Compliments And Criticism

“If you can’t say anything good about someone, sit right here by me.” – Alice Roosevelt Longsworth

We all really like to hear nice things said about and to us. It’s natural. Nothing wrong with it.

The question becomes; is it the truth?

An older man I knew who said his lover constantly told him how ‘gorgeous’ he was, questioned it. He was nice looking he thought, but gorgeous? After time and many years, he finally said he heard it so often he now believed it!

Now that’s a nice outcome and it is true we can believe positive things about ourselves when we hear them said often. How many children grew up in families where parents doted on them; made them feel beautiful, smart, or talented? Many, if you look around at all the people who have huge egos and think they are God’s gift to the world, when in fact you may see them in reality as homely, rather stupid and certainly not talented.

Is it a good thing to have that kind of an ego, when it is not based in fact? Well, maybe. It makes that individual feel good about themselves. However, if it is too strong it may not allow for compassion or caring genuinely and completely in another. It becomes a matter of degree.

When as adults we hear compliments we USUALLY know whether they are justified. We have lived long enough to have a realistic opinion of ourselves.

If we are putting up a ‘front’ and trying to impress, that job may not hold water forever. The ‘real’ you will become apparent. Maybe with a scratch of the surface or when things are not the way you would like, the real self comes forward.

The motivation for giving compliments needs to be addressed. Was it given in the beginning of a relationship when you couldn’t have bared your true self yet? Was it given when the party offering it wanted something in return, now or down the road? Was it given under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or pressure from someone else? All important considerations to be aware of. Many times, compliments are given to curry favor or have someone ‘like them.’ There are also people who cannot abide negativity or who are doing ‘holy’ work in their belief system. Some individuals are too damn competitive to tolerate complimenting another.

People can be ‘strange’ and not always predictable. We also need to know that relationships and opinions can change over time due to a whole plethora of reasons.

We need to look at the compliments we give, and to whom and under what circumstances. It is a two-way street as are issues in all relationships.

Now when it comes to criticism that’s a whole other ball of wax.

Many people are critiquing others all the time. How they look, how they behave, what they do with their time and money and so on. Usually when it is excessive it is because they themselves feel inferior and that is a way to feel better. There is no PERFECT person, and no one has all the answers and no one is all knowing….so,

Someone is always prettier, smarter, and richer, and more talented. Look up not down!

It is very easy to criticize, especially when you yourself are not ‘so hot.’ There are also a lot of dissatisfied, unhappy and angry people out there. Life today is frustrating and can be overwhelming for many.

Sometimes people will compliment and then take it away at some point with criticism. So what to believe; the positive or the negative. Can be quite confusing. The real message will out over time. The words, ’always’ and ‘never’ should not be used in any of this context. No one is ‘always’ anything. No one is ‘never’ anything. We are a big bundle of plusses and minuses. In a relationship that is caring the positive should certainly outweigh the negative. If the ego is strong, criticism will be appreciated and may offer a hope for some changes. If the ego is weak criticism will pile up in the head and the person may feel quite worthless. Dredging up old negatives will also not be helpful. It ‘stacks the deck.’

Some of this also depends on the point in life it all occurs. There are times and with aging or illness things change and people become more sensitive; especially to criticism.

In the end, your own head should decide what to believe. If you allow negative thoughts or unhelpful rumination to go on and on it will make your life rather or very unpleasant and unhappy. Only you can think what you think!

If some words or phrases are used constantly they may be just tossed off as habit and have little meaning behind them. The rule is to trust the behavior not the words. Teach this to every young child!!

“People ask you for criticism but they only want praise.” – Somerset Maugham

What have you ever been criticized about? How did you feel? What did you do about it? Whom and what do you criticize?

One thought on “Compliments And Criticism

  1. Very insightful blog with interesting articles Lynn. Well, Compliments are one of the most extraordinary components of social life. If given right they create so much positive energy and that’s very important especially for growing kids and work team because it builds self confidence. Though it doesn’t mean we should shy away from criticisms, most times they are even more powerful motivations. I’d prefer criticisms to compliment most times because I feel that what points out imperfections and even motivates us to be better. All the same both can be used wrongly, I have also observed that more than average compliments given by people are usually not genuine and criticisms are always negative ones in the sense that they are not usually given to create positive results but negative ones. Like you implied both can be genuine and false too.
    Taryn Mason


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