Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan
The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than SAVED BY CRITICISM.
Whatever we may think or do, let us admit that our impulse to criticize someone is very strong, when we feel that he has done something wrong or his thinking does not match with ours. Mother to this undesirable impulse, found in most of us, is the perceived righteousness of our own viewpoint, which we all have within us to some degree. But to lead a successful, happy and satisfied life, it is very much necessary that we must get over this negative desire within us, once for all.
Often relationships are destroyed or at least soured by unwarranted, untimely and misplaced criticism. A person is always measured by others, as to how he expresses his views, including, if he must, how he criticizes others. Wise and mature persons of substance, exhibit great tolerance and self control, in patiently listening to others’ views, irrespective of how much different they may be, compared to their own. They are always very cool and calm when others are expressing their views. They do not exhibit any irritation or offense listening to opposite views.
While listening to others’ viewpoint, our body language also counts a lot, which must be positive, without any trace of impatience, irritation or contempt. We should be an attentive and patient listener, giving due weight and importance to the opinion expressed by others. It’s not only why such people are likeable, popular and trusted where ever they are, it is also that such people, in the ladder of life, remain much ahead of others.
Simply put, while going up in the ladder of life, we all need others’ active support, cooperation and acceptance. For that, others must find us patient, a good listener and supportive, being cooperative and a team person. And you can be that only if you are least critical of others and get along well with others. It is an established fact that no one likes to be criticized at all, least of all in front of others. Hence, since as a leader or a team person, others’ support is very much necessary, for a successful ending, criticism, though unavoidable at times, has to be handled very tactfully
It is not that you have to accept everybody’s views over your own considered views. During any discussion, do not interrupt the other person expressing his views, howsoever wrong, in your opinion, he may be. Like most of us, he also thinks that he is right. Anyone will feel insulted and humiliated, if interrupted and not given a fair opportunity to express his views. During such discussions, you have to be very tactful in handling people and indeed, very patient.
While replying in debates or individually, first always choose your agreements. First highlight them and be appreciative of the agreement part. After having done that, you can slowly come to the disagreements and deal with them in an agreeable manner. Other person should never be made to feel small. Disagreements are common and accepted norms, but we should never appear to be disagreeable in our disposition and temperament.
Since God has given us all, the power to think, it is simply not possible that everyone will think alike. Others’ right to express their honest and frank opinion and thinking, must not only be respected by you, but also appear to be respected even when views expressed are diagonally opposite to your own viewpoint. Such magnanimity on your part and gesture, will create lot of goodwill and conducive atmosphere for long term agreements, cooperation, peace and bonhomie.
Depending upon the situation, always express your views softly, clearly but firmly, so that your views are not diluted. You should not appear to be criticizing but only expressing your opinion. With criticism, one relates the perceived insult, feeling of being let down, not given a fair chance and sometimes, having been ignored. Anyone will find these things difficult to take. And when criticized in public before others, there is an impulse to retaliate, as well as to be on defensive and putting all sorts of relevant or irrelevant arguments, to prove their point, which can make the matters worse.
In relationships between spouses, criticism is mostly the reason for strained relations, which can lead to very unfortunate results. Unhealthy criticism leads from one thing to the other and is the major area of discontentment between the couples, leading to possible marriage break up. Both ways, one has to be very tactful and patient, exhibiting highest degree of self control and tolerance to make the marriage work. Criticism of the partner, howsoever mild, must be avoided specially in front of others, friends or close relatives alike. A spouse may remember instances of such unwarranted criticism, even after many years, which other partner might have forgotten long ago.
Children brought up with criticism by parents are different, compared to those brought up in a supportive atmosphere bereft of criticism. Children who are often criticized during their childhood, always feel insecure, lack self confidence and are least self assured. As grown up, they will always be overtly critical of others and are least likeable in a group. They might be aloof types and will always find things to criticize others and are always looking out for a chance to prove themselves. No wonder, they may not be having many friends and are not particularly good at forming meaningful relationships in life.
Wise persons or persons with substance, always welcome constructive criticism. In fact, you must create such an atmosphere, that your juniors or subordinates can express their opinions freely and frankly, which is not tantamount to criticism. And one must always be appreciative of the person who has brought out the wrongdoing or mistakes for the overall good of the organization. Such expressions should never be termed or taken as criticism. On the contrary such persons must be encouraged. A true leader must be able to take healthy criticism or adverse opinion in their stride. Self Esteem plays a big role in such a situation. A person with high self esteem accepts adverse opinion expressed by the team members, for the better and inspired performance of the team, much more readily than a person of low self esteem, who may take them as personal affront. One must raise his level to accept such so called criticism, which may be the difference between big and small organization, success or failure.
