I lost another friend today. Apparently the power of my negativity is slaying them right and left. And even worse (according to this friend anyway) I don’t take “constructive criticism” well.
This got me thinking: why should you take criticism, constructive or otherwise? If it concerns your job, then you really have no choice but to take it. If you ask a friend for a critique of your faults, then you should be graceful if you hear something you don’t like. But if someone points out your faults without being asked, then why should you “take it well”? Even if you know your faults (especially if you know them), criticism is hurtful.
Conversely, is it ever acceptable to offer constructive criticism? I don’t presume to know how people should live or how they should deal with their problems, so I don’t offer advice unless it is asked for, and not always then. But somehow, people assume they can offer me “constructive criticism” and expect me to like it.
“Constructive criticism” seems to be a euphemism for “I’m saying terrible things about you and you’re supposed to be grateful.” I guess I lied when I said I don’t offer advice because I’m going to do it now: if someone has a character trait you don’t like, deal with it, don’t expect them to change to suit you. If you are friends, be aware the person you are criticizing probably has a list of things they don’t like about you, but they are too kind (or too reticent) to tell you.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.