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Criticism Bites!

The Importance of Saying Something Nice


Criticism Bites!

Healing Lesson of the Day

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Criticism has its place, but it is important to know when criticism is constructive and when it is hurtful.

Words of wisdom I learned from my mother: If you can't say something nice... SHUT UP! Okay, so those were not the exact words my mom used. I'm sure her instructive admonition for me was much kinder and friendlier, perhaps more like: If you can't say something nice, please don't say anything at all.

Sadly, all too often it is easier to point out a person's flaws than it is to give that person a compliment. Criticism is sometimes the result of a self-esteem deficiency. Subconsciously, a person often might feel that criticizing someone else can boost his or her own feelings of superiority, but this is patently false, as I will explain.

Does it Hurt to Say Something Nice?

When someone says to you "Would it hurt for you to say something nice?" you might honestly be able to answer "Yes, as a matter of fact, it sort of does." This may be true because, oftentimes, people who are the most critical of others are the same people who, on the flip side, are probably the ones who are the most uncomfortable when given compliments.

Oddly enough, some people respond more positively when a criticism is directed at them than when they are given a compliment. How people who are challenged with low self esteem respond to compliments and criticisms can be a possible clue as to why criticism is so rampant in today's society.

How Do You Respond to Being Complimented?

Do you accept compliments graciously or do you promptly reject them? Or perhaps shrug compliments off as if they are unimportant?


Compliment 1: "What a pretty dress you are wearing."
  • Denial response: "What, this old thing?"
  • Accepting response: "Thank you! I'm glad you noticed, it is one of my favorite outfits."
Compliment 2: "You did a great job on that project."
  • Denial response: "Anyone could have done as well as I did."
  • Accepting response: "Thank you so much. I feel really satisfied that I was able to use my creative ideas to get the end result that I did."

Are You More Accepting of Critical Barbs than Kind Remarks?

You might also want to think about your responses to criticisms. Are you more accepting of criticism than your are of compliments? Although we may reject criticisms outwardly, we often accept them internally. Are criticisms eating up your insides?

Not all criticisms are obvious. Sometimes there are those backhanded comments we hear that are intended to be caring, but can come across more often as an insult, such as: "You sure look tired. Are you getting enough sleep at night?" In so few words, someone just implied that you don't look so good and has made the judgement that perhaps you aren't taking proper care of yourself. OUCH! (And you thought you put yourself together just fine that morning and even had a perfect night's rest. DOUBLE OUCH!!)

Be Kind to Others

Start making a conscious effort to choose your words carefully before you speak. Say kind words. When speaking to others, squelch any words that convey critical thoughts or judgments.

Offering constructive criticism to someone has its place. Only give it whenever it is requested or if it is truly required, such as when a parent is teaching a child, or an employer needs an employee to meet certain job requirements. Remember: Unasked for advice is really a form of criticism, so be careful when you offer advice.

In most circumstances, criticism is regarded as a "put down" that hurts both the criticizer as well as the target of the criticism. You don't want to be on either end of those hurtful words.

Say Something Nice About Yourself in Response to Compliments and Criticisms

Notice what your normal responses are to the criticisms and compliments when given. Change any negative responses into positive responses. Very soon you will begin feeling happier and become prouder of the person you are!

As soon as you have learned to like yourself, you will become less critical of others. And when you feel good about yourself, it will become second nature for you to "say something nice" to others, as my mom always tried to teach me.

Have a great day! Accept others as they are with less criticism and extend more praise whenever you can.

Getty Images / Andrew Oiney

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