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  1. #1
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    Default how to give constructive critisizm...

    alright, so i seem to have two extremes of unhealthy states i can't quite bridge:
    • on one end, the light hearted and fun social engineering, which was my second nature as a teen but seems to get harder and harder the more personal and emotionally loaded the matters of life become, the steaks just keep on rising.
    • on the other extreme, there's the need to genuinely connect with people, and i can't get myself to respect people when i feel i need to tactically meanuver around their psychology, i feel i need to be able to be open and honest about what i think, and expect the same, which is great when those are all good, but i maintain that need no matter how mean cruel those thoughts might me, i need it in order to trust that the relationship can grow.


    and this got bad - after some heavy thoughts about my broken marriage, i am realizing that despite all the specifics that where said, my wife was looking for an escuse to break us up for our last 5 months, i was constantly taking it away from her, but i think the real reason was that...

    well, let's just say that if i ever got into another conflict with her, this is what i'd really want to say, and be able to do so honestly:
    come on honey, we both know how this works.

    you judge me for not not fitting an ideal of yours, i remind you of aspects of your behaviors and show you how far away from it you are, you judge me for something i did, i bring up cases of you doing the same, and most of the time cases where you exemplifying them first. you judge me for disagreeing with how i judge you, and i explain what actions and behaviors that you've done rationally lead me to think that is who you are despite my emotional bias against accepting it and i how you reinforced it since. as long as i am there, there's always a mirror showing you the worst of yourself whenever you look for it in me, and from the moment things became tough, you couldn't not look for it in me.
    and i think this is what she couldn't live with. i took it for granted, i always have it in my head, it keeps my ideals for others grounded to the acceptance of my own faults, it keeps me working on myself, it keeps my expectations reasonable, for the most part, it keeps me from treating those closest to me unfairly. and honestly i don't know of any other way to grow as a person but this.

    but as far as delivering i need an alternative route - i need the ability to tell someone something negative - perhaps by their own standards, and perhaps by because its hurtful or destructive to me or others involved - without making them feel like crap, without invalidating their feelings behind their actions, but in a way that would encourage them to consider my perspective and possibly use that information for their benefit as well as the benefit of the relationships.

    TL;DR i need the ability to social engineer openness and honesty.

    and i am not sure how do i do that.

  2. #2
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Well, I think that constructive criticism is something I can take quite well if it is objective and if I don't have any sense that the other person has an agenda / preferred outcome, or is trying to change some core aspect of me that they simply do not like.

    In other words, if I actually believe they're providing the feedback because they really really want to help ME and want me to be happy/healthy/growing/etc. If I have any sense that they're trying to change me into something they'd rather me be, then it's not really about me; it's equally, or moreso, about them and what would make them happier - by their definition/subjectivity, who they think I should be. Who they'd prefer me to be and who they think I need to be based on their personal view of who they think I am.

    Needs to come out of a place of love, and them genuinely trying to help me/care for me - not from a place of the other person simply not liking/accepting what in the end might be a core aspect of who I am (for better or for worse), and them trying to morph me into someone they'd prefer.

    I think there are things each and every one of us can improve upon, and if we are in a loving and compatible relationship/friendship, in theory we'd be ever desirous of doing that for the other; however I think there's a fine line where in certain contexts, the 'criticism' is more about the criticizer simply not liking something about the other person which is core to that person - in which case the criticizer needs to take a look at themselves and ask themselves whether it isn't more about them and some element of incompatibility.
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mane View Post
    i can't get myself to respect people when i feel i need to tactically meanuver around their psychology, i feel i need to be able to be open and honest about what i think, and expect the same
    sad face*

    These seem very relevant issues you are raising. I hope you get some useful answers and will check on this thread later.

    What I have found out about this issue from my ENTP perspective is that:

    1. NTs are overly critical, not that other types are overly sensitive (most of the time).

    2. People are doing their best (most of the time).

    3. Often the best I can do is blindly support somebody close to me and help them as much as I can. Criticism (constructive) is offered last after the soup for the soul and the whatever positive aspect I can find and show them.

    4. Ti is a very dehumanizing function.

    5. Often people don't do what's right not because they don't want to or don't realize it's right or need prodding and criticism, but because they don't know how and are afraid.


    Was your wife of the Si / Fe variety?

  4. #4
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    I would give these tips:

    - Don't make it all negative.
    When people receive several criticisms at once, to their ears, it can start to sound like, "everything you do is wrong". Regardless of what your actual intentions are, people tend to extrapolate from criticism to a wider context, assuming that it is indicative of your views of their overall behaviour/nature/abilities/flaws - which can lead them to become quite upset and/or defensive. Include some (genuine) compliments or the odd bit of positive re-enforcement to show that you do value them. It's also not a good idea to speak in absolutes or with such certainty - this tends to really grate on people (eg. instead you could add in, "I think that it could be..." or, "Maybe you could try...").