Often one comes across unsolicited criticism which can be very dangerous. People just do it as a pastime, simply because they enjoy being critical which puts other person down. Such criticism is often high pitched but without substance. High pitched because of their shallow knowledge or ignorance of the matter. Idea is only to impress others with their perceived knowledge and influence. But attempt is total disaster and failure, when it is done before a mature and knowledgeable crowd.
I will give you two examples of this reckless, totally foolish but highly dangerous attempt. About a year back, nuclear deal with US was proposed to be signed by the UPA government in office. There was lots of criticism and support for the deal from various quarters. In the melee objectivity and merit of the case were totally lost. Criticism and support was as per political views and alignments one had, not whether signing the deal was beneficial for the country or not. CPM which was the part of the government at that time, was deadly opposed to the deal and had been threatening the government that they shall pull out from the coalition government, if congress lead government went ahead with the deal. Their criticism and opposition to the nuclear deal was not because of merit or demerit of the case, but only because of the ideological differences, they did not want to have anything to do with US. Whether Nuclear deal was beneficial or harmful for the country, was on the backburner, nowhere to be seen. Large number of people got into the fray, giving all sort of opinions as if they were expert on nuclear matters. Criticism or opinions expressed were as per the political alignments or personal or party’s interests, nothing to do with national interests.
Another such example is ongoing agitation against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in TN. After having spent about 14000 crores on the nuclear power project, when plant was about to be commissioned, there is a big agitation from the local people saying that looking at plant in Japan, nearby villagers do not want the nuclear plant in their midst, because, as per them, nuclear plants are not safe. Funniest part is what is being demanded by those agitating against the plant is that Government must address ‘the safety issues raised by the villagers’. Notwithstanding, how badly we need such nuclear power projects for our huge energy requirements.
Now, safety, merits/ demerits, feasibility, economy of nuclear plants is a highly complex subject for which experts are there. Even a normal person, howsoever intelligent and knowledgeable he might be, cannot understand such complex matters. I am of the opinion that if, indeed, a nuclear plant is unsafe, then definitely government should not go ahead with it. But that issue must be decided by a panel of experts on such issues, not by ordinary citizens, who do not have any expert knowledge in such complex matters. The issue has become more political rather than of safety of nuclear plants. After all, all over the world, nuclear plants are there giving the people much required energy, which is their lifeline.
But the main point here is, criticism coming from those who have no or least knowledge of the subject, having bearing on the complex matters which should be handled by experts. People simply criticize for the sake of criticism. Mature persons or persons of substance, must avoid such uncalled for unsolicited criticism. Even one should never give his opinion for or against, if one does not know the matter fully. Giving your opinion on the matters unknown or little known, is a sure sign of immaturity, to be avoided at all cost.
Use your wit to amuse, not bemuse. Readers must understand that one must always avoid being sarcastic, which is very common, with some people these days. Sarcasm does not provide any value addition. Sarcasm is the reflection of a perverted mind and is mostly in bad taste. Sarcasm is nothing but trying to have a laugh at others cost. Such persons are despised in a group. It will never be indulged by a person of substance and integrity. It also exhibits lack of responsibility & sincerity. It’s common to see people laughing loudly at their own sarcastic remarks, which is a sign of immaturity and childishness. Avoid that.
If you are ambitious and want to reach the top, remember, this is only feasible, if others cooperate and support you. Though this support is vital for your growth, you can only have it, if you transform yourself into a Pleasing Personality. And to be pleasing, for people to get attracted to you, shun criticism and sarcasm. So, when you are in a group of friends, next time or with your spouse, not only be positive but also appear to be positive. Get over the temptation to criticize someone and if you must do it, do it in the least offensive way, so that other person gives you credit for correcting his mistake.
God could not be everywhere. So He made Mothers.
Two minds in Harmony, can bridge any distance.
May you confront every Challenge with Courage,
Wisdom and Confidence.
A Fool always Thinks, he is right but is mostly wrong.
A wise man, even if he is sure that he is right,
Will never pretend to be so sure.
In Life, nothing worthwhile can be achieved unless
you take INITIATIVE.
And Initiative lies in taking Calculated Risk.
He who knows, when to stop, runs into No Danger.
Remember. ‘A Good Reputation is more important
What will be, will be. Worrying about tomorrow,
Won’t change anything.
Take Pride in whatever you do.