If I had to weave an Utopian society in my mind, absence of criticism would be one of its pillars. However, Utopia exists only in fiction and unfortunately we are the stuff reality is made of. The real world with its many trappings is the place where we are to lead our lives; with our actions in plain view of our peers and theirs to critique. Receiving criticism is seldom a fun ride. It is gut wrenching to see someone tear apart something which were the fruits of one’s imagination, efforts and passion. More than anything else, it is a cruel reminder of the fact that one’s vision and intentions were not as flawlessly executed as planned; that someone is questioning their capabilities. On the other hand, criticism is also a great eye opener; a stepping stone to improvement. How one takes criticism reflects greatly on the strength of their character. Having said that, in my opinion, how one chooses to criticize others is also no less than a litmus test of his psyche.
As everyone else, I have often found myself on both ends of the criticism stick; the critic as well as the criticized. In my opinion, we should render criticism in the way we would wish to be criticized. Similarly, we should be able to accept criticism in a way we would want others to take our critique. Sadly it is all easier said than done. Although I am nowhere close to achieving this complete absence of hypocrisy, it remains as one of my life long goals. When I started working, I was often put in a position where I had to review and critique other people’s work. I then realized how quickly words can be misconstrued, sentiments can be hurt and personal relations can be strained. Objectivity is a part of being a professional but diplomacy is equally essential. Criticism has a way of making people defensive and somewhat hostile. The perfect criticism would be where the receiver can see a positive light in the midst of the flaws. And for this, the critic is as much responsible as the one being criticized.
When I am on the receiving end of criticism, my first emotion is that of dejection and bewilderment. The fact that sooner or later, I have to own up my actions registers gradually. It is easier to respond to gentle criticism but life never gives us what we want. When I am being criticized incessantly and brutally, I initially feel lost for words and disappointed in myself. Thankfully, after a while, optimism powers through and provides me hope. Over the years, I have learnt that it is very important to understand the intent of the criticizer. Some people are chronic critics; pessimists who are more interested in undermining confidence rather than encouraging others. It is important to identify such kinds. It just makes life easier. It is equally rewarding to identify well wishing critics; the ones who are eager to guide and groom us. It is a boon to have such people in my life and I take their criticism as positively as I can and follow their word like gospel. What I am trying to say is that it is wise to be analytic about criticism and not let everyone’s opinions affect us.
It is also important to realize that we are our biggest critics. As someone who understand our aspirations and capabilities from the closest quarters, external forces are rendered insignificant if we don’t feel the innate desire to improve. There is no fooling oneself; in the end, we live with no one but ourselves. We are the only ones who can change ourselves and self critique is something which should hold more water than anyone else’s opinion.
Written in response to Daily Post – Handle With Care