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Why You Need Criticism and
What You Can Accomplish With It

By Emmanuel Olasunkanmi

Criticism is a message coated either in a positive or negative comment or judgment. Your ability to decipher or decode the message, regardless of its encryption, puts you a step closer to becoming a better you.

No one is perfect. In a society filled with people with different opinions, different orientations, different cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs, the tendency for what I call opinion conflict is highly unavoidable. There will always be people with different opinions.

Criticism in most cases takes two forms, which if properly managed can be of huge benefit to the recipient. Criticism could either be constructive or destructive – but whichever form it takes, it can either motivate or de-motivate the recipient.

Constructive criticism
A critical judgment or evaluation of something, which is also known as criticism, can be said to be constructive when it further adds spice to an existing idea or opinion, to make it even better and appreciated. Recipients of such critical evaluation are often very encouraged, motivated, and eager to do more.

A positive comment is often greeted with a smile and a feeling of happiness. Considering our state of imperfection as humans, positive comments go a long way in providing us with enough motivation and encouragement in our day to day activities , our relationships with people around us, friends and family, etc.

Often at times, we get so used to these positive comments and thus forget to remember our human nature. We do not want to accept the fact that we are not perfect and as such we produce the normal reaction (anger and depression) expected of us when we do not get the expected positive comments. Destructive criticism

Often not well received, destructive criticism has the capability to de-motivate, discourage and cause emotional instability to its recipient.

If not well managed, it can destroy an idea or bring an end to a ‘promising,’ not well executed project or relationship, as the case may be. Academically, it kills the student’s interest and in the long run could lead the student out of school to seek a better venture more profitable to him. In most relationships, a negative judgment of the other party often leads to bitterness and emotional issues which of course is one of the factors responsible for break ups and divorce.

Destructive criticism is a very effective tool capable of destroying an individual’s self esteem and in turn ends up destroying the creative spirit in them. It is indeed a weapon capable of wrecking havoc on its recipient if not well managed.

My thoughts
Criticism in whatever forms it takes, especially negative criticism, has more benefits than the harm that often comes with it. The mistake I perceive a lot of people make in handling negative comments is that they take it personally instead of actually giving the criticism some reflection.

I am of the opinion that better and even greater innovations and ideas require a certain dose of these negative comments in order to BEGIN TO BECOME. Some negative comments, when well filtered, contain certain truths that could help pin-point specific errors, and indicate a better way to reinvent an idea or a better way to perform a particular task.

I understand these comments can have very strong effects on one’s emotion, sometimes damaging and thereby causing emotional instability. Yet especially in relationships, it offers a better chance of understanding one’s self and the other party.

There are a few ways an author and a mentor (Dale Carnegie: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living) taught me to avoid letting hurts from criticism get to me. It works for me.

  1. Put down your umbrella and let the rain of criticism drain off you instead of letting it run down your neck.
  2. Do the very best you know, the very best you can.
  3. 3You can answer a man who answers you back, but what would you say to someone who just laughs?

The role of criticism in self development cannot be over emphasized - most importantly, the impact it has on its recipient and how it can drive such individual to become better. You need criticism but you must first change your orientation about it for it to work for you.

Emmanuel Olasunkanmi is from Nigeria. Contact him on Twitter @saecarticles

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