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Constructive criticism

Constructive criticismDo what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do and damned if you don't. - Eleanor Roosevelt

What do you fear in your everyday life? One common answer would probably be to be criticized. To stand there and hear those words streaming out of someone's mouth and feel stupid or feel rejected or like you are getting smaller and smaller.

For every action we do get positive and as well as negative feedback, because it is a part of life if you want to live your life your way.

When dealing with others, it is all too easy to find fault, to criticize and to condemn. How often do criticisms lead to actual change and improvement? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, we find that people don't criticize themselves for anything, despite how wrong they might be.

Criticism is futile, because it puts a person on the defensive and causes him to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person's pride and arouses resentment. Criticism is vain, because in judging others, we regard ourselves as more righteous than they.

Remember criticism doesn't always come gently from someone legitimately trying to help. A lot of the feedback we receive is unsolicited and doesn't come from teachers.

We can't control what other people will say to us, whether they will approve or form opinions and share them. But we can control how we internalize it, respond to it, and learn from it, and when we release it and move on.

Many of the world's most successful business leaders were criticized - even laughed at -when they first introduced their ideas. Instead of believing the naysayers, they used that criticism as motivation to succeed.

The best way to let criticism drive you is to be open to hearing it in the first place. Successful leaders know how to identify valid criticism and adapt accordingly. They use it to help them succeed.

Judging others is part of human nature. Our eyes are set in our head in such a way that we can look at others, better than at ourselves. Yet we all have faults of our own. As humans, we are also aware that no one is perfect, including ourselves. Prophet Jesus (pbuh) once said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Do you think you are perfect? Of course not! So if you want to reach your potential, look for constructive criticism. When someone is committed to reaching a goal, they will accept incredible doses of nagging, harassments and insults.

When we see the benefits, we actually like criticism. Imagine you left your wallet in the Grocery Store and someone calls after you: "Hey! You forgot your wallet!" Rather than get defensive at the criticism, you would say, "Thank you very much. Next time I will be more careful."

Criticism doesn't mean you are no good. It means, "You are good, but I believe you can be even better." To criticize does not necessarily imply "to find fault", but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection against a disapproval.

No one is good at everything and few people are great at the first time they try something. You will always have room to improve, no matter what you are doing and the best way to grow is to take constructive criticism from people who have the skills and know-how that you are lacking. The key, however, is separating the constructive from the unconstructive and separating yourself worth from the object of the constructive criticism.

Constructive criticism is a communication technique intended to identify and find solutions to problems in a positive way. Anyone can use the strategy, although professionals can provide more thorough analysis in many cases. It usually applies to work a person does, or to an individual's behavior. People respond to the method differently based on their own experiences, preferences and psychology, but a good, well-timed delivery can make a person more receptive to the message.

Easier to criticize rather than improve

Easier to criticize rather than improveOnce 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 opinion 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 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 master heard him saying, "I am useless and if this is what I have learnt 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 learnt a flawless painting." Young disciple couldn't believe it and said, "I have lost faith in me 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." 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 same evening. Young painter was surprised to see that actually there was not a single correction done so far. Next day again they visited and found painting remained untouched. They say the painting was kept there for a month for no correction came in!

It is easier to criticize, but difficult to improve. 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. Also, always remember not to get carried away or judge yourself by someone else's criticism and feel depressed. Take criticism in your stride; consider that which are genuine and implement those which you think is the best to improve you as a person!

Look at yourself before finding fault with others

Look at yourself before finding fault with othersA man feared his wife was not hearing well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he called his family doctor to discuss the problem. The doctor told him there is a simple, informal test; which he could perform and give them a better idea about her hearing loss.

"Here's what you do," said the doctor, "stand about 40 feet away from her and in a normal conversational speaking tone, see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet and so on until you get a response."

That evening, when his wife was in the kitchen, cooking dinner, he was in the drawing room, standing about 40 feet away from her.

"Honey, what's for dinner?" He asked in a normal tone. No response! So he moved closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his wife and repeated "Honey, what's for dinner?" Still there was no response.

Next, he moved into the dining room where he was placed about 20 feet from his wife and asked the same question. Still further, he didn't get his awaited response. He now walked up to the kitchen door which was another 10 feet away and asked "Honey, what's for dinner?" Again no response! So he walks up and whispers behind her "Honey, what's for dinner?"

Darling, for the fifth time I have said, "Chicken". "Do you have some hearing problem?"

Sometimes, the problem may not be with the other person as we always think; it could be within us. Let's look within ourselves before we find fault with others.

Do you judge others? Is it easy for you to find fault with those around you? Then beware: Your spiritual life is in danger.

Hadith - Bukhari's Book of Manners #329

Ibn Abbas said, "If you wish to mention the faults of your friend, mention your own faults first."

Kabir Das in one of his Hindi Doha says,

Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye


I searched for the crooked, met not a single one
When searched myself, "I" found the crooked one

Kabir Das says that instead of finding fault and maligning others, dive deep into your own-self. Amazingly, an honest introspection will reveal that all fault lies with "us" and "my" own perceptions and attitudes. If there is any evil or crookedness, it is in "me". Correcting this and opting for a loving and compassionate attitude will change one's perceptions and the world will appear wonderful all over again. Dedicate so much time to the improvement of your true self and your perception, that you have no time to criticize others.

Why do we find fault with others?

Why do we find fault with others?Maybe you know the saying, "When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you." Prophet Jesus (pbuh) had a version of this wisdom when he said, "Don't focus on the speck in your brother's eye while ignoring the log in your own eye." Why do we do this? Because criticisms are always centered around ourselves. When we criticize others, we do not expose them, but expose ourselves. We broadcast our own weakness and smallness.

A story in the Mahabharata illustrates the difference in mentality between the good and the bad. Krishna, met with both Yudhishthira and Duryodhana. Krishna asks Yudhishthira to go out into the kingdom and return after finding someone less qualified than himself. Then he asks Duryodhana also to go out into the kingdom and return after finding someone better than himself.

When wicked Duryodhana returns, he tells Krishna that he couldn't find anyone better than himself. Whereas the saintly Yudhishthira tells that he was unable to find anyone inferior to himself.

Moral of the story is something about human psychology. Good people always look at there own short comings and faults and consider themselves inferiors to others. Where as bad people always look at the short comings and faults of others and consider themselves superiors to others.

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Islamic Moral Stories is designed by Akramulla Syed Last Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017