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I LOVE constructive criticism.
If you're like me, you probably cringed a little when you read that.
But I actually do enjoy receiving and giving constructive criticism.
Still...there's one factor that needs to be there to make the criticism beneficial.
Get this one thing right, and you'll be well on you way to improving your relationships and your mental health.
The Making of Your Best Relationships
Think about your best relationships, the ones that make your heart sing with gobs of joy.
I'm not talking about romantic relationships only--I'm talking about any relationships you have that bring you joy.
Now, think for a second:
What makes them so good?
Is it because the other person smiles a lot?
Or is it because they give you gifts?
Both would be nice, but they're not enough on their own.
One-sided benefits like those don't make for good relationships. That would be manipulation.
The key is in the dance, the back and forth.
Good relationships are built on a balanced foundation. Balance is the key. Otherwise, you're on a see-saw that flings you into the air and then slams you back down into the ground without warning.
All good relationships should make room for a little something called constructive criticism.
Constructive criticism produces pangs of fear and anxiety for many people, but there's a reason why it's that way.
It's because the criticism itself is not balanced.
And when that happens, the collective mental health of the relationship suffers.
Let's go over two very different examples to illustrate my point.
Constructive Criticism Examples
Consider two friends--Melinda and Bobert. (Don't ask my why he goes by Bobert instead of Robert...he's an interesting dude.)
Melinda and Bobert have known each other for a few years. They met at work when they were appointed to work on the same project.
But now they hang out because they have a shared interest in disc golf and ultimate frisbee.
There's only one problem...
Bobert is not great at providing feedback / constructive criticism.
Constructive Criticism - Bad Example
Hey Melinda, you did a really nice job of leading that meeting yesterday.
But you actually talked really loud, and you didn't capture people's attention at the end of the meeting, and you forgot to pass around the sign-in sheet.
What do you think Melinda is going to remember about that feedback?
ONLY the bad stuff.
Now, let's try this another way.
Constructive Criticism - Good Example
Hey Melinda, you did a really nice job leading that meeting yesterday.
You made eye contact with all people in the room as you spoke, and you kept to the agenda items that you established in the beginning. You also gave everyone great feedback.
However, you didn't capture everyone's attention for the whole time. You could have been more specific with your feedback, and you should have wrapped up your meeting on time.
Now, this one is still a bit rough, but it's a lot easier to accept and digest.
Because it's more balanced.
In Conclusion - What Will You Do Next About Criticism?
Think about the best relationships in your life. They are most likely already balanced, but they could probably be balanced even more.
And this is especially true when it comes to giving and receiving constructive criticism, AKA feedback.
How can you make your good relationships even better?
How can you salvage your not-so-good relationships based on what you learned?
Constructive criticism isn't automatically a bad thing.
It all depends on how it's given and on the type of relationship you already have with the other person.
And with a little bit of practice, you'll be able to balance out your constructive criticism and the quality of your relationships in no time at all.