So we all know these type of people that love to criticize and bully.
They are the critics in chief.
You have to wonder what their own value-add is.
While other people are doing the work, the chief critic is saying everything is terrible, horrible, tragic, almost the end of the universe as we all know it.
Yes, there is nothing wrong with well-intentioned and constructive criticism, especially by a supervisor or people sincerely trying to help.
But then there are just those who just look to find something–anything–to fault others, almost as if they are bigger if others are smaller!
This is no good.
That is no good.
I would do it this way.
You need to do it that way.
It’s almost like a hobby, but it comes with plenty of nastygrams and miserable monologues.
If only you would do X!
How come you didn’t do Y?
Next time make sure you do Z!!!
OMG, yes we are not perfect angels, but most of us try to work smart, do good, contribute, and get positive results!
Even failure is acceptable if everyone gave it their best effort and it leads to learning and growth.
Maybe the people on the sidelines who are yelling at the players need to get off the bench and actually worry about what they need to be doing, and doing it, instead of criticizing those in the trenches.
Teamwork means we succeed or fail together!
Non-attribution is about not getting personal and blaming others, especially when they are working their butts off.
Rather, roll up your sleeves everyone and get in the trenches and start pulling your own weight instead of putting down and making fun of the others.
So I learned this interesting thing about the Fight or Flight response.
Fight or flight is not just physically fighting or fleeing, but it has a much more diverse set of responses involved to perceived life-threatening events.
Fighting (turning towards the threat)
1. Physical fighting (Protect yourself with force)
2. Non-physical aggression
– Criticism (e.g. Attacking personality or character)
– Contempt (e.g. Attacking sense of self-worth with sarcasm, shaming, insults, eye-rolling, and sneering)
Flight (turning away from danger)
1. Physical fleeing (e.g. Run/hide)
2. Non-physical withdrawal
– Defensiveness (e.g. Deflecting the attack with excuses, disagreement, counter-arguments, or blaming)
– Stonewalling (e.g. Conveying disapproval or disconnection, stop participating, change the subject, or giving the cold shoulder or silent treatment)
When you recognize that not all issues are life-threatening, then you can lower the intensity of the “Amygdala Hijack” in terms of fight or flight and instead work towards developing mutual understanding, trust, respect, and shared goals and solutions.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal and attribution of content to Dr. Britt Andreatta)
That whatever you do or choose, you are opening yourself up to criticism by others or more importantly from yourself.
That’s because in life every moment is a choice and each selection of what you do with your time and efforts means by definition that you are not doing something else important then.
– Take the mother or father who chooses to spend time raising their children, but then are not focused as much on their career.
– Take the student who is working really hard on getting those good grades and SAT scores, but then are not doing as much or well with extracurricular activities like sports or socializing.
– Take the spiritual or religious person or clergy who chooses to focuses their life studying and performing holy speech and deeds but not so much other earthly and material matters.
– Take the athlete who works out and eats right focusing on toning and honing their body and physical skills but doesn’t spend as much time and effort on intellectual interests or more standard career pursuits.
– Take the extrovert who focuses on building and maintaining relationships and networks–family, friends, community, colleagues, others–but are not putting the same time and attention to enhancing their other knowledge, skills, and abilities.
So you say, but why can’t we just do everything we’re supposed to do, and simply balance?
Well, that is what we all try to do in our own way, but still each time and every moment you are doing one thing, you are not at that moment doing something else or being somewhere else.
So that causes tension, perhaps a tug-of-war within ourselves, stress, and even guilt.
The impact is that we often run from one thing to another or we get distracted in what we are doing–“Honey can you answer the phone?”
Some classic examples are when we race home from the office to pick the kids up from school or while playing with sweet little Johny or Suzie, the phone rings and and we have to pick up that call from the boss at work.
As they say, you can’t be–physically or mentally–in two places at the same time!
Hence, now the movement for mindfulness, being in the moment and focused.
But as the demands in life forever ask more of us–even amidst ever greater technology and automation to assist us–somehow we can never do enough because of course, the bar gets raised for ourselves and the competition gets tougher from those who make choices to focus on specific areas that we are not as much.
So say that you are splitting your time between work and family, but someone else is single or doesn’t have kids and they are full in with work, staying late, going in weekends, getting those extra credentials, and just putting in every extra effort there…well, how do you think you will stack up?
Yes, some of us recognize the importance of work-life balance and even focusing incrementally across the many important areas of our life: physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.
Never-the-less every moment, in a time- and space-bound world, we are forced to choose this or that.
There is no one right answer for everyone!
And every choice in every moment is the opportunity for you to criticize yourself or for others to criticize you that you weren’t paying attention, focused, doing your best, etc.
But who cares–it’s our life to live and we can live it as we want?
True, however as inevitably important things or relationships break down or fail, have mistakes or errors, or aren’t going as we would ultimately want or dream they should–we ask ourselves, could we have done things differently or somehow managed our time, efforts, and focus better.
