Verbally giving 'constructive' criticism is not really constructive when shared out of anger or frustration from not getting our own way.
In lashing out to correct another's action, we are showing that we ourselves need to take a correction in respect and good manners.
We teach best through the example of our own living. If we see a need to give constructive criticism to our children, we can calmly tell them how we would solve a similar problem.
If a verbal criticism is presented to us in a calm manner, with kindness, then we might consider what is being offered - it may contain something useful to us, a new tool for us to use in our daily living.
If in the presence of one who is lashing out at me under the pretext of constructive criticism, I distance myself. If on the phone, I hang up. If in the same room, I leave. This gives tempers a chance to cool, allowing the truly constructive ideas to come up again when they can be calmly shared as useful ideas.
In the workplace, at home, or anywhere, let's relate in a way that preserves human dignity. That means we can share what we see as useful ideas when we are calm, and be prepared that the recipient of our advice may choose not to use our ideas. Their choice.
The bottom line is that constructive criticism is only useful when given and received in calmness and kindness - in the spirit of sharing from a caring attitude.
Sit with eyes closed and hands folded in lap. Breathe in and out in a regulated pattern such as 2 seconds to breathe in, and 2 seconds to breathe out. Continue throughout the sitting.
Imagine yourself walking along the beach with waves gently washing in and out. Up ahead a few campers are fruitlessly trying to get a fire going with driftwood. You stop to offer the suggestion that you've had success by making and lighting a nest of dried moss gathered from higher up the embankment.
The guys run up and gather some moss and give it a try and voila - the fire gets started. They thank you and you continue on your walk.
Next scene is an impromptu game of volleyball. You see right away that the net is set up too high for the young players and suggest they lower it a bit.
Surprisingly, your advice is ignored and the kids go on struggling to play with the adults.
How do you feel about the situation? That maybe they should have taken your advice?
When giving constructive advice we only preserve our peace and contentment if we remember that it is the other's choice to follow or not.
On your beach walk sunset is approaching, so it is time to end your meditation by opening your eyes and taking a deep breath.
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Article by Susan Helene Kramer
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Disclaimer: This article is written from a spiritual point of view. For mental health issues consult a licensed therapist.