On criticism

In 1939 Dale Carnegie published the infamously famous self-help book “How to win friends and influence people” and I guess it’s been a best-seller ever since.

I read this book when I was maybe 15 and I worshiped it like a Bible. I learned I should always address people with their names during the conversation, I should always listen rather than speak and that I should use open gestures in body language. But yeah, back then I was in my worst puberty years and the book title could as well read: “How not to be a loser and make people (guys) like you (at least a little bit)”.

Of course, ever since I managed to muster some self-confidence, the book’s been lying deep in my shelf, covered in dust.

BUT! The other day I happened to remember one passage where Carnegie talks about criticism:

“It is useless to criticize, for criticism provokes the defense mechanism and usually restricts a person from looking at things objectively. Criticism is even dangerous, for it hurts person’s pride, destroys the feeling of one’s importance and activates resistance. Resistance, which is activated by criticism, can disrupt the relations between colleagues, members of family, or friends and usually does not even help to solve the problem, which the one was blamed for.”

(Okay I didn’t remember it word for word 😛 )

But however cheesy the book might be, the passage about criticism is definitely something to think about. Don’t we only complicate our lives by being too critical? Criticism means negativity and negativity leads to decline. Decline in everything imaginable: person’ s self-esteem, pride, motivation, satisfaction, happiness…

In general, people love themselves and tend to have high opinions about themselves. (It’s up to everyone’s judgement whether it’s justified or not.)

Unconstructive criticism hurts. If someone thinks it’s a positive motivator and leads the criticized person to improvement, they’re wrong.

Praise is like a drug – addictive.
Criticism (unconstructive) is like a knife in the back – fatal.




3 thoughts on “On criticism

  1. Of course, there’s the other side of the coin: undeserved praise can be just as harmful. Telling someone that they’ve just produced the Great American Novel when they’ve hardly spelled 50% of their words correctly, and seem never to have met a punctuation mark, isn’t going to help — especially if their declared intention is to write!

    And children who only are given praise? Spare me, when they reach adulthood. It won’t be pretty, as they meet the real world.

    So, yes. Honest critique — good. Negative criticism — words meant only to degrade or tear down? No, thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I definitely agree with everything you said! I was talking about unconstructive criticism only intended to put down and humiliate someone. If the critique is well meant, with the intention to give someone a guidance how to do things better than yes please 🙂 And yeah, undeserved praise is really harmful. I know a couple of people who’ve been praised a lot as children (for the most minor things). it was quite a shock for them realising they’re not such a big deal…


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