the targets of your criticism poorly...for example, when you choose to criticize The Boss. That's just common sense. So, inject wisdom before you prescribe criticism.

And, Criticism needs to be bounded. Criticism is best when it is applied in small doses. Be concise. There are times and places for criticism. Be selective. Emotions should be under control when criticism is delivered. Be respectful.



Thick Skin: if you prick me, I do not bleed

Thin Skull: if you prick me, I think before I do



Here's an idea...call it a Thick-Skin-Thin-Skull suggestion...

The next time you feel inclined to criticize someone take the time to write it out on a piece of paper. Then get another piece of paper and write out a criticism of yourself. Compare the two. Make sure they are about equally-important items and are of equivalent length, level of detail, wording/style and tone.

Then make a choice: 

  1. present both of them to the person you wish to criticize or
  2. tear them both up and move on to some other activity.

If you choose #1...don't be bashful. Let the person know you are undertaking a Thick-Skin-Thin-Skull adventure...trying to help yourself and others prove Constructive Criticism shouldn't be an Oxymoron!
If you choose #2...pat yourself on the back...celebrate the step toward thinning your skull and thickening your skin.

Comments (3) -

rick baker
4/13/2014 8:19:37 PM #

"Self-criticism is one of the most common obstacles to great performance in any field. It's often called the silent killer of business because so many executives suffer from it yet so few dare to speak about it."

Olivia Fox Cabane
'The Charisma Myth' (2012)

rick baker
9/12/2015 5:12:36 PM #

"Welcome criticism; but sift it thoroughly, and then act upon results."

Frank Channing Haddock
'Power of Will', (1910)

rick baker
12/12/2015 4:54:00 PM #

“We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticize us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him.”

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French Author

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