(Source Photo: Online Advertisement provided by Dannielle Blumenthal)
Already young children in pre-school learn that “Words have meaning, and words can hurt.”
All through life, we refine our communication skills learning what works and what doesn’t.
Here are three letter-words with which to beware:
– “I” (Use sparingly) – I is usually people’s favorite word; they love to talk about themselves. I this. I that. I like. I hate. The problem is that “I” can also be selfish, egotistical, and narcissistic. Without tempering talking about I all the time, you run the very large risk of overdoing it. All the I can easily end up boring other people to near death or simply make them want to run the other way to get some needed healthy attention for themselves.
– “U” (Use carefully) – U is most often used to criticize. U should do this. U did something wrong. U are a blankety-blank. While it’s also caring, loving, and empathetic to talk about U (i.e. taking a genuine interest in the other person), talking about U can easily go astray and lead to disapproval, denunciation, and censure. We should and need to talk about U, but more from the perspective of understanding U and how can I help U.
– “Y” (Use almost never) – Y is used to ask questions, but usually ends up being used judgmentally. Y did you do that? Sometimes we question honestly and with positive intentions to understand, but very often we end up using the response to evaluate their actions, and pronounce judgement on them. From all the interrogative questions (who, what, where, when, Y, and how), Y should be used the absolute least, if ever.
I, U, Y – are letter-words that can imply selfishness, criticism, and judgement.
While, they can’t exactly be banned from the alphabet or dictionary, they are dangerous words that can get you misunderstood, alienate others, and hurt people in the process, and therefore use them, but with extreme caution, please. 😉
“All complaints must be written on $1.00 bills or larger. Thank you.”
Hey, if you’re going to complain, put your money where you mouth is.
The person on the receiving end isn’t looking for more negativity and insults about the job they are doing–they want compliments and tips!
This is similar to a story I heard today about an executive where he and his team where stretched thin and stressed out.
So at one point, when he was once again asked to do more with less, he slams his fist on the table and says, “No, we are going to do less with less!”
It is interesting that nationally and in our organizations, we are constantly asked to increase productivity, but at the same tighten our belts.
And in the short to intermediate term, we are able to shed “dead weight” and become more efficient.
However, over the longer-term, there does come a breaking point, where trying to do more with less results not in cutting fat, but in cutting bone–and the stress ends up in a fracture.
Before you know it, fists are slamming on desks, absenteeism is going up, people are getting sick, fights–verbal and otherwise–are breaking out at work, poor decisions are being made, fighting for scarce resources become fierce, and collaboration becomes overt warfare, and perhaps, even someone commits suicide or “goes postal.”
Cutting for efficiency can work up to a point, after that all bets are off and you cut at your own and your organization’s risk–then even the complaint jar or suggestion box will be nothing but a broken marquee. 😉
This is an awesome slow motion video from Gizmodo.
It is taken with a Phantom Flex4k camera at 1000 frames per second and high resolution 4096 x 2160.
This camera can capture “explosions, crashes, and other split-second events” in amazing detail and costs over $100,000, but in a sense it is a small price to pay for what the value of what you can get from it.
When I watched this video of the firefighters going into action, I felt as if I was really there experiencing the true heat of the fire, the thick smell of the smoke, the fear of what lay in the dark and burning building, and the human determination for everyone working together to put it out and save lives.
This made me think about how in rushing around all the time to do everything that others expect of us and that we expect of ourselves that we often aren’t fully in touch with the moment.
It’s more like we are just trying to get through it while everything is passing us by, and we are in a disconnected fugue state.
I imagine that at the end of life, we look back at the many moments that we don’t fully remember, experienced in just a cold and hurried manner, and that we never got to really feel or savor
If only we had been in the moment, maybe we would have listened to others better, been more empathetic, less judging and critical, and said and done the right things more often.
Being in the moment would enable us to more fully experience it, remember it, learn from it, grow with it, be together in it–and really be alive (and not a bunch of Walking Dead zombies half the time)!
This video is an eye-opener and wake up call to slow down, experience, and feel life, rather than have it just pass us so quickly and shallowly by. 😉
Recently, I heard a very smart mentor tell a crowd that “words have meaning.”
The context was that even in relation to giving criticism, it is important to be constructive, and not destructive to those receiving it.
Some are not good at giving criticism and others can be downright sadistic–humiliating, embarrassing, marginalizing, verbally abusing, and even throwing things.
Words can really hurt people, and the kids song about “stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me”–is just not true for children or adults.
From a work perspective, I relate this to what I learned earlier in my life about being not only balanced with people and their performance, but also seeing the whole human being–listening to them and being empathetic.
In performance terms, it’s as important to say what people are doing well, as well as to point out areas where their is room for improvement–and yes, it’s hard to admit it, but no one of us is perfect, and at the same time, no one really likes to be criticized.
