Focusing on Criticism

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criticismAfter my last post regarding choosing your words wisely, I thought more about how easily  and vividly I can recall the times when words hurt me, yet I have a hard time recalling all of the times words of encouragement were spoken my way. I know there were many times when encouragement was spoken my way, but I tend to focus more on the negative words of discouragement.

I am not a minority in this regard. Research has shown that humans tend to focus more on criticism rather than praise. In fact, the study suggests that you need to experience five good events for every one bad event in order to overcome the effects of the bad event.

Giving Praise and Criticism

This isn’t to say that we should not be critical of anyone and instead just praise others constantly. We need to be criticized because we aren’t perfect. We need to know where we are falling short and need to improve. But there is a way to go about doing this.

The ideal way to give criticism is to point out the shortcomings at the start and then follow up with a list of positives. Since we tend to focus on the negative, we need to hear a good amount of positive feedback as well so that the sting of the criticism is not so strong.

Dealing With Kids

The above is a great plan, but I see it working better with adults than for kids who are being picked on (like me). The best route to taking the sting out of criticism here is to accentuate the positives. Again, remember that we need to hear five times more positive reinforcement for every time we hear negative reinforcement.

If your child is being criticized, then listen to what is being said from their own point of view. From there, try to explain why the reason they are being picked on is not so bad. For example, if your child is being called four eyes, try to explain why their glasses are great, but try to remember that you are talking to a kid. Saying that their glasses makes them look smarted might not be a good thing as the smart kids tend to be the ones picked on a lot.

Final Thoughts

It’s important that we remember how powerful negative words are and how we as humans deal with them. You can be the best positive thinking person in the world, but odds are you will still focus on negative things more. It’s just human nature. To overcome this, take note of the positive things in your life and things that make you feel good and keep them some place where you can access them easily. Then every day, review those things so that the positive thoughts and events get reinforced and the negatives fade away.

2 thoughts on “Focusing on Criticism”

  1. I’ve heard that you should use “hamburger criticism” – sandwich a negative criticism (even if it’s constructive) between two positive ones. It is an interesting though. I agree, I too focus on that negative criticism far too much. It’s a challenge!

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