Constructive Criticism

peanuts-higher-criticismYou know you’ve been hit when you feel  stung, shot right between the eyes, express hurt, and the shooter retorts: “What’s the matter? I was just giving you a little constructive criticism!” This is their defense posture because now they’re feeling criticized by your reaction to their criticism.  It’s supposed to mean they were  “only trying to help you”.  

In the first place, if you’d wanted their opinion you would have asked for it. These people have never learned the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Worse yet, these are often the very same people who once taught us this very thing, but they think that because they’re our parents they somehow have an exemption.

Criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone based on perceived faults in them or their behavior. So constructive criticism is an oxymoron.

Destructive Criticism :

That haircut makes your face look chubby, dear.

Didn’t anyone ever teach you not to make disgusting noises when you eat, sweetheart?

Have you noticed that your gut is beginning to hang over your belt?

Honey, no offense but you sing like a baboon.

When are you going to learn that not everyone is interested in your long, boring stories? 

You really over indulge that child.

You’d better stop feeding her so much or she’s going to turn into a whale.

When I raised my son he got his underwear ironed.

Why are you wearing so much makeup? Did they have a sale down at Macy’s?

Most of us have been victims of such remarks at one time or another.  But you don’t have to stay a victim. You can have an a ready response in your arsenal should a shooter appear disguised as a friend or loved one.

The obvious one that I started with was “If I wanted your opinion I would have asked for it.”   But that doesn’t fit everyone’s personality style. Others might include:

“Thank you for your kind, gentle, and  sincere help.”

“You can withdraw your fangs now, I get the message.”

“I have a headache tonight. And I’ll have one tomorrow night too.”

“You’re beginning to sound just like my mother.”

You get the idea. Disclaimer: I’m not talking healthy communication responses here.  I’m talking good old fashioned getting even. Because once in a while, lets be honest here, it just feels good to take a shot at the shooter.


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9 Responses to “Constructive Criticism”

  1. vanessaleighsblog Says:

    I often think that the entire term “constructive criticism” was created by someone who wants to justify being mean to another person. Really, the word criticism is one that I dislike anyway; but what I find the most useful and permanent is when we evaluate/check our own behavior and being; if we are asked by others, surely we can express concern/pride, etc……

    I have come to understand over the years, how much our own togetherness/happiness/peace and balance can be a threat to others who are struggling; so constructive criticism, especially when unsolicited, I think is more about the other person than ourselves.

    The challenge becomes, not making it about ourselves, and feeling strong and confident enough to know that we are okay as we are…….

  2. psychscribe Says:

    Yes, I think you’re right..

  3. mssc54 Says:

    My whit is so sharp that I rarely get a snide remark form an individual more than once.

    One of my favorite “comebacks” is when someone is just cursing up a storm.

    “Do you kiss your mom (or kids) with that mouth?!” 😉

  4. SanityFound Says:

    I love this post Psych! My normal response when I get criticized (unjustly according to me) I normally start digging in my bag and say “Sorry just looking for a mirror because I think you are in need of one”

    There are ways to tell people things and ways of doing things, if you criticize me I will always generally rephrase it to the person and tell them that perhaps next time they want to comment about something I do/how I am/etc they can try that way and perhaps I’ll be more responsive

    Their faces are priceless and they eat their words everytime… hey I can be just as big of a bleep back!

  5. psychscribe Says:

    I like it…:)

  6. psychscribe Says:

    San, these are GREAT comebacks 🙂 Thx!

  7. Amber Says:

    I have learned in my time that usually someone who is offering criticism (usually my mother) has some deep need within themselves to either correct their own behavior, or feel superior.

    I try really hard not to let the little ones get to me. But occasionally we all falter and bite back. Always though, I try to think of the actual validity of their critique and where it came from. Does it have merit? Is it said from a good place, or something that is just mean?

    Its a hard lesson. Im not perfect, but I stand my ground nicely these days. I say to someone, did you mean to say that? Was that your intention to come across this way?

    That’s a nice response…I note that you, like I did in my post, mention your mother as the frequent culprit…!!! Mine used to do it when I was growing up. She doesn’t anymore. She’s old and alone and doesn’t want to alienate her family at this stage in her life, I don’t think.

  8. viv66 Says:

    Hi Psychescribe!
    Having been the victim of this sort of criticism myself, I find it very hard to know how to deal with it. My older brother was a particularly vicious perp! I tend now to react to all criticism as if it came from him, even when it isn’t the same at all.
    I did consider taking out a hit on someone who really laid into me about a year ago. But God has a wicked sense of humour and He decided she would become my boss at work instead, so a hitman was not an option!
    I also think that there are ways of offering helpful things. So when someone asks “Does my bum look big in this?” and it does and you care about them, the reply should go along the lines of, “Well, no, but it doesn’t flatter your fabulous curves. How about this one?”
    The acid test is how the person is with you, normally.

    Thanks Viv. I love your answer. And it came after the person asked your opinion. As for your boss…oh my!

  9. viv66 Says:

    As I get older I discover better and better put-down lines to file away. When I was 18, a man followed me out of a park and exposed himself to me; I was quite scared but didn’t say anything but just bolted for the main road. What I later learned i should have said, was, “No thanks, I roll my own” implying his manhood was smaller than a rollup cigarette.
    I did try the Thank you for gentle kind etc answer on someone but I lost it by the fourth word and ended by snarling, “Well thank you very much indeed” and exitting the staffroom and DIDN’T slam the door(because the handle falls off if you do that) and bursting into tears just as another colleague came along. I was very churned up because I had been totally wrong footed and unprepared for the attack; I got my own back by doing the perp a massive favour, the next day, and knowing she then felt guilty about it, for all of five minutes anyway. Do good to those who revile you and all that jazz has some sweetness to it, but what I really wanted to do would have gotten me the sack!

    I do love your candor, Viv!

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