    - Remember that there is a difference between honesty and truthfulness.
    You might speak in a way that totally adheres to the facts (truthfulness), but this does not make it the moral or decent thing to say (honesty). This isn't to say that honesty has no need for truth, it most certainly does, but openly stating an unnecessary, harsh fact, when it does nothing to improve the situation, is pointless as well as obnoxious. Try to consider how you can say critical things in a way that softens the blow and makes the information more palatable to the other person. It will make them more receptive to what you have to say.*

    - Constructive criticism must be primarily for the benefit of the other person - not you.
    As @cascadeco said, it's not just an opportunity to bring up all the things about them that annoy you, they do wrong, or that you wish they would change about themselves. You have to ask yourself before saying anything, if telling them this piece of information will genuinely help them (and whether it is your real intention to do so). If it won't, it's just you unloading your frustrations on them, in the guise of constructive criticism (which is incredibly obnoxious and manipulative). If you do want to discuss something about them that is bothering you, make sure you address it as such, and don't try to convince yourself that criticising it is an act of kindness. If you want to do this effectively, remember (that unlike constructive criticism) it is you voicing your issues, not theirs', and accordingly it is better to use "I" and "me" language to describe the problem, rather than "you" (eg. "I feel like..." or, "It's hard for me..." or, "I need...", instead of, "Why can't you..?" or, "You are always...") - this makes it much less confrontational.


    *Hypothetical example: You are in a shop with a woman and she tries on a pair of jeans, which clearly make her look rather fat. She then asks you what you think of them; you shouldn't say, "they make you look fat"; instead you say, "I don't think they really suit you". The latter isn't a lie, it's just a more digestible form of the truth.
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  5. #5
    Glycerine
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    For me, I need to get the sense that the person actually tried to see it from my perspective and did not misinterpret my intent. If the person can still see some inconsistencies and calls me out on it, I am typically very receptive to it.

    TBH, I think this approach works for many people because people tend to get defensive if they think you are attacking their strongly held beliefs about themselves and things or themselves "as a person".

    Also, the sandwich method: positive, negative, positive.

  6. #6
    mod love baby... Lady_X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    I would give these tips:

    - Don't make it all negative.
    When people receive several criticisms at once, to their ears, it can start to sound like, "everything you do is wrong". Regardless of what your actual intentions are, people tend to extrapolate from criticism to a wider context, assuming that it is indicative of your views of their overall behaviour/nature/abilities/flaws - which can lead them to become quite upset and/or defensive. Include some (genuine) compliments or the odd bit of positive re-enforcement to show that you do value them. It's also a good idea to not speak in absolutes or with such certainty - this tends to really grate on people (eg. instead you could add in, "I think that it could be..." or, "Maybe you could try...").

    - Remember that there is a difference between honesty and truthfulness.
    You might speak in a way that totally adheres to the facts (truthfulness), but this does not make it the moral or decent thing to do (honesty). This isn't to say that honesty has no need for truth, it most certainly does, but openly stating an unnecessary, harsh fact, when it does nothing to improve the situation, is pointless as well as obnoxious. Try to consider how you can say critical things in a way that softens the blow and makes the information more palatable to the other person. It will make them more receptive to what you have to say.*

    - Constructive criticism must be primarily for the benefit of the other person - not you.
    As @cascadeco said, it's not just an opportunity to bring up all the things about them that annoy you, they do wrong, or that you wish they would change about themselves. You have to ask yourself before saying something, if telling them this piece of information will genuinely help them (and whether it is your real intention to do so). If it won't, it's just you unloading your frustrations on them, in the guise of constructive criticism (which is incredibly obnoxious and manipulative). If you do want to discuss something about them that is bothering you, make sure you address it as such, and don't try to convince yourself that criticising it is an act of kindness. If you want to do this effectively, remember (that unlike constructive criticism) it is you voicing your issues, not theirs', and accordingly it is better to use "I" and "me" language to describe the problem, rather than "you" (eg. "I feel like..." or, "It's hard for me..." or, "I need...", instead of, "Why can't you..?" or, "You are always...") - this makes it much less confrontational.


