January 20, 2008

Criticism and Correction

"First, do no harm," is a Zen mantra. That includes "right speech", where we refrain from speaking unless it adds positively to a conversation or to the world.

What about criticism and correction? Does it have any place in "right speech"?

I was thinking about this yesterday as I started reading Dave Carnegie's How to Make Friends and Influence People. I picked up the book at the library last week while doing some research on passive-aggressive behavior. I've heard quite a bit about the book (mostly in the form of jokes about the title), and was curious.

So I started reading it last night, and the first precept is "Don't criticize, condemn or complain."

It sounded very Zen.

His reasons were logical; people don't react well to criticism, people don't change their behavior after being criticized (except to avoid criticism later), and people trust us less when we criticize often. Makes sense.

But is it practical? Can we go through life without criticizing or correcting, especially as parents? Is there another way to express our desires without that?

Passive-aggressives are very good at finding fault in others, while hiding from their own faults. Is finding fault in others universally problematic?

Do you know anyone who criticizes, yet is still well-liked and makes friends easily? A friend of mine once said, "It's not the people who like the things we do who are our friends, but the people who hate the same things we do."

Dale Carnegie uses Abraham Lincoln as his running example of a man who chose not to criticize. Can we all be like Abraham Lincoln? Or would Lincoln crash and burn in today's world of critical media and our society's lust for drama?

2 comments:

Clay Langhorne said...

"right speech", where we refrain from speaking unless it adds positively to a conversation or to the world -- I tried this 30 years ago and I yearn for its positive effect on others. Problem was, as is often the case, new people who liked me liked me for the wrong reasons, ie., reasons I didn't value.

It made me wonder if Dale Carnegie's book (which I also read thirty years ago) shouldn't have been titled "How to Win Approval and Inspire Emulation".
I'd love to hear more about your research on passive-aggressive behavior.

The fruit of critiicism -- even indirect criticism is unavoidable. Christ proved it, in the extreme you get crucified, and he taught mostly by example!

I disagree with your statement "assive-aggressives are very good at finding fault in others". Yes they hide from their own faults, but they hide from confronting the existence of faults in others too. "What goes around comes around," "judge not," "its all grey there is no such thing as black and white," say the Passive Aggressives.

Do you know anyone who criticizes, yet is still well-liked and makes friends easily? Most "significant" leaders -- every Presidential candidate.
"It's not the people who like the things we do who are our friends, but the people who hate the same things we do." I love it. It says something about how we define security, and our comfort zones.

Abraham Lincoln criticized -- he just chose to praise the things he loved more than criticize the things he hated. He was a catalyst of the Civil War after all.
http://dealing-with-a-passive-aggressive.blogspot.com/

wclay1@shaw.ca

Jag said...

Dont trust Clay Langhorne. He is a scam artist. I was a victim of Clay Langhorne's fraudulent services and am not out close to $500. That said what ever he has to say should hold now water. Dont believe what you read and don't subscribe to his bullsh*t news letter market place news directmailvictoria.ca