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One Percent Wisdom
Hi friends!

I spent a lot of time this week facilitating a few Make Time workshops, so not much new to announce here.

Let's jump to this week's idea.

ONE IDEA | Critical of Criticism

How many times in a week do you complain?

Do you find it easier to critique a coworker’s progress or to offer praise?

Are you quick to judge and condemn another’s behavior rather than seek understanding?

These questions have been on my mind for the past two weeks, and the results of this introspection have been surprising.

In fact, I made a bet with Claire that for every criticism, condemnation, or complaint I voiced in a week, I’d owe her a pound. You can see the results of that bet at the bottom of this post.

Why does this matter?

For me, this all comes down to judgement. Judgement of what is good and bad, right or wrong. 

On a biological level, our brain is a judgement machine. It is constantly sizing up the world around us to make predictions that it hopes will keep us safe and secure.

While this mechanism of the mind is helpful at times, it can distort reality. If left unchecked, we become well-versed in the practice of criticism but neglect to develop the art of appreciation.

On a practical level, criticism and condemnation usually backfire. We get defensive when critiqued, and seek to justify our behavior.

When a person feels attacked, they are less likely to truly listen. If our aim is to create a change, perhaps a different approach is needed.

Putting Criticism into Context

There are times when we need to voice our opposition. Where there is wrongdoing, we should feel compelled to condemn it. Where there is injustice, we should be critical.

What I’m speaking about is our day-to-day interactions, with our friends, our family, our coworkers.

It’s in the daily drama of life where complaints and criticism, however justified, may not serve the purpose at hand. 

What is called for in these moments? 

I would argue we are better served by focusing on what’s going well, rather than dwelling on what is not.  

In my experience, most people respond better to praise than they do to criticism. Telling someone “more of that!” is often more effective than “don't do that!”

This is obviously much easier said than done, which is why it takes practice.

Practice can come in many forms. Maybe you're up for a friendly competition, or maybe you just start paying attention to when you're critical vs. when you're praising.

There is no right or wrong way here.

Luckily for me, Claire only caught me five times, so she cashed in the reward on a delicious vegan burger. Had she been inside my head, she might be a millionaire.

Thanks for reading, until next week!
Claire enjoying a vegan burger paid for by my criticisms (not of her, of course...)

Words of Wisdom

"Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

— Abraham Lincoln
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