    *Hypothetical example: You are in a shop with a woman and she tries on a pair of jeans, which clearly make her look rather fat. She then asks you what you think of them; you shouldn't say, "they make you look fat"; instead you say, "I don't think they really suit you". The latter isn't a lie, it's just a more digestible form of the truth.
    fantastic answer. it's about intention..always. be honest with yourself regarding your intentions and if your intentions come from a kind place they will sound kind....it would seem.
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
    -Jim Morrison

  7. #7
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady X View Post
    fantastic answer. it's about intention..always. be honest with yourself regarding your intentions and if your intentions come from a kind place they will sound kind....it would seem.
    In many ways, yes. I'm not sure that I would say always (I would have to think on that) but this concept was what I was getting at.

    I suppose you might say that by simply getting your head in the right space or frame of mind, more considerate interaction will naturally follow.

    However, it may just be the extremely Fi answer...
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  8. #8
    mod love baby... Lady_X's Avatar
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    i think for me...intention is always what matters. i can get past someones style of expression...generally...if i know them well enough to know what that means coming from them...it's the place it comes from that i listen to...or that effects me either negatively or positively.

    i also think too often people bs themselves into thinking they're being a good friend or helping whoever in some way by delivering the blunt ugly truth...but if you really look at it...see who it's serving..you'll often find it's just about you and you being an ass. (general you not op person)
    There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.
    -Jim Morrison

  9. #9
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Edit: When writing this post, it really wasn't my intent, at all, to be soap-boxy, as I was really just in sharing-my-thoughts mode. But an hour or so after writing, I'm now self-consious about all of the below and don't mean to be inflicting it on everyone else - it's just how I am and what I think, and I think the topic's interesting, which is why I wrote so much.

    ^ I agree with both of you. And I think too it's what I meant by it being important the person doesn't have some hidden agenda/preferred outcome if they're wanting to talk about something that's bothering them; as any preferred outcome will from the get-go make that person want to guide the conversation in a certain direction, and probably requires there are assumptions/judgements already made (that might in fact be wrong) - prohibits true communication and understanding.

    I guess though that I'm now at a point where I see things as follows: 1.Something is bothering me about my relationship / something the other person is doing; 2. I need to figure out whether it's actually something that's objectively 'wrong' that the other person is doing, or whether it's actually Me and the fact that I can't accept some fundamental element of who they are, and in the end might have an issue with how they are and it might not meet my needs (therefore it's about me); 3. All I can reasonably do is present where I'm at / what I'm feeling, no judgment on the other or 'critique' of how someone is, no 'You shouldn't do that', 'It's so wrong that you do that, how can you possibly think/perceive that way?', etc. 4.It starts the dialogue, and as dialogue ensues, questions can be asked to find out more about the why's of the other person, not my own interpretations of the whys, which might be utterly wrong; 5. Based on convo, A. everything's smoothed over and other person voluntarily wants to work on something to alleviate any issues or misunderstandings, or I decide I need to view things differently, or all of it becomes a moot point (i.e. relationship is all the stronger) OR B. It becomes clear the other person is who they are, and it's indeed a ME issue and something I simply can't deal with / isn't my preference / isn't the sort of relationship I want, and then I need to make the decision on whether I need to move on (i.e. Relationship might not be the best for either party).

    All of this is under the belief that I have absolutely no desire to Change a person from who they are, and if I have such massive issues with them or desires for them to 'change', then I in reality probably am not really able to love them as they deserve, and it's not the relationship I want, and I need to take a good hard look at myself and ask myself what I am doing. And... that NO relationship can be forced...

    I'm reminded of a Play that's been advertised in town recently - can't remember the exact title, but it's along these lines: 'Honey I Love You, but you need to change.' It's so fundamentally present in all of us, this bit of a kneejerk reaction - the difficulty in actually NOT projecting our own preferences/self/expectations/judgments onto others. I think it's along the same general topic as this.

    I think it's why in a work environment, where tangible actions and results are expected, by nature of the role you are doing, it's easier to give of and accept of Constructive Criticism - because it's a bit more applicable - assuming you're desirous of it. Seeking feedback for how to improve on traits x or y, or skills x or y. In interpersonal relationships, it's much grayer - as most of us aren't asking for or desiring 'constructive criticism', and in many cases (not all, mind you), it simply might not apply at all, if it's an element of incompatibility between two people / two value systems, and nothing's objectively wrong with either. Doing that self-reflection to try to determine what your motives are in 'helping' the other person. Are you, Really? ('you' is in a general sense, not directed at any specific person)

    Sorry for the uber-long post.
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

    My Photography and Watercolor Fine Art Prints!!! Cascade Colors Fine Art Prints
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  10. #10
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mane View Post
    the steaks just keep on rising
    Sounds OK in my book. Might want to mix it up with some mash potatoes though.

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