So it takes a special talent, but one that can be learned–if you have an open mind–to have a heart-to-heart with others, and show that you are not just criticizing to be an S.O.B., but that you genuinely accept the person for who they are, and want to help them learn and grow–and do even better in the future.
We all have strengths and weakness, and with kindness, we can help others to rise above their limitations and break new barriers in their lives.
I came across a different example of where words have meaning in terms of people looking for opportunity.
I heard a story about this person who when asked why they should get a job, responded because they are a “good person.”
Word do have meaning and we don’t give opportunities to people because they like the person they are, but rather because they have “earned it” professionally–life is competitive and opportunities are not just handed out.
One more example of how words have meaning, happened when I heard one lady ask another what her son was doing for the summer (given all the unemployment). The other lady replied, “oh, he’s busy–sleeping and eating.”
Ouch. Yes, times are tough out there, but to hear the mother say it–in that way–about her own child, just sounded perhaps a little harsh and judgmental, but who really knows their particular circumstance.
Words have meaning–they can bring lovers together, hurt those you love the most, damage reputations, destroy lives, and tear nations apart or bring unity to them and determination to their cause.
Watching what we say and how we say it–is important for us in growing as decent and thoughtful human beings and in becoming good leaders–in both, we have to have heart and treat others well in both word and deed.
The importance of positive life energy (or Ch’i) is something that both the Asian culture teaches and which the self-healing industry has picked up on.I remember when my cousin had a brain tumor, and people used to tell him to envision himself healthy and cancer free; he fought for a decade of survival before the tumor eventually took his life.His mother too died from cancer at a young age, hers was leukemia and she didn’t have a fighting chance.
While surrounding yourself with positive people and energy helps us to stay focused, positive, and strong, it, in and of itself, is not a cure-all.
Many extreme athletes and hyper-achieving professionals are often told or tell themselves to envision actually performing unbelievable feats–they do this until they can literally see it happening in their “mind’s eye”–this then supposedly helps them to ultimately perform accordingly.
On Sunday mornings, Joel Osteen’s popular message is the same idea–you are not what others say you are or criticize you to be, rather “you are what G-d says you are.”
Today, Osteen compared us to computers, where often our external hardware is functioning okay, but our internal software is messed up and needs reprogramming. Osteen said you need to hit the delete key–delete those who say that you cannot or will not succeed, and instead fill yourself with faith that you can become what the almighty has designated you to be. One story, Osteen told, was about the father who always told his kid that he was a good-for-nothing, and even on his deathbed, he said, “your brother is a nothing, and you are and always will be a nothing too.”
These words hurt and can haunt people all their lives; the words echo in people’s heads and souls and prevent them from fulfilling their life missions, unless they “hit the delete key” and refocus themselves on the positive message that they are a child of the G-d most high who has breathed life into them, not for nothing, but to achieve their destiny.
I remember hearing a crummy boss at work yell at a subordinate in front of the rest of the office and tell them “you are not half what you think you are.” Similarly, at school, children are notorious for tearing at other kids for being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dumb, and too smart.
At work, at school, and at home, people can be vicious in bringing others down and the impact of these negative messages on people’s lives is crushing.
So surround yourself with positive people and positive energy–people who tell you that you can do it and are genuinely rooting for you to succeed, not in a fanciful way, but in a sincere and loving way; these are your biggest allies in life.
Groucho Marx joked that “behind every successful man is a woman, and behind her is his wife.” Seriously though, behind every successful person are all those who love, believe, and support them to be able to achieve what they do or as the poet John Donne wrote, “no man is an Island entire unto itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
In the movie Saints and Soldiers, a group of American and a British soldiers in World War II are on a trek to reach allied forces with vital information to save them from German attack–in one scene the British airman get the others to tell him their personal life secrets, and then when they turn around and ask him what his story is, he says “I’m not going to tell you that, I barely know you.”
While it’s sort of humorous, in life a lot of people are unfortunately that way–they take from you, but then do not give back. For example, at work, the worst bosses may “use you and spit you out” and when you say oh, I’m been loyal to you for X years, the response is cold and muted, like I the British soldier that after taking in their personal stories, responds that he barely knows them.
In families too, this happens when for example, parents sacrifice to give their children “everything”, but later in life, the children don’t even have the inclination to call or visit or “give them the time of day.”
This is like one of favorite songs by Harry Chapin called “Cats In The Cradle,” in this case though the father was always too busy for the son and then later in life the son had no time for his dad–“and as I got off the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me.”
We can rise above the selfishness, the coldness, and the negative attitudes, and we can be giving to others in our lives–the words we speak and the actions we show have lasting impact.
Rather than being the target of someone’s “delete” button in their life, wouldn’t it be nice to be cherished for their “save” button–and help them to achieve in life what they came here for to begin with.