Criticism Doesn’t Work! Understand? Try This!

Most of us know when we screw up. How we need to apologize and change the behavior is a different complicated story! I’m in a change profession. My life has been passionately devoted to helping people, and myself, become a better person. Such a life would include being a person who prospers in the chief roles of life, i.e., spouse, parent, provider, etc… .

Being a change oriented, results driven, pragmatic idealist therapist, I employ what works. What is the ideal desired and how close can the client and I work together to approximate the goal through wise strategic planning.

Criticism does not work. One more time, criticism does not work. Depending on the personality type the criticized person either lashes back defensively with anger or poutingly withdraws and stays resentful.

A preferred approach that I suggest consists of three parts. First, state what you would like from the other person, perhaps with a rationale. Second, be aware and notice such an effort by the other. Third, serve up a compliment – a positive reinforcement of the behavior.

Too many people are not attuned (psychological term for being aware, or noticing) to the behavior of the other person – except when it is wrong or undesired. Then, usually a swift criticism occurs. What I am suggesting, Respected Reader, is that you enhance your radar to look for, find, and tell the cared for person that you appreciate what s/he has done. Such observation and complimenting skills can be acquired and developed with intentional practice.

The result of your compliment is that the other person will appreciate it, feel validated, and is most likely to continue the affirmed behavior. Plus s/he will feel more positively toward you. Think about it. When you feel criticized, how do you feel toward the other person? On the other hand, when you are complimented, how do you feel? Point made, I hope.

Along the journey of life too many of us were made aware of when we did the wrong thing in some manner or form. Such a negative approach did not, and does not, bring out the best in us. Positive reinforcement does, no matter the relationship.

As an aside, I am waging a war against the negativity present in social media comments and posts. There are too many people who seem to enjoy putting people down. They ridicule people, particularly in the political realm, or make derogatory and often hurtful comments about others. What I enjoy seeing and posting are the positive things going on in peoples’ lives. Offering congratulations and support, posting fun and loving pictures, sure is a more enjoyable and positive way to participate in social media.

Bottom line, be the kind of person who looks for, finds, and offers something positive . May it be a personal comment, written note, or post in social media. The recipient will be grateful for such acknowledgment and will be inclined to continue such a behavior – and maybe offer in kind back to you. Plus, you will be viewed in a better light! And who would not want that?